Premier Horgan suggests B.C. moved too quickly to postpone elective, scheduled surgeries

B.C. Premier John Horgan says the one thing he regrets in the province’s COVID-19 response is moving too quickly to cancel scheduled and elective surgeries.

Speaking on a broad number of issues in a year-end interview with Global News, Horgan says the province could have avoided pushing back many surgeries.

“In hindsight, suspending elective surgeries, there wasn’t the surge we had anticipated in our acute care system,” Horgan said.

“We could have potentially relieved some pain from British Columbians a little bit earlier.”

Was it the right decision to cancel B.C. surgeries during coronavirus outbreak?

Was it the right decision to cancel B.C. surgeries during coronavirus outbreak? – May 7, 2020

On March 15, the province announced “fundamental changes” to the acute care system and cancelled all non-urgent, scheduled surgeries in a bid to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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The province never experienced the surge on hospitals and capacity pressures expected. On May 18, the province resumed elective surgeries in an attempt to clear a backlog of more than 30,000 procedures cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more:
B.C. to increase enforcement of COVID-19 rules

The resumption of surgeries and the resources allocated to fast-track surgeries has an estimated cost of an additional $250 million on the health-care system.

“Even thought I felt that maybe we should have waited a bit longer … we were able to make up for it on the extraordinary work in the health-care system,” Horgan said in the year-end interview.

Click to play video 'B.C. health minister announces plan to resume backlog of cancelled elective surgeries'

B.C. health minister announces plan to resume backlog of cancelled elective surgeries

B.C. health minister announces plan to resume backlog of cancelled elective surgeries – May 7, 2020

Aside from hospitals, the provincial government has faced significant challenges in long-term care facilities. The government moved to a single site staffing plan, investing additional money in wages to ensure workers only needed to work at one care home.

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The province put in severe restrictions for visitors to long-term care, meaning many residents have not seen loved ones face to face since the pandemic began.

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Vancouver man spends Christmas in jail after allegedly hosting parties

Both seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie and the head of the BC Care Providers Terry Lake called on the the province to use rapid COVID tests at long-term care facilities for staff and essential visitors. The province has rejected the idea.

“I take my advice not from the internet but from Dr. Henry. She is telling me that this is not the time to implement the rapid testing in long-term facilities because it will just lead to more false positives that will lead to more confusion, staff staying home and things people don’t think through when they say this would be the easiest thing to do,” Horgan said.

Click to play video 'Calls for new approach to help B.C. long-term care residents during pandemic'

Calls for new approach to help B.C. long-term care residents during pandemic

Calls for new approach to help B.C. long-term care residents during pandemic – Dec 1, 2020

British Columbia counted heavily on the carrot approach rather than the stick. The province, for most of the pandemic, refused to strictly enforce COVID-19 rules when it came to breaking COVID-19 regulations in the province.

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But as the second wave of the virus came and cases soared, B.C. announced plans to have more people enforce the rules. This also included a requirement to wear masks indoors in public spaces.

“You need to do things when you do them. I know that sounds glib to people watching at home. We had extraordinary pickup from the people at home to the advice from Dr. Henry. Our communities were responding way better than other provinces to asking people to use their common sense,” Horgan said.

“If we brought them i when cases were really low people would have dismissed the regulations.”

Click to play video 'B.C. NDP’s pandemic election gamble pays off, wins majority government'

B.C. NDP’s pandemic election gamble pays off, wins majority government

B.C. NDP’s pandemic election gamble pays off, wins majority government – Oct 25, 2020

In 2020, the B.C. premier because the first NDP leader in the province to be re-elected. His decision to call a snap election paid off, leading the NDP to their largest majority in the province’s history with 57 seats.

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As for Horgan’s own future, he hasn’t given it much thought yet.

“I am going to keep doing this until the people tell me they don’t want me around any more. I am optimistic British Columbians want to pull together and I am going to listen to them,” Horgan said.

“Ellie (Horgan’s wife) didn’t mention it this morning when I went to work what she wanted me to do but we will have those conversations closer to 2024.”

