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
Fig. 2. Graphic converted from portable document format (PDF) to a jpeg, May 8, 2020. Original from TribLive article, May 8, 2020.
I think there has to be some question about Tom Wolf’s order moving some Pennsylvania counties to “green” and others to “yellow,” given the possible ramifications of Memorial Day travel. The timing seems bad, with the virus still out of control in many places, including some not all that far from Pennsylvania.
Understand, I’m not saying it’s feasible for Wolf to have done otherwise, given a building resistance to the lockdown in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, but with an average incubation period of five days, we won’t know what Memorial Day does, really, until some time in June. I wish he could have waited a couple more weeks.
Joel Achenbach, Rachel Weiner, and Isaac Stanley-Becker, “Study estimates 24 states still have uncontrolled coronavirus spread,” Washington Post, May 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/study-estimates-24-states-still-have-uncontrolled-coronavirus-spread/2020/05/22/d3032470-9c43-11ea-ac72-3841fcc9b35f_story.html
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, “Gov. Wolf Adds Eight Counties to Yellow and 17 to Green on May 29, Remainder to Yellow on June 5,” May 22, 2020, https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/gov-wolf-adds-eight-counties-to-yellow-and-17-to-green-on-may-29-remainder-to-yellow-on-june-5/
Natasha Lindstrom, “What moving into ‘green’ zone does, does not mean under Gov. Wolf’s reopening plan,” TribLive, May 22, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/what-moving-into-green-zone-does-does-not-mean-under-gov-wolfs-reopening-plan/
There are things I leave to Blacks to settle among themselves and I think this is as it should be. Whether they use the n-word to refer to each other and whether they accept each other as Black are examples of things that are, and should be, up to them. Even where I disagree, it isn’t for me to say, and whites cannot intrude here without, at minimum, some form of appropriation.
And so it is that there is no way Joe Biden’s “you ain’t Black” remark is anything other racist bigotry on the order of the n-word. This is something no white person should ever say to a Black under any circumstances. But especially not Biden and especially when, as Derecka Purnell concludes,
Joe Biden refuses to reckon with the harm that he has caused to people all over the world. His best line is that he is better than the other guy, and that is exactly how abusive relationships function. Black people – all people – deserve better than Biden and the Democratic party. And yes, we are still black.
More strategically, a lot of what Purnell points to suggests that Biden can write off the progressive vote. He can’t help himself and, at the risk of repeating Biden’s mistake with Blacks, I really have to wonder how you can be progressive and support a bigoted neoliberal rapist. I mean, seriously, this really does seem like a contradiction to me.
Derecka Purnell, “Black Americans are in an abusive relationship with the Democratic party,” Guardian, May 22, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/22/black-americans-joe-biden-democratic-party-relationship
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
One of the oddities of my current situation is that where I’ve seen Aion, which owns the complex I live in now, before, on the San Francisco peninsula, the apartments are all high-end luxury complexes meant to appeal to well-paid tech workers. So I have to very strongly suspect that what’s going on here is what Alison Johnson said of Atlanta: “Landlords want to raise rents as high as possible to attract higher-income people into those units.”
My apartment isn’t large—536 square feet—and an initial perusal finds many around Pittsburgh, even in outlying areas, with even less space renting for a lot more. It’s an old complex, even if my apartment is relatively nice on the inside, occupied mainly by working class and poor people, many of color. Hence, I suspect, figure 1, just a very short drive away. This complex is distinctly out of character for what I’ve seen with Aion on the San Francisco peninsula.
Fig. 1. Gratuitous gun on display at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post on Cochrans Mill Road in South Park, Pennsylvania. Photograph by author, October 27, 2019.
Do I suspect gentrification? Hell, yes. I’ve suspected it very nearly since I moved in. I don’t know how well it will work, although there’s a new complex, only partly complete and still under construction, nearby that’s very clearly meant for better off folks.
Meanwhile, I’m hearing enough horror stories from passengers to know that there are plenty of slumlords around here who operate pretty much with impunity.
Fig. 2. Colin Woodard’s sociocultural regions.
At the moment, I’m very much feeling damned if I do, damned if I don’t. I’m not really comfortable moving into a more conservative area, like West Virginia or Ohio, or really any county around Allegheny County, which I’m finding plenty conservative enough (although Butler County might work).
