Communicable diseases might not, after all, be protected by the First Amendment

Updates

  1. Originally published, May 5, 10:04 pm.
  2. May 6, 5:34 am:
    • I see some of my phrasing was unclear and inadequate. I have attempted to rectify it.
    • I can’t say if William Gumede is right or if he is wrong. He warns of a serious economic depression. He warns of authoritarianism, nationalism, and xenophobia. He does not present an argument I recognize from premises and evidence but mostly only conclusions. That said, there’s a lot going wrong in this situation and there is cause for grave concern, including that which he states, some of which is indeed already under way. His point would be that all this is getting worse.[1] And I still see absolutely no reason for optimism.

Pandemic

It appears that communicable diseases might not, after all, be protected by the First Amendment.[2] Meanwhile,

As President Trump presses states to reopen their economies, his administration is privately projecting a steady rise in coronavirus infections and deaths over the next several weeks, reaching about 3,000 daily deaths on June 1 — nearly double the current level.[3]

Aggressive moves to reopen the economy fail to account for that new strain of the novel coronavirus that may be more contagious and may be capable of infecting people who’ve already suffered the earlier strain.[4] And, in the absence of a vaccine or cure, they rely on “herd immunity,” which 1) might not exist, and 2) if it exists, may diminish over time or only be partial.[5] But hey, capitalist god, human sacrifice, all that.[6]

That said, I’m continuing to see an increase in traffic in Pittsburgh. The lockdown simply isn’t holding and I very strongly doubt it’s all poor people going back to work.

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

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

Sam Stanton, “Judge rejects Lodi church’s bid to resume in-person services, says California order legal,” Sacramento Bee, May 5, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article242512621.html


Gig economy

Courts are capricious, but given an existing California State Supreme Court decision,[7] I honestly don’t see how California loses its lawsuit to force Uber and Lyft to classify drivers as employees[8] under a law meant to enshrine that decision.[9]

Tim Higgins, “California Sues Uber, Lyft Saying They Misclassified Drivers as Independent Contractors,” Wall Street Journal, May 5, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-to-sue-uber-lyft-saying-they-misclassified-drivers-as-independent-contractors-11588700626


  1. [1]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
  2. [2]Sam Stanton, “Judge rejects Lodi church’s bid to resume in-person services, says California order legal,” Sacramento Bee, May 5, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article242512621.html
  3. [3]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
  4. [4]Ralph Vartabedian, “Scientists have identified a new strain of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious,” Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-05/mutant-coronavirus-has-emerged-more-contagious-than-original
  5. [5]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/; David Benfell, “Don’t bet on ‘herd immunity,’” Not Housebroken, April 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/18/dont-bet-on-herd-immunity/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “The capitalist death cult,” Not Housebroken, March 27, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/27/the-capitalist-death-cult/; 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, “I fear for our world,” Not Housebroken, April 17, 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, “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/; 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
  7. [7]University of California, Hastings College of the Law, “UC Hastings Professor, Academic Leaders Call for Support of AB5,” August 26, 2019, https://www.uchastings.edu/2019/08/26/uc-hastings-professor-academic-leaders-call-for-support-of-ab5/
  8. [8]Tim Higgins, “California Sues Uber, Lyft Saying They Misclassified Drivers as Independent Contractors,” Wall Street Journal, May 5, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-to-sue-uber-lyft-saying-they-misclassified-drivers-as-independent-contractors-11588700626
  9. [9]Alexia Fernández Campbell, “California is cracking down on the gig economy,” Vox, May 30, 2019, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/5/30/18642535/california-ab5-misclassify-employees-contractors; Nathan Heller, “A New California Law Takes Aim at Uber and Lyft,” New Yorker, September 12, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-silicon-valley/a-new-california-law-takes-aim-at-uber-and-lyft

Twelve years vegan

Updates

  1. Originally published, May 5, 10:50 am.
  2. May 6, 10:02 pm:
    • I should have emphasized that a study led by Los Alamos scientists identifying a potentially more contagious mutation of the novel coronavirus has not yet been peer-reviewed.[1]

Twelve years ago today, I drove up to a vegan sandwich shop in Oakland, California, ordered a sandwich made with fake meat, decided I could go vegan, and did. That shop is long gone as are, I’m sorry to say, a number of vegan restaurants that had been open as of about that time. But I remain vegan.