The full year end interview with Premier Horgan will air on Global BC on Jan. 1, 2021 at 6:30 PST 

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Coronavirus Variant Is Indeed More Transmissible, New Study Suggests

The team then projected what the new variant would do over the next six months and built models that factored in different levels of restrictions. Without a more substantial vaccine rollout, they warned, “cases, hospitalizations, I.C.U. admissions and deaths in 2021 may exceed those in 2020.”

Closing schools until February could buy Britain some time, the researchers found, but lifting those extra restrictions would then cause a major rebound of cases.

Because of the higher transmission rate, the country will need a much higher percentage of the population to get vaccinated to reach herd immunity. To reduce the peak burden on I.C.U.s, the researchers found, vaccination would need to jump to two million people per week from the current pace of 200,000.

“You need to be able to get whatever barriers to transmission you can out there as soon as possible,” Dr. Hanage said.

The researchers warned that their model was based, like any model, on a set of assumptions, some of which may turn out to be wrong. For instance, the rate at which infected people die from Covid-19 may continue to drop as doctors improve at caring for hospitalized patients. Uncertainties remain as to whether the new variant is more contagious in children, and if so, by how much.

Still, they wrote, “there is an urgent need to consider what new approaches may be required to sufficiently reduce the ongoing transmission of SARS-CoV-2.”

Alessandro Vespignani, director of the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University in Boston, who was not involved in the study, said of the new estimates, “Unfortunately, this is another twist in the plot.”

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COVID-19: Donald Trump suggests he won’t sign $892bn coronavirus relief package | World News

Donald Trump has suggested he may not sign the $892bn (£665bn) coronavirus relief package that was approved by Congress.

The US president said in a video shared from his Twitter account that the bill was delivering too much money to foreign countries and not enough to US citizens.

The bill allows for most Americans to receive a $600 (£450) payment.

Mr Trump said he is asking Congress to amend the bill and to “increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2000 (£1870)”.

The president also said the package was put together after Democrats “cruelly-blocked” coronavirus relief legislation during the summer “in an effort to advance their extreme left-wing agenda”.

He added the bill allocates money for “stimulus cheques for the family members of illegal aliens, allowing them to get up to $1,800 each”.

Mr Trump also suggested he is not yet prepared to concede defeat in November’s election as he said: “I am asking Congress to get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill, or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package and maybe that administration will be me.”

The package was part of a hard-fought compromise bill that includes $1.4tn (£1.05tn) to fund government departments until September.

It also contains money for an increase in food stamp benefits and about $4bn (£3bn) to help other nations provide a COVID-19 vaccine for their people.

The Senate cleared the package by a 92 to 6 vote after the House approved it by a vote of 359 to 53.

Those votes totals would be enough to override a veto should Mr Trump decide to take that step.

The outgoing US president made his remarks on Tuesday having earlier pardoned 15 people including his 2016 campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.

The former aide was jailed after he admitted lying to the FBI during its investigation into the Trump team’s possible collusion with Moscow.

George Papadopoulos was an advisor to Donald Trump’s election campaign

Mr Trump also pardoned Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer who was sentenced to 30 days in prison for lying to investigators during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Republican Representatives Duncan Hunter of California and Chris Collins of New York were also pardoned.

Collins, the first member of Congress to endorse Trump to be president, was sentenced to two years and two months in prison after admitting he helped his son and others dodge $800,000 in stock market losses when he learned that a drug trial by a small pharmaceutical company had failed.

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Hunter was sentenced to 11 months in prison after pleading guilty to stealing campaign funds and spending the money on everything from outings with friends to his daughter’s birthday party.

Four former government contractors convicted over a 2007 massacre in Baghdad that left more than a dozen Iraqi civilians dead were also pardoned.

Trump also commuted the sentences of five other people.

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Unpopular teens could be at higher risk of heart conditions later in life, study suggests

Thirteen-year-olds who weren’t very popular with their peers growing up, a new study released Tuesday has found, seem to have a heightened risk of developing circulatory system disease in later life. This includes higher risk for conditions such as narrowed and hardened arteries and abnormal heartbeat that affect the normal functioning of the heart and blood vessels.

