Fully vaccinated? You may relax (update #2)

Updates

  1. Originally published, May 12, 2021, 9:15 am.

  2. May 13, 2021, 11:49 pm:

    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has now largely confirmed[39] the article noted here,[40] at long last admitting that fully vaccinated folks don’t need masks outdoors or in uncrowded indoor situations.[41]

      The new guidance is likely to open the door to confusion, since there is no surefire way for businesses or others to distinguish between those who are fully vaccinated and those who are not.

      “Millions of Americans are doing the right thing and getting vaccinated, but essential workers are still forced to play mask police for shoppers who are unvaccinated and refuse to follow local COVID safety measures,” said Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. “Are they now supposed to become the vaccination police?”

      [Rochelle] Walensky and [Joe] Biden said people who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks indoors.[42]

      In part due to conservative objections,[43] we don’t have vaccine passports. So it’s a real question how, for example, I can be sure the assholes who remove their masks once they’re in my car have been vaccinated. I don’t actually need to worry, because I am fully vaccinated,[44] but I’m still having to wear a mask as an Uber driver all day every day. And I’m assuming it will still be a cold day in hell before I can stop.

    • Recently, I noticed that Ed Gainey seems to be winning the yard sign race over incumbent Bill Peduto in Pittsburgh’s mayoral race. Today, I’d have to say his lead is widening. While yard signs really say little about less enthusiastic support, the extent to which Gainey’s signs would have to exaggerate this and the extent to which Peduto’s signs would have to understate this is truly substantial. I’m feeling more confident that Gainey likely has this won.

  3. May 14, 2021, 11:44 am:

    • I have further revised the section on my job hunt. It’s really rather astonishing how many pieces have fallen into place. And there’s simply no way to be kind about the so-called friends who left me to twist on the vine even as they make six-figure incomes. They had the absolute gall to tell me that applying for jobs “doesn’t work until it does,” that even after, at that time, sixteen years of job hunt failure, I should just keep trying the same thing that doesn’t work,[45] won’t work, will never work,[46] even as I told them it wasn’t working.[47] They really didn’t give a damn, not even in the slightest.

      Those aren’t friends, and hell, yes, I’m bitter as hell.

    • Pennsylvania rapidly revised its order on mask-wearing[48] to match the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines relaxing mask requirements for fully vaccinated people,[49] but Pittsburgh area businesses remain uncertain as to how to implement the guidance without a way to know who’s been vaccinated and who hasn’t.[50]

      There’s simply no alternative here to some form of vaccine passport that can be very rapidly and easily checked. It really is unclear, in the absence of such,[51] how this is supposed to work. And the decision has earned criticism[52] even from at least one expert who has criticized the CDC for excessive caution. In Pennsylvania, the order is paired with Governor Tom Wolf’s promise that once 70 percent of the state’s population is vaccinated, mask restrictions will be lifted,[53] but nationally, Leana Wen argues that the “honor code” in fact removes an incentive to get vaccinated for the many who have been in denial all along.[54]

      I haven’t heard from either Uber or Lyft on this and it’s unclear to me when the inside of a car would be considered a “crowded situation.” But it’s sure to be a problem.


Pandemic

It looks like if you are fully vaccinated, that is, you’ve received your final dose of a vaccine at least two weeks ago, you have little to fear from COVID-19, even, so far, the variants. At worst, you’ll suffer a relatively mild case of the disease.[55] But what I haven’t heard is much at all on how long the vaccine-induced immunity lasts.

For now, however, precautions like wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding crowds, are mostly about protecting unvaccinated people. But even there, having been vaccinated yourself helps to protect them.[56]

German Lopez, “Got the vaccine? Experts say you can relax about your Covid-19 risk now. Really,” Vox, May 11, 2021, https://www.vox.com/22423098/covid-19-vaccine-coronavirus-protection-herd-immunity

Cassie Miller, “Fully vaxxed Pennsylvanians can go mask-free, state health officials confirm,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, May 13, 2021, https://www.penncapital-star.com/blog/fully-vaxxed-pennsylvanians-can-go-mask-free-state-health-officials-confirm/

Zeke Miller and Michael Balsamo, “‘Great day for America’: Vaccinated can largely ditch masks,” Associated Press, May 13, 2021, copy in possession of author

Teghan Simonton and Megan Guza, “Western Pa. businesses grapple with mask policies after CDC, state updates guidance,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 13, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/regional/western-pa-businesses-grapple-with-mask-policies-after-cdc-state-updates-guidance/

Leana S. Wen, “The CDC shouldn’t have removed restrictions without requiring proof of vaccination,” Washington Post, May 13, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/05/13/cdc-mask-rules-vaccination-leana-wen/


(Dis)United Kingdom

George Monbiot, “Breaking Point,” May 11, 2021, https://www.monbiot.com/2021/05/11/breaking-point/


Job hunt

What’s been missing from my recent revelation about the job market,[57] that is, that an important part of its function is to deter worker agitation for higher wages or better working conditions by keeping a large number of people, including me, unemployed and therefore poor, as examples of what can happen to insufficiently pliable workers,[58] has been an explanation of the method. How can this actually function?