Pandemic

95656638_10157427907521094_8293443615053578240_o
Fig. 1. Meme from Truthout, posted on Facebook on May 3, 2020, fair use.

Yet again, classified evidence. It was manipulated with Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to exist[2] and therefore undermined assertions that the Russians had interfered with the U.S. election in 2016.[3] Now the Trump administration is flogging[4] a conspiracy theory that the novel coronavirus escaped from a Chinese lab.[5] Relying on classified evidence.[6]

Of course, no one serious will believe them. But Donald Trump’s base will. And those are the only people Trump thinks he needs to persuade.

Whatever the origin of the novel coronavirus,[7] there is, apparently, a new, more contagious mutation now in the wild. “In addition to spreading faster, it may make people vulnerable to a second infection after a first bout with the disease, [a new study led by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory] warned.” Further, it is possible that people who have been infected with the earlier version may be susceptible to the mutated version.[8] Yay, team.
95567354_10157219184608027_5486718380159270912_n
Fig. 2. Cartoon by Kevin Siers of the Charlotte Observer, posted to Facebook by the Union of Concerned Scientists on May 1, 2020, fair use.

Helen Davidson, “WHO says it has no evidence to support ‘speculative’ Covid-19 lab theory,” Guardian, May 4, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/05/who-says-it-has-no-evidence-to-support-speculative-covid-19-lab-theory-pushed-by-us

Sarah Kaplan and Joel Achenbach, “Researchers hypothesize that a highly contagious strain of the coronavirus is spreading, but other experts remain skeptical,” Washington Post, May 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/researchers-hypothesize-that-a-highly-contagious-strain-of-the-coronavirus-is-spreading-but-other-experts-remain-skeptical/2020/05/05/db90d790-8ee7-11ea-9e23-6914ee410a5f_story.html

Ralph Vartabedian, “Scientists have identified a new strain of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious,” Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-05/mutant-coronavirus-has-emerged-more-contagious-than-original


Academia

Emma Whitford, “Public Higher Ed Funding Still Has Not Recovered From 2008 Recession,” Inside Higher Ed, May 5, 2020, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/05/05/public-higher-education-worse-spot-ever-heading-recession


  1. [1]Sarah Kaplan and Joel Achenbach, “Researchers hypothesize that a highly contagious strain of the coronavirus is spreading, but other experts remain skeptical,” Washington Post, May 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/researchers-hypothesize-that-a-highly-contagious-strain-of-the-coronavirus-is-spreading-but-other-experts-remain-skeptical/2020/05/05/db90d790-8ee7-11ea-9e23-6914ee410a5f_story.html; Ralph Vartabedian, “Scientists have identified a new strain of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious,” Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-05/mutant-coronavirus-has-emerged-more-contagious-than-original
  2. [2]Greg Palast, “The Downing Street Memos, Manipulation of Prewar Intelligence, and Knowingly Withholding Vital Information from a Grand Jury Investigation,” in Impeach the President, eds. Dennis Loo and Peter Phillips (New York: Seven Stories, 2006), 131-142; Nancy Snow, “Propaganda, Lies, and Patriotic Jingoism,” in Impeach the President, eds. Dennis Loo and Peter Phillips (New York: Seven Stories, 2006), 143-160.
  3. [3]David A. Graham, “What Mueller’s Indictment Reveals,” Atlantic, February 16, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/mueller-roadmap/553604/
  4. [4]Helen Davidson, “WHO says it has no evidence to support ‘speculative’ Covid-19 lab theory,” Guardian, May 4, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/05/who-says-it-has-no-evidence-to-support-speculative-covid-19-lab-theory-pushed-by-us
  5. [5]Joby Warrick et al., “Chinese lab conducted extensive research on deadly bat viruses, but there is no evidence of accidental release,” Washington Post, April 30 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/chinese-lab-conducted-extensive-research-on-deadly-bat-viruses-but-there-is-no-evidence-of-accidental-release/2020/04/30/3e5d12a0-8b0d-11ea-9dfd-990f9dcc71fc_story.html
  6. [6]Helen Davidson, “WHO says it has no evidence to support ‘speculative’ Covid-19 lab theory,” Guardian, May 4, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/05/who-says-it-has-no-evidence-to-support-speculative-covid-19-lab-theory-pushed-by-us
  7. [7]Joby Warrick et al., “Chinese lab conducted extensive research on deadly bat viruses, but there is no evidence of accidental release,” Washington Post, April 30 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/chinese-lab-conducted-extensive-research-on-deadly-bat-viruses-but-there-is-no-evidence-of-accidental-release/2020/04/30/3e5d12a0-8b0d-11ea-9dfd-990f9dcc71fc_story.html
  8. [8]Ralph Vartabedian, “Scientists have identified a new strain of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious,” Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-05/mutant-coronavirus-has-emerged-more-contagious-than-original

