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Offline monsta666

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Re: Back to Work, Peasants?
« Reply #4170 on: March 23, 2020, 06:34:20 AM »
Which is worse for his re-election chances?  Dead People or a Dead Stock Market?  ???   :icon_scratch:
If the order to bring people back to work is given then the demographic who is at highest risk of dying would be Trump's voting base.

Offline RE

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Re: Back to Work, Peasants?
« Reply #4171 on: March 23, 2020, 06:42:50 AM »
Which is worse for his re-election chances?  Dead People or a Dead Stock Market?  ???   :icon_scratch:
If the order to bring people back to work is given then the demographic who is at highest risk of dying would be Trump's voting base.

In TrumpAmerika, the Dead can Vote.

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Offline Eddie

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Re: Back to Work, Peasants?
« Reply #4172 on: March 23, 2020, 07:36:11 AM »
Not only can Trump not stand the inability to control the narrative, you know that his advisors are saying that his re-election chances are burning down as surely as the economy, "So let's get these peasants and other expendables back to work, whaddya say? If a couple hundred die, acceptable risk, amirite?"
The fact that he is wholly a creature off TV with no patience for a story lasting more than 22 minutes is a factor as well.

Early signs of a coming Trump pivot?

Yesterday's briefing. Photo: Eric Bardat/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump and some of his senior officials are losing patience with the doctorsí orders, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports.

  • Amid dire predictions for jobs and the economy, the White House is beginning to send signals to business that there's light at the end of the tunnel ó that the squeeze from nationwide social distancing won't be endless.

Trump tweeted at 10 minutes to midnight: "WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD [which began a week ago, March 16], WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!"

  • Vice President Pence, who heads the White House's Coronavirus Task Force, had signaled the change in tone earlier when he said the CDC will issue guidance today allowing people exposed to the coronavirus to return to work sooner by wearing a mask for a certain length of time.

Why it matters: Taken together, Trumpís tweet and Pence's comment supply the strongest public signals we've seen that the administration is looking for ways to get people out in the world again to fire up the economy ó perhaps much sooner than Dr. Fauci would like.

  • Trump is responding both to his own instincts and to messages that key outside allies have been sending for days.

Between the lines: Senior Trump officials, including the president himself, have only limited patience for keeping the economy shut down. They are watching stocks tumble and unemployment skyrocket.

  • Whatís next: At the end of the 15-day period, there will likely be a serious clash between the public health experts ó who will almost certainly favor a longer period of nationwide social distancing and quarantining ó versus the president and his economic and political aides, who are anxious to restart the economy.

Share this story.


There was always going to be blowback to the lockdown.  I'm not sure how long it can last. In the final analysis, people have to earn their bread.

Even 10 million dead is better than all of us  having no way to earn a living and pay for food and shelter....., which will take out most of the other 320 million and destroy our entire way of life.

I'm not arguing that it's not needed. Just that it has a cost that is unimaginable at this point....and that cost will be born by ordinary people.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2020, 11:16:15 AM by Surly1 »
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline RE

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Re: Back to Work, Peasants?
« Reply #4173 on: March 23, 2020, 07:43:18 AM »

I'm not arguing that it's not needed. Just that it has a cost that is unimaginable at this point....and that cost will be born by ordinary people.

Actually, it seems to have an affinity for the Rich & Powerful.   Justin Trudeau's wife got it, and now Rand Paul also got it.  With luck, the Koch brother still standing will get it, and Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon too!  :icon_sunny:

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Offline Eddie

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Re: Back to Work, Peasants?
« Reply #4174 on: March 23, 2020, 07:51:36 AM »

I'm not arguing that it's not needed. Just that it has a cost that is unimaginable at this point....and that cost will be born by ordinary people.

Actually, it seems to have an affinity for the Rich & Powerful.   Justin Trudeau's wife got it, and now Rand Paul also got it.  With luck, the Koch brother still standing will get it, and Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon too!  :icon_sunny:

RE

I didn't mean the disease.....the jet setters are getting it because they travel more.....Eventually it will get to everyone. What I meant was the tax burden of paying for the helicopter money, the Wall Street bailouts, the credit market bailouts, the massive cost of medical treatment, etc.

