I have to say: if the Financial Times can come out in favor of “basic income and wealth taxes”, surely Joe Biden can come out in favor of Medicare for All.
I have to say: if the Financial Times can come out in favor of “basic income and wealth taxes”, surely Joe Biden can come out in favor of Medicare for All.
I’m not sure anyone actually finds anything useful or interesting in these RSS/newsletter roundup posts I’ve been doing, but I’m keeping at it anyway. I think today’s batch is especially compelling.
But in this essay, I want to persuade you not just to wear a mask, but to go beyond the new CDC guidelines and help make mask wearing a social norm. That means always wearing a mask when you go out in public, and becoming a pest and nuisance to the people in your life until they do the same.
Maintaining distance from other people is, indeed, the task at hand, and as Mooallem writes, it is a noble one—as noble as saving a person from a burning building. Social isolation takes a toll, however. Loneliness can be deadly, increasing the risk of heart disease, depression, and high blood pressure, and potentially weakening the immune system’s ability to fight off diseases like COVID-19. Urban parks can provide anxious, weary citizens a bit of much-needed fresh air and sunlight, along with the sights and sounds of others—reminders that we are not alone. For those suffering from depression or domestic violence, such small reminders might be as important as not contracting a virus.
But the problem of time is also a problem of space. Homes, too, in this moment, are taking on a new kind of indeterminacy: They are now serving not only as shelter and refuge, but also as workplace and school and gym and theater and restaurant and bar and laundry and town square. They now contain, for many, an entire day’s worth of demands. But whether a house or a compact apartment, those dwellings were never meant to be as profoundly multifunctional as a shelter-in-place scenario requires them to be. American homes, Don Norman, the founding chair of the cognitive-science department at the University of California at San Diego and an advocate of user-centered design, told me, are simply not meant to be lived in 24/7.
In an interview on the Fox News Channel on Monday, Trump explained his objection to Democrats’ efforts to appropriate billions of dollars for election security in the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package. “The things they had in there were crazy,” he told the hosts. “They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” On Wednesday, the Georgia House Speaker, Republican David Ralston, echoed Trump. He opposed sending absentee ballots to the state’s registered voters because the effort would lead to higher voter participation. That would “be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.”
The problem, of course, is this vocabulary does more to misinform than it does inform. The major parties are in fact unequal in their influence. The Republicans can and will use democratic institutions to sabotage the American republic. The Democrats, meanwhile, mostly try defending these institutions, nurturing them when they can. The public, however, often doesn’t see the difference. As you often hear me say, most people most of the time have something better to do than pay attention to politics.
But essential workers — doctors, nurses, grocers, pharmacists, delivery drivers, and others — are still commuting, and homebound folks must still make trips for survival goods. Now local governments are taking action to help that critical movement happen more easily: They’re striping new bike lanes, retooling traffic signals, suspending transit fares, closing some streets to vehicle traffic, and taking other temporary transportation measures. CityLab has mapped some of the changes happening on city streets in the U.S. and around the world as of April 3, using data from the National Association of Transportation Officials’s Covid-19 Transportation Response Center, a newly launched repository of emergency responses.
Radical reforms — reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades — will need to be put on the table. Governments will have to accept a more active role in the economy. They must see public services as investments rather than liabilities, and look for ways to make labour markets less insecure. Redistribution will again be on the agenda; the privileges of the elderly and wealthy in question. Policies until recently considered eccentric, such as basic income and wealth taxes, will have to be in the mix.
Imagine a representational voting system that has nothing to do with political parties and that guarantees that the voices of we the people are heard. Such a system exists — in fact, it has been in use in various parts of the U.S. for some years now. More and more places are getting on board. It’s called ranked choice voting.
Oregon’s vote-by-mail primary next month remains on, but my question is how the election will be worked. Ballots are opened by tables of anywhere from two to four people, of a party mixture, who do not sit six feet apart. What new processes are in place?