The new geography of economics: ‘Coronavirus cliffs’

Today marks the completion of my 61st journey around the sun. There is, as there has been on numerous previous such milestones, absolutely nothing to celebrate.


Recession

Mitch McConnell continues to play the ‘bad guy,’ helping to defend neoliberal priorities.[1] This enables Democrats to pretend to want much more spending—they don’t and would be sounding a very similar note to what we hear from McConnell if they controlled the presidency and the Senate—in the name of economic recovery, for which read, reasserting economic power relationships.[2] This way, the Republicans continue to appeal to so-called “fiscal conservatives” (mostly capitalist libertarians and neoconservatives) while Donald Trump holds on to his authoritarian populist and social conservative base, the Democrats appeal to functionalist conservatives, neoconservatives, and progressives, and both parties are happy, at least through November, no matter who wins. But as usual, workers will get stiffed and the environment will get stiffed. In other words, politics as usual.

What remains to be seen is how well it all works and what happens when, as now seems almost certain, we plunge over what Ben White calls the ‘coronavirus cliff’[3] because neither party really wants the stimulus that is needed.[4]

On May 8, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its monthly unemployment report. Watch this report and the one in the following month, on June 5.[5] These are the first reports that will fully reflect the ‘cliff’ we have in fact already fallen over and are still tumbling down.[6] As these numbers sink in, watch the reaction. That will tell you much more than what we’re hearing right now.

There is a new blog post entitled, “On a baffling presumption of goodwill toward ‘essential’ workers.”

Martina Hund-Mejean and Marcela Escobari, “Our employment system has failed low-wage workers. How can we rebuild?” Brookings, April 28, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2020/04/28/our-employment-system-is-failing-low-wage-workers-how-do-we-make-it-more-resilient/

Ben White, “Trump faces the risk of a coronavirus cliff,” Politico, April 28, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/28/trump-reopening-coronavirus-213535

Justin Lahart, “Why the Economy Was Even Worse than the GDP Report,” Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-the-economy-was-even-worse-than-the-gdp-report-11588176851

Heather Long, “U.S. economy shrank 4.8 percent in first quarter, biggest decline since the Great Recession,” April 29, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/29/gdp-coronavirus/


Pandemic

I’m guessing there is going to be a run on four-ply microfiber cloth.[7]

Matthew Cox, “Army Says It Has Found the Best Fabric for DIY Face Masks,” Military.com, April 28, 2020, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2020/04/28/army-says-it-has-found-best-fabric-face-masks.html

Taylor Telford and Kimberly Kindy, “Trump to order meat plants to stay open in pandemic, person familiar with action says,” Washington Post, April 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/28/trump-meat-plants-dpa/