Harvey Weinstein......lol. Now there is an interesting case of karma.
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Offline RE

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Re: Back to Work, Peasants?
« Reply #4175 on: March 23, 2020, 09:39:47 AM »
What I meant was the tax burden of paying for the helicopter money, the Wall Street bailouts, the credit market bailouts, the massive cost of medical treatment, etc.

What cost?  It's being paid for in Funny Money.

This is the Straw that Broke the Camel' Back.  The Monetary system is TOAST.  All assets will go to ZERO (or close to it).

Remember Revelation 18.  You are living it right now.

Quote
8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

9 And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,

10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.

11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:

12 The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,

13 And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.

Good riddance.  I am glad I lived long enough to see it.

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Offline Surly1

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Re: Back to Work, Peasants?
« Reply #4176 on: March 23, 2020, 11:21:45 AM »

Even 10 million dead is better than all of us  having no way to earn a living and pay for food and shelter....., which will take out most of the other 320 million and destroy our entire way of life.

I'm not arguing that it's not needed. Just that it has a cost that is unimaginable at this point....and that cost will be born by ordinary people.

10 million dead. Just the cost of sales, and thus a write-off.
And ordinary people will bear the cost because we don't have the stomach to re-order our priorities go get the money.

"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Offline Eddie

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Re: Back to Work, Peasants?
« Reply #4177 on: March 23, 2020, 12:57:12 PM »

Even 10 million dead is better than all of us  having no way to earn a living and pay for food and shelter....., which will take out most of the other 320 million and destroy our entire way of life.

I'm not arguing that it's not needed. Just that it has a cost that is unimaginable at this point....and that cost will be born by ordinary people.

10 million dead. Just the cost of sales, and thus a write-off.
And ordinary people will bear the cost because we don't have the stomach to re-order our priorities go get the money.



Not what I said at all. I just said the lockdown is going to be very brutal and super expensive....and it is unsustainable. It had better work (and fast) , or the next phase will be extremely chaotic....
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Eddie

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Re: Back to Work, Peasants?
« Reply #4178 on: March 23, 2020, 01:18:50 PM »
What I meant was the tax burden of paying for the helicopter money, the Wall Street bailouts, the credit market bailouts, the massive cost of medical treatment, etc.

What cost?  It's being paid for in Funny Money.

This is the Straw that Broke the Camel' Back.  The Monetary system is TOAST.  All assets will go to ZERO (or close to it).

Remember Revelation 18.  You are living it right now.

Quote
8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

9 And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,

10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.

11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:

12 The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,

13 And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.

Good riddance.  I am glad I lived long enough to see it.

RE

Could be TEOTWAWKI, but I sorta doubt it. More of a step down to the Great Depression level of living, is more likely than a total collapse, in my view. We're headed there, for sure....we need a fucking miracle to prevent it.
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Offline RE

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Re: Back to Work, Peasants?
« Reply #4179 on: March 23, 2020, 01:34:26 PM »

Could be TEOTWAWKI, but I sorta doubt it. More of a step down to the Great Depression level of living, is more likely than a total collapse, in my view. We're headed there, for sure....we need a fucking miracle to prevent it.

In the Great Depression assets went to near ZERO.  Houses and Farms were auctioned off for back taxes.  It all went for pennies on the dollar.  It doesn't have to be TEOTWAWKI for a major asset crash that brings investors to balconies for Flying Lessons.




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Offline Surly1

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Re: Back to Work, Peasants?
« Reply #4180 on: March 23, 2020, 01:41:03 PM »

Even 10 million dead is better than all of us  having no way to earn a living and pay for food and shelter....., which will take out most of the other 320 million and destroy our entire way of life.

I'm not arguing that it's not needed. Just that it has a cost that is unimaginable at this point....and that cost will be born by ordinary people.

10 million dead. Just the cost of sales, and thus a write-off.
And ordinary people will bear the cost because we don't have the stomach to re-order our priorities go get the money.



Not what I said at all. I just said the lockdown is going to be very brutal and super expensive....and it is unsustainable. It had better work (and fast) , or the next phase will be extremely chaotic....

The "next phase will be extremely chaotic" anyhow because Trump heard God come from the voice of some rando Brit Fox News placed on a Sunday show saying, "the cure can't be worse than the disease" as regards the economy. Now that mantra has been picked up and repeated continuously by Trump and his expensively-besuited gaggle of grifters, body men and assorted asslickers.

