Your refusal to go vegan is racist, ageist, and helps the novel coronavirus to spread

Pandemic

The text formerly here has been cleaned up and moved to a new blog post entitled, “Nonhuman animal flesh, race, capitalism, and the novel coronavirus.”

Emma Farge with Peter Graff, “WHO warns of ‘second peak’ in areas where COVID-19 declining,” Reuters, May 25, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-who-peak/who-warns-of-second-peak-in-areas-where-covid-19-declining-idUSKBN2311VJ

Antonio Olivo, Marissa J. Lang, and John D. Harden, “Crowded housing and essential jobs: Why so many Latinos are getting coronavirus,” Washington Post, May 25, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/latinos-coronavirus/2020/05/25/6b5c882a-946e-11ea-82b4-c8db161ff6e5_story.html

Taylor Telford, “The meat industry is trying to get back to normal. But workers are still getting sick — and shortages may get worse,” Washington Post, May 25, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/25/meat-industry-is-trying-get-back-normal-workers-are-still-getting-sick-shortages-may-get-worse/


The racism of COVID-19 bites back

Pittsburgh


Fig 1. Gratuitous guns in Crafton (left) and New Kensington (right). Photographs by author, May 24, 2020.

I really am covering a lot more territory since the pandemic began impacting my rideshare driving and I found two more gratuitous guns yesterday (figure 1), in Crafton (I’m a little surprised I hadn’t seen this before) and New Kensington, both places where a lot of Black folks live. These have been added to the map and the latter, by the way, helps to explain the gun in Springdale.

So when I got home last night, I figured I should bring all this stuff together. My photograph galleries are now public and you can find all of this stuff now, via my Pittsburgh page.

I had also taken a trip to investigate a candidate town (nice enough, but Internet and apartment options are limited) for my expected relocation next year, so by the time I got back from that and pulled the Pittsburgh page together, I was too tired to finish going through email.


Pandemic

A long-suspected second wave of the novel coronavirus is already appearing in places that had escaped relatively unscathed before. Healthcare systems in these areas are already stretched thin and higher proportions of their populations are vulnerable. The article uses the term ‘checkerboard’ to describe the pattern; I might suggest the term ‘hopscotch’ instead, as the virus does not spread uniformly across the country.[1]

This hints at three things: First, the notion of a ‘second wave’ is itself dubious. It suggests that even if this is not “one and done,” it might be “two and done.” But this is starting to look rather like an ongoing transmission of the virus from places where it has already struck to places it has not. Even with this ‘second wave,’ there are a bunch of those.[2]

Second, to the extent that the coronavirus may mutate, the longer it is in the wild, the greater the chance it will do so. And to the extent that the oft-seen analogy with the Spanish Flu of 1918 is accurate, a mutated version may be more deadly than the first.[3]

Third, the so-called ‘first wave’ appeared mostly in cities. The so-called ‘second wave’ is appearing in rural areas.[4] The former tend to be associated with support for Democrats and the latter tend to be associated with support for Republicans. Donald Trump and his supporters may have decided that COVID-19 was just fine as long as it was killing Blacks who are often (but definitely not exclusively) concentrated in cities.[5] We’ll see what happens as the disease affects more rural whites.

(I have updated my last blog post with the above text.)

Reis Thebault and Abigail Hauslohner, “A deadly ‘checkerboard’: Covid-19’s new surge across rural America,” Washington Post, May 24, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/24/coronavirus-rural-america-outbreaks/


Capitalism


  1. [1]Reis Thebault and Abigail Hauslohner, “A deadly ‘checkerboard’: Covid-19’s new surge across rural America,” Washington Post, May 24, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/24/coronavirus-rural-america-outbreaks/
  2. [2]Reis Thebault and Abigail Hauslohner, “A deadly ‘checkerboard’: Covid-19’s new surge across rural America,” Washington Post, May 24, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/24/coronavirus-rural-america-outbreaks/
  3. [3]Dave Roos, “Why the Second Wave of the 1918 Spanish Flu Was So Deadly,” History Channel, March 30, 2020, https://www.history.com/news/spanish-flu-second-wave-resurgence
  4. [4]Reis Thebault and Abigail Hauslohner, “A deadly ‘checkerboard’: Covid-19’s new surge across rural America,” Washington Post, May 24, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/24/coronavirus-rural-america-outbreaks/
  5. [5]Kenya Evelyn, “‘We’re expendable’: black Americans pay the price as states lift lockdowns,” Guardian, May 25, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/25/covid-19-lockdowns-african-americans-essential-workers; Bryan Armen Graham, “‘Swastikas and nooses’: governor slams ‘racism’ of Michigan lockdown protest,” Guardian, May 3, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/03/michigan-gretchen-whitmer-lockdown-protest-racism; Eugene Scott, “4 reasons coronavirus is hitting black communities so hard,” Washington Post, April 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/10/4-reasons-coronavirus-is-hitting-black-communities-so-hard/; Adam Serwer, “The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying,” Atlantic, May 9, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/americas-racial-contract-showing/611389/

For Memorial Day

Pandemic

This New York Times front page (figure 1) is popping up all over Twitter:
EYvGh_tWoAEjTRj
Fig. 1. New York Times front page for May 24, 2020, via Twitter, fair use.