  1. [1]Ben White, “Trump faces the risk of a coronavirus cliff,” Politico, April 28, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/28/trump-reopening-coronavirus-213535
  2. [2]David Benfell, “The capitalist death cult,” Not Housebroken, March 27, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/27/the-capitalist-death-cult/
  3. [3]Ben White, “Trump faces the risk of a coronavirus cliff,” Politico, April 28, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/28/trump-reopening-coronavirus-213535
  4. [4]Anne Applebaum, “The Coronavirus Called America’s Bluff,” Atlantic, March 15, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/coronavirus-showed-america-wasnt-task/608023/; 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 Blanchflower, “Pandemic Economics: ‘Much Worse, Very Quickly,” New York Review of Books, March 26, 2020, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2020/03/26/pandemic-economics-much-worse-very-quickly/; Kim Hart, “The coronavirus economy will devastate those who can least afford it,” Axios, March 23, 2020, https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-economy-layoffs-children-families-bad-d588cc93-ff26-4031-8be8-5654cce05a15.html; Zoë Hu, “A New Age of Destructive Austerity After the Coronavirus,” New Republic, April 23, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/157417/new-age-destructive-austerity-coronavirus; Sarah Jones, “Dear Rich People: Please Stop Hoarding Things,” New York, March 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/things-are-bad-and-rich-people-arent-helping.html; Hanna Kozlowska, “Coronavirus is revealing ugly truths about social structure in the US,” Quartz, March 14, 2020, https://qz.com/1818548/coronavirus-is-revealing-ugly-truths-about-social-structure-in-the-us/; Eric Levitz, “In the Age of the Coronavirus, Biden’s ‘Results’ Require Bernie’s ‘Revolution,’” New York, March 16, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/who-won-the-democratic-debate-between-biden-and-bernie-coronavirus.html; Tony Romm, “Uber drivers and other gig economy workers were promised unemployment benefits. It may be a long wait,” Washington Post, April 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/02/uber-airbnb-lyft-unemployment-coronavirus/; Jenny Schuetz, “America’s inequitable housing system is completely unprepared for coronavirus,” Brookings, March 12, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/12/americas-inequitable-housing-system-is-completely-unprepared-for-coronavirus/; Luke Taylor, “When coronavirus is behind us, will you still think of restaurant and bar workers?” Vox, March 21, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/3/21/21188210/coronavirus-restaurant-bar-workers-economy-service-industry; Reis Thebault, Andrew Ba Tran, and Vanessa Williams, “The coronavirus is infecting and killing black Americans at an alarmingly high rate,” Washington Post, April 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/04/07/coronavirus-is-infecting-killing-black-americans-an-alarmingly-high-rate-post-analysis-shows/; Funda Ustek-Spilda et al., “The untenable luxury of self-isolation,” New Internationalist, March 18, 2020, https://newint.org/features/2020/03/18/untenable-luxury-self-isolation; Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Denise Lu, and Gabriel J.X. Dance, “Location Data Says It All: Staying at Home During Coronavirus Is a Luxury,” New York Times, April 3, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/04/03/us/coronavirus-stay-home-rich-poor.html
  5. [5]Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Schedule of Releases for the Employment Situation,” n.d., https://www.bls.gov/schedule/news_release/empsit.htm
  6. [6]David Blanchflower, “Pandemic Economics: ‘Much Worse, Very Quickly,” New York Review of Books, March 26, 2020, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2020/03/26/pandemic-economics-much-worse-very-quickly/; Justin Lahart, “Washington’s Trillions Alone Can’t Stop the Jobpocalypse,” Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/washingtons-trillions-alone-cant-stop-the-jobpocalypse-11585235110; Justin Lahart, “Why the Economy Was Even Worse than the GDP Report,” Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-the-economy-was-even-worse-than-the-gdp-report-11588176851; Heather Long, “U.S. economy shrank 4.8 percent in first quarter, biggest decline since the Great Recession,” April 29, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/29/gdp-coronavirus/; Derek Thompson, “All the Coronavirus Statistics Are Flawed,” Atlantic, March 26, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/fog-pandemic/608764/
  7. [7]Matthew Cox, “Army Says It Has Found the Best Fabric for DIY Face Masks,” Military.com, April 28, 2020, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2020/04/28/army-says-it-has-found-best-fabric-face-masks.html

Caste in the U.S.A.

Class

David Atkins is arrogant, but there’s a key word “persuadable” that I think those who respond to him fail to consider. Atkins is really talking about political ramifications, how the shots of Nancy Pelosi’s refrigerators, filled with an exclusive brand of ice cream, will affect the election.

His respondents are talking, importantly, about class. And there is a real problem in that the poor lack a substantive—except through its absence—voice in politics, in a system, we should note, that is designed to exclude their voices.[1]

So the question arises as to whether the Democrats, more properly called neoliberals, can in fact win without the poor and the progressives. It didn’t work in 2016 and there’s reason to suspect it won’t in 2020:

There is a new blog post entitled, “A constitutional oligarchy: Deconstructing Federalist No. 10.”