Wait until 3/31, when Trump takes to the podium to announce that the "Gina virus" has been vanquished, and all you proles quit your whining and getyerassbacktowork, already. Fauci and Birx walk, saying that such an approach will kill millions, and hence they can no longer lend their work and their names to the regime. Then governors in the affected states say, in effect, "Not only no, but Fuck No." Whereupon having already called out the National Guard, Trump will use them to get workers in wine shops, flooring stores, and titty bars back to work. Maybe even making stops at hospitals to get the malingering assholes sucking on ventilators off their collective asses and back to work, consecrating themselves to American bidness's bottom line, as God has decreed.

Chaos? While The Rona has sowed plenty of potential for chaos, the mishandling of the disease and the country's response has set the stage for chaos the likes of which we've never seen when Trump orders the period of social distancing over, and the Governors of hard hit states say, "don't do it."

"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Offline Surly1

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Coronavirus Exposes the Virulence of American Conservatism
« Reply #4181 on: March 24, 2020, 05:19:54 AM »
The author calls it "conservatism," but what it really is is Koch-brothers-style, laissez-faire libertarianism on full display. Admire the plumage. Applaud the poses it strikes. If you look closely at the feathers, you can see the images of dead bodies embossed.

Coronavirus Exposes the Virulence of American Conservatism
Eric Levitz@EricLevitzMar. 23, 2020
 

Sick, sad Mitch. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images


Last week, the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party unveiled a plan to keep British workers paid and employed for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. The Tory proposal would effectively cover 80 percent of sidelined workers’ salaries, while forbidding employers who accept the government’s help from laying off staff. The policy closely resembles one implemented by Denmark’s Social Democrats, except that Boris Johnson’s wage-replacement rate is slightly more generous than the Danish left’s. Although the Conservatives have a well-earned reputation for sacrificing Britain’s vulnerable on the altar of deficit reduction, even they recognize that social welfare must take precedence over budgetary concerns in the context of a historically sudden and deep economic crisis. On Friday, Tory chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that there would be no limit on the funding available for covering workers’ wages.

“We are starting a great national effort to protect jobs,” Sunak said. “We want to look back on this time and remember how in the face of a generation-defining moment we undertook a collective national effort and we stood together.”

America’s conservatives see things differently.

U.S. workers are every bit as exposed to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic side effects as their peers across the pond. Unlike their British counterparts, however, American laborers aren’t guaranteed affordable health care if they lose their jobs, nor any amount of paid sick leave should they take ill. And yet, despite our workers’ unique vulnerability to the harms of illness and unemployment, congressional Republicans are not only unwilling to support universal paid leave or make an open-ended commitment to covering 80 percent of workers’ salaries but are also fighting to protect the right of bailed-out corporations to fire as many workers as they see fit.

On Sunday, the Senate failed to reach an agreement on an already belated economic relief package, a development that’s left small-business owners and laid-off workers reeling and financial markets tumbling. The mainstream press has attributed the Senate’s inaction to “Washington infighting,” or else to Democratic intransigence. But Chuck Schumer’s caucus didn’t vote down the Republican bill over some minor detail, or because it insisted on dictating the left’s preference on an issue that genuinely divides blue and red America. Rather, the key sticking point is that the GOP bill would empower the Trump administration to dole out $500 billion in bailout money to corporations of its own choosing — without forbidding bailed-out firms from laying off their workers. This arrangement would not only allow the hotelier-in-chief to plow public money into his companies and those of his cronies but also enable those firms to spend our government’s dollars on maintaining outsize executive compensation instead of retaining employees.

Senate Democrats have other conditions they would like to attach to the corporate bailouts, and some quibbles with other sections of the existing bill. But the GOP’s insistence on subsidizing corporations that fire workers in the middle of a pandemic appears to be the Democrats’ paramount concern.

Critically, the Republican Party’s opposition to requiring bailed-out firms to retain at least 90 percent of their workers does not reflect the uniquely pro-management bent of public opinion in the U.S. The disparity between the Tory and GOP stances has approximately nothing to do with any ideological divergence between their mass constituencies.