On a recent foray into Beaver County, I saw lots of “Why I Stand” banners prominently displayed in multiple locations, featuring the U.S. flag. I’m pretty sure these refer to Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest. I think Colin Woodard’s mapping of Greater Appalachia (figure 2) does not extend far enough north.
If I move north, say into what Woodard calls Yankeedom (figure 2), I face a more severe climate, which could also mean even less business for Uber and Lyft in winter. It was hard enough even getting through this last winter in Pittsburgh.
The known random element in all this is the pandemic, which as a country, the U.S. is just handling all wrong. As the economy gets worse, Aion might find a wrench in its monkey works.
Nesrine Malik, “It’s no accident Britain and America are the world’s biggest coronavirus losers,” Guardian, May 10, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/10/anglo-american-coronavirus-crisis
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.
Mitch McConnell continues to play the ‘bad guy,’ helping to defend neoliberal priorities. 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. 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’ because neither party really wants the stimulus that is needed.
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. These are the first reports that will fully reflect the ‘cliff’ we have in fact already fallen over and are still tumbling down. 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/
I’m guessing there is going to be a run on four-ply microfiber cloth.
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/
Mostly, about now, journalists are chasing their tails.
Right now, there is bullshit that cancels itself out. In disgust, I might post on Twitter about it, but not see fit to post here about it. For example,
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 26, 2020
It would appear we are back to posturing as Mitch McConnell has promised to oppose any such relief.
— David Benfell, Ph.D. (@n4rky) April 26, 2020
What’s happening here? A neoliberal is lying, again, trying to sound progressive, again, but absolutely nothing of substance. A big fat zero. I didn’t even look at the CNN story and I certainly didn’t archive it.
To get an idea how far off the table further stimulus really is, consider that while Nancy Pelosi ostensibly wants to force the inclusion of aid for states in the next stimulus package, Donald Trump wants to force states into reopening early by withholding further aid. In addition, Mitch McConnell blames richer states’ liberal budget priorities and wants them to use bankruptcy instead, even though this would likely lead to another big-D Depression. Which means none of this is going anywhere.
My standards for bullshit are higher than this.
Which meant that yesterday, I really didn’t have enough to publish here. Hell, I couldn’t even come up with a headline for what I had.
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
That said, yesterday, there was a new blog post entitled, “Elite priorities: Why social, animal, and environmental justice remains essential with COVID-19.”
Phoebe Weston, “‘We did it to ourselves’: scientist says intrusion into nature led to pandemic,” Guardian, April 25, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/25/ourselves-scientist-says-human-intrusion-nature-pandemic-aoe
To the outside world, North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un has gone missing. Rumors are flying. Nobody really knows what’s going on. This has been going on for a few days now, and it seems to me the tenor of the speculation has reached a certain pitch even as the South Koreans, who should be (but aren’t necessarily) better at reading these tea leaves than anyone, say there’s nothing to it. Here, I archive these stories more as a precaution, but really, they’re just a summary of, well, nothing.
Choe Sang-Hun, “South Korea Confident That Rumors of Kim Jong-un Illness Are Wrong,” New York Times, April 27, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/26/world/asia/kim-jong-un-health.html
Didi Tang, “South Korean officials say Kim Jong‑un is ‘alive and well,’” Times, April 27, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/kim-jong-uns-train-offers-clue-to-north-korean-despots-mystery-absence-q9g5h3fq2
In March, the History Channel published an article on the Spanish Flu—this is what they’re talking about when you hear about 1918 in reference to hasty reopenings of the economy. The story then is complicated by war with troops being sent even as, it turned out, they were infected, spreading a deadlier mutation of the virus disastrously to Europe. But the rationale for the lockdown has peer reviewed backing in the Journal of the American Medical Association. History may not repeat, but it rhymes, and it’d be smart not to repeat the mistakes some U.S. cities made with the Spanish Flu. As a country, we seem unwilling to learn from that history.
The trouble, of course, is the economy, and an unemployment rate estimated at between 15 and 20 percent. But what this really says is that we are unwilling to actually take care of people, to give them money to tide them over, even, allegedly, to save their lives. Because neoliberalism, you know, is more fucking important than anything.
So be sure to whisper your devotion to the “invisible hand” as you or your loved ones get sick, as you or they drown in their own lung fluids, in a panic, desperately trying to breathe. The capitalist god demands your sacrifice and theirs.