Kanishk Tharoor, “The Exclusivity Economy,” review of The Velvet Rope Economy: How Inequality Became Big Business by Nelson D. Schwartz, New Republic, April 21, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/157153/velvet-rope-economy-book-review-rich-exclusivity-hides-inequality


Pandemic


  1. [1]David Benfell, “A constitutional oligarchy: Deconstructing Federalist No. 10,” Not Housebroken, April 22, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/22/a-constitutional-oligarchy-deconstructing-federalist-no-10/

Yeah, we’re just killing people

There is a new blog post entitled, “Anarchism, speech, and democracy.”


Pandemic

When I looked this evening, New York City had exceeded 6,300 deaths from COVID-19,[1] well over double the toll from the 9/11 attacks. Nationally, the toll is now the highest of any country in the world. “The actual number of cases is likely higher, experts say, due to lack of widespread testing, false negatives and differences in reporting standards.”[2]

Meanwhile, my skepticism about the effectiveness of “stay at home” orders is increasing. As I’m out driving for Lyft (I haven’t worked for Uber in a while now), I’m seeing more people out, pretty much everywhere I go, among people of every race, in every neighborhood. Traffic, while still far below the usual Pittsburgh unbelievably horrible, is increasing. While some of these trips are surely necessary—I saw a line outside a Trader Joe’s stretched down the block—I think people really just can’t sustain this and we perhaps really ought to be considering how, if we can’t manage to stay in our relatively comfortable homes, we expect prisoners to remain incarcerated without some serious mental health effects for, in some cases, decades.

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/

Jennifer Levitz, Mike Cherney, and Daniel Michaels, “U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Passes Italy, Becoming World’s Highest,” Wall Street Journal, April 11, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/health-officials-plead-for-public-to-observe-a-locked-down-easter-11586592822


  1. [1]Center for Systems Science and Engineering, “Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases,” April 11, 2020, Johns Hopkins Universityhttps://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html
  2. [2]Jennifer Levitz, Mike Cherney, and Daniel Michaels, “U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Passes Italy, Becoming World’s Highest,” Wall Street Journal, April 11, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/health-officials-plead-for-public-to-observe-a-locked-down-easter-11586592822

Do these people even hear themselves?

Pandemic

There is a new blog post entitled, “The capitalist death cult.” It is from an early draft of this post that I draw this issue’s title.

Meanwhile, Uber seems to have drawn at least some drivers back on the road by making it easy for them to also do Uber Eats deliveries. I avoid deliveries because, in my experience, the pay is about half what one gets for transporting people, because there are often parking issues—and possible citations—at both ends, and because discrepancies between what customers think they ordered and what they actually ordered are apt to be blamed on the drivers. But in addition, when it comes to food, I’m vegan and it is an ethical issue for me to deliver any animal products. So I’ll only do it if I have no choice and I’m not at that point yet. Yet.

Yascha Mounk, “This Is Just the Beginning,” Atlantic, March 25, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/national-shutdown-least-bad-option/608683/

Erica Werner, Paul Kane, and Mike DeBonis, “Trump signs $2 trillion coronavirus bill into law as companies and households brace for more economic pain,” Washington Post, March 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/03/27/congress-coronavirus-house-vote/


 

The devil and the deep blue sea

Gig economy

Funda Ustek-Spilda et al., “The untenable luxury of self-isolation,” New Internationalist, March 18, 2020, https://newint.org/features/2020/03/18/untenable-luxury-self-isolation


Coronavirus

Center for Systems Science and Engineering, “Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases,” March 24, 2020, Johns Hopkins University, https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html


More of the same in 2020

89834228_10157922659964220_30750
Fig. 1. Shoe, by Susie MacNelly Brookins, for March 18, 2020, downloaded from Facebook, fair use.

In early 2016, I wrote a post entitled, “Why I do not vote.”

I can’t afford more of the same. Whether it’s Democratic National Committee more of the same or Donald Trump more of the same or neoconservative more of the same or any other form of more of the same. It has cost me far too much already.


