Stop being nice to those who stand on reckless disregard

So I’m in the middle of half-assed moving. My bed and bookcases move on August 30, but the new place is somewhat smaller than the old (but in a neighborhood well away from the front lines of Pittsburgh’s social conflict), so I’m having to make different decisions about lots of things, including furniture (hello again, IKEA, and thanks to my new car, I actually have something to haul stuff in and I don’t have to rely on IKEA’s beyond abysmal delivery contractor).

Actually publishing this issue, even as I’ve been adding to it, has fallen by the wayside. I’m remedying that now.


Paul Waldman is nicer than I am.[1] I’d refuse vaccine-refusers care at any medical facility and I don’t care if “that’s how medicine works.”[2] Because I’m also done with medical workers putting their lives on the line for people who chose to abuse and even threaten people who offer or follow expert advice and those who risk everyone’s lives. That’s simply bullshit.

Aaron Blake, “The GOP fought mandates by emphasizing the vaccines’ emergency status. Now what?” Washington Post, August 23, 2021,

Ben Guarino, Laurie McGinley, and Tyler Pager, “Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine wins full FDA approval, potentially persuading the hesitant to get a shot,” Washington Post, August 23, 2021,

Ivana Saric, “The fight over mask mandates in schools turns violent,” Axios, August 23, 2021,

Adela Suliman and Bryan Pietsch, “Third Pfizer dose significantly lowers risk of infection in seniors, Israeli data shows,” Washington Post, August 23, 2021,

Paul Waldman, “Time to say it: We’re done with the vaccine refusers,” Washington Post, August 23, 2021,

Ellen Nakashima, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Joel Achenbach, “Biden receives inconclusive intelligence report on covid origins,” Washington Post, August 24, 2021,

Stephanie Armour and Jared S. Hopkins, “Biden Administration Likely to Approve Covid-19 Boosters at Six Months,” Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2021,


In an ill-fated try at government work, I was hired by the Census Bureau in 2018. The package of material I had to go through getting hired for a very low-level survey taking position was probably at least as thick as my forearm is long. All this to encounter ethical problems with involuntary participation leading to my soon-to-follow departure.

In that pile of paperwork I faced, there wasn’t a single piece I could argue against; every last page of it could be said to have a legitimate purpose. But if the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, a modern-day definition of Hell might include government bureaucracy. And as I went through the training sessions, it was apparent to me that this bureaucracy wasn’t just a problem for ordinary people trying to access government services; this was a problem even for government workers, who seemed to me constantly to be tripping over their own regulations but also—in a particularly poorly timed screw-up, I lost almost all my identification—remarkably adept at navigating the maze.

That said, government bureaucracy clearly can be daunting, as I saw in the despair of a lifetime government employee who led my training, and that seems to be what’s holding up rent relief.[3] They really need to figure out how to do what they’re doing efficiently, but to do so will almost certainly require a new paradigm that will need to apply widely across government.

Rachel Siegel, “As eviction crisis loomed, rental relief barely picked up in July,” Washington Post, August 25, 2021,


Steve Hendrix et al., “Taliban sends hundreds of fighters to final province beyond its control,” Washington Post, August 23, 2021,

Kevin Liptak, “Biden decides to keep August 31 deadline to withdraw from Afghanistan as evacuations accelerate,” CNN, August 24, 2021,

Stephanie Nebehay and Emma Farge, “UN rights boss says she has credible reports of Taliban executions,” Reuters, August 24, 2021,

Rachel Pannett, Ellen Francis, and Adam Taylor, “Taliban doubles down on Aug. 31 deadline, says Afghans no longer allowed to reach Kabul airport,” Washington Post, August 24, 2021,

David Leonhardt to The Morning list, “A better Afghan policy,” New York Times, August 25, 2021,


Sarah D. Wire and Meena Venkataramanan, “House OKs resolution allowing $3.5-trillion social spending bill to advance,” Los Angeles Times, August 24, 2021,

Climate crisis

George Monbiot criticizes governments for undermining their own climate pledges, for approving new fossil fuel projects even as they claim to recognize the seriousness of the climate crisis.[4] That’s an obvious criticism but I think his text exposes another truth: Governments are treating the climate crisis as just one more problem to be managed among others.