I tend to be highly critical of the Times. I unsubscribed when I felt their coverage of the 2016 election had been slanted much too much in Hillary Clinton’s favor at the expense of Bernie Sanders. Margaret Sullivan was critical of that coverage,[1] but though she is now at the Washington Post, the Times seems to have heeded her advice not to normalize COVID-19 deaths.[2] This is to their credit.

It’s worth remembering that the “confirmed cases” count is almost certainly an undercount.[3] It’s also worth remembering that Donald Trump was more interested in protecting the stock market and his reelection chances than in protecting U.S. citizens and that he has peddled quack cures to that end.[4] Finally, it’s worth remembering that the entire political establishment has been complicit in refusing to provide adequate aid to enable people to stay home, which would have helped to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, and instead has rushed to reopen.[5]


  1. [1]Margaret Sullivan, “Has The Times Dismissed Bernie Sanders?” New York Times, September 9, 2015, http://publiceditor.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/09/09/has-the-times-dismissed-bernie-sanders/
  2. [2]Margaret Sullivan, “Trump wants America to ‘normalize’ coronavirus deaths. It’s the media’s job not to play along,” Washington Post, May 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/media/trump-wants-america-to-normalize-coronavirus-deaths-its-the-medias-job-not-to-play-along/2020/05/09/72de4c32-9090-11ea-a9c0-73b93422d691_story.html
  3. [3]David Benfell, “We may die at home or we may die alone but we are surely dying,” Not Housebroken, April 28, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/28/we-may-die-at-home-or-we-may-die-alone-but-we-are-surely-dying/; Emma Brown et al., “U.S. deaths soared in early weeks of pandemic, far exceeding number attributed to covid-19,” Washington Post, April 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/2020/04/27/covid-19-death-toll-undercounted/; Emma Brown, Beth Reinhard, and Aaron C. Davis, “Coronavirus death toll: Americans are almost certainly dying of covid-19 but being left out of the official count,” Washington Post, April 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/coronavirus-death-toll-americans-are-almost-certainly-dying-of-covid-19-but-being-left-out-of-the-official-count/2020/04/05/71d67982-747e-11ea-87da-77a8136c1a6d_story.html
  4. [4]Associated Press, “FDA warns against using the drugs that Trump touts for coronavirus,” Los Angeles Times, April 24, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-04-24/fda-warns-against-using-trump-touted-drugs-to-treat-coronavirus; David Benfell, “The dangerous and delusional raging narcissist-in-chief,” Not Housebroken, April 25, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/25/the-dangerous-and-delusional-raging-narcissist-in-chief/; Aaron Blake, “The timeline of Trump’s coronavirus response is increasingly damning,” Washington Post, April 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/07/timeline-trumps-coronavirus-response-is-increasingly-damning/; Allyson Chiu, Katie Shepherd, and Brittany Shammas, “Trump comments prompt doctors, and Lysol, to warn against injecting disinfectants,” Washington Post, April 24, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/04/24/disinfectant-injection-coronavirus-trump/; 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/; David Roth, “The Enduring Delusion of a Chastened Trump,” New Republic, April 3, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/157154/enduring-delusion-chastened-trump; Aaron Rupar, “Trump and Fox News want to send their hydroxychloroquine hype down the memory hole,” Vox, April 22, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/4/22/21230982/hydroxychloroquine-coronavirus-trump-fox-news-hype; Anna Sanders and Chris Sommerfeldt, “A spike in New Yorkers ingesting household cleaners following Trump’s controversial coronavirus comments,” New York Daily News, April 24, 2020, https://www.nydailynews.com/coronavirus/ny-coronavirus-new-yorkers-household-cleaners-trump-20200425-rnaqio5dyfeaxmthxx2vktqa5m-story.html; Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman, “Health Dept. Official Says Doubts on Hydroxychloroquine Led to His Ouster,” New York Times, April 22, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/22/us/politics/rick-bright-trump-hydroxychloroquine.html; David Von Drehle, “If Trump doesn’t like the coronavirus news now, he’ll hate what comes next,” Washington Post, March 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/if-trump-doesnt-like-the-coronavirus-news-now-hell-hate-what-comes-next/2020/03/10/e478c314-62ea-11ea-acca-80c22bbee96f_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/; Paul Waldman, “The real reason Trump is obsessed with hydroxychloroquine,” Washington Post, April 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/07/real-reason-trump-is-obsessed-with-hydroxychloroquine/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “The capitalist death cult,” Not Housebroken, March 27, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/27/the-capitalist-death-cult/; David Benfell, “The worst of times and the worst of humanity,” Not Housebroken, April 2, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/02/the-worst-of-times-and-the-worst-of-humanity/; David Benfell, “I fear for our world,” Not Housebroken, April 9, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/09/i-fear-for-our-world/; David Benfell, “Don’t just say #COVIDIOTS,” Not Housebroken, April 19, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/19/dont-just-say-covidiots/; David Benfell, “Elite priorities: Why social, animal, and environmental justice remains essential with COVID-19,” Not Housebroken, April 26, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/26/elite-priorities-why-social-animal-and-environmental-justice-remains-essential-with-covid-19/; David Benfell, “We may die at home or we may die alone but we are surely dying,” Not Housebroken, April 28, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/28/we-may-die-at-home-or-we-may-die-alone-but-we-are-surely-dying/; David Benfell, “Yet again, a season for cynicism,” Not Housebroken, May 10, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/05/10/yet-again-a-season-for-cynicism/; David Benfell, “Surprise! Surprise! The capitalist god is greedy!” Not Housebroken, May 23, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/05/23/surprise-surprise-the-capitalist-god-is-greedy/