Data for Progress, a progressive think tank, released a poll Monday gauging public support for Elizabeth Warren’s list of conditions for corporate bailouts. Many of the senator’s stipulations attracted mere plurality or only narrow majority support. But when asked whether companies that accept government aid should be required to maintain their payrolls, 74 percent of respondents said yes. The requirement was nearly as popular with GOP voters as it was among Democratic ones, with 70 percent of self-identified Republicans approving.

Photo: Data for Progress

Photo: Data for Progress

Senate Republicans have also insisted on (1) limiting an increase in unemployment benefits to three months, (2) making the bill’s cash-assistance provision a onetime payment instead of a subsidy guaranteed to recur for the duration of the crisis, and (3) capping relief funds for small business at a fraction of the level recommended by conservative economists like Glenn Hubbard and Michael Strain.

What makes Mitch McConnell’s principled stance in favor of subsidizing corporate layoffs and penny-pinching on aid to workers and small businesses most remarkable is that it runs directly counter to his party’s political interests. Donald Trump’s reelection is quite likely to hinge on whether economic growth resumes by midsummer. The bulk of the Democratic demands that McConnell is rejecting — more expansive aid to workers, consumers, state governments, and small businesses (that agree to retain their staff) — would increase the probability of a “V-shaped recovery,” and thus, of Trump renewing his lease on the White House.

Therefore, the gulf between the GOP’s response to the crisis and that of Britain’s Tories is not a product of public opinion or crass electoral concerns. Rather, it reflects the fact that the Republicans are not a normal conservative party, but a uniquely reactionary political formation. No other major party in the Western world rejects the concept of universal health care or disputes the reality of man-made climate change. The GOP is more adamantly opposed to the downward redistribution of resources, or any measure that tips the balance of power between workers and bosses in the former’s direction, than any center-right party in the developed world.

Republicans’ uniquely virulent strain of conservatism is undermining not only their response to COVID-19’s economic consequences but also to the public-health crisis itself. Even as U.S. hospitals and health-care workers are suffering from a shortage of masks and ventilators, President Trump has refused to invoke his authority under the Defense Production Act to force the mass production of those critical materials. Instead of conscripting domestic manufacturers into the figurative war on the coronavirus, the White House has attempted to arrange a voluntary consortium of firms interested in aiding with mask and ventilator production. According to the New York Times, this decision came at the behest of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Trump defended his approach Sunday on the grounds that “we’re a country not based on nationalizing our business.” Of course, invoking the DPA to temporarily commandeer a firm’s productive capacity is not tantamount to the nationalization of industry. Meanwhile, the voluntarist approach mandated by the GOP’s devotion to corporate prerogatives is not delivering the goods:

[I]t is far from clear that the effort to enlist companies like General Motors, Apple and Hanes, just a few of the firms that have promised to free up existing supplies of masks or repurpose 3-D printers to produce ventilator parts, constitutes an effective strategy.

In interviews with participants in the process, from business executives to government officials, there is still widespread confusion about how much and what exactly each firm is supposed to produce. Corporate executives say they face a bewildering number of requests from dozens of nations around the world, along with governors and mayors around the country, for scarce supplies. The White House has not said who will set the priority list for deliveries. And it is not clear that any of it will arrive in time for the cities and the states that are hit the hardest, including New York.

… By Saturday, Parkdale Mills joined Hanes, Fruit of the Loom and other companies in announcing a coalition to produce masks. But they are not the kind hospitals most need. The new masks will be made of a three-ply underwear fabric, and do not provide the level of protection given by the N95 masks that health care workers need for intubation and other procedures.

The president’s laissez-faire approach to redressing potentially lethal shortages of critical medical equipment would be alarming enough in isolation. But it is especially disconcerting when combined with Trump’s recent signals that he intends to relax his administration’s social-distancing advisories in the near-term future. If the president is going to encourage businesses to reopen and public life to resume in a manner of days, the least he could do is use every authority at his disposal to expand treatment capacity at America’s hospitals.

But the ideological hang-ups (and/or fiduciary duties) of the American conservative movement won’t let him.

For this reason, the wealthiest nation in human history appears to be on the cusp of allowing mass business failures and layoffs — and then attempting to redress those preventable economic harms by prematurely suspending social-distancing measures, thereby condemning many of its people to death by suffocation in hospital hallways.