“Although not many realize it, peer status is one of the strongest predictors of later psychological and health outcomes, even decades later, said Mitch Prinstein, the John Van Seters distinguished professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina.

“Several early studies revealed that our likeability among peers in grade school predicts life outcomes more strongly than does IQ, parental income, school grades, and pre-existing physical illness,” Prinstein, who wasn’t involved with the research, said.

Prinstein, and the authors of the study, said that it’s important to note that peer status is a specific form of popularity — likeability rather than being the cool kid.

“Many would perhaps think of high-status kids as those who were highly visible and influential — hanging out in the smoking area during breaks and partying during the weekends. That is another type of popularity, which is sometimes referred to as perceived popularity,” said Ylva Almquist, an associate professor and senior lecturer at the department of public health sciences at Stockholm University and an author of the study, which published in the journal BMJ Open.

“Peer status is rather an indicator of likability, and the degree to which a child is accepted and respected by their peers.”

Chronic health problems are usually explained by genetic factors or actions like smoking, drinking or an unhealthy diet, but research has suggested that high-quality relationships are a key indicator of mortality.

Observational study

In this study from Sweden, the researchers used data from the Stockholm Birth Cohort Multigenerational Study, which includes everyone born in 1953 and residing in Stockholm, the Swedish capital, in 1963.

The health of 5,410 men and 5,990 women was tracked into their 60s. At age 13, they had been asked who among their classmates they preferred to work with. They used the results to determine “peer group status,” which they divided into four categories: zero nominations, which they termed “marginalized”; one (“low status”); two or three (“medium status”); and four or more (“high status”).

Some cyberbullies show signs of PTSD, according to a UK study

Thirty-three percent of the boys enjoyed high peer group status at the age of 13, slightly more than girls (28.5%), the researchers found. Some 16% of the girls were classed as “marginalized,” compared to 12% of boys.

Circulatory disease was more common among the men than it was among the women, but the children classed as “marginalized” at age 13 had a 33% to 34% higher risk of circulatory disease in adulthood in both sexes, the study found.

In their analysis, the researchers said they accounted for factors such as number and position of siblings, parental education and mental health, socioeconomic conditions, and school factors, such as intellect, academic performance and any criminal behavior.

But as an observational study, it can only show a link, and Almquist said there could be many explanations for the association.

“A common dilemma in this kind of research is that we have the information we need to establish associations between conditions in childhood and health outcomes in adulthood, but we know quite little about whatever is happening in between,” Almquist said.

Potential for chronic inflammation due to stress

Katherine Ehrlich, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Georgia, who wasn’t involved in the research, said one explanation could be chronic inflammation linked to stressful experiences of relationships, both in adolescence and in adulthood.

“It is plausible that stressful social experiences (like being socially isolated) could lead to persistent unresolved inflammation, and if these levels are sustained over time, that could increase one’s risk for plaques in the arteries, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular problems,” said Ehrlich, who wasn’t involved in the research.

Boys may be hiding their feelings less amid the coronavirus pandemic

“It seems likely that health behaviors also play a role in the progression from low peer status to circulatory diseases decades later. Individuals who are socially isolated may be more likely to have unhealthy diets, engage in excessive drinking, and lead sedentary lifestyles, all of which could also increase one’s risk for cardiovascular problems.”

There is also an evolutionary logic, according to Prinstein, who is also the author of “Popularity: Finding Happiness and Success in a World That Cares Too Much About the Wrong Kinds of Relationships.”

“Our species is uniquely and remarkably attuned to our social position because many years ago we relied on each other for safety,” he said.

“Research now reveals that social rejection activates the same regions of the brain that are known to respond to physical pain, and also expresses dormant DNA to prepare our bodies for imminent injury. Unfortunately, this response is no longer necessary, so the expression of these genes leaves us more vulnerable to viral infections and more likely to suffer from inflammation-related illnesses,” Prinstein said.

He added that it was also possible that those higher in peer status are more likely to be afforded opportunities for learning and access to more resources — including ones that could promote their health.

“We spend so much time, energy, and funding attending to factors we think can improve children’s chances at a happy and successful life, but we have neglected the one factor that is perhaps most important of all: our children’s ability to get along well with others and be perceived as likeable,” he said.