‘Doctor’ ‘Very Stable Genius’ writes a very bad prescription

Pandemic

Not that this should be even remotely surprising, but hydroxychloroquine is bad stuff,[1] even if a “very stable genius”[2] recommends it:[3]

“It’s one thing not to have benefit, but this [study] shows distinct harm,” said Eric Topol, a cardiologist and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. “If there was ever hope for this drug [hydroxychloroquine], this is the death of it.” . . .

For those given hydroxychloroquine, there was a 34 percent increase in risk of mortality and a 137 percent increased risk of a serious heart arrhythmias. For those receiving hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic — the cocktail endorsed by Trump — there was a 45 percent increased risk of death and a 411 percent increased risk of serious heart arrhythmias.

Those given chloroquine had a 37 percent increased risk of death and a 256 percent increased risk of serious heart arrhythmias. For those taking chloroquine and an antibiotic, there was a 37 percent increased risk of death and a 301 percent increased risk of serious heart arrhythmias.[4]

While this particular study relies on correlation, controlled experiments have also shown an increased risk of heart problems and little or no benefit in treating COVID-19.[5]

I have decided I can no longer patronize my favorite vegan restaurant in the Pittsburgh area, the one in North Strabane. The old man is a brilliant cook, really he is, but his attitude toward the lockdown, even to wearing masks, is unacceptable. I’m pretty sure he’s getting his information from the same sources as white supremacists who also blame Jews for the virus, which is especially ironic given that the family that runs this place appears to be conservative Jewish. Sorry, I just can’t wrap my head around this.

Ariana Eunjung Cha and Laurie McGinley, “Antimalarial drug touted by President Trump is linked to increased risk of death in coronavirus patients, study says,” Washington Post, May 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/05/22/hydroxychloroquine-coronavirus-study/

Dana Mattioli and Konrad Putzier, “When It’s Time to Go Back to the Office, Will It Still Be There?” Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/when-its-time-to-go-back-to-the-office-will-it-still-be-there-11589601618


Housekeeping

IMG_20200522_125537_MP
Fig. 1. I don’t think I’m slick enough for Slickville, in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Photograph by author, May 22, 2020.

I am discovering that if you get far enough away from Pittsburgh, the white supremacist gun nuttery seems to recede to something like a normal level. I wound up out in Greensburg, which is in Westmoreland County, today and it felt like a breath of fresh air. The rent is still too high and I have seen way too much social conservatism in previous visits to Westmoreland County anyway, but it may be possible for me to remain in the Pittsburgh area, albeit at some distance.