This outcome can still be averted. Senate Republicans have evinced somecapacity for subordinating their ideological convictions to political and economic necessity. And Democrats certainly have their own responsibility not to let the perfect be the enemy of the “good enough for now.” Given the urgent necessity of getting cash in the hands of beleaguered workers and businesses, if the GOP is willing to table the debate over corporate bailouts — and immediately pass a bill dispensing cash assistance to households and aid to small businesses (that commit to retaining workers) — Democrats should play ball.

But, as of this writing, McConnell is not offering such a deal. And so long as that’s the case, mainstream news outlets must not attribute the relief package’s delay to small-minded partisanship or Democratic intransigence, but rather to the Republican Party’s singular commitment to the prerogatives of plutocrats.

"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Offline Surly1

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Trump Will Put Americans Back To Work Over Their Nanasí Dead Bodies
« Reply #4182 on: March 25, 2020, 05:43:04 AM »
March 24, 2020 09:03 AM

Donald Trump is already bored with all the social distancing he doesn't actually practice. According to Jonathan Lemire at the Associated Press, Trump misses his old hate rallies. He lies to Americans and insults reporters during his daily coronavirus briefings but it's not quite the same. Lemire shared the president's sorry emotional state with Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC Monday.

LEMIRE: He's frustrated that he's not able to run the campaign right now that he wants to, against Joe Biden. They thought they could unload their financial advantage to go after Biden to define him now, early in the campaign, like [Barack] Obama did to [Mitt] Romney in 2012, and Biden could not play catchup, and of course, he is missing the rallies and the road.

This doesn't seem like the kind of election where the opposing candidates need to “define" themselves. We know Biden is very old and not good with modern technology ... like a teleprompter.On the other hand, Trump is a deranged sociopath. That's the dynamic of the race. It won't change. We might as well just vote (by mail) today.

Now Trump is considering shutting down the shutdowns so his re-election campaign can focus on how great the economy is after millions of Americans have died in three months. The campaign ads film themselves. This might seem like a shocking disregard for human life — even from Trump — but he reassured everyone during his daily stock-market tanking presser that he totally gives AF whether we live or die.

Dr. Deborah Birx, whose credibility is in quarantine, mentioned that she had a low-grade fever over the weekend. It was probably just a "[gastrointestinal] thing," but she's “meticulous." She's a doctor, damnit, so she just ran down to the all-night drugstore where they sell coronavirus tests (not behind the counter or anything like Gillette razors). Her tests came back negative — apparently within hours, which is not how I thought this worked. She took Sunday off and now she's standing all of six infectious inches from the president. Mike Pence, next in line to the damn presidency, was so close to Trump they were practically humping. This is a Keystone Cops administration.

Dr. Birx treating the coronavirus like a bad spring cold keyed up Trump to propose relaxing social distancing restrictions all together. He's over it. He claimed we've “learned a lot" from having to spend so much time with our fucking family, but Trump thinks maybe we've learned enough. We're barely a week into this.

TRUMP: I'm looking at what's going on and life is fragile. Economies are fragile.

Trump contends that the mortality rate for the virus isn't an “astronomical number" because we're only hearing about annoying sick people, and there are probably people sitting at home right, bored out of their skulls, who don't even feel like they have the coronavirus. If we included all these perfectly healthy people, the mortality rate is under 1 percent ... so get back to work already. There's no science or data or anything behind this or anything Trump says. He just wants to save the economy in time for the election, with the ancillary benefit of generating significant growth in the mortuary industry.

Twitter

Trump doesn't understand why we'd lock ourselves in our homes like cowards while far too many of his innocent properties are suffering. He noted that more people die in automobile accidents than the coronavirus, and we don't ban cars. He just doesn't get that the exponential increase in coronavirus cases and deaths is the problem. Without social distancing, it's estimated that 2.25 million Americans could die this year. That's at least two times more than the 40,000 that die annually in automobile accidents. And a more apt though still irrelevant comparison would be if a specific automobile killed people at an exponential rate — even if you weren't on the road at all. Your stupid grandson drove Christine over spring break and now your lungs are jelly. They would immediately recall this devil car.

