The Politics Of The Pandemic
March 19, 2020 10:57 AM   Subscribe

“ As hosts to the pathogen, we Americans are uniquely susceptible because of lack of health coverage, precarious jobs and skewed economics” Austerity and inequality are fueling the pandemic in the US. (Guardian) It’s Never Been A Better Time To Cancel Student Debt (The Nation) “The coronavirus pandemic is clearly demonstrating to us the need to administrate the problems of public health in a more rational fashion than the capitalist state. It’s obvious based on previous experience that we need to shift towards the democratic public control of medical resources.” posted by The Whelk (224 comments total) 67 users marked this as a favorite
Things are so fucked. All debt should be canceled, period. Amazon is a weird beast right now - it is in a unique position to facilitate distribution of critical goods across the country, but not if it means forcibly exposing employees to potentially life-threatening conditions.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:16 AM on March 19 [20 favorites]

a bored intern at a backwater simulation lab: "hey I wonder what'd happen if we took the most pathologically atomized population in human history and then required it to enter an indefinite state of physical isolation"
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:27 AM on March 19 [25 favorites]

It’s Never Been A Better Time To Cancel Student Debt

How about all debt? Or, at the very least, put debt payments on hiatus until such time that people are back on their feet again. The thought of millions of people suddenly not being able to pay mortgage/rent, utilities, health insurance, etc. scares the crap out of me.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:31 AM on March 19 [27 favorites]

Meanwhile we've got Joe over here thinking the priority is sending American scientists and health experts to China, "because we have genuine experts who know how to confront these things." Right, China has mostly flattened their curve, no new cases yesterday, but what they really need is Americans experts stomping around showing them what to do, all while the virus shows zero signs of slowing right here at home. Fucking American exceptionalism.

April Fools Day will be revelatory to a lot of folks. Landlords are going to be looking for rent that they're just not going to get. Insurance companies are going to be looking for payments, some from people who were already paying out of pocket and some from people ostensibly starting COBRA, and they're not going to get a lot of them. People are going to have to decide to either use the little bit of money they have to keep themselves and their families fed, or send it to to the corporations holding their debts or the literal rent-seekers holding their leases.

A lot of people worry that nothing will ever be the same after all this. Myself, I worry that things might actually somehow be the same after all this, because there's a way this ends where we learn absolutely nothing about who actually holds the power -- or could, and should, hold the power -- in American society. But there's also a way this ends when we start to get a better picture of what fair employment and pay and benefits and healthcare and debt might actually look like in a country that isn't engineered to squeeze every last resource from one end of society to the other end.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 11:38 AM on March 19 [74 favorites]

One thing is pretty clear to me: this pandemic has more potential for driving long-term societal changes than any other single event in my lifetime.
posted by Slothrup at 11:38 AM on March 19 [93 favorites]

One thing is pretty clear to me: this pandemic has more potential for driving long-term societal changes than any other single event in my lifetime.

The big question is which sort of societal changes? I could easily see it reinforce the drive toward things like universal healthcare and the like. OTOH, this being the US, I can also easily see things turning into a Libertarian hellscape.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:50 AM on March 19 [22 favorites]

I'm hoping that if people see governments making direct payments to citizens and the sky not falling that things like UBI will gain momentum.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:55 AM on March 19 [11 favorites]

p.s. they aren't coming to fix my broken toilet.

People are going to destroy their septic systems and sewers with toilet paper alternatives, and soon enough plumbers will be considered "essential."

I mean, they damn well should be already. Clean, running water is pretty damn important.

Even if you're drinking it out of a toilet in Fallout 4.
posted by deadaluspark at 11:58 AM on March 19 [9 favorites]

OTOH, this being the US, I can also easily see things turning into a Libertarian hellscape.

I mean, (if I recall my meager studies correctly) historically, in most crises like these, it leads to authoritarianism more often than it leads to positive social change, but I'd be happy for history to be wrong.
posted by deadaluspark at 12:00 PM on March 19 [13 favorites]

On the global market, this is probably set and solidify China as the largest economy in the world over the US and the EU. This will require a significant policy and attitude change from the latter two in order to survive the next few decades, and those usually don't turn out well.
posted by meowzilla at 12:03 PM on March 19 [9 favorites]

I would kind of like to see leaders force the stock markets to close shop for the duration, too. There's no sense letting everyone's retirement savings evaporate because the markets are in automatic-panic-mode and running scared.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:07 PM on March 19 [22 favorites]

I would kind of like to see leaders force the stock markets to close shop for the duration, too.

Guess it depends what you mean by "the duration", but given how many retirees have their money in the stock market that could be a big problem for current retirees.
posted by thefoxgod at 12:28 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]

Speaking of "politics of CoVID" does anyone else remember this article by Douglas Rushkoff in 2018 about billionaires concerned about "the event?"

The Event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus, or Mr. Robot hack that takes everything down.

This single question occupied us for the rest of the hour. They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader? The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew. Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival. Or maybe building robots to serve as guards and workers — if that technology could be developed in time.

Just a reminder that they've been planning for this and they're happy to put shock collars on us to make sure they don't have to sacrifice their lifestyle to get through it. I'm betting heavily on "Authoritarian Hellscape" right now and getting ready to temper my political speech online, prepared for a future where it can and will be used against me.

EDIT: Honestly, I thought then, and I think even moreso now that Rushkoff needs to name and shame these motherfuckers, if all this is indeed true. Fuck NDAs.
posted by deadaluspark at 12:40 PM on March 19 [31 favorites]

The Political Realignment From Hell: Trump’s coronavirus response stimulus package would bail out big oil. Biden-style Democrats will decry the cost. The planet will suffer (The New Republic)
As rigs are decommissioned—whether now or later—magnates like Harold Hamm and Trump’s other wealthy friends will walk away unscathed as wildcatters are left to deal with layoffs, poisoned air and water, and an ever-warming world; coal miners know this dynamic all too well. What shale-field workers and communities almost certainly need—more than a temporary loan to oil barons—is investment to diversify their economies with well-paid work and industries that strengthen former boomtowns for the long haul, fully honoring the contributions that generations of workers have made to the country and transitioning into the future of American energy. All of that also needs to be bolstered by the kind of strong social safety net that’s helping some European countries weather the COVID-19 crisis: commonsense policies like universal health care and paid sick leave.