For parents worried about their kids’ social life, Almquist stressed that problematic experiences with peers do not automatically lead to health problems and having caring and supportive parents was a “protective factor.”

Ehrlich agreed that strong ties between parents and teens could act as a buffer against problematic peer relationships. “It is understandable to see these findings and worry about the long-term consequences for teens who might be more socially isolated.

“Additionally, many adolescents struggle at one point or another with their peer relationships — finding it difficult to fit in or ‘find their people,'” she said. “The advice I would give to families is: keep trying. Join new clubs, try to meet people online, put yourself out there — you never know who could turn out to be a lifelong friend.”

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Trump administration likely to keep Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in conservatorship, Mnuchin suggests

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden’s election victory has likely ended the Trump administration’s efforts to return Fannie Mae
  and Freddie Mac
  to private hands.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he is unlikely to support a legal move — called a consent order — to end the government conservatorships of the mortgage-finance companies before President Trump leaves office. His signoff would be required for any change in their legal status.

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Federal Budget hole to hit $442b, but report suggests increasing spending on welfare, GST relief and income tax cuts

The coronavirus crisis will punch a $442 billion hole in the federal budget, an economic forecaster suggests while calling on the Federal Government to carry deficits in order to boost welfare, reduce the rate of the goods and services tax and lower personal taxes.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will release the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) later this week, which is expected to show a better bottom line.

In the October budget, Mr Frydenberg revealed a record estimated deficit for this financial year of $214 billion, which was predicted to drop in time but remain at $66.9 billion by 2023-24.

But the pace of the recovery over recent weeks, including a higher-than-expected 3.3 per cent rebound in GDP over the three months to September, surprised many economists.

Deloitte Access Economics’ latest budget monitor suggests MYEFO will show lower spending due to savings on the JobKeeper wage subsidy and other measures.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will release the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) later this week, which is expected to show a better budget bottom line.(ABC News: Marco Catalano)

But there will still be an almost half-a-trillion-dollar budget hole, with an underlying cash deficit of $210.3 billion in 2020-21, $103.7 billion in 2021-22, $76.2 billion in 2022-23 and $51.7 billion in 2023-24.

And while China’s trade war with Australia was hurting everything from lobsters to wine, Deloitte Access Economics partner Chris Richardson said it was “making us money rather than losing it”.

Deloitte Access Economics' Chris Richardson speaks at the National Press Club, 12 April 2017.
Deloitte Access Economics partner Chris Richardson said the trade war with China was “making us money rather than losing it”.(AAP: Lukas Coch)

Call for Government to step in now the Reserve Bank is ‘offline’

Dr Richardson said central banks around the world had limited influence on economic activity now that interest rates were at or near zero.

Australia’s cash rate remains at a record low of 0.10 per cent and Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe has said interest rates will remain low for at least the next three years.

In that context, Dr Richardson said the Federal Government needed to continue to use whatever levers it could to propel the economy.

“Until now, budgets could concentrate on longer-term issues and leave the Reserve Bank to handle the ups and downs of the economy by raising or lowering interest rates,” Dr Richardson said.

“But it may be a number of years before the Reserve Bank is back online.”

He said the Federal Government would need to think about introducing temporary relief including boosting welfare spending, temporary cuts to the goods and services tax (GST) and further personal income tax cuts.

“The conversation needs to be, can the Government provide some help?” he said.

“The difficulty with that is that governments aren’t used to thinking about it. And the public, the media and the Opposition aren’t used to thinking about it.”

RBA building
Central banks around the world, including the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), are limited in what they can do to influence the economy when interest rates are near zero.(AAP: Joel Carrett)

MYEFO expected to show an improved Budget bottom line

Dr Richardson said extending the JobSeeker Coronavirus Supplement, at a lower rate of $150 per fortnight until March 31, came at a cost of $3.2 billion this year.

There was a further $240 million put into extending the HomeBuilder grant until the end of March (although the current rate is due to reduce after December 31).

But there would be spending savings as JobKeeper and other stimulus measures taper off.

