The big news everywhere is the coronavirus which seems to have taken over the headlines for most of the news media. The virus has been confirmed here in Wyoming and public officials are taking actions to try and either prevent the spread of the virus or avoid getting criticized for not acting. The reaction of the public is interesting. Early on we saw people buying up toilet paper and other items which didn’t seem to relate to the symptoms caused by this virus. Of course, when anything like this happens, politicians use the virus to try and gain political capital with the voters and it is particularly true in a presidential election year. The game of “if I was president I would have done better” is played out to a news media seeking any opportunity to drive readers or listeners to their web site, broadcast, or newspaper. Something like this is ready made for these types of reactions. The one thing I hope people take home out of all of this however, is that while we in the United States have a supply chain and distribution network to bring goods and products to the public that is arguably the envy of everyone else, it can still be affected by something as tiny as a virus. When I walked into the grocery store and saw empty shelves it was something I hadn’t seen for a long time. Much of the empty shelf space was in items I didn’t need, but it did remind me of pictures I’d seen in the 60s and 70s of places like the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic and Fidel Castro’s Cuba. The only thing different was that I was seeing just a few items out of stock in the grocery store, while at that time grocery stores in those countries were short of almost everything. While celebrating our 100th, we’ve been looking back at columns from previous Farm Bureau presidents and a good many of those columns point out that socialism and communism resulted in fewer goods for their citizens. There were a lot of articles and pictures of what was happening in those countries at that time, so people were reminded rather frequently about that outcome. Castro’s Cuba is marginalized because of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the support that country gave to it because of its strategic military need. North Korea still subscribes to the communist agenda while from all accounts, their population suffers, and famines strike the country regularly. Other countries which started out an adherent to socialism or communism have backtracked on their commitment to those principles and seen some modest improvement in their citizens lives but we in America seem to have decided to embrace this philosophy not seen since the 1920s. If we really want to see the results such a philosophy represents, then we should take pictures of empty grocery store shelves and remind ourselves this is what happens when we trust a communist or socialist agenda. At least this is what has happened in other countries when they were convinced to try such a form of government. Maybe that’s the lesson we need to relearn from our past Farm Bureau leaders. By Ken Hamilton, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Executive Vice President