As of this week, neither Biden nor Trump seems likely to deliver that. With a history of boosting natural gas, a team of climate and energy advisers who’ve gotten millions from the fossil fuel industry, and a longtime distaste for deficit spending, Joe Biden isn’t likely to argue strongly for a big government investment package that pivots away from shale; former Biden adviser Jared Bernstein told the Post he might even support the idea of a shale bailout for Hamm and company. And in the absence of any meaningful alternative, Trump could become a hero of the shale and hospitality workers while the Democratic Party wags its finger at the price tag.
Dealing With Coronavirus Requires Bold Action. The Democratic Leadership Won’t Take It (Jacobin):
Nonetheless, centrist Democrats are also in the process of bungling the rapidly evolving debate around direct cash transfers — set to become urgent over the next few weeks, amid layoffs and the inevitable slowdown of economic activity, and already being floated by the Trump administration. Though House Democrats like Ilhan Omar and Ro Khanna are touting more ambitious proposals, there has seemed little appetite for direct, no-strings-attached cash transfers among the Democratic leadership thus far. Yesterday, Politico reported that none other than Nancy Pelosi “essentially shot down” the idea at a private caucus meeting last week — potentially positioning the leadership of America’s liberal opposition to the right of former Republican presidential nominee Senator Mitt Romney.
Do centrist or conservative American politicians ever ask if the price is too high for imperialist forever wars against poor people of color abroad? Or is balking at the price of intervention only applicable for them when the intervention actually helps the poor?
posted by Ouverture at 1:20 PM on March 19 [24 favorites]

The landlord thing just makes me so fucking angry. I've been running my mouth all week: I am a landlord, in that I rent two rooms out of my mortgaged house to my two roommates. My partner and I have already announced to them that if they get laid off or go unpaid, we'll work with them to minimize rent, and if we can get mortgage relief, we'll forgo it entirely. Their rent is about 1/3 of our income, more if I consider that my spouse's job is off-limits through summer at least, but it's fine, we can make do and band together to try and keep everyone afloat.

There is zero reason that professional landlords and real estate holding companies can't suck it the fuck up and do the same if folks aren't getting paid. Zero.
posted by sciatrix at 1:33 PM on March 19 [62 favorites]

Yesterday, Politico reported that none other than Nancy Pelosi “essentially shot down” the idea at a private caucus meeting last week — potentially positioning the leadership of America’s liberal opposition to the right of former Republican presidential nominee Senator Mitt Romney.

This is a catastrophic, Weimar-level error. Allowing the GOP to outflank them on the left with strasserism in a moment of crisis, even if only in rhetoric, would doom the party. As in actually end the Democratic Party.
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:37 PM on March 19 [35 favorites]

soon enough plumbers will be considered "essential."

Under the shelter-in-place order here in Alameda County, plumbers are already considered essential:
10. Definitions and Exemptions

f. For the purposes of this Order, “Essential Businesses” means:
i. Healthcare Operations and Essential Infrastructure;
ii. Grocery stores, certified farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products). This includes stores that sell groceries and also sell other non-grocery products, and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences;
iii. Food cultivation, including farming, livestock,and fishing;
iv. Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services,and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;
v. Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services;
vi. Gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities;
vii. Banks and related financial institutions;
viii. Hardware stores;
ix. Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, and Essential Businesses;
x. Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes;
xi. Educational institutions—including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities—for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six-feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible;
xii. Laundromats, drycleaners, and laundry service providers;
xiii. Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out. Schools and other entities that typically provide free food services to students or members of the public may continue to do so under this Order on the condition that the food is provided to students or members of the public on a pick-up and take-away basis only. Schools and other entities that provide food services under this exemption shall not permit the food to be eaten at the site where it is provided, or at any other gathering site;
xiv. Businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home;
xv. Businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate;
xvi. Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences;
xvii. Airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers providing transportation services necessary for Essential Activities and other purposes expressly authorized in this Order;
xviii. Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children;
xix. Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children;
xx. Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities;
xxi. Childcare facilities providing services that enable employees exempted in this Order to work as permitted. To the extent possible, childcare facilities must operate under the following mandatory conditions:
1. Childcare must be carried out in stable groups of 12 or fewer (“stable” means that the same 12 or fewer children are in the same group each day).
2. Children shall not change from one group to another.
3. If more than one group of children is cared for at one facility, each group shall be in a separate room. Groups shall not mix with each other.
4. Childcare providers shall remain solely with one group of children.
posted by Lexica at 1:38 PM on March 19 [5 favorites]

we can make do and band together to try and keep everyone afloat.

Yep. I've given the same measure of concern to my tenants. We have another one that we've taken into our own house in order to give a safe space to live to someone.

It's going to be tight, especially with the market shitting the bed, but we just need to do our best to make it through.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:40 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]

This is a catastrophic, Weimar-level error. Allowing the GOP to outflank them on the left with strasserism in a moment of crisis, even if only in rhetoric, would doom the party. As in actually end the Democratic Party.

No kidding. If Republicans can claim to be the party that mailed Americans checks, no matter how flawed, bigoted, and limited their implementation would doubtless be, this stunning unforced error would be a serious blow to the Democrats.
posted by Ouverture at 1:42 PM on March 19 [34 favorites]

No kidding. If Republicans can claim to be the party that mailed Americans checks, no matter how flawed, bigoted, and limited their implementation would doubtless be, this stunning unforced error would be a serious blow to the Democrats.

Romney votes for it and the Republicans can bathe in the warm glow of bipartisanship when they need to prove their "not completely evil" bona fides.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:08 PM on March 19 [2 favorites]

Senator Dumped Up to $1.6 Million of Stock After Reassuring Public About Coronavirus Preparedness
Soon after he offered public assurances that the government was ready to battle the coronavirus, the powerful chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, sold off a significant percentage of his stocks, unloading between $582,029 and $1.56 million of his holdings on Feb. 13 in 29 separate transactions.