At the same time, MYEFO would show higher tax receipts with more people in jobs, and higher-than-expected profits, especially off the back of the high iron ore price.

“And that’s true even though a range of new spending has been announced since the budget, including on vaccines (as well as vaccine manufacturing capability), at a cost of $1 billion over 12 years,” Dr Richardson said.

“That outperformance — versus the [earlier] official forecasts — may lift to more than $15 billion by 2023-24.”

Dr Richardson said Treasury were conservative forecasters, “and they’ve become even more careful about building wriggle room into their budget forecasts during COVID”.

A close up of a female carpenter's hand marking up a piece of timber.
There was $240 million put into extending the HomeBuilder grant until the end of March.(Flickr: El Gringo)

Debt and deficits no longer as big a deal as they were pre-COVID

Deloitte Access Economics sees the economy larger than what Treasury projected by $33 billion in 2020-21 alone, a gap that widens to $106 billion by 2023-24.

It forecasts revenue gains of between $5.2 billion (in 2020-21), lifting to $14.7 billion (in 20233-24), helped along by the higher iron ore price and faster-than-expected recovery from the COVID crisis.

Spending will be $1.9 billion in 2020-21, with savings on JobKeeper from the healthier economy more than offset by the cost of extra policy spending, including on extending the end date of the Coronavirus Supplement and HomeBuilder, plus extra vaccine spending.

Dr Richardson said deficits were no longer as big a deal as they used to be.

The fact the credit ratings of Victoria and NSW had been recently downgraded was not a measure of the quality of budget settings.

“They merely assess the risk that those who lend to governments will be repaid,” Dr Richardson said.

He said governments needed to continue to spend to lift economies out of crisis.

Last week CBA released analysis saying that the faster-paced recovery, higher iron ore earnings and less demand for JobKeeper would drive the 2020-21 deficit down to $204 billion.

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Travel latest news: Britons back flight ban for people who haven’t been vaccinated, poll suggests

There are now 24 feasible holiday destinations, but travellers are in need of advice on complex  restrictions, including requirements for PCR tests and insurance, according to Kuoni. Sample offers that the ‘concierge team’ can assist with, include: 


Kurumba Maldives, staying in a superior room for 10 nights on a bed & breakfast basis, from £2,279 per person departing January 12 and 19, 2021 with direct flights on Sri Lankan Airlines from London Heathrow.


Sugar Bay Barbados, staying in a Signature Room for seven nights, all-inclusive from £2,849 per person departing December 23, 2020. Save up to 30 per cent. Flights based on British Airways from London Gatwick.

Derek Jones, chief executive of Kuoni said: 

We’re expecting that the late travel market over the winter months is going to get much busier – so this is about helping customers through the maze.  Travel isn’t as simple and booking, packing and off you go. There are a few hoops to jump through – but it’s our job to make it simple for people and that’s what our new team is in place to do.

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Patients feel less pain when they SMILE during an injection, research suggests

Is this the answer to needle phobia? Patients feel less pain when they SMILE during an injection, research suggests

  • Participants were injected while either smiling, grimacing or straight-faced 
  • Smilers reported 40 per cent less pain than those with a blank facial expression
  • Smiling may trick people’s brains into believing they are happy  

Help is at hand for those of us scared of needles but want to receive the coronavirus jab. The advice is simple – just smile and it will hurt less, a study found.

Researchers gave 231 participants an injection while they were either smiling, grimacing or straight-faced and asked them how painful it was.

Smilers reported 40 per cent less pain than those with a blank facial expression. 

The catch was that it had to be a ‘genuine’ smile – where someone’s eyes crinkle – and not a pretend one where only the lips move. 

Smiling may trick people’s brains into believing they are happy as it’s normally linked to pleasant situations. 

Smilers reported 40 per cent less pain than those with a blank facial expression

And being in a better mood – even if there is no reason for it – could make the injection less daunting so it feels less sore.

But the good news for those too anxious to smile is that a grimace uses similar facial muscles and the expression led to 39 per cent less pain, said the study published in the journal Emotion. 