William Wan, Carolyn Y. Johnson, and Joel Achenbach, “States rushing to reopen are likely making a deadly error, coronavirus models and experts warn,” Washington Post, April 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/04/22/reopening-america-states-coronavirus/
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
George Packer, “We Are Living in a Failed State,” Atlantic, June 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/06/underlying-conditions/610261/
Literally zero persuadable voters care about Pelosi's freezer. Zero.
Pelosi is rich. So was FDR. We live in a society. She has a nice fridge. Nobody cares.
— David Atkins (@DavidOAtkins) April 22, 2020
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.
It’s not about her freezer, its what it represents. A rich & clueless govt official who has been in that capacity for decades, while conditions worsen for Americans.
Liberals don’t bring up class differences and pretend to not see them. For poor ppl we have no choice but to see https://t.co/jfpvFOclfn
— brain genius (@Millerheighife) April 22, 2020
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:
I'll take "why Dems lose" for 1000. https://t.co/b3ZE5ych5T
— Pat, just Pat. #IBelieveTara🌹🦺 (@PatTheBerner) April 22, 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
Love the Evangelicals out there preaching that they are not going to have something invisible control their lives.
Give it a sec.
— YS (@NYinLA2121) April 21, 2020
Mark Blyth wrote of European Union-imposed austerity in the recession precipitated by the financial crisis of 2008,
The notion that unemployment is voluntary is, in the context of the current self-inflicted wound in Europe, downright offensive. Real workers must pay bills and feed families from jobs that have fixed hours and fixed wage rates. The idea that workers “trade off” labor against leisure by figuring out the real wage rate and then slacking off or going on an indefinite unpaid leave is the type of thinking that leads us to see the Great Depression as a giant, unexpected, and astonishingly long unpaid vacation for millions of people: original, yes; helpful, no.
Intellectually, neoliberalism stands utterly discredited, but it remains mainstream Democratic Party ideology and an ideology professed by Republicans even when they run up huge deficits on their turns in power. I have concluded, in fact, that the defense of neoliberalism is a higher priority for Democrats even than winning elections—the latter is merely a means to the former. And certainly Nancy Pelosi’s dithering on economic relief does nothing to dispel this conclusion.
Meanwhile, Luke Taylor offers an introduction to some of my passengers, although I doubt many of them are nearly so creative as he claims. Whatever. They aren’t going anywhere now.
David J. Lynch and Heather Long, “U.S. economy deteriorating faster than anticipated as 80 million Americans are forced to stay at home,” Washington Post, March 20, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/20/us-economy-deteriorating-faster-than-anticipated-80-million-americans-forced-stay-home/
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
I don’t recall Barack Obama ever even in the slightest way apologizing for this “painful legacy:”
Yet the need to rescue large parts of the economy is running into the painful legacy of the 2008 bailout, which was criticized for putting banks and other companies that helped cause the financial crisis before struggling homeowners and workers ravaged by the Great Recession. The $700 billion bank bailout elicited a voter backlash, which means any aid this time is likely to have large strings attached. Those could include limits on executive compensation, prohibitions on stock buybacks and, most prominent, measures to force bailed out companies to keep workers on their payrolls.
Neoliberals are as self-righteous as any evangelical Protestant. While just about everyone else is emphasizing a need for speed over “getting it right,”
Pelosi's Deputy Chief of Staff is saying that a proposal for giving American's direct financial relief was shot down because it would be universal and not means tested pic.twitter.com/gSnRCgm75o
— jordan (@JordanUhl) March 18, 2020
I truly don't know how to describe how maddening it is that Republicans and Trump officials are to the left of Congressional Dem leadership on this issue. Absolutely fucking maddening. pic.twitter.com/qz55vvyzih
— jordan (@JordanUhl) March 18, 2020
“Nancy Pelosi is officially to the right of Tom Cotton on economic support for American families,” HuffPost reporter Zach Carter tweeted on Sunday. “This is a total failure of Democratic Party leadership.”
Now, rather than apologize for painfully prolonging the “Great Recession,” neoliberals are delaying a badly needed bailout.
Eoin Higgins, “Refusal by Pelosi to Consider Universal Cash Payments in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic ‘Maddening,’ Say Progressives,” Common Dreams, March 18, 2020, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/03/18/refusal-pelosi-consider-universal-cash-payments-response-coronavirus-pandemic
Jim Tankersley and Ben Casselman, “Washington Weighs Big Bailouts to Help U.S. Economy Survive Coronavirus,” New York Times, March 18, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/business/bailout-economy-coronavirus.html