  1. [1]Associated Press, “FDA warns against using the drugs that Trump touts for coronavirus,” Los Angeles Times, April 24, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-04-24/fda-warns-against-using-trump-touted-drugs-to-treat-coronavirus; Marilynn Marchione, “Heart woes spur partial stop of malaria drug study for virus,” Washington Post, April 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/heart-woes-spur-partial-stop-of-malaria-drug-study-for-virus/2020/04/13/c6460050-7db6-11ea-84c2-0792d8591911_story.html
  2. [2]Emily Stewart, “Trump tweets that he’s a genius and ‘a very stable genius at that!’” Vox, January 6, 2018, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/1/6/16857492/trump-tweets-mental-health
  3. [3]Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman, “Health Dept. Official Says Doubts on Hydroxychloroquine Led to His Ouster,” New York Times, April 22, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/22/us/politics/rick-bright-trump-hydroxychloroquine.html; Paul Waldman, “The real reason Trump is obsessed with hydroxychloroquine,” Washington Post, April 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/07/real-reason-trump-is-obsessed-with-hydroxychloroquine/
  4. [4]Ariana Eunjung Cha and Laurie McGinley, “Antimalarial drug touted by President Trump is linked to increased risk of death in coronavirus patients, study says,” Washington Post, May 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/05/22/hydroxychloroquine-coronavirus-study/
  5. [5]Ariana Eunjung Cha and Laurie McGinley, “Antimalarial drug touted by President Trump is linked to increased risk of death in coronavirus patients, study says,” Washington Post, May 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/05/22/hydroxychloroquine-coronavirus-study/; Marilynn Marchione, “Heart woes spur partial stop of malaria drug study for virus,” Washington Post, April 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/heart-woes-spur-partial-stop-of-malaria-drug-study-for-virus/2020/04/13/c6460050-7db6-11ea-84c2-0792d8591911_story.html

I hope you all are enjoying the show. I’m sure not.

Updates

  1. Originally published, May 21, 10:20 am.
  2. May 21, 9:37 pm:
    • Facebook has now also announced more (which is better than none, but in Facebook’s case, not much better than none) opportunities to work from home permanently.[1] The offer comes in stark contrast to Twitter’s somewhat more generous offer.[2]
  3. May 22, 8:58 am:
    • Donald Trump defied company requests and Michigan state law in addressing workers at a Ford plant without a face mask.[3] There are a number of issues with wearing face masks but a large part of it is that it is a marker for support for or opposition to Trump[4] in contrast to trust in medical authorities and compliance with state governors and their authority.[5] The politicization of the pandemic is certainly a possible path to our downfall.
    • The Wall Street Journal adds to the story already reported here about unemployment claims[6] by explaining that the number of people collecting unemployment benefits is up to over 25 million. This number, the paper explains, lags initial filings by a week.[7] For me, this story underscores the callousness of a bipartisan political decision to reduce the question of further economic relief to politics as usual[8] and we, as a society, should be asking what the fuck our system of social organization is good for if it doesn’t actually take care of people. Unfortunately, the answer at present has been reduced to protests against the lockdown and the decision to wear or not wear masks (see the immediately preceding bullet point above).
    • Just as a further comment on the Facebook story[9] in the earlier update (above), if you haven’t been by Facebook’s campus in Menlo Park, it is huge and Google Maps really doesn’t do justice to the visual impression. It is difficult to compare to Google’s headquarters (which I suspect are nonetheless larger) in Mountain View visually because the layouts and building designs are so different (one might suspect that this reflects vastly different corporate cultures). But when Mark Zuckerberg says he still thinks Facebook needs the space with the restrictions on working at home his company is imposing and with social distancing requirements that will be imposed within the offices[10] (their cubicles might be a little less hellish?), one is still entitled to suspect that his decision-making is influenced by a desire to justify the existence of that office space.

Pandemic

MasterCard will not send workers back to offices, it says, without a vaccine.[11] That could be a while. A long while.[12] And the company is considering consolidating offices,[13] which brings my warning yesterday more sharply into focus.[14]

Overall, however, we seem to be in a rush to reopen, even as the pandemic continues to rage in some areas and health care systems in some areas are overwhelmed,[15] and despite medical warnings against a hasty reopening.[16] That puts the rest of us at risk: Nobody’s borders—not even North Korea’s—are hermetically sealed.

It’s almost as if we are in a rush to rubberneck at the trainwreck that is the economy,[17] a trainwreck made all the more spectacular by our adamance in continuing to embrace neoliberalism and the corresponding refusal to embrace obviously correct progressive proposals.[18]

I hope you all are enjoying the show. I’m sure not. Rather, I’m at a loss for words at just how brain-dead all of this is.