If you pair the Associated Press investigation into the months wasted by the United States as the pandemic hit with the Axios scoop on the Situation Room fight over how to discuss hydroxychloroquine, you will fall back into that pit of despair wondering how all this is going to end.
The thing about this longtime Republican operative and fundraiser who has quit politics to sell medical equipment is that he’s running a fucking scam no matter which way you come at it.
Asked how he’d managed to procure such equipment when there are shortages in hospitals across the country, Gula said, “I have relationships with a lot of people.”
Either he really does have relationships that are funneling equipment to him, which makes this a scam, or he’s lying and he’s just going to be snowing people, which makes this a scam.
Democrats should be hauling Mike Gula and John Thomas into a committee hearing the first chance they get. Preferably one on which Katie Porter sits.
Too many items from my RSS and newsletters apps piling up in my Reading List again, some of which go back weeks; time for an infodump.
When you are living and working in the same place for days on end, work can have a way of taking over everything if you let it. Living in space, I deliberately paced myself because I knew I was in it for the long haul — just like we all are today. Take time for fun activities: I met up with crewmates for movie nights, complete with snacks, and binge-watched all of “Game of Thrones” — twice.
A global, novel virus that keeps us contained in our homes—maybe for months—is already reorienting our relationship to government, to the outside world, even to each other. Some changes these experts expect to see in the coming months or years might feel unfamiliar or unsettling: Will nations stay closed? Will touch become taboo? What will become of restaurants?
But there is also an essential support layer that requires people to be out of their homes: we need governance and security, we need a supply system for the essential goods: trucks and drivers, and people who maintain our ports, electricity, water, sewage, Internet, media. We need people who care for the vulnerable. We need a banking system and those who staff the supermarkets, cleaners for the offices of those who cannot work from home. We still need systems and people to deal with the dead, ensure animal welfare, to remove rubbish. Who grows and harvests the food?
The interruption is not total, of course. Normies seem particularly fond of toilet-paper joke memes for the moment, while the extremely online instinctively disdain them. Both the normies and the extremely online are, as they have been since 2016, far too reliant on the language of “apocalypse” and “end times.” These are not the end times; even a nuclear war would not be the end times for all the creatures on earth, among which there will always be at least some extremophiles to relish any new arrangement of the ecosystem. What this is, rather, is a critical shift in the way we think about the human, the natural and the overlap between these.
In these alarming and unusual times, windows, balconies, and roofs have become more than architectural details, but stages for the human spirit to shine. Citizens of the United States, Italy, Spain, India, Brazil, and other places have been on lockdown, forced to create new ways to connect and not be alone. Music has been shared from rooftops, exercise classes across balconies, messages of faith and creativity posted on windows. Collective outdoor applause has been scheduled to celebrate health and other public workers.
All over America, the coronavirus is revealing, or at least reminding us, just how much of contemporary American life is bullshit, with power structures built on punishment and fear as opposed to our best interest. Whenever the government or a corporation benevolently withdraws some punitive threat because of the coronavirus, it’s a signal that there was never any good reason for that threat to exist in the first place.
Leaked notes from an internal meeting of Amazon leadership obtained by VICE News reveal company executives discussed a plan to smear fired warehouse employee Christian Smalls, calling him “not smart or articulate” as part of a PR strategy to make him “the face of the entire union/organizing movement.”
My grandmother was born in 1928; she spent the first 10 years of her life living through the Great Depression in the Oklahoma Dust Bowl and the last five years of her life hoarding food until it rotted in her fridge and pantry. The trauma never left. Neither will the trauma of thousands upon thousands of deaths once it’s safe to leave our homes. When we emerge, we will be different people in a different world.
While there has been plenty of fiction written about pandemics, I think the biggest difference between those scenarios and our reality is how poorly our government has handled it. If your goal is to dramatize the threat posed by an unknown virus, there’s no advantage in depicting the officials responding as incompetent, because that minimizes the threat; it leads the reader to conclude that the virus wouldn’t be dangerous if competent people were on the job. A pandemic story like that would be similar to what’s known as an “idiot plot,” a plot that would be resolved very quickly if your protagonist weren’t an idiot. What we’re living through is only partly a disaster novel; it’s also—and perhaps mostly—a grotesque political satire.