Burr is the guy they just caught on tape telling his rich pals things were going to get bad, while giving the public two thumbs up.
posted by PenDevil at 2:14 PM on March 19 [37 favorites]

One of the many joys of using an RSS reader to get your news is that you get to see the original headline an article runs under (and then get to compare it to whatever is live now).

For example, this article in The Atlantic originally ran under the headline "The Billionaires Cavalry Isn't Coming". Now? "Where Are the Billionaires?".

A good article either way, but I preferred the original headline.
posted by Ouverture at 2:23 PM on March 19 [9 favorites]

Yesterday, Politico reported that none other than Nancy Pelosi “essentially shot down” the idea at a private caucus meeting last week — potentially positioning the leadership of America’s liberal opposition to the right of former Republican presidential nominee Senator Mitt Romney.

This is the kind of garbage you expect from the Jacobin. First off "essentially shot down" is journalistic bullshit. Pelosi no doubt said something but I'm sure the words "essentially shot down" did not come out of her mouth so why is it in quotes. Either print the facts or don't print anything.

Second, Mitt Romney's idea is dumb. It doesn't do anything useful and directs the money to the wrong people. Do you think $1000 is going to do any good for someone who has lost their job. That's enough to last about two weeks. Meanwhile you are giving thousands of dollars to people who haven't lost their jobs. Pelosi has stated that she wants to target money to those who need it most.

Worst, Romney's plan is just a re-elect Donald Trump bribe. Here's $1000 everyone. Vote for me! Don't laugh. That's exactly what GW Bush did in 2001. He sent everyone a $300 check with a letter saying it was thanks to GW Bush. This time I expect a MAGA sticker in every envelope.
posted by JackFlash at 2:27 PM on March 19 [31 favorites]

All debt should be canceled

How would that work?

So, all the people that owe my business money don’t have to pay me? And then I don’t have to pay my employees. And they don’t have to pay for... anything? All those material goods we used were just free somehow?

It’s not like you can just isolate debt out the chain of economic causation and not have it effect millions of people down the chain.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 2:28 PM on March 19 [21 favorites]

Second, Mitt Romney's idea is dumb. It doesn't do anything useful and directs the money to the wrong people. Do you think $1000 is going to do any good for someone who has lost their job. That's enough to last about two weeks. Meanwhile you are giving thousands of dollars to people who haven't lost their jobs. Pelosi has stated that she wants to target money to those who need it most.

American civilization kinda looks close to economic and social collapse right now. If the GOP says "we're going to give some money to everybody" and Democratic leadership dithers at this moment with means testing and says "no, you cannot do that," then Biden will win maybe 5 states in November.
posted by Rust Moranis at 2:38 PM on March 19 [26 favorites]

So, all the people that owe my business money don’t have to pay me?

I guess by "debt" I'm thinking of those recurring payments people make to keep basic necessities, utilities, possibly health insurance here in the US. The kind of expenses which, if you don't make them, can make you and your family suddenly homeless, dead, or both.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:41 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]

Do you think $1000 is going to do any good for someone who has lost their job.

Ilhan Omar's plan includes $1000 per month (with an additional $500 per month for every child) for the duration of the pandemic. That any Democrat would fail to get behind this is mind-boggling.
posted by mediareport at 2:42 PM on March 19 [42 favorites]

"we're going to give some money to everybody"

Do you think it is better to give $1000 to everybody or give $10,000 to unemployed households to keep them alive until they get a new job? The people who have jobs aren't the ones who need the money.
posted by JackFlash at 2:42 PM on March 19 [5 favorites]

Do you think it is better to give $1000 to everybody or give $10,000 to unemployed households to keep them alive until they get a new job? The people who have jobs aren't the ones who need the money.

Great, then give $10,000 to everybody! Who can give a fuck about means-testing in a time like this?
posted by Rust Moranis at 2:44 PM on March 19 [39 favorites]

Do you think $1000 is going to do any good for someone who has lost their job.


My god. Yes. It will do some good.

But my all means let’s hold up doing some good until we argue and argue for weeks about what does the most good.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 2:48 PM on March 19 [38 favorites]

But my all means let’s hold up doing some good until we argue and argue for weeks about what does the most good.

Trump will be able to argue that the Democrats got in the way of saving lives and he will be correct.
posted by Rust Moranis at 2:49 PM on March 19 [14 favorites]

Plus, what chance does a means-tested stimulus package have of making it past Republicans in the Senate? I'd argue next to zero. They'll imply—hell, some of them will flat out say, because that's the world we live in now—that it's a giveaway to Welfare Queens or whatever bugaboo riles up their base more, and that'll be that.

Rural white MAGA voters are happy enough to slit their own throats if it ensures some brown person, or someone poorer than them, somewhere, doesn't get something. And electorally, they basically run the country right now because of the distribution of swing states and the Electoral College.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:51 PM on March 19 [12 favorites]

Trump will be able to argue that the Democrats got in the way of saving lives and he will be correct.

Exactly right. Just like with Federal Paid Sick leave. Yup. Pelosi could’ve held up any sick leave bill to get a better one. Meanwhile people are going to work sick and will remember that in November.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 2:51 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]

Seriously, we can figure out who didn't need it in the back end, not right now. Just off the top of my head, make it tax- free income for households who make under (a figure that can keep a person alive, healthy and housed in SF or NYC) and taxed heavily upwards from there.

Means testing is how you keep the people that need help the most from getting anything
posted by Vigilant at 2:52 PM on March 19 [25 favorites]

if the Fed can do $700 billion (or around $2k per American) worth of "quantitative easing" to bailout the financial markets without a vote, the government can darn well afford at least $2k per person bailout for the average Americans with one.
posted by Zalzidrax at 2:52 PM on March 19 [26 favorites]

1) Give $x to everyone right now.
2) Charge everyone who makes > $100k in 2021 an additional $x on their 2021 federal tax return.