On reflection, it’s all too apparent. The address you put on your job application says something about where you live; just like some neighborhoods were historically red-lined in real estate,[59] your economic status, and sometimes, your race, can be inferred in the same way. Though my own credit rating is good to excellent, albeit with high student loan debt, some employers, especially in retail, require credit checks, also a signifier of economic condition.

Put too much experience on your resume or, indeed, anything, like education (my Ph.D. signifies several years of adult education), that dates back far enough, and you may be discovered to be “old” in a profoundly ageist society.[60] I’m white and male, but names often indicate gender or race; some names were more popular in certain years, also suggesting age.

Probably most deadly in my own case is the kind of experience I’ve had or its gaps. If I don’t put that I’ve been an Uber and Lyft driver for the last five years, it appears I’ve been doing nothing, unemployed, therefore unemployable.[61] If I do, I expose myself as a low wage worker in a country where social mobility is more accurately characterized as social immobility,[62] whose socioeconomic system can most accurately be described as a caste system, at least between the rich and everybody else,[63] but I think also between the poor and everybody else.[64] I am poor, therefore I deserve to be,[65] even because it is the Christian god’s will,[66] and I must be kept so.

All of this bias, of course, is rationalized in the name of “cultural fit.”[67] And some, of a particular age, might recognize when “culture” was code for race.[68] But here, it is apparent that “culture” has become code for much more diverse forms of bias.[69]

Google recently chose promotion of artificial intelligence idiocy over its reputation and ethical concerns, the latter including that such systems may be biased.[70] But the use of artificial idiocy[71] in filtering job applications and applicants in multiple ways, including attempts at psychological assessment, including some that resemble phrenology,[72] has attracted little attention. It is far from a stretch to imagine that such systems might perform web searches and, again deploying artificial idiocy, seek to filter out anyone perceived as radical. You and I might be discriminated against in ways we haven’t even fathomed and all it takes for your application to wind up straight in the bit bucket is to run afoul of even one filter.

I say your job application because I won’t be bothering anymore. I now know unmistakably where I stand. But there is one more point that should be made: To the extent I might now be considered radical, even if we define ‘radical’ as looking at the world as it actually is, rather than through ideological lenses that inform as to what it should be, and drawing the conclusions that follow,[73] it is a consequence,[74] not a cause, of my failed job hunt. Capitalism, I now know, wants scapegoats;[75] my story is an example of how it produces them.[76]