Gig economy

The drop in business is palpable. It is also showing up in the numbers.[1] And at the worst possible time. I may need rear brakes now (and have scheduled an appointment with my tire shop for 8:30 am tomorrow to have them assessed); I just dropped $500 on an oil change and tune-up.

Preetika Rana, “U.S. Spending on Ride-Hailing With Uber, Lyft Falls as Coronavirus Spreads,” Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-spending-on-ride-hailing-with-uber-lyft-falls-as-coronavirus-spreads-11584525600


  1. [1]Preetika Rana, “U.S. Spending on Ride-Hailing With Uber, Lyft Falls as Coronavirus Spreads,” Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-spending-on-ride-hailing-with-uber-lyft-falls-as-coronavirus-spreads-11584525600

Communication disruption now in progress

Housekeeping

IMG_20200316_181327
Fig. 1. The Pixel 4 XL finally arrived. Photograph by author, March 16, 2020.

After what has to be the worst FedEx Ground experience I’ve ever had—understand I don’t do this a whole lot—a somewhat battered box arrived today. Fortunately, the contents were undamaged, as expected, and I am charging the Pixel 4 XL before beginning the transfer from the Pixel 3 XL.

The AT&T and Verizon phone numbers have already been taken off of iMessages and the communication disruption originally planned for Friday should be presumed to have begun. Watch this space for further updates. As always, contact information is here.

Coronavirus

I’m seeing more of how coronavirus is impacting my business. The shutdowns mean a lot of my customers suddenly are out of work, not formally laid off, but not working either, and therefore not being paid.

Some economists say the increasing lockdown in the United States could lead to an even sharper contraction than during the Great Recession. “It’s not just a loss in activity. It’s a stop, full stop,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at accounting firm Grant Thornton.[1]

And it’s a “full stop” that hits the poor hardest. It’s not enough to talk about halting evictions[2] because the rent is still due and there’s no money to pay for it. And the poor still have to buy groceries and pay other bills.

So what we’re hearing about evictions[3] isn’t really about concern for the poor. It’s concern about even bigger homeless encampments, even more visible homeless that might disturb the people the powerful really care about.

Were it otherwise, we would be hearing more about replacing the lost income that we cannot make up.[4]

Don Lee and Laura King, “Fed slashes rate to near zero to counter coronavirus as Fauci warns ‘worst is yet ahead,’” Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-03-15/fed-slashes-rate-to-near-zero-eases-lending-rules


  1. [1]Don Lee and Laura King, “Fed slashes rate to near zero to counter coronavirus as Fauci warns ‘worst is yet ahead,’” Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-03-15/fed-slashes-rate-to-near-zero-eases-lending-rules
  2. [2]Hanna Kozlowska, “Coronavirus is revealing ugly truths about social structure in the US,” Quartz, March 14, 2020, https://qz.com/1818548/coronavirus-is-revealing-ugly-truths-about-social-structure-in-the-us/; Jenny Schuetz, “America’s inequitable housing system is completely unprepared for coronavirus,” Brookings, March 12, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/12/americas-inequitable-housing-system-is-completely-unprepared-for-coronavirus/;
  3. [3]Hanna Kozlowska, “Coronavirus is revealing ugly truths about social structure in the US,” Quartz, March 14, 2020, https://qz.com/1818548/coronavirus-is-revealing-ugly-truths-about-social-structure-in-the-us/; Jenny Schuetz, “America’s inequitable housing system is completely unprepared for coronavirus,” Brookings, March 12, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/12/americas-inequitable-housing-system-is-completely-unprepared-for-coronavirus/
  4. [4]John Cassidy, “What Would a Proper Coronavirus Stimulus Plan Look Like?” New Yorker, March 14, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/what-would-a-proper-coronavirus-stimulus-plan-look-like; James Hamblin, “What Will You Do If You Start Coughing?” Atlantic, March 11, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/03/where-do-you-go-if-you-get-coronavirus/607759/

Whose economy is the Federal Reserve protecting?