(And I mean, even if someone has a job right now, they could very well lose it in the following months. Or they might get hit with a giant medical bill. Figure out who can afford it later.)
posted by airmail at 2:54 PM on March 19 [38 favorites]

I never thought I would see the day when people on this forum would advocate for an economic "plan" devised by the genius in chief in the White House and his sidekick Steven Mnuchin.

This is such a disingenuous comment. Many, many progressives are talking about an agressive direct payment plan. That a plan supported by both progressives and the right wing of the GOP is being pooh-poohed by centrist Dems in DC is stunning political idiocy.
posted by mediareport at 2:57 PM on March 19 [27 favorites]

Speaking of debt, I'm very worried about the looming medical-debt disaster.

What's the "out of network" charge on a 2-week ICU stay?

The congressional relief bills need to ban "balance billing" universally, like, yesterday.

And yeah, open up Medicare for all. Just do it. $1T to big business lending? Surely we can spend $1T on people's health.

Among other (worse) things, this thing will become yet-another vehicle for wealth consolidation, when all of the survivors have happily handed over their life savings to a bunch of CEOs.
posted by Dashy at 3:12 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]

[Buncha comments deleted and I'm giving free immediate 24 hour bans for people who bring one-liner snippy bullshit on any ideological side.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:14 PM on March 19 [18 favorites]

This looks like a weird inversion of the rich/urban and poor/rural state divide.

Usually when bad stuff happens in the latter, the former already pays for it through the federal government. Now we're at the point where bad stuff is happening in the rich states, but we might not be able to do anything federally because it hasn't hit the poor states.. yet.

We have a weaker federal government because of the Senate and the Electoral College.
posted by meowzilla at 3:49 PM on March 19 [5 favorites]

I have a real hard time believing that this ongoing shitshow that's likely to result in a million plus dead is going to leave people voting based on the first panicked bailouts. We haven't even seen the real consequences of this pandemic yet. Even if the GOP pulls off the obvious move of handing out cash in an emergency they are still the party of "I don't just keep people around doing nothing" and "coronavirus is a hoax." California thinks 25 million residents may contract the virus in the next 8 weeks. One accident of competence isn't going to erase this many dead.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:07 PM on March 19 [19 favorites]

I paid off mine and my wife's student debt a decade ago. It choked us both for so long up til then. I would gladly pay more taxes to eliminate everyone's student debt.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:10 PM on March 19 [22 favorites]

When the restaurants re-open, I will favor those that have a sign saying

"No animals except service animals.

No republicans except former-republicans."

We are NOT all in this together. We are suffering because of republican malfaeasance. It is time for some incivility, and not letting a crisis go to waste.
posted by ocschwar at 4:13 PM on March 19 [31 favorites]

Beyond just cancelling debt, the govt should eliminate the cost of money for all rather than just reduce the Fed's loan interest rate to near-zero. If the cost of borrowing is zero for all the too-big-to-fail banks, then the interest rate on my credit card should go to zero. and the interest rate on mortgages.
posted by pgoes at 4:14 PM on March 19 [22 favorites]

All I know is any plan that offers mortgage relief but not rent relief is a slap in the face to the more than 100 million US citizens who rent their homes.
posted by mediareport at 4:23 PM on March 19 [45 favorites]

There's no sense letting everyone's retirement savings evaporate because the markets are in automatic-panic-mode and running scared.

Their savings are not evaporating, as long as people don't sell. Some people will have to sell to cover short-term needs, but most won't. The ones who do have to sell are not going to be helped by suspending trading; quite the opposite.

Share prices are tanking because investors believe many sectors (e.g., passenger transport, public entertainment) will be closed for a long time, or may even go bankrupt. They may be right! But whatever happens to the actual businesses will happen regardless of whether shares in the company are traded. I think the correct solution to this would be universal pensions instead of making non-financial types compete against Harvard-types with MBAs, but apparently I'm out of touch.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:26 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]

Thanks for this thread. I wrote to my Member of Congress to just do Medicare for All. I also plan to write about cancelling debt and just sending money. I'm also going to ask him to support Ilhan Omar's monthly payments. People are already hurting from this, and there's just more to come.
posted by Mister Cheese at 4:33 PM on March 19 [5 favorites]

It's just mind blowing that in a pandemic, means testing is still a stumbling block to relief.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:43 PM on March 19 [31 favorites]

The thing that kills me about this $1000 is who came up with that number? WHY does it have to be $1,000? That doesn't pay rent here in the bay area and in many/most other places; how are people supposed to keep their homes with $1000 or nothing? Much less eat?
posted by bleep at 5:01 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]

Also in the Bay Area anything less than $101K is basically minimum wage with how little it buys. If we tie relief to the $100k bracket everyone here who is already fucked every day is going to be double fucked. The idea of this is to unfuck, not double fuck.
posted by bleep at 5:04 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]

The GOPs plan has means testing in it. Not sure why people are blaming that on Democrats. It's right there in the GOP plan they released.
posted by thefoxgod at 5:06 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]

Suggesting means tested tax rebates to address the urgent needs of precariously employed people who just got laid off shows just how out of touch the current leadership of the democratic party is.

I don't understand how you can have this little understanding of what it's like to be poor. I haven't been poor in a decade and I still remember how much money a thousand dollars is.
posted by zymil at 5:24 PM on March 19 [20 favorites]

Also, there's already a huge demand for unemployment at this moment - websites are crashing - I can't imagine there being enough resources (which will only dwindle, as more people get sick) to process means-testing paperwork, too.

Addendum: I do wonder whether a payout would go to citizens and PRs only, and how a payout would get to undocumented people.
posted by airmail at 5:35 PM on March 19 [7 favorites]

Addendum: I do wonder whether a payout would go to citizens and PRs only, and how a payout would get to undocumented people.

I would say it is not going to get out to undocumented people. If you read the WaPo link from the fox god - citizens of this country who make less than $40,000 will get nothing for some unfathomable reason. I guess Republicans are itching to be eaten faster?? I dunno.
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 6:02 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]

Ahahaha, republicans are means-testing benefits to exclude the poor?