  1. [39]Zeke Miller and Michael Balsamo, “‘Great day for America’: Vaccinated can largely ditch masks,” Associated Press, May 13, 2021, copy in possession of author
  2. [40]German Lopez, “Got the vaccine? Experts say you can relax about your Covid-19 risk now. Really,” Vox, May 11, 2021, https://www.vox.com/22423098/covid-19-vaccine-coronavirus-protection-herd-immunity
  3. [41]Zeke Miller and Michael Balsamo, “‘Great day for America’: Vaccinated can largely ditch masks,” Associated Press, May 13, 2021, copy in possession of author
  4. [42]Zeke Miller and Michael Balsamo, “‘Great day for America’: Vaccinated can largely ditch masks,” Associated Press, May 13, 2021, copy in possession of author
  5. [43]David Benfell, “On ‘vaccine passports,’” Not Housebroken, May 3, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/03/31/on-vaccine-passports/
  6. [44]German Lopez, “Got the vaccine? Experts say you can relax about your Covid-19 risk now. Really,” Vox, May 11, 2021, https://www.vox.com/22423098/covid-19-vaccine-coronavirus-protection-herd-immunity
  7. [45]David Benfell, “To my friends,” Not Housebroken, February 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/04/01/to-my-friends/
  8. [46]David Benfell, “About that alleged ‘labor shortage,’” Not Housebroken, May 14, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/05/09/about-that-alleged-labor-shortage/
  9. [47]David Benfell, “To my friends,” Not Housebroken, February 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/04/01/to-my-friends/
  10. [48]Cassie Miller, “Fully vaxxed Pennsylvanians can go mask-free, state health officials confirm,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, May 13, 2021, https://www.penncapital-star.com/blog/fully-vaxxed-pennsylvanians-can-go-mask-free-state-health-officials-confirm/
  11. [49]Zeke Miller and Michael Balsamo, “‘Great day for America’: Vaccinated can largely ditch masks,” Associated Press, May 13, 2021, copy in possession of author
  12. [50]Teghan Simonton and Megan Guza, “Western Pa. businesses grapple with mask policies after CDC, state updates guidance,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 13, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/regional/western-pa-businesses-grapple-with-mask-policies-after-cdc-state-updates-guidance/
  13. [51]Kathryn Watson, “White House leaves vaccine ‘passports’ to private sector,” CBS News, March 30, 2021, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/biden-vaccine-passports-private-sector/
  14. [52]Zeke Miller and Michael Balsamo, “‘Great day for America’: Vaccinated can largely ditch masks,” Associated Press, May 13, 2021, copy in possession of author
  15. [53]Cassie Miller, “Fully vaxxed Pennsylvanians can go mask-free, state health officials confirm,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, May 13, 2021, https://www.penncapital-star.com/blog/fully-vaxxed-pennsylvanians-can-go-mask-free-state-health-officials-confirm/
  16. [54]Leana S. Wen, “The CDC shouldn’t have removed restrictions without requiring proof of vaccination,” Washington Post, May 13, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/05/13/cdc-mask-rules-vaccination-leana-wen/
  17. [55]German Lopez, “Got the vaccine? Experts say you can relax about your Covid-19 risk now. Really,” Vox, May 11, 2021, https://www.vox.com/22423098/covid-19-vaccine-coronavirus-protection-herd-immunity
  18. [56]German Lopez, “Got the vaccine? Experts say you can relax about your Covid-19 risk now. Really,” Vox, May 11, 2021, https://www.vox.com/22423098/covid-19-vaccine-coronavirus-protection-herd-immunity
  19. [57]David Benfell, “About that alleged ‘labor shortage,’” Not Housebroken, May 10, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/05/09/about-that-alleged-labor-shortage/
  20. [58]Jon Schwarz, “The Business Class Has Been Fearmongering About Worker Shortages for Centuries,” Intercept, May 7, 2021, https://theintercept.com/2021/05/07/worker-shortage-slavery-capitalism/
  21. [59]Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations,” Atlantic, June 2014, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/
  22. [60]Susan Chenery, “Poverty and ageing: ‘we’re swept under the carpet and pushed aside,’” Guardian, April 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/apr/25/poverty-and-ageing-were-swept-under-the-carpet-and-pushed-aside; Carol Hymowitz, “Older Workers Have a Big Secret: Their Age,” Wall Street Journal, November 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/older-workers-have-a-big-secret-their-age-11574046301; Gloria Jackson, as told to Eli Saslow, “‘I apologize to God for feeling this way,’” Washington Post, May 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/02/elderly-woman-coronavirus-lonely-expendable/; Sarah Jones, “No One Should Be Surprised That America Abandoned the Elderly to Die,” New York, July 9, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/07/america-is-sacrificing-the-elderly-to-coronavirus.html; Laura Newberry, “The pandemic has amplified ageism. ‘It’s open season for discrimination’ against older adults,” Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-01/coronavirus-pandemic-has-amplified-ageism; Bhaskar Sunkara, “Why it’s time to ditch the ‘ok boomer’ meme,” Guardian, November 6, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/06/ok-boomer-meme-older-generations; Sarah Todd, “Older people are the one group egalitarians discriminate against,” Quartz, April 22, 2021, https://qz.com/work/1999849/one-surprising-cause-of-ageism-in-the-workplace/; Isabel Togoh, “Texas Official Suggests ‘Lots’ Of Grandparents Would Be Willing Risk Coronavirus Death To Keep Economy Going,” Forbes, March 24, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/isabeltogoh/2020/03/24/texas-official-suggests-lots-of-grandparents-would-be-willing-risk-coronavirus-death-to-keep-economy-going/