Joel Achenbach et al., “Coronavirus hot spots erupt across the country; experts warn of second wave in South,” Washington Post, May 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/coronavirus-hot-spots-erupt-across-the-country-experts-warn-of-possible-outbreaks-in-south/2020/05/20/49bc6d10-9ab4-11ea-a282-386f56d579e6_story.html

Associated Press, “2.4 million Americans sought jobless aid last week; 39 million since coronavirus struck,” Los Angeles Times, May 21, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-05-21/coronavirus-jobless-unemployment-benefits

Sarah Chaney and Kate King, “Workers File 2.4 Million Unemployment Claims,” Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/self-employed-arent-counted-in-wave-of-unemployment-claims-11590053402

Jeff Horwitz, “Facebook to Shift Permanently Toward More Remote Work After Coronavirus,” Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-to-shift-permanently-toward-more-remote-work-after-coronavirus-11590081300

Noor Zainab Hussain, “Mastercard won’t send staff back to office without coronavirus vaccine,” Sydney Morning Herald, May 21, 2020, https://www.smh.com.au/business/banking-and-finance/mastercard-won-t-send-staff-back-to-office-without-coronavirus-vaccine-20200521-p54v12.html

Chong Koh Ping and Matthew Dalton, “Coronavirus Case Count Tops Five Million World-Wide,” Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-latest-news-05-21-2020-11590043161

Alison Rourke, “Global report: don’t count on vaccine, US scientist warns, as cases pass 5m,” Guardian, May 21, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/21/global-report-coronavirus-vaccine-us-scientist-cases-5-million

Joanna Walters, “Donald Trump goes without mask at Michigan Ford plant despite company request,” Guardian, May 22, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/21/trump-ford-factory-mask-michigan