 Professor Sarah Pressman, of the University of California, Irvine, said: ‘When facing distress or pleasure, humans make remarkably similar facial expressions that involve activation of the eye muscles, lifting of the cheeks and baring of the teeth.

‘We found that these movements, as opposed to a neutral expression, are beneficial in reducing discomfort and stress.’

People in the study, which is published in the journal Emotion, did not realise they were pulling a particular face to see how it affected getting an injection.

Researchers got them to smile, grimace or keep their expression neutral by putting chopsticks in their mouth to pull their lips upwards or activate muscles around their eyes.

Some people were required to smile only, while others had a ‘genuine’ smile crinkling the crow’s feet around their eyes.

It was only the genuine smile which significantly reduced the pain people reported on a scale of one to 100 from a harmless salt water jab.

Compared to people with a neutral expression, the heart rate of those genuinely smiling was approximately seven beats per minute slower.

Evidence shows happy feelings reduce stress at difficult times, and smiling is associated with happiness for many people, while transporting them back to situations where someone was not about to put a needle in their arm.

Most people automatically grimace when about to suffer discomfort or pain, which many experts believe is to get others to take pity on them and help.

People in the study did not realise they were pulling a particular face to see how it affected getting an injection

People in the study did not realise they were pulling a particular face to see how it affected getting an injection

But the new results suggest it may also work similarly to a smile in helping reduce pain.

It means doctors in the Middle Ages may have been on to something when they got people to bite down on wood or leather during medical procedures, forcing their mouth into a grimace.

In the study, this facial expression reduced the amount of stress people reported.

Professor Pressman said: ‘Our study demonstrates a simple, free and clinically meaningful method of making the needle injection less awful.

‘Given the numerous anxiety and pain-provoking situations found in medical practice, we hope that an understanding of how and when smiling and grimacing helps will foster effective pain reduction strategies that result in better patient experiences.’

A 2017 study by Nottingham University found that people who were happy when they went for their autumn flu jab were better protected from getting ill.

They produced up to 14 per cent more antibodies against the flu virus, with a good mood believed to boost the immune system.


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GOP critics fire back after AOC suggests Republicans can’t handle working as a waitress

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. took Republicans to task who have previously mocked her background as a waitress by suggesting that they themselves can’t handle such a job. 

The Democratic “Squad” member took to Twitter on Thursday evening and spoke about the unique “work ethic” she brings to Congress while swiping conservative lawmakers. 

“The thing that these conservative Senators don’t seem to understand is that I’ve actually had a physically difficult working-class job without good healthcare most of my adult life.” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “I bring that work ethic to Congress & to my community. They sit around on leather chairs all day.”


She later followed, “Republicans like to make fun of the fact that I used to be a waitress, but we all know if they ever had to do a double they’d be the ones found crying in the walk-in fridge halfway through their first shift bc someone yelled at them for bringing seltzer when they wanted sparkling.”

That sparked quite a response from several conservatives who similarly worked jobs prior to their current careers. 

“This is wrong,” wrote Kasey Lovett, press secretary for HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson. “I was a waitress for 5+ years throughout high school and college. I am a Republican and I cried in walk-in fridges just like you. The difference between us? I don’t expect the gvt to provide for me. I make my own $ and provide for myself.”

“I spent my first week in the Army on 4 hours of sleep a night and a sprained ankle, digging one hole to fill in the hole I had just dug the hour before. Cry me a river (‘cuz I didn’t).” Daily Caller associate editor Virginia Kruta told the congresswoman.

“I did that, plus worked a second retail job while paying my own bills in college,” radio host Dana Loesch responded.


“I’ve worked a thousand doubles. it’s really not that impressive. I don’t think anyone should mock the fact that a representative worked her way up, but millions of people work long days without needing a trophy,” The Blaze social media editor Jessica O’Donnell wrote. 

“During high school, I woke up at 4:30AM to work at a before school program with kids until I had to go to school. After school I’d work at an after school program for another three hours. I worked my butt off to support myself since I didn’t have supportive parents. But go off,” Lone Conservative founder Kassy Dillon said, later adding, “And that was just when I was a teenager. I work even more than that now. Some of the hardest working people I know are Republicans.”

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