  23. [61]Matthew O’Brien, “The Terrifying Reality of Long-Term Unemployment,” Atlantic, April 13, 2013, https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/04/the-terrifying-reality-of-long-term-unemployment/274957/
  24. [62]Claude S. Fischer et al. “Why Inequality?” in Thomas M. Shapiro, ed., Great Divides, 3rd ed. (Boston: McGraw Hill, 2005), 9-15.
  25. [63]John Asimakopoulos, The Political Economy of the Spectacle and Postmodern Caste (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2020); David Benfell, “‘The ugly premise that one group of humans had the absolute right to rule over another group of humans,’” Not Housebroken, January 14, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/01/14/the-ugly-premise-that-one-group-of-humans-had-the-absolute-right-to-rule-over-another-group-of-humans/; C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite (New York: Oxford University, 2000); Scott Sernau, Worlds Apart, 2nd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA, Pine Forge, 2006); Thomas M. Shapiro, ed., Great Divides, 3rd ed. (Boston: McGraw Hill, 2005).
  26. [64]Herbert J. Gans, The War Against The Poor (New York: Basic, 1995).
  27. [65]Thomas M. Shapiro, “Introduction,” in Great Divides: Readings in Social Inequality in the United States, ed. Thomas M. Shapiro, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw Hill, 2005), 1-7.
  28. [66]Richard Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind (New York: Harmony, 1991).
  29. [67]Paul Spiegelman, “Is Hiring For Culture Fit Perpetuating Bias?” Forbes, March 1, 2021, https://www.forbes.com/sites/paulspiegelman/2021/03/01/is-hiring-for-culture-fit-perpetuating-bias/
  30. [68]For example, Richard M. Weaver inveighing against Brown v. Board of Education, albeit without naming the decision, as forcing a “mixing of cultures” in Visions of Order (Louisiana State University, 1964; Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1995).
  31. [69]Paul Spiegelman, “Is Hiring For Culture Fit Perpetuating Bias?” Forbes, March 1, 2021, https://www.forbes.com/sites/paulspiegelman/2021/03/01/is-hiring-for-culture-fit-perpetuating-bias/
  32. [70]Reid Blackman, “If Your Company Uses AI, It Needs an Institutional Review Board,” Harvard Business Review, April 1, 2021, https://hbr.org/2021/04/if-your-company-uses-ai-it-needs-an-institutional-review-board; Mitchell Clark and Zoe Schiffer, “After firing a top AI ethicist, Google is changing its diversity and research policies,” Verge, February 19, 2021, https://www.theverge.com/2021/2/19/22291631/google-diversity-research-policy-changes-timnet-gebru-firing; Ina Fried, “Google tweaks diversity, research policies following inquiry,” Axios, February 19, 2021, https://www.axios.com/google-tweaks-diversity-research-policies-following-inquiry-8baa6346-d2a2-456f-9743-7912e4659ca2.html; Alex Hanna, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, February 18, 2021, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1362476196693303297.html; Jeremy Kahn, “Google’s ouster of a top A.I. researcher may have come down to this,” Fortune, December 9, 2020, https://fortune.com/2020/12/09/google-timnit-gebru-top-a-i-researcher-large-language-models/; Zoe Schiffer, “Google fires second AI ethics researcher following internal investigation,” Verge, February 19, 2021, https://www.theverge.com/2021/2/19/22292011/google-second-ethical-ai-researcher-fired; James Vincent, “Google is poisoning its reputation with AI researchers,” Verge, April 13, 2021, https://www.theverge.com/2021/4/13/22370158/google-ai-ethics-timnit-gebru-margaret-mitchell-firing-reputation
  33. [71]David Benfell, “Our new Satan: artificial idiocy and big data mining,” Not Housebroken, April 5, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/01/13/our-new-satan-artificial-idiocy-and-big-data-mining/
  34. [72]Rebecca Heilweil, “Artificial intelligence will help determine if you get your next job,” Vox, December 12, 2019, https://www.vox.com/recode/2019/12/12/20993665/artificial-intelligence-ai-job-screen
  35. [73]David Benfell, “Radicalism and pragmatism,” Not Housebroken, July 19, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/19/radicalism-and-pragmatism/
  36. [74]As I failed to find employment following the dot-com crash in 2001, I returned to school. Believing that work such as that in high technology could last in the U.S. only as long as capitalists could not find a way to export it to other countries, like India, I pursued communication, a soft skill. As I wrote papers, I had to conduct literature searches. As I conducted those searches, it was like kicking over one rock after another. I came to understand social inequality as a defining attribute of our system of social organization. As I continued in school, finishing the Bachelor’s, then doing a Master’s, and finally a Ph.D., I learned more. None of it reflects favorably on this system. But I absolutely would not have this understanding had I not been left in the dirt on the side of the “information superhighway.”
  37. [75]Jon Schwarz, “The Business Class Has Been Fearmongering About Worker Shortages for Centuries,” Intercept, May 7, 2021, https://theintercept.com/2021/05/07/worker-shortage-slavery-capitalism/
  38. [76]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/

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