George Monbiot, “Dead Line,” August 24, 2021,


Pittsburgh has a state prison. I drive by it occasionally on Beaver Avenue in the North Side (specifically, in the Marshall-Shadeland neighborhood). I don’t know where the folks incarcerated there come from and apparently it has been hard for the panel that’s deciding Pennsylvania apportionment to get reliable numbers on just that sort of question. But their decision to count people by the districts they came from rather than those they are incarcerated in will supposedly boost representation from their home districts at the expense of prison districts. Pennsylvania Republicans oppose it[5] and indeed it does seem to me that the subtext here is that the move might make the Pennsylvania legislature just a little less batshit insane.

Pittsburgh’s state prison is a counterexample to what seems to be assumed here; to the extent that its prisoners come from other areas and currently count towards Pittsburgh’s population, the panel’s move will actually hurt Pittsburgh. But the vast majority of state prisons are located in somewhat more conservative areas.[6] To the extent their prisoners come from places like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the move will clearly hurt conservative representation.

So the next question is, how on earth could such a thing actually happen? As we see with frenzied attempts to disenfranchise people who don’t support Donald Trump,[7] this form of batshit insanity seems to be self-reinforcing, which means that in Pennsylvania, there must be some countervailing feedback I’m not aware of.

Sarah Anne Hughes, “In major shift, Pa. panel votes to count incarcerated people in home districts, not state prisons,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 24, 2021,


Anna North, “The death of the job,” Vox, August 24, 2021,

Gig economy

One of the simultaneously most aggravating and terrifying things about driving for Uber and Lyft is income tax. I moved from California in 2019, had my taxes for the year professionally prepared, and now, California’s Franchise Tax Board is coming after me for a return, which my preparer decided was not necessary, really because the poor are low-hanging fruit, easy pickings, while the rich get to do something else entirely.[8] Not only am I being ripped off in all the ways that the “independent contractor” scam rips workers off, but the ripping off never ends, never goes away, is never something I can put behind me.

So now, with a move in progress, at an expensive time in my life, I’m absolutely terrified. And all for a job I absolutely despise and do not want.

But even with this so-called “labor shortage,” I would not be hired for a real job if I were the last person on earth. I know that now, because the purpose I serve, being underemployed (unemployed would be better) is existential for the capitalist system.[9] And I’m more furious than ever.

Laura Forman, “An Uncomfortable Proposition for Gig Economy Investors,” Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2021,

Justin Ray, “Prop. 22 is ruled unconstitutional: What it means, how apps reacted and what happens next,” Los Angeles Times, August 23, 2021,

Edward Ongweso, Jr., “Prop 22 Was Declared Unconstitutional, and It’s Just the Beginning,” Vice, August 24, 2021,

Suhauna Hussain, “Prop. 22 was ruled unconstitutional. What will the final outcome be?” Los Angeles Times, August 25, 2021,