  1. [1]Jeff Horwitz, “Facebook to Shift Permanently Toward More Remote Work After Coronavirus,” Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-to-shift-permanently-toward-more-remote-work-after-coronavirus-11590081300
  2. [2]Heather Kelly, “Twitter employees don’t ever have to go back to the office (unless they want to),” Washington Post, May 12, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/05/12/twitter-work-home/
  3. [3]Joanna Walters, “Donald Trump goes without mask at Michigan Ford plant despite company request,” Guardian, May 22, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/21/trump-ford-factory-mask-michigan
  4. [4]Marc Fisher, Clarence Williams, and Lori Rozsa, “Will Americans wear masks to prevent coronavirus spread? Politics, history, race and crime factor into tough decision,” Washington Post, April 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/coronavirus-masks-america/2020/04/18/bdb16bf2-7a85-11ea-a130-df573469f094_story.html
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Don’t just say #COVIDIOTS,” Not Housebroken, April 19, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/19/dont-just-say-covidiots/; David Benfell, “When confusion starts killing people, it is long past time to recognize it for what it is,” Not Housebroken, May 21, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/21/when-confusion-starts-killing-people-it-is-long-past-time-to-recognize-it-for-what-it-is/; David Benfell, “The pandemic and a crisis of illegitimate authority,” Not Housebroken, May 14, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/05/12/the-pandemic-and-a-crisis-of-illegitimate-authority/
  6. [6]Associated Press, “2.4 million Americans sought jobless aid last week; 39 million since coronavirus struck,” Los Angeles Times, May 21, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-05-21/coronavirus-jobless-unemployment-benefits
  7. [7]Sarah Chaney and Kate King, “Workers File 2.4 Million Unemployment Claims,” Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/self-employed-arent-counted-in-wave-of-unemployment-claims-11590053402
  8. [8]David Benfell, “Yet again, a season for cynicism,” Not Housebroken, May 10, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/05/10/yet-again-a-season-for-cynicism/
  9. [9]Jeff Horwitz, “Facebook to Shift Permanently Toward More Remote Work After Coronavirus,” Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-to-shift-permanently-toward-more-remote-work-after-coronavirus-11590081300
  10. [10]Jeff Horwitz, “Facebook to Shift Permanently Toward More Remote Work After Coronavirus,” Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-to-shift-permanently-toward-more-remote-work-after-coronavirus-11590081300
  11. [11]Noor Zainab Hussain, “Mastercard won’t send staff back to office without coronavirus vaccine,” Sydney Morning Herald, May 21, 2020, https://www.smh.com.au/business/banking-and-finance/mastercard-won-t-send-staff-back-to-office-without-coronavirus-vaccine-20200521-p54v12.html
  12. [12]Andrew Nikiforuk, “Don’t Bet on a Vaccine,” Tyee, May 13, 2020, https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2020/05/13/Vaccine-Not-Likely/; Alison Rourke, “Global report: don’t count on vaccine, US scientist warns, as cases pass 5m,” Guardian, May 21, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/21/global-report-coronavirus-vaccine-us-scientist-cases-5-million
  13. [13]Noor Zainab Hussain, “Mastercard won’t send staff back to office without coronavirus vaccine,” Sydney Morning Herald, May 21, 2020, https://www.smh.com.au/business/banking-and-finance/mastercard-won-t-send-staff-back-to-office-without-coronavirus-vaccine-20200521-p54v12.html
  14. [14]David Benfell, “COVID-19 points to a future gone entirely wrong,” Not Housebroken, May 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/05/20/covid-19-points-to-a-future-gone-entirely-wrong/
  15. [15]Joel Achenbach et al., “Coronavirus hot spots erupt across the country; experts warn of second wave in South,” Washington Post, May 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/coronavirus-hot-spots-erupt-across-the-country-experts-warn-of-possible-outbreaks-in-south/2020/05/20/49bc6d10-9ab4-11ea-a282-386f56d579e6_story.html; John F. Harris, “Admit It: You Are Willing to Let People Die to End the Shutdown,” Politico, April 30, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/04/30/coronavirus-shutdown-altitude-ethics-223569; Chong Koh Ping and Matthew Dalton, “Coronavirus Case Count Tops Five Million World-Wide,” Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-latest-news-05-21-2020-11590043161
  16. [16]Adam Cancryn and Nancy Cook, “Health officials want Trump to ‘double down, not lighten up’ restrictions,” Politico, March 23, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/23/coronavirus-economy-trump-restart-145222; David Wallace-Wells, “We Are Probably Only One-Tenth of the Way Through This Pandemic,” New York, April 17, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/04/we-are-probably-only-a-tenth-of-the-way-through-the-pandemic.html; David Wallace-Wells, “There Is Still No Plan,” New York, May 7, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/05/white-house-plan-for-ending-coronavirus-stay-at-home-orders.html; Holly Yan, “5 common arguments for reopening the economy — and why experts say they are flawed,” CNN, May 11, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/11/us/reopening-the-economy-flawed-arguments-trnd/index.html
  17. [17]Associated Press, “2.4 million Americans sought jobless aid last week; 39 million since coronavirus struck,” Los Angeles Times, May 21, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-05-21/coronavirus-jobless-unemployment-benefits; John Cassidy, “The Most Alarming Thing About the Worst Jobs Report in History,” New Yorker, May 8, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-most-alarming-thing-about-the-worst-jobs-report-in-history; Sarah Chaney and Kate King, “Workers File 2.4 Million Unemployment Claims,” Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/self-employed-arent-counted-in-wave-of-unemployment-claims-11590053402; William Gumede, “The impact of coronavirus could compare to the Great Depression,” Al Jazeera, May 3, 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/impact-coronavirus-compare-great-depression-200420070542882.html; Faiz Siddiqui, “Tesla’s Elon Musk reopens factory, defying county orders and daring officials to arrest him,” Washington Post, May 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/05/11/musk-tesla-factory/; Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Eileen Sullivan, “As Trump Pushes to Reopen, Government Sees Virus Toll Nearly Doubling,” New York Times, May 4, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/04/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-death-toll.html; Charles Thompson, “Two central Pa. counties say they plan to reopen ahead of Gov. Wolf’s schedule,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, May 8, 2020, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2020/05/dauphin-lebanon-county-officials-declare-themselves-ready-to-reopen-say-they-will-break-from-gov-wolfs-plan.html;
  18. [18]David Benfell, “We are not going to be alright,” Not Housebroken, March 21, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/21/we-are-not-going-to-be-alright/; David Benfell, “The capitalist death cult,” Not Housebroken, March 27, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/27/the-capitalist-death-cult/; David Benfell, “When nothing happened next,” Not Housebroken, March 29, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/29/when-nothing-happened-next/; David Benfell, “The worst of times and the worst of humanity,” Not Housebroken, April 2, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/02/the-worst-of-times-and-the-worst-of-humanity/; David Benfell, “As we cower in our apartments,” Not Housebroken, April 6, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/06/as-we-cower-in-our-apartments/; David Benfell, “I fear for our world,” Not Housebroken, April 9, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/09/i-fear-for-our-world/; David Benfell, “An impatient capitalist god demands human sacrifice. Now,” Not Housebroken, April 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/15/an-impatient-capitalist-god-demands-human-sacrifice-now/; David Benfell, “Don’t just say #COVIDIOTS,” Not Housebroken, April 19, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/19/dont-just-say-covidiots/; David Benfell, “When confusion starts killing people, it is long past time to recognize it for what it is,” Not Housebroken, April 21, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/21/when-confusion-starts-killing-people-it-is-long-past-time-to-recognize-it-for-what-it-is/; David Benfell, “Elite priorities: Why social, animal, and environmental justice remains essential with COVID-19,” Not Housebroken, April 26, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/26/elite-priorities-why-social-animal-and-environmental-justice-remains-essential-with-covid-19/; David Benfell, “We may die at home or we may die alone but we are surely dying,” Not Housebroken, April 28, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/28/we-may-die-at-home-or-we-may-die-alone-but-we-are-surely-dying/; Jonathan Chait, “Trump Wants to Starve the States Into Opening Before It’s Safe,” New York, April 20, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/04/trump-coronavirus-open-state-governors-protests.html; David Frum, “Why Mitch McConnell Wants States to Go Bankrupt,” Atlantic, April 25, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/04/why-mitch-mcconnell-wants-states-go-bankrupt/610714/; Ed Kilgore, “Could Trump Go the Way of Herbert Hoover?” New York, May 4, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/05/could-herbert-hoovers-fate-be-trumps.html; Joe Lowndes, “The Morbid Ideology Behind the Drive to Reopen America,” New Republic, April 30, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/157505/morbid-ideology-behind-drive-reopen-america; Robert McCartney, “McConnell’s rejection of federal aid for states risks causing a depression, analysts say,” Washington Post, April 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/mcconnells-rejection-of-federal-aid-for-states-risks-causing-a-depression-analysts-say/2020/04/26/1fd4731c-8632-11ea-a3eb-e9fc93160703_story.html; Jennifer Rubin, “Mitch McConnell cries ‘Uncle!’” Washington Post, April 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/28/mcconnell-cries-uncle/