The president claims the “cure" of a prolonged shutdown is worse than the “disease," a sentiment he first expressed in a frenzied all-caps tweet Monday. It's also an argument more Republicans are starting to share. Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick told Tucker Carlson that no one bothered to ask him if he was willing to do die for the stock exchange.

PATRICK: No one reached out to me and said, “As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?" If that's the exchange, I'm all in.

That's grotesque, but I guess if Patrick really wants to play this game he can draw a pentagram on the floor in his own blood and some foul demon might rise up and make a deal with him. I keep hearing that America is exceptional, so maybe there's a way to avoid either total economic collapse or willingly murdering the elderly.

PATRICK: That doesn't make me noble or brave or anything like that.

No, it doesn't. Patrick also isn't just talking about himself personally dying to keep the flames of capitalism burning. He's talking about all old people. Candace Owens might willingly agree to bring slavery back if it would turn around the economy, but for the record, she's only speaking for herself.

Patrick claimed his heart was removed lifted by what Trump said, and just like that, it's turned into a partisan issue whether or not we should let old people and young at-risk people who'll never become grandparents die. The first, less aggressive shutdowns started in March. It is still March and we're already launching the weak and infirm out to sea. God only knows what April will bring.

Follow Stephen Robinson on Twitter.

"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Offline Surly1

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COVID-19 and Class in the United States
« Reply #4183 on: March 27, 2020, 03:23:40 AM »
Excellent essay/rant by Lambert Strether over at Naked capitalism.


COVID-19 and Class in the United States

  

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. — F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

In the United States, #COVID-19 began with globalization and globalizers. One thing we can be of is that grovery workers — to whom the virus will “trickle down” soon enough — didn’t create the conditions for it, or introduce it. Let’s take a look at the grocery workers before dollying back to the global. From the Los Angeles Times, “Column: How coronavirus turned supermarket workers into heroes“:

Today supermarkets are playing a ground-zero role in our struggle to adapt to restrictions imposed by COVID-19. And grocery workers are bearing much of the the brunt of our anxiety and frustration, as we [who?] descend on depleted stores.

Without masks or barriers, employees are working long hours, risking infection and battling exhaustion to do their jobs. They connect us to material essentials, like bread and toilet paper. But they’re also part of the social fabric that holds us together in unsettling times.

That friendly chat with the guy restocking the egg case this morning might be my only social interaction on this shelter-at-home day. And I feel better whenever I see my favorite cashier at her register. There’s something reassuring about the familiar in a world where everything has changed.

Markets are about the only place we’re still allowed to gather en masse. And their employees — pressed into service in ways they never expected — are our new first responders. They’re apt to see us at our worst, and they aim to ease our strain.

“They’re dealing with a public that’s fearful, apprehensive and frustrated, and it gets hostile,” [said John Grant, a former meatpacker who is president of the union that represents grocery employees in Southern California]. “This wasn’t what they signed up for, but they realize it’s their responsibility. They’ve cursed how vulnerable they are, and yet they keep going out of their profound dedication to their communities.”

Funny thing. The people who “connect us to material essentials” are suddenly more important than Senators and Represenatives (who can fly home), or all the MBAs in the head office, or the CEOs. Heaven forfend they collectively decided to withdraw their labor!

“Vulnerable” as the grocery workers are, they didn’t bring #COVID19 on themselves or us. First, I’ll look at how globalization made the “material essentials” to deal with #COVID19 so hard to obtain. Then, I’ll look at how globalizers were vectors for the diseases spread.

Globalization

The story of how the United States 1% deindustrialized American by moving our manufacturing base offshore (mostly to China) is well known and I will not rehearse it here. From the New York Times, “How the World’s Richest Country Ran Out of a 75-Cent Face Mask“:

The answer to why we’re running out of protective gear involves a very American set of capitalist pathologies — the rise and inevitable lure of low-cost overseas manufacturing, and a strategic failure, at the national level and in the health care industry, to consider seriously the cascading vulnerabilities that flowed from the incentives to reduce costs.