So, I missed Navy Rear Admiral John Polowczyk, heading FEMA’s supply chain task force, saying he’s “not here to disrupt the supply chain”, so that’s why equipment is going to private companies through whom the states then have to enter into bidding wars.
I’m sure that using the military to seize ventilators from upstate, rural communities for use in New York City won’t in any way be problematic as long as Cuomo insists it’s not seizure but “sharing”.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu shared with his cabinet a video he claimed was evidence of Iran concealing coronavirus deaths by dropping bodies in garbage dumps. Hours later, his office realized it was actually a clip from a 2007 Hallmark mini-series.
Time for another round-up of what’s been piling up in my RSS and newsletter readers over the past day or so while I’ve somewhat lost my ability to focus or function properly.
One thing that I always remind myself is that in a world where most people die, the story of the protagonist is not our story. We’re almost definitely among the masses of people who are swept aside in the wave of whatever comes next, and outside the pages of the books. It’s human nature to look at sweeping historical events, whether past or future, fictional or nonfictional, and imagine ourselves to be the heroic exceptions. But it’s math that we’re generally unexceptional, and at the very least any exceptionality is due more to luck than anything we can control. Any character who survives many close calls probably doesn’t if you put them in those situations again.
At first glance, it might seem like efforts to block potentially life-saving public health screenings and complaints about community character have little in common. But in both cases, the formula is the same: Whether out of an understandable fear of the unknown or a selfish desire to shift the burden elsewhere, local impulses are given veto power over broader social needs. Under normal conditions, the inability to constructively manage this means higher rents. In a public health emergency, it could be lethal.
The Brennen Center, a non-profit dedicated to the democratic process, has created a framework for nationwide voting by mail. First, it would not replace in-person voting. The option for in-person voting would be maintained for people who “do not wish to, do not know how to, do not have access to, or cannot use mail voting.” But by offering vote-by-mail to all Americans, it would make polling places less crowded and safer for those that do show up on election day. The Brennen Center also recommends shifting polling places from senior centers and other locations that serve people at high risk from COVID-19.
The social fabric is being torn in unprecedented ways, owing to school closings, a widespread shift to working from home, social distancing, sheltering in place. Whereas we used to share dozens of experiences a day with friends, acquaintances, and strangers—from riding the subway to working in an office, standing in line at lunch, going to a concert, eating at a restaurant, chatting to an Uber driver—many of us have been reduced to sharing only isolation and the fear of chance encounters, if either of those can be said to be shared.
Republicans, one way or another, are going to kill us all.
MSNBC just aired part of a conference call between Trump, Fauci, and governors. In response to the Democratic governor of Montana saying they simply do not have the tests (or the PPE) to test people, and that their potential supply chains are basically being undercut at the federal level, Mine Furor’s response — his literal response to having just heard that testing was a problem — was: “I haven’t heard of testing being a problem.”
The problem with Mine Furor saying the quiet part loud — in this case admitting that protecting voting rights would hurt Republicans — is that the press treats it as a Trump brain fart and not, in fact, the actual GOP agenda.
Given that already a woman in New York has been murdered over social distancing decorum, how long before Mine Furor’s claims that nurses are hoarding masks gets someone killed?
I can’t find it now, but this morning I read that the direct cash payments do count against income limits for various social welfare benefits, so my expectation right now is that it will impact my SNAP allotment. What I don’t know is whether it will only impact it for the month the payment is received or for any month in which any of the payment amount remains unspent.
Some of what’s been piling up in my RSS and newsletter apps while I’ve been struggling through a two-day depression that hopefully social distances from me today.
So that Nextdoor post about wanting martial law was replied to by a poster who further hopes “for a purge of at least a third of this planet’s human population”, a return to the gold standard, and the abolition of government.
How long before Mine Furor tries to fire the Fed chair for echoing Dr. Fauci that “the virus is going to set the timetable”?