COVID-19: The aftermath

Pandemic

I can’t tell you how reluctant I am to share newsletters in this space. First, I don’t trust the URLs. I wonder if they will be broken for others now, or generally in the future. Second, I’d rather get the original stories.

But this one[1] is good—really good—and I have responded with a new blog post entitled, “COVID-19 points to a future gone entirely wrong.”

Ishaan Tharoor with Ruby Mellen, “The pandemic may forever change the world’s cities,” Washington Post, May 20, 2020, https://s2.washingtonpost.com/camp-rw/?trackId=5a39652eae7e8a58807f9446&s=5ec4aa54fe1ff654c2e1eea0&linknum=4&linktot=72


  1. [1]Ishaan Tharoor with Ruby Mellen, “The pandemic may forever change the world’s cities,” Washington Post, May 20, 2020, https://s2.washingtonpost.com/camp-rw/?trackId=5a39652eae7e8a58807f9446&s=5ec4aa54fe1ff654c2e1eea0&linknum=4&linktot=72

The Year of Fear

There is a new blog post from Sunday entitled, “Pittsburgh, race, and a threat to appropriated identity.”

The Columbia Journalism Review has been running a series entitled “The Year of Fear,” featuring essays from local journalists in four towns in this election year. I’ve been following Jason Togyer, who covers McKeesport, largely because he helps fill in the blanks in my understanding of what has happened to Pittsburgh and that new blog post responds to one of his essays. For me, this is truly amazing stuff.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Economic Bill of Rights and a slight revision to my simple definition of fascism

Pandemic

Megan Guza, “Beaver County among 12 more moving to Pennsylvania’s yellow phase,” TribLive, May 15, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/beaver-county-among-12-more-moving-to-pennsylvanias-yellow-phase/


Fascism

There is a rather substantive update to “A simple definition of fascism.” The change to the definition itself is almost, but not quite, trivial, and I draw it from the State of the Union Address in which Franklin Delano Roosevelt laid out his Economic Bill of Rights.[1] The relevant portion of that speech is worth excerpting:

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth- is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our Nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.

One of the great American industrialists of our day—a man who has rendered yeoman service to his country in this crisis-recently emphasized the grave dangers of “rightist reaction” in this Nation. All clear-thinking businessmen share his concern. Indeed, if such reaction should develop—if history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called “normalcy” of the 1920’s—then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home.[2]

For those whom Roosevelt is yet one more name in a fog of history, Roosevelt got us into World War II, against Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan, immediately following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This is the war to which he refers. And “the so-called ‘normalcy’ of the 1920’s” precedes the New Deal which has been eviscerated under neoliberalism. Charles Reich wrote of the capitalist libertarian impulse that became neoliberalism once in power:

Every step the New Deal took encountered the massive, bitter opposition of Consciousness I people. They found their world changing beyond recognition, and instead of blaming the primary forces behind that change, they blamed the efforts at solving problems. They totally lacked the sophistication necessary to see that a measure such as the Wagner Act might be redressing an existing oppression rather than creating oppression. The businessmen who were the most vocal in their opposition had a pathological hatred of the New Deal, a hatred so intense and personal as to defy analysis. Why this hatred, when the New Deal, in retrospect, seems to have saved the capitalist system? Perhaps because the New Deal intruded irrevocably upon their make-believe, problem-free world in which the pursuit of business gain and self-interest was imagined to be automatically beneficial to all of mankind, requiring of them no additional responsibility whatever. In any event, there was a large and politically powerful number of Americans who never accepted the New Deal even when it benefited them, and used their power whenever they could to cut it back.[3]

