A foundationally wrong system has consequences

Coronavirus

FireShot Capture 101 - Officials_ 2 coronavirus cases reported in Pittsburgh - TribLIVE.com_ - triblive.com
Fig. 1. COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania. Screenshot of map from Tribune-Review, March 14, 2020.[1]
FireShot Capture 102 - Tracking Every Coronavirus Case in the U.S._ Full Map - The New York _ - www.nytimes.com
Fig. 2. Coronavirus cases in the U.S. Screenshot of map from the New York Times, March 15, 2020.[2]

Coronavirus has unmistakably arrived in Pennsylvania, including two cases in Allegheny County and one in Washington County, immediately to the southwest (not very far at all from where I live).[3] So far as I can see, it’s been Pittsburgh (Democratic) Mayor Bill Peduto and Pennsylvania (Democratic) Governor Tom Wolfe[4] who’ve been taking a lot of heat. This is when you don’t want to be in their shoes but I kind of wish their critics would take a turn: We need to remember the top-level fuck-up here,[5] even when the critics themselves are liberal or even progressive.

I’m seeing a lot of comment on Twitter about folks who can’t “socially isolate” themselves, like the homeless (in shelters) and prisoners. These are, of course, legitimate concerns that really go back to how we organize ourselves as a society, dating back, as I have repeatedly pointed out, to the Neolithic.[6] It’s really about how capitalism inherently benefits the rich, inherently at the cost of the poor;[7] and an utterly wrong-headed[8] criminal injustice system.[9] I don’t want to make excuses but I also don’t know how you feasibly address them, now, in this moment.

That said, and as I have also repeatedly said, we need to think about how we treat each other and what that means when a pandemic strikes. A foundationally wrong system has consequences. We’re seeing them.

Natasha Lindstrom, “Officials: 2 coronavirus cases reported in Pittsburgh,” Tribune-Review, March 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-to-announce-1st-coronavirus-cases/

Paul P. Murphy and Hollie Silverman, “US citizens returning from overseas say they are waiting hours for coronavirus screening at airports,” CNN, March 15, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/travel/amp/coronavirus-airport-screening-sunday/index.html


  1. [1]Natasha Lindstrom, “Officials: 2 coronavirus cases reported in Pittsburgh,” Tribune-Review, March 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-to-announce-1st-coronavirus-cases/
  2. [2]Mitch Smith et al., “Tracking Every Coronavirus Case in the U.S.: Full Map,” New York Times, March 15, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html
  3. [3]Eric Heyl, “First Western PA Coronavirus Case Confirmed,” Patch, March 13, 2020, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/h1rnv/first-western-pa-coronavirus-case-confirmed; Natasha Lindstrom, “Officials: 2 coronavirus cases reported in Pittsburgh,” Tribune-Review, March 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-to-announce-1st-coronavirus-cases/
  4. [4]Megan Guza And Joanne Klimovich Harrop, “Gov. Tom Wolf orders all Pa. schools shut down for 10 days,” Tribune-Review, March 13, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/western-pa-schools-begin-closing-for-2-weeks-over-coronavirus-fears/
  5. [5]Susan B. Glasser, “A President Unequal to the Moment,” New Yorker, March 12, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/a-president-unequal-to-the-moment; Dana Milbank, “For Trump, a reckoning has come,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/trump-reckoning-has-come/; Ashley Parker, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Lena H. Sun, “Squandered time: How the Trump administration lost control of the coronavirus crisis,” Washington Post, March 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-coronavirus-response-squandered-time/2020/03/07/5c47d3d0-5fcb-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html; Paul Waldman, “How coronavirus has deeply flummoxed conservative media,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/how-coronavirus-has-deeply-flummuxed-conservative-media/
  6. [6]John H. Bodley, Victims of Progress, 5th ed. (Lanham, MD, Altamira, 2008); William J. Burroughs, Climate Change in Prehistory (Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University, 2008); Max Oelschlaeger, The Idea of Wilderness (New Haven, CT: Yale University, 1991).
  7. [7]Max Weber, “Class, Status, Party,” in Social Theory, ed. Charles Lemert, 6th ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2017), 94-101.
  8. [8]Wanda D. McCaslin and Denise C. Breton, “Justice as Healing: Going Outside the Colonizers’ Cage,” in Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies, eds. Norman K. Denzin, Yvonna S. Lincoln, and Linda Tuhiwai Smith (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008), 511-529.
  9. [9]Steven E. Barkan, Criminology: A Sociological Understanding, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006); Ernest Drucker, A Plague of Prisons: The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration in America (New York: New, 2011); Jeffrey Reiman, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, 7th ed. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2004); Dan Simon, In Doubt: The Psychology of the Criminal Justice Process (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 2012).

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