For a minute there I was pretty confused about this republican policy, but I get it now.
posted by ryanrs at 6:10 PM on March 19 [15 favorites]

The GOP plan's direct stimulus is very narrowly targeted: basically you have to make less than $99,000 and more than $40,000.

And its not clear who is included --- all taxpayers, only residents and citizens, only citizens, whatever.

Of course this is still a "plan" not a bill as far as I can tell. [I use the word plan in a loose sense...]
posted by thefoxgod at 6:29 PM on March 19 [2 favorites]

and what happens to the ppl who make less than 40k? are they rendered down into parts for the wealthy? a kidney here, an eyeball there? will their families have the "opportunity" to sell themselves into slavery so their children can eat?
posted by poffin boffin at 7:03 PM on March 19 [16 favorites]

The draft bill [247 page pdf] does not include a substantial income exclusion, though it does require earned income of at least $2500 or a non-zero tax liability. It excludes non-resident aliens, among others. It requires a Social Security number.
posted by jedicus at 7:08 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]

Of course we love to cut off our nose to spite our face. If you didn't earn any income last year you must not *deserve* any help keeping yourself safe which would in turn keep even more people safe.
posted by bleep at 7:25 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]

The proposed means testing seems to be a way to avoid being accused of favoring the wealthy, who probably have no end of subsidies hidden in the stimulus bill.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:54 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]

New Orleans Prosecutors Argue the Coronavirus Is a Reason to Keep People in Jail
As of Monday, New Orleans had the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases per capita in any American city. Public defenders have filed motions requesting lower bonds for people who may be especially vulnerable to the virus. Yet prosecutors are vigorously opposing these motions. They have, in fact, drafted boilerplate language to argue that people must stay locked up in jail to protect public health. Here is the passage that appears in all seven motions reviewed by Slate:
Pursuant to [state law], the trial court may consider “the nature and seriousness of the danger to any other person or to the community that would be posed by the defendant’s release” when setting a defendant’s bond. The defendant has failed to show that, if released on bond, he will have a residence to stay in while the city battles the Coronavirus outbreak. Nor has he demonstrated that he will adhere to any curfews and other safety measures set in place by city officials. If the defendant is released on bond during the Coronavirus outbreak and goes into public places, it will pose a threat to the general public by potentially spreading the virus to others and increasing the rate at which others are exposed to the virus.
posted by Lexica at 8:25 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]

Not about anything in particular said above or in the articles, but i'm troubled by the fact that it seems a pretty large majority of people respond to crisis by saying, "See, what I was saying before, now more than ever."
posted by ixipkcams at 8:41 PM on March 19 [9 favorites]

The people that were terrible before, now you can see just how terrible they really are. The true visionary leaders, well, now you can see just how visionary they really are. Those awful policies I was telling you about just yesterday, now look at them, look at how they make everything worse. Those solutions I was telling you about just yesterday, can't you now see just how needed they are?

Which isn't to say there isn't a position and people that clearly are looking more promising today than yesterday, but just, wow does everyone, everywhere, not just here, seem to have a huge amount of confirmation bias.
posted by ixipkcams at 8:46 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]

Ugh, that argument against releasing people from jail - as if covid-19 isn't going to spread like a gasoline-fueled fire in prisons. Really clearly shows that the prosecutors making that argument don't see incarcerated folks as human beings on the same level as non-incarcerated folks.
posted by eviemath at 8:57 PM on March 19 [9 favorites]

The fragmented nature of our system of tax collection and benefit distribution makes direct transfers in any accountable way a logistical nightmare unless you plan on leaving most people out.

That isn't to say it can't be done, but it's by no means easy even if there was unanimous support.
posted by wierdo at 9:23 PM on March 19

1. Hand out checks to everyone
2. Claw back rich people's checks at tax time
posted by benzenedream at 9:36 PM on March 19 [37 favorites]

seems a pretty large majority of people respond to crisis by saying, "See, what I was saying before, now more than ever." does everyone, everywhere, not just here, seem to have a huge amount of confirmation bias.

Without a more clear subject of your comments it's kinda tough, but I'm gonna leap, because, I feel pretty damn confirmed in my biases.

(1) Our plutocracy isn't working
(2) Capitalism is maybe a local optima, but the planet is medium well
(3) People have been saying this...for decades...and with some alternatives that are maybe not superb, but they don't even really get a shot.
(4) This is all before the travesty of a reality star president pyramid scheming our shitty health care during a global pandemic.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 9:58 PM on March 19 [13 favorites]

Do you think it is better to give $1000 to everybody or give $10,000 to unemployed households to keep them alive until they get a new job? The people who have jobs aren't the ones who need the money.

I think people are feeling, generally, like this attitude does not do a whole lot of good as far as being able to sell policies that do good, or the idea that the Democrats are responding effectively to this emergency. At minimum it implicitly endorses the attitude that government resources are scarce and have to be allocated very carefully, which does not make it easier to do the sort of things that have to be done in a situation like this. Also any time a policy has qualifications like "unemployed due to COVID-19" it means, e.g. piecework gig economy workers seeing a loss of income are likely to have to jump through hoops to prove that they count.
posted by atoxyl at 10:35 PM on March 19 [13 favorites]

wow does everyone, everywhere, not just here, seem to have a huge amount of confirmation bias.

Doesn't that apply all the time, hence "confirmation bias" being well known as a concept?
posted by atoxyl at 10:36 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]

Exactly; the reason we know that confirmation bias is a thing is because it's so common. It's not specific to this situation or politics in general.
posted by Justinian at 12:28 AM on March 20

Isn't means-testing with no cost-of-living adjustment just a big giveaway to red states and rural areas?
posted by Ralston McTodd at 4:10 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]

Lobbyists make a mad dash to shape coronavirus stimulus package (Theodoric Meyer, Politico)
Industry groups led a frantic effort to shape the trillion-dollar package to address the economic damage caused by the pandemic.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:04 AM on March 20 [2 favorites]

'sup bitches i just got let go from my temp job so i'm on indefinite coronacation now too
posted by Jacqueline at 6:23 AM on March 20 [13 favorites]

The Congressional pantomime is extremely galling.