In Roosevelt’s day, this opposition was so extreme as to lead to an attempt to organize a coup against him.[4] It is also worth noting that the International Covenant of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, adopted and, to this day, ratified by all but a very small number of countries (the U.S. has signed but not ratified this treaty), in the immediate post-war period goes even further.[5]
The revised definition is this:

Fascism is an ideology that seeks to institutionalize structural and physical violence against some or many subaltern groups on the grounds of bigotry and to increase its own public support through the exploitation of such violence and bigotry. This bigotry may take several forms including nationalism, scapegoating, sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. To the extent that it succeeds, it acts as a self-reinforcing feedback as public support enables further and more extreme violence.[6]

The change is in the addition of a single word, classism, to the examples of bigotry listed. The idea really remains the same.


  1. [1]Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “State of the Union Message to Congress, January 11, 1944,” Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, n.d., http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/archives/address_text.html
  2. [2]Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “State of the Union Message to Congress, January 11, 1944,” Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, n.d., http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/archives/address_text.html
  3. [3]Charles A. Reich, The Greening of America (New York: Crown, 1970), 56-57.
  4. [4]George Seldes, 1000 Americans: The Real Rulers of the U.S.A. (New York: Boni and Gaer, 1948; Joshua Tree, CA: Progressive, 2009).
  5. [5]International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, December 16, 1966, United Nations, General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI), https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/cescr.aspx; United Nations, “Ratification Status: International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,” January 15, 2019, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-3&chapter=4&lang=en
  6. [6]David Benfell, “A simple definition of fascism,” Not Housebroken, May 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/06/a-simple-definition-of-fascism/

Our present political and economic order is simply not up to the dilemma of COVID-19

Pandemic

unnamed
Fig. 1. Cartoon by Bob Moran of the Telegraph, May 14, 2020, via a newsletter, fair use.

When I wrote “The pandemic and a crisis of illegitimate authority” and “Don’t bet on ‘herd immunity’,” I essentially thought of a possible vaccine for COVID-19 as one might in terms of the old admonition against counting your chickens before they’ve hatched and didn’t bother to look into it further. I was more optimistic in the latter post than the former. It turns out that, as with the antibody-based protection that arises from being exposed to the disease,[1] and that some rely on for “herd immunity,”[2] there are nuances, including the possibility that a vaccine isn’t possible.[3] This, in addition to that it will take time to mass produce and distribute a vaccine should it be found,[4] should be absolutely unsurprising, and I’ve updated these posts accordingly.

The ugly truth here, and it’s not one I want to hear either, is that we as a species may well have to live with the novel coronavirus for many years to come. There’s a lot that needs to be rethought, including how we treat each other as human beings, should this prove to be the case, that we really need to be rethinking anyway, and—I don’t care what your political predilections are—our present political and economic order is simply not up to this task.

Andrew Nikiforuk, “Don’t Bet on a Vaccine,” Tyee, May 13, 2020, https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2020/05/13/Vaccine-Not-Likely/


Recession

I have added the photograph in figure 2 to an existing blog post entitled, “The abandoned.”
IMG_20200514_100125
Fig. 2. Abandoned houses in McKeesport. Photograph by author, May 14, 2020.

Tony Romm, “3 million Americans filed jobless claims last week, pushing eight-week total to 36.5 million,” Washington Post, May 14, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/14/unemployment-jobless-claims-coronavirus/


  1. [1]Christie Aschwanden, “Sorry, Immunity to Covid-19 Won’t Be Like a Superpower,” Wired, April 16, 2020, https://www.wired.com/story/sorry-immunity-to-covid-19-wont-be-like-a-superpower/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Don’t bet on ‘herd immunity,’” Not Housebroken, April 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/18/dont-bet-on-herd-immunity/
  3. [3]Andrew Nikiforuk, “Don’t Bet on a Vaccine,” Tyee, May 13, 2020, https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2020/05/13/Vaccine-Not-Likely/
  4. [4]Andrew Nikiforuk, “Don’t Bet on a Vaccine,” Tyee, May 13, 2020, https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2020/05/13/Vaccine-Not-Likely/; Christopher Rowland, Carolyn Y. Johnson, and William Wan, “Even finding a covid-19 vaccine won’t be enough to end the pandemic,” Washington Post, May 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/11/coronavirus-vaccine-global-supply/