Eric Morath, “The Job Market’s Long Road Back,” Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-job-markets-long-road-back-11590206400
Eric Morath, “The Job Market’s Long Road Back,” Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-job-markets-long-road-back-11590206400
“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.
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.
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
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.
MasterCard will not send workers back to offices, it says, without a vaccine. That could be a while. A long while. And the company is considering consolidating offices, which brings my warning yesterday more sharply into focus.
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, and despite medical warnings against a hasty reopening. 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, 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.
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
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.
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
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, and that some rely on for “herd immunity,” there are nuances, including the possibility that a vaccine isn’t possible. This, in addition to that it will take time to mass produce and distribute a vaccine should it be found, 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/
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/
We still refuse to take care of people. What the fuck is the point of civilization if it comes to this?
"Roughly 27 million people have likely lost job-based health coverage." – @axios
Yet somehow, #MedicareForAll is rejected by both parties.
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) May 13, 2020
In general and as a consequence, the reactionary nuttery to the lockdown continues to intensify.
Rocco Naples of Pleasant Unity Twp Westmoreland County faces felony charges after he allegedly called Gov Wolf’s business several times saying he “Had a bullet waiting for Wolf” if he kept businesses closed due to the pandemic. Full story tonight on KDKA. pic.twitter.com/1F3dGqgkhI
— Ross Guidotti (@RossGuidotti) May 13, 2020
Moriah Balingit, “Armed militia helped a Michigan barbershop open, a coronavirus defiance that puts Republican lawmakers in a bind,” Washington Post, May 12, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/coronavirus-michigan-republicans-whitmer/2020/05/12/54975e1a-9466-11ea-82b4-c8db161ff6e5_story.html
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/
Mark Scott and Steven Overly, “‘Conspiracy bingo’: Trans-Atlantic extremists seize on the pandemic,” Politico, May 12, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/12/trans-atlantic-conspiracy-coronavirus-251325
Neena Satija, “‘Come on, we’re human beings’: Judges question response to coronavirus pandemic in federal prisons,” Washington Post, May 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/come-on-were-human-beings-judges-question-response-to-coronavirus-pandemic-in-federal-prisons/2020/05/12/925e5d32-912a-11ea-a9c0-73b93422d691_story.html
Brandon Showalter, “3,000 Calif. churches vow to reopen on Pentecost Sunday, regardless of gov. orders,” Christian Post, May 13, 2020, https://www.christianpost.com/news/3000-calif-churches-vow-to-reopen-on-pentecost-sunday-regardless-of-gov-orders.html
One of the very odd things in my life has been the parallels between two places I have lived, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. It shows up in lots of ways. Bridges are named for Joe Montana, the famous San Francisco 49ers quarterback, near the Monongahela River and the town of Monongahela. San Francisco’s cable cars are echoed by the Duquesne and Monongahela Inclines, remnants of a once much more common form of transportation. San Francisco has the reputation for hills and certainly has some but Pittsburgh has some of the steepest streets in the world. A street in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco, bears the name of Willie Stargell, a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball star. The list goes on, really, I think, to ludicrous lengths.
And I wonder how it is that two places I have lived have so much in common. The coincidences seem surreal.
I have distinguished between authoritarian populists and paleoconservatives, with the latter tendency including white supremacists and neo-nazis, in part on the denial of racism by authoritarian populists and its unapologetic embrace by the paleoconservatives. Donald Trump has, for quite some time, straddled that distinction, denying he is racist, but unapologetically saying and doing blatantly racist things. In yet another example of Trump’s blatant racism, Adam Serwer argues that Trump’s push to reopen the economy is based on the race of many victims, especially in the working class. Paleoconservatives also join capitalist libertarians and traditionalist conservatives in generally opposing war which, with his bluster, is hard to say of Trump. So on balance, I still count Trump as authoritarian populist, but I have to wonder what he has to do before I’ll consider him a white supremacist. And I have updated my new blog post noted above accordingly.
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/
Fig. 1. Screenshot of Pennsylvania county map showing yellow or red phase taken from TribLive article, May 8, 2020.
Most of western and north central Pennsylvania (figure 1) will be in “yellow” phase (figure 2) as of May 15. The bright red exception in western Pennsylvania is Beaver County, where the Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center is quite a hot spot.
Fig. 2. Graphic converted from portable document format (PDF) to a jpeg, May 8, 2020. Original from TribLive article, May 8, 2020.
In the meantime, I am suddenly out of work and now subject to the lockdown. Both Uber and Lyft require occasional background checks. Mine have come due. In the past, these have taken maybe two or three days. This time, it might be several weeks. But the pandemic is only indirectly to blame—it’s slowing down the background checks—so I don’t think I’m eligible for unemployment insurance and people are still having trouble getting through to file claims.
Do not expect me to handle this well.
Megan Guza, “Gov. Wolf announces most of Western Pa. moving to yellow phase May 15,” TribLive, May 8, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/gov-wolf-to-announce-most-of-western-pa-moving-to-yellow-phase-next-week/
Today, the real jobless rate is probably somewhere in the low twenties, which would put it on a par with the peak rates seen during the Great Depression.