Here's one thing the government can do immediately: authorize Disaster Unemployment Assistance to people on 10-99s, directly self employed, or otherwise not eligible for state UE benfits.

Fact Sheet
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:24 AM on March 20 [12 favorites]

The Virus And Us (Current Affairs)
posted by The Whelk at 8:31 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]

“ Teen Vogue politics editor Lucy Diavolo joins us to discuss what will hopefully be the story of this crisis: neighbors organizing themselves into mutual aid networks to support each other against the virus and the capitalist system's attempts to profit from the disorder. ” The Antifada podcast

While Mainstream Democrats Fumble, Bernie Sanders Is Modeling a Serious Response to Coronavirus (In These Times)

Senators sold off their stocks ahead of coronavirus economic crash (USA TODAY)
posted by The Whelk at 10:19 AM on March 20 [9 favorites]

“ Yet it’s not an exaggeration to say that COVID-19 could be fatal to the labor movement as we know it.” Organize Or Die. (Labor Notes)
posted by The Whelk at 11:23 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]

Senators sold off their stocks ahead of coronavirus economic crash (USA TODAY)

Straight to The Hague, if you ask me. Jesus christ what actual demons. Protecting their wealth at the same time as they hinder an effective response to the catastrophe.

One thing that this plague is making stark is how unequipped our politicos are for dealing with a genuine crisis. They literally have never experienced a real national crisis (and most of them have never experienced even personal crises worth mentioning). 9/11 was a temporary emergency, it never represented an existential threat to our "way of life" beyond the ways in which it was used to give law enforcement extra powers.

This plague is a genuine threat to the social order and they can't do anything but think of themselves and their own safety.
posted by dis_integration at 12:02 PM on March 20 [34 favorites]

Senate Republicans’ cash assistance plan is far too limited: Too little help for children, low-income people, and those hit hard by the crisis.
The reason we’re talking about this is that a very large and disruptive thing happened. Under the circumstances, past earnings are not very predictive of present conditions. Some jobs are not that impacted by Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. A few industries are probably even boosted. But other sectors are devastated. Owning a decent takeout pizza joint is suddenly a great career move, but being the chef of a Michelin-starred restaurant in Las Vegas is worthless.

There’s no tractable way for the government to take all these considerations into account. But that’s why just giving money to everyone and accepting that some of it will go to those who don’t really need help is probably the best solution. If you’re really worried about it, you could always launch a big drive to exhort people to donate their checks if they have no immediate spending needs.
posted by Ouverture at 12:09 PM on March 20 [10 favorites]

I'm about ready to permanently write off every goddamned newspaper that thinks this is a good time to strengthen their paywalls.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:45 PM on March 20 [10 favorites]

Any "economic assistance" package put together by Republicans will be for the express purpose of "stimulating the economy." It WILL NOT be crafted to help low income Americans survive whatever economic hardships befall them in the coming months. They know full-well that $1000 isn't going to be sufficient to keep people at the bottom solvent (and note, if you make too little, that will be reduced to a one time $600 benefit under the Senate Repub. proposal). That money is meant to be spent immediately, such that it flows upwards, directly into to the pockets of their actual constituency, helping to buttress their current financial positions. They could give 2 fucks about what happens to the poor after that. In fact, given that many will become economically "useless" without spending power, would probably rather they just die off.

It seems likely to me, given the crass opportunism of our brand of capitalism, that the government's response will be primarily intended to leverage this situation to further consolidate political and economic power at the top. Large corporate entities will likely be able ride this out, through a combination of downsizing and bailouts. But small businesses, independent landlords, etc., are in precarious positions already, and will be forced to close up shop or sell assets for pennies on the dollar. Who's going to fill those vacuums? Entities that can weather the storm (of which there aren't that many, given the razor thin margins that the American system pretends are a positive feature of efficiency). Don't you think that the former urban real-estate developer running the show is salivating at the chance to snap up cheap properties in major cities across the country, with an eye toward future projects to be completed once the economy rebounds in 5-10 years?

There's money to be made from this in the long run. If you're not in the 1%, then you're a statistic in a business plan first and foremost. Positive systemic change isn't going to be gifted by the ruling class. Americans are going to have to figure out how to leverage their own collective power by first giving up the rugged individualist bullshit ideological fantasy we're (I mean, as a country generally, not here on Metafilter, obvs) entranced by, and building strong multi-level communities that are willing to take responsibility for the type of negative outcomes that we're going to see en masse in the near term, but that frankly cut down our neighbors and fellow citizens (and non-citizens) daily.
posted by camneely at 7:03 PM on March 20 [13 favorites]

Just a reminder for everyone to reach out and help their non-citizen friends. I have a friend who only just made it to the USA two years ago from Venezuela, she's 26, she has two degrees, one she earned while here, and she is unable to receive ANY KIND OF ASSISTANCE. She is here legally but lost her job due to the shutdown in Washington.

She is living with her parents that she just managed to bring from Venezuela to be with her.

She has no option but to look for jobs babysitting and walking dogs. She is risking her parents lives to be able to make sure they can pay rent and don't get booted out of the country in the middle of a pandemic.

While we are sitting around trying to act like either Democrats or Republicans actually care about citizens OF THE WORLD, not just their constituents, people whose cold dead hands they can pry votes from, let's be real, means testing or no, millions are going to suffer and die because NEITHER PARTY IN THIS COUNTRY GIVES A SHIT THAT THEY EXIST.

Trump, Mnuchin, Burr, Pelosi, Schumer, Feinstein, they're all on team "let people fucking die because we're fucking capitalists."