Coronavirus

I think I’m not quite clear on how it is of value to try to protect the U.S. economy from a recession, slashing interest rates,[1] at the same time you’re essentially shutting it down, telling everyone to stay home, shutting businesses, and telling people to “socially distance themselves.”[2] Perhaps I should be asking whose economy is the Federal Reserve propping up? Because it sure as hell isn’t the one I’m in.[3]

Jenny Schuetz, “America’s inequitable housing system is completely unprepared for coronavirus,” Brookings, March 12, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/12/americas-inequitable-housing-system-is-completely-unprepared-for-coronavirus/

Anne Applebaum, “The Coronavirus Called America’s Bluff,” Atlantic, March 15, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/coronavirus-showed-america-wasnt-task/608023/

Associated Press, “U.S. moves nearer to shutdown amid coronavirus fears,” TribLive, March 15, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/world/u-s-moves-nearer-to-shutdown-amid-coronavirus-fears/

Hanna Kozlowska, “Coronavirus is revealing ugly truths about social structure in the US,” Quartz, March 14, 2020, https://qz.com/1818548/coronavirus-is-revealing-ugly-truths-about-social-structure-in-the-us/

Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Valerie Bauerlein, “How Coronavirus Remade American Life in One Weekend,” Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-remakes-american-life-in-a-weekend-11584293065

Kara Seymour, “Restaurants, Bars In 5 PA Counties Ordered Closed By Governor,” Patch, March 15, 2020, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/h1utv/restaurants-bars-in-5-pa-counties-ordered-closed-by-governor

Olivia Goldhill, “Coronavirus prevention is far more accessible for the rich,” Quartz, March 16, 2020, https://qz.com/1818862/coronavirus-prevention-is-far-more-accessible-for-the-rich/

Nick Miroff et al., “States begin imposing harsher measures to contain coronavirus as U.S. cases rise sharply,” Washington Post, March 16, 2020,
https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/states-begin-imposing-harsher-measures-to-contain-coronavirus-as-us-cases-rise-sharply/2020/03/15/267577a6-65b3-11ea-acca-80c22bbee96f_story.html

WTAE, “Allegheny County officials call on all nonessential businesses to close,” March 16, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/allegheny-county-calls-on-all-non-essential-businesses-to-close/31648999


  1. [1]Heather Long, “Federal Reserve slashes interest rates to zero as part of wide-ranging emergency intervention,” Washington Post, March 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/15/federal-reserve-slashes-interest-rates-zero-part-wide-ranging-emergency-intervention/
  2. [2]Associated Press, “U.S. moves nearer to shutdown amid coronavirus fears,” TribLive, March 15, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/world/u-s-moves-nearer-to-shutdown-amid-coronavirus-fears/; Bloomberg, “CDC says U.S. gatherings of over 50 people should not be held for eight weeks,” Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-03-15/cdc-us-gatherings-over-50-people-should-not-be-held-for-eight-weeks; Brent Kendall, Chad Day, and Alex Leary, “U.S. Officials Urge More Action to Combat Coronavirus,” Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/fauci-urges-americans-to-stay-home-amid-coronavirus-11584284229Nick Miroff et al., “States begin imposing harsher measures to contain coronavirus as U.S. cases rise sharply,” Washington Post, March 16, 2020,
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/states-begin-imposing-harsher-measures-to-contain-coronavirus-as-us-cases-rise-sharply/2020/03/15/267577a6-65b3-11ea-acca-80c22bbee96f_story.html; Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Valerie Bauerlein, “How Coronavirus Remade American Life in One Weekend,” Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-remakes-american-life-in-a-weekend-11584293065; Kara Seymour, “Restaurants, Bars In 5 PA Counties Ordered Closed By Governor,” Patch, March 15, 2020, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/h1utv/restaurants-bars-in-5-pa-counties-ordered-closed-by-governor; WTAE, “Allegheny County officials call on all nonessential businesses to close,” March 16, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/allegheny-county-calls-on-all-non-essential-businesses-to-close/31648999
  3. [3]Hanna Kozlowska, “Coronavirus is revealing ugly truths about social structure in the US,” Quartz, March 14, 2020, https://qz.com/1818548/coronavirus-is-revealing-ugly-truths-about-social-structure-in-the-us/; Jenny Schuetz, “America’s inequitable housing system is completely unprepared for coronavirus,” Brookings, March 12, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/12/americas-inequitable-housing-system-is-completely-unprepared-for-coronavirus/