  1. [1]Paul Waldman, “Time to say it: We’re done with the vaccine refusers,” Washington Post, August 23, 2021,
  2. [2]Paul Waldman, “Time to say it: We’re done with the vaccine refusers,” Washington Post, August 23, 2021,
  3. [3]Rachel Siegel, “As eviction crisis loomed, rental relief barely picked up in July,” Washington Post, August 25, 2021,
  4. [4]George Monbiot, “Dead Line,” August 24, 2021,
  5. [5]Sarah Anne Hughes, “In major shift, Pa. panel votes to count incarcerated people in home districts, not state prisons,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 24, 2021,
  6. [6]Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, “State Prisons,” 2021,
  7. [7]Philip Bump, “Despite GOP rhetoric, there have been fewer than two dozen charged cases of voter fraud since the election,” Washington Post, May 4, 2021,; Philip Bump, “Biden warns that American democracy is under threat — a message targeting many in his own party,” Washington Post, July 13, 2021,; Stephen Caruso, “GOP 2022 gubernatorial hopefuls spar over Pa. vote by-mail law,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, August 5, 2021,; Marjorie Cohn, “Supreme Court Drives a Stake Through the Heart of the Voting Rights Act,” Truthout, July 2, 2021,; Stephen Collinson, “Revolt by Texas Democrats heaps pressure on Washington to act on voting reform,” CNN, June 1, 2021,; Elizabeth Findell, “Texas Democrats to Stage Walkout to Kill Voting Bill,” Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2021,; Elizabeth Findell, “Texas Senate Passes Voting Bill, as Democratic Rivals Push Federal Bill,” Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2021,; Matt Ford, “The Democrats’ Voting Rights Bill Is Dead,” New Republic, July 13, 2021,; David Gans, “Selective originalism and selective textualism: How the Roberts court decimated the Voting Rights Act,” SCOTUSblog, July 7, 2021,; Amy Gardner and Eva Ruth Moravec, “Texas governor says Democratic lawmakers who left state to stop passage of voting restrictions could face arrest when they return,” Washington Post, July 13, 2021,; Amy Gardner and Amy B Wang, “Georgia governor signs into law sweeping voting bill that curtails the use of drop boxes and imposes new ID requirements for mail voting,” Washington Post, March 25, 2021,; Maya King, David Siders, and Daniel Lippman, “‘We’re f—ed’: Dems fear turnout catastrophe from GOP voting laws,” Politico, July 26, 2021,; Carrie Levine, “Why there’s even more pressure now on Congress to pass a voting rights bill,” Center for Public Integrity, July 9, 2021,; Sam Levine, “Is the US supreme court having a liberal moment? Not on one crucial issue,” Guardian, July 11, 2020,; Scott Lemieux, “How the Supreme Court’s Arizona voting rights decision will affect challenges to Georgia’s law,” NBC News, July 1, 2021,; Abby Livingston and Carla Astudillo, “Sen. Joe Manchin, key Democratic holdout on federal voting protections, coming to Texas for fundraiser hosted by several GOP donors,” Texas Tribune, June 16, 2021,; Amanda Marcotte, “Kyrsten Sinema’s run out of excuses: Supreme Court leaves Senate Democrats with little choice,” Salon, July 2, 2021,; Joseph Marks, “My Pillow cyber symposium is yet another font of election fraud lies,” Washington Post, August 11, 2021,; Jack Rodgers, “Biden Justice Department Won’t Wade Deeper Into High Court Fight of Arizona Election Laws,” Courthouse News Service, February 16, 2021,; Nicholas Stephanopoulos, “The Supreme Court showcased its ‘textualist’ double standard on voting rights,” Washington Post, July 1, 2021,; Sophia Tesfaye, “Democrats’ actions this week suggest they have no real intention to save our democracy,” Raw Story, September 25, 2020,; Jane C. Timm, “Texas Democrats flee state in effort to block GOP-backed voting restrictions,” NBC News, July 12, 2021,; Sarina Vij, “Why Minority Voters Have a Lower Voter Turnout: An Analysis of Current Restrictions,” American Bar Association, June 26, 2020,; David Wasserman, “The Cook Political Report’s 2021 Redistricting Overview,” January 26, 2021,
  8. [8]British Broadcasting Corporation, “US super-rich ‘pay almost no income tax,’” June 9, 2021,; Jesse Eisinger, Jeff Ernsthausen, and Paul Kiel, “The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax,” ProPublica, June 8, 2021,; Nick Hanauer and David M. Rolf, “The Top 1% of Americans Have Taken $50 Trillion From the Bottom 90%—And That’s Made the U.S. Less Secure,” Time, September 14, 2020,; Charles Lane, “The rich got richer during the pandemic. We need to claw back their gains,” Washington Post, January 25, 2021,; Rupert Neate, “Billionaires’ wealth rises to $10.2 trillion amid Covid crisis,” Guardian, October 7, 2020,
  9. [9]David Benfell, “About that alleged ‘labor shortage,’” Not Housebroken, June 10, 2021,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.