Yeah, Feinstein dumped stocks too. SHOCKER. /s

Pelosi: "We’re Capitalists, Deal With It." People are dealing with it by suffering you ungrateful assholes. (Yes, they should be grateful for having a job and have ANYBODY fucking vote for their loser asses.)
posted by deadaluspark at 10:05 AM on March 21 [5 favorites]

Coronavirus: Port of Oakland longshoremen threaten to walk off job Something like 99% of all container goods in California go through Oakland
posted by The Whelk at 10:17 AM on March 21 [2 favorites]

That's not quite right. The Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach are both much larger than Oakland so there is no way that Oakland handles 99% of containers.
posted by nolnacs at 10:36 AM on March 21 [3 favorites]

SoCal has Long Beach, LA (San Pedro) and Hueneme. Long Beach alone is the second busiest container port in the US and the 18th globally.

Oakland shutting down would still create a supply disruption. It's in the top 4 in the nation and top 20 globally for container traffic.

California Ports
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:26 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]

Reclaim Our Homes

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing politicians to act in ways that just weeks ago seemed unthinkable. And activists like the Reclaimers are opening the cracks still wider.
posted by The Whelk at 4:07 PM on March 21 [6 favorites]

Barr has asked Congress on the DL to allow the DOJ to suspend habeus corpus, among other bullshit. Because he's a punk-ass fucker.

"The Trump Department of Justice has asked Congress to craft legislation allowing chief judges to indefinitely hold people without trial and suspend other constitutionally-protected rights during coronavirus and other emergencies, according to a report by Politico’s Betsy Woodruff Swan.

While the asks from the Department of Justice will likely not come to fruition with a Democratically-controlled House of Representatives, they demonstrate how much this White House has a frightening disregard for rights enumerated in the Constitution."
On the other hand, Omari J. Hardy, a city commissioner in Lake Worth Beach, Florida, and others like him all over the country need our support.
posted by droplet at 5:15 PM on March 21 [5 favorites]

Barr has asked Congress on the DL to allow the DOJ to suspend habeus corpus,

My hair just spontaneously ignited. This won't get by the House for now, but November worries just got really real.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:29 PM on March 21 [9 favorites]

The report that Senators sold off their stocks ahead of coronavirus economic crash isn't just about profiting from insider trading: to the extent that they delayed their official response to the briefing in order to profit from the news they were betraying their office and their constituents. There's a lot of blame to go around there, obviously, but it is what it is: they had a duty, and they betrayed it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:43 PM on March 21 [10 favorites]

As bad as this looks, it is only Burr that looks really suspicious. He traded more than half his wealth in one month. That's not something anyone does lightly.

Loeffler is one of the richest senators in congress and her trades amounted to less than 1% of her wealth. Same for Feinstein. Not good, but not necessarily indicative of insider trading. It could be entirely routine. You would want to compare to their actions over the last year to see if this was abnormal.
posted by JackFlash at 7:12 PM on March 21 [5 favorites]

Do you think it is better to give $1000 to everybody or give $10,000 to unemployed households

The problem with means testing is what is “unemployed” defined as? Do people who are self employed and lost all of their work for the next 2 months qualify even though they don’t have an employer? Gig workers? How do we prove it? We can’t file for unemployment. Not to mention the vast difference in cost of living across the US.
posted by Bunglegirl at 7:40 PM on March 21 [17 favorites]

Do people who are self employed and lost all of their work for the next 2 months qualify even though they don’t have an employer?

Yes, you could do this by self-reporting, much as many other programs operate. At the end of the year the IRS compares this year's income to last year's income to estimate unemployment to see if it compares with your reporting.
posted by JackFlash at 8:07 PM on March 21

It doesn't have to be one or the other, especially if standing up a means tested program is going to take too long to permit 10-99'd workers and self-employed people to feed our families, buy basic supplies, keep the lights on or make rent if evictions haven't been suspended in their jurisdiction. There could be a modest universal benefit immediately, and then better calibrated relief as this goes on.

Certain expenses are going to go up across the board -- like domestic electricity bills, as an example.

While wealth inequality means there are tremendous differences in the ability to absorb increased expenses, means testing based on income can be tricky -- just because someone in an expensive city is paid lot of money doesn't mean they have a lot of money.

NYS got its FEMA declaration yesterday (which has triggered wingnut chatter on 'martial law'), but it's not clear yet whether Disaster Unemployment Assistance is included (i.e. Federal benefits for those outside of the state unemployment insurance system's coverage).

National Employment Law Project FEMA DUA policy brief re: suggested policy reforms for Covid relief.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:10 AM on March 22 [2 favorites]

This might mirror the government shutdown. Arch conservatives wanted to continue it so it wouldn't be a futile attempt to get concessions, but Trump got bored and tired of being yelled at by his rich friends. I don't think he understands that the stock market will continue to suffer and an attempt at resumption of regular patterns will negate the health benefit from the two weeks of economic inactivity while preserving the impending recession.
posted by Selena777 at 10:20 AM on March 23 [2 favorites]

Trump flirts with a less-aggressive coronavirus response, echoing Fox News (Aaron Blake, Washington Post)

My assumption is that he needs to come up with a wedge issue to foment partisan bickering rather than leaving room for the justified criticism of his own inability to be an effective president to continue. As someone said somewhere: he isn't doing anything because he doesn't know how to do anything. In order to gain control over the news cycle he has to not be the story anymore, because the stories are invariably how bad he is at it. I fear the media will accomodate him.

He also has to shore up polarization in order to get support for Mitch's fuck-the-poor crony-bailout plan, which is utterly and thankfully failing right now.
posted by rhizome at 2:57 PM on March 23 [5 favorites]

Ask your doctor if invoking the 25th Amendment is right for you.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:06 PM on March 23 [6 favorites]

Push for remote voting grows as [U.S. Congressional] lawmakers fear coronavirus poised to spread

Some members have also raised security concerns with the prospects of voting electronically, especially if the system is created on a tight timeline with room for error.

Why can't they all, or groups of them, be on a shared phone call? Why is voting from a distance in the Senate such a hugely insecure thing? It's not like the votes are secret (well, most of them, anyway). The leader's office calls each Senator and adds them to a conference call; they're all on Slack or something to verify...I dunno, this isn't my specialty, but what am I missing?
posted by mediareport at 6:01 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]

It's more or less trivial to stand up an Asterisk PBX that can handle a hundred extensions, plus. Concurrent outside calls might be a challenge, but nothing else, and even that only insofar as getting someone to sell the termination/origination.