(By “reduce costs,” of course, we mean “increase profits.”) The shortage of masks has been the dominant narrative, but we don’t make anything. If masks had not been “the long pole in the tent,” as project managers say, something else would have been or will be: ventilators, gloves, nasal swabs for testing, extraction kits and pipettes, reagents, whatever. The real issue is not a shortage of this or that material essential, but a forty-year policy of globalization, supported by the ruling class as a whole, that has led to a shortage of allmaterial essentials (and that’s not even taking austerity and the general gutting of public services into account). I have altered the famous “flattening the curve” chart (here with “dotted line to show capacity”) to show the effect”

Lack of “material essentials” reduces our capacity (“How many very sick people hospitals can treat”); it pushes the dotted line down. So we either have to flatten the curve further than we would otherwise have to do, or we don’t, and lose lives. Thank you, globalization! And with that, let’s turn to the globalizers.

Globalizers

By globalizers, I mean the 1% on down, plus the PMC (Professional Manager Class) who own and manage our globalized system. One effect of globalization has been the vast expansion of air transport and international travel, so that globalizers can do their jobs. And that’s how SARS-COV-2 was brought to the United States:

The man who would become Patient Zero for the new coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. appeared to do everything right. He arrived Jan. 19 at an urgent-care clinic in a suburb north of Seattle with a slightly elevated temperature and a cough he’d developed soon after returning four days earlier from a visit with family in Wuhan, China.

(I’m not blaming any individual; I travel internationally myself, and there are many good reasons to do it. But international air travel was the vector that brought the virus to the United States. That is the system. I’m assuming Patient Zero travelled for professional reasons, since Wuhan is an unlikely tourist destination.)

We can make a highly suggestive correlation between globalizers and COVID-19 if we look at two simple maps. First, as is well known, one of the main distinctions between the places that are “optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward” (i.e., globalizers) and the dull provincials in flyover is the possession of passports. (A passport is a likely marker for the sort of person who asks “Why don’t they just leave?”; “front-row kids,” in Chris Arnade’s parlance, as distinguished from, say, grocery workers, who he calls “back-row” kids.) Here is a map of passport ownership by state:

http://maps.unomaha.edu/Map_Sites/US_Passport_Map.htm

And here is a map of COVID-19 outbreaks:

The correlation is rather neat, don’t you think? It makes sense that the first case was in a globalist, passport-owning city like Seattle on the West Coast; and it makes sense that the world capital of globalization, passport-owning New York City, now has a major outbreak.

Oh, and the ability to travel by air correlates to income (a proxy for class):

If one hypothesizes, as I am doing, that COVID-19 will trickle from globalizers downward, we might ask ourselves how that will happen. One answer, of course, is social interaction between the globalizers themselves. The New York Times describes “Party Zero: How a Soirée in Connecticut Became a ‘Super Spreader‘:”

About 50 guests gathered on March 5 at a home in the stately suburb of Westport, Conn., to toast the hostess on her 40th birthday and greet old friends, including one visiting from South Africa. They shared reminiscences, a lavish buffet and, unknown to anyone, the coronavirus.

Then they scattered.

The Westport soirée — Party Zero in southwestern Connecticut and beyond — is a story of how, in the Gilded Age of money, social connectedness and air travel, a pandemic has spread at lightning speed. The partygoers — more than half of whom are now infected — left that evening for Johannesburg, New York City and other parts of Connecticut and the United States, all seeding infections on the way.

Westport, a town of 28,000 on the Long Island Sound, did not have a single known case of the coronavirus on the day of the party. It had 85 on Monday, up more than 40-fold in 11 days.

It is the globalizers’ ability to “scatter,” in other words — both internationally and domestically — that made them such effective vectors. The Westport hot-spot was innocent, since nobody knew enough about COVID-19. Other examples are not innocent at all, where globalizers infect all those around them by trying to escape the disease. The Hamptons example is famous. From the New York Post, “‘We should blow up the bridges’ — coronavirus leads to class warfare in Hamptons“:

Every aspect of life, most crucially medical care, is under strain from the sudden influx of rich Manhattanites panic-fleeing, bringing along their disdain and disregard for the little people — and in some cases, knowingly bringing coronavirus.

The Springs resident says her friend, a nurse out here, reported that a wealthy Manhattan woman who tested positive called tiny Southampton Hospital to say she was on her way and needed treatment.

The woman was told to stay in Manhattan.