But what really worries John Cassidy is that no one knows how many people will really get their jobs back as the lockdown is lifted.
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
As usual, the headline unemployment figure is bullshit:
As horrific as the April unemployment figure, economists say the official government rate almost certainly underestimates the extent of the job losses. The Labor Department collected the data in mid-April. Layoffs have continued to mount since then, and the unemployment rate only measures people actively searching for a job, which is difficult during an era when Americans are being encouraged to stay at home.
The labor statisticians think that a lot of people who are unemployed right now didn’t say they were. If they had, the unemployment rate would probably be 20%.
Broader unemployment, U6, is 22.8%. pic.twitter.com/Ob2H9lcXyZ
— Matt O'Brien (@ObsoleteDogma) May 8, 2020
For a whole bunch of reasons, it will likely be a long, slow road to recovery. In real terms, this translates to many people being unable to pay rent, pay mortgages, pay credit card bills, pay utility bills over a long haul. They’re not going to be able to catch up on those bills when the bans on evictions and utility shutoffs expire. And they won’t be buying much so producers face curtailed markets. This, in turn, means more homeless people and more layoffs as businesses continue to go under. That means more desperation.
Worst of both worlds: didn’t lockdown, test and trace properly and didn’t protect economy/workers properly. Everything half-assed or worse. https://t.co/K0g6OIVTx2
— Thomas Chatterton Williams 🌍 🎧 (@thomaschattwill) May 8, 2020
Unless serious action is taken to relieve these folks, we face a downward spiral, and it’s hard to see how the recent white supremacist gun nuttery in support of reopening the economy and letting the old and weak die won’t intensify.
Allegedly, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will propose a major relief package. But this is like the impeachment of Donald Trump. It’s really a sham, meant to placate the Left, but dead on arrival in the Senate, thus no threat to neoliberal principle. Pelosi can return to her ice cream unperturbed.
Alexander Bolton, “Schumer, Pelosi set to unveil ‘Rooseveltian’ relief package,” Hill, May 7, 2020, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/496565-schumer-pelosi-set-to-unveil-rooseveltian-relief-package
Heather Long, “Jobless rate soared to 14.7% in April as U.S. shed 20.5 million jobs amid coronavirus pandemic,” Washington Post, May 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/08/april-2020-jobs-report/
Bernie Sanders is a good man with a good heart. He’s fought for the people more than any politician we know. This was his time to be president! But he’s a good man with bad judgement of folks to listen to. Your biggest hater could be your closest friend, people pretend well.
— Ja’Mal Green (@JaymalGreen) April 28, 2020
My question here is, to what extent does it now matter whether @BernieSanders “is a good man?”
— David Benfell, Ph.D. (@n4rky) April 30, 2020
So how does a potential vice presidential candidate credibly claim to believe Christine Blasey Ford, whose accusation rocked Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, and not Tara Reade, who alleges rape against Joe Biden? I guess it helps to be a politician:
“‘Believe the woman’ didn’t mean believe all women, all the time. But this is an era of slogans and we’re paying the price for that,” said an adviser to one of the women under consideration [for the vice presidential nomination], noting Reade’s story changed over the time.
Because you know I know some other folks whose stories have “changed over the time.”
Marc Caputo, “Tara Reade allegations rattle Biden’s VP search,” Politico, April 30, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/30/tara-reade-biden-vice-president-224945
Ann Colwell and Rob McLean, “Meat plant workers to Trump: Employees aren’t going to show up,” CNN, April 29, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/29/business/meat-processing-plant-workers-reaction-executive-order/index.html
A lot of state unemployment insurance systems still run on COBOL, a programming language I eschewed in the 1970s because I saw the load even a single COBOL compile put on a Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-11/70 RSTS/e system and judged the cost of its verbose syntax to be much too high.
The language has, since then, been routinely derided as obsolete and programming technique has gone through at least two iterations of evolution, since then, away from the spaghetti code that was the norm in COBOL’s heyday. Which, of course, helps to explain the shortage of COBOL programmers needed to fix state unemployment insurance systems. Most of them have long since retired or died and I can’t imagine anyone seeing this as a project they would particularly want to take on. It’d be difficult work even if (a pretty big if given that many, if not most, programmers burn out at around the five-year mark) your head is still in this kind of space.
But there are a lot of ‘legacy’ systems, both in and out of government, still running COBOL. And unemployment insurance systems are crumbling under the load. I heard from a passenger just yesterday that she was still trying to navigate the system in Pennsylvania. So I’m pretty clear that even as some 30 million folks have managed to navigate those systems, we still don’t have a complete picture.
Sarah Chaney and Kate King, “Over 3.8 Million Americans Filed for Jobless Benefits Last Week as States Struggle With Coronavirus Claims Surge,” Wall Street Journal, April 30, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/states-struggle-with-coronavirus-unemployment-claims-surge-11588239004
Anneken Tappe, “30 million Americans have filed initial unemployment claims since mid-March,” CNN, April 30, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/30/economy/unemployment-benefits-coronavirus/index.html