Instead, she allegedly got on public transportation, telling no one of her condition. Then she showed up at Southampton Hospital, demanding admittance.

“Someone else took a private jet to East Hampton and did not tell anybody ’til he landed,” the resident says. “That’s the most horrendous aspect. The virus is already here, and we don’t have any medical resources.”

Everybody loves a “rich people behaving badly” story, but here’s a second one. From the Los Angeles Times, “Some of Mexico’s wealthiest residents went to Colorado to ski. They brought home coronavirus“:

The frantic effort to find the ski trip participants has highlighted an uncomfortable fact: It is people wealthy enough to travel outside the country who have brought the coronavirus back to mostly poor Mexico. Yet if the disease spreads, it is those with the least who will probably suffer the most.

“The virus is imported by people with the economic capacity to travel,” wrote actor Tenoch Huerta on Twitter. “Those who ask that everything be closed and all economic activity stop, hurting the people who live day-to-day, why didn’t they voluntarily isolate for three weeks so as not to spread it? Or should only the poor be responsible?”

The same dynamic can be inferred in Blaine Country, Idaho, home of ski resort Sun Valley:

Idaho has 123 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the state’s coronavirus website. That includes 37 in Ada County and eight in Canyon County. Blaine County, where Sun Valley is located, has the most confirmed cases at 52. Idaho’s first case was reported 12 days ago, in Ada County. The number of people tested in the state is now up to 2,188.

(Many of the cases around the state came from travel to Blaine County.)

Finally, Berkshire County, MA:

Eoin Higgins@EoinHiggins_

In my home area of Berkshire County, MA, the superrich from the city who own second homes have come up en masse, buying up all the food and refusing to quarantine. The latter means they will overwhelm an already insufficient healthcare system.

195 people are talking about this

Conclusion

Of course, this rough-and-ready, anecdotal analysis is no substitute for formal, scientific contact tracing. But I don’t think, at this point, we will ever be able trace the original outbreaks. And I didn’t see anybody else making this argument, so I thought I’d throw it against the wall and see if it sticks. All I can say is that when I think of the grocery workers — and all the workers — in the Hamptons, Mexico, Idaho, and Massachusetts having COVID-19 brought to them, I become very ticked off. For pity’s sake, at least can we practice social distancing by traveling only when it’s essential?

"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Offline Surly1

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Remember all those extremely low numbers reported from Russia?

Putin dons hazmat suit as Moscow says coronavirus outbreak is worse than it looks



* Mayor says official figures underestimate virus spread

* Putin visits hospital, praises staff

* Lawmakers suggest jail time for people flouting quarantine

By Andrew Osborn and Tom Balmforth

MOSCOW, March 24 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin donned a hazmat suit and respirator on Tuesday during a visit to a hospital treating coronavirus patients and the mayor of Moscow said the outbreak in the Russian capital was much worse than official figures showed.

The comments, by Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, marked the strongest statement yet by Russian authorities suggesting they do not have a full grasp of how widely the coronavirus has spread throughout the world's largest country by territory.

Russia has so far reported 495 cases of the virus, a figure that is much lower than in many European countries. One woman, who tested positive for the virus, has also died.

Putin has previously said the situation is under control, but some doctors have questioned how far official data reflects reality, a point taken up by Sobyanin, a close Putin ally, on Tuesday.

"A serious situation is unfolding," Sobyanin told Putin at a meeting, saying the real number of cases was unclear but that they were increasing quickly.

Testing for the virus was at a low level, he said, and many people in the capital were self-isolating at their apartments or at homes in the countryside and not being tested after returning from trips abroad.

"...In reality there are significantly more of those who are sick," Sobyanin said.

Putin on Tuesday donned a bright yellow full-body protective suit and respirator as he visited a hospital on the outskirts of Moscow that is treating coronavirus patients.

The Russian leader used the visit to praise doctors for their work, saying he had been impressed by what he had seen.

Separately, two senior lawmakers, including Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, on Tuesday proposed legislation that would make it an offence punishable by jail time to violate quarantine measures imposed to limit the virus's spread.

Under their proposals, people who flout mandatory quarantine could be jailed for up to seven years if their actions led to the death of two or more people, or for up to three years if it led to mass infection, the RIA news agency reported.
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

 

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