Technical impediments on this scale can be easily overcome with dollars. Don't let 'em snow you.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:14 PM on March 23 [5 favorites]

U.S. State Department Seeks Help From Foreign Aid Recipients For Scarce Medical Supplies (Matt Novak, Gizmodo)
One email sent by State Department officials over the past weekend instructed U.S. diplomats to seek assistance from nearly every country in Eurasia, “minus Russia,” according to Foreign Policy. It’s not clear why the U.S. isn’t seeking aid from Russia, but it likely involves the New Cold War, a conflict that’s still raging despite our global health crisis.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:42 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]

McConnell Simply Wants to Blame Democrats, So Pelosi Takes Charge (Nancy LeTourneau, Washington Monthly)

The stimulus bill is loaded with trick legislation that advances the Republican agenda. If it is discovered, then Republicans can attack Democrats for obstructionism. If it is not discovered, then the Republican agenda persists.

For example, Sen Collins crafted a part of the bill that denies small business loans to "nonprofits receiving Medicaid expenditures":
Specifically, Democratic aides believe this language would exclude from eligibility for this financial assistance a big range of ... nonprofits that get Medicaid funding, such as home and community-based disability providers; community-based nursing homes, mental health providers and health centers; group homes for the disabled; and even rape crisis centers.
So, Pelosi is having none of that.
At this point, Speaker Pelosi has had enough. On Monday, she rolled out a plan for the House to consider. With a nod to Trump’s refusal to take responsibility for his own failures during the coronavirus crisis, they have named the bill, the “Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act.” Along with provisions to aid workers, small businesses, healthcare workers, families, and students, it includes this provision:
For our Democracy: Ensures that states can carry out this year’s election with billions in grant funding for states through the Election Assistance Commission and a national requirement for both 15 days of early voting and no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail, including mailing a ballot to all registered voters in an emergency.
While McConnell and Senate Republicans are simply looking for an excuse to blame Democrats, Pelosi is in the process of once again taking charge to get something done for the American people. Of course, her male opponents aren’t real happy about that.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:21 AM on March 24 [22 favorites]

The Whelk's Peter Frase article could really be its own FPP… the "cure is worse than the disease" stuff coming from Trump and certain corners of Wall Street is at once chilling and totally predictable. Capitalism, as practiced in the US, becomes "exterminism" when faced with an existential threat—the system protects itself at any human expense, including with the lives of anyone deemed inessential to further wealth accumulation. This isn't exactly a new insight, but COVID is causing it to happen fast enough to be plainly visible.

Our society is going to need to choose, quite soon, whether it is willing to sacrifice large swaths of its own people (it's always been more than willing to sacrifice people elsewhere on the planet, but this is a crisis that can't be easily externalized) in order to get back quickly to the business of making the rich richer.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:56 AM on March 24 [5 favorites]

As Fox News Played Down the Coronavirus, Its Chief Protected Himself (Ben Smith, NY Times)
The cancellation of an 89th birthday party for Rupert Murdoch highlights a disconnect between his family’s behavior and statements made on air by some Fox commentators. [...]

On March 8, as the virus was spreading, the Murdoch family called off a planned party out of concern for the patriarch’s health, according to a person familiar with the cancellation. There were about 20 people on the guest list. [...]

The person who told me about the canceled party did so to highlight the disconnect between the family’s prudent private conduct and the reckless words spoken on air at their media company.

The canceled party is perhaps the most glaring instance of the gap I wrote about this week between the elite, globally minded family owners of Fox — who took the crisis seriously as reports emerged in January in their native Australia — and many of their nominal stars, who treated the virus as a political assault on Mr. Trump, before zigzagging, along with the president, toward a focus on the enormity of the public health risk.
Related story
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:55 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]

For a more global/societal take on the significance of this pandemic, I found this conversation with David Quammen (previously, previouslier) interesting.
posted by progosk at 8:20 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]

“This week,

- non-union African-American poultry workers at Perdue Farms in Georgia struck

-Bus Drivers in Birmingham struck

- Shipyard workers in Maine

- Amazon workers in NYC.

The General Strike wave is beginning
posted by The Whelk at 9:20 AM on March 25 [10 favorites]

Anthony Fauci becomes a fringe MAGA target (Tina Nguyen, Politico)
To the vast majority of Republicans, the entire medical community and the country at large, Fauci is the government’s leading infectious disease expert, respected for providing Americans with consistent, factual information about the coronavirus pandemic — even if it means contradicting President Donald Trump while he hovers feet away.

But to a vocal minority of right-wing blogs and pro-Trump pundits, Fauci is the embodiment of the establishment forces that have been arrayed against the president since he came to Washington. And those voices are getting louder amid rumblings about Fauci’s standing with Trump as the president itches to get the economy restarted in the coming weeks. [...]

Fauci’s portrayal in conservative media circles could play a crucial role in the coming days as the country comes to the end of a 15-day period of social distancing and business closures intended to slow the coronavirus outbreak. While public health officials like Fauci have cautioned that the country will likely have to extend that period, Trump and his team are signaling that they want to get people back to work soon, by mid-April if possible. The cues from right-wing media, as split as they are, could influence how much Trump listens to Fauci.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:55 AM on March 25 [4 favorites]

For anyone who's been asking themselves how it happened that the obvious examples of Asian countries' earlier outbreaks and strategies remained so entirely alien to all non-Asian governments (and citizenry, by and large), this article looks at some of the reasons through a cultural/sociological prism: Othering the virus (M. Meinhof, Discover Society).
posted by progosk at 11:47 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]

The House Tries to Figure Out How to Pass the Senate Pandemic Relief Bill Without Voting (Jim Newell, Slate)
Assuming the Senate can finalize language on its $2 trillion coronavirus relief legislation and sort through last-minute senatorial ego trips, the package will soon clear the chamber and migrate to the House. Then it’s up to House leaders to figure out how to move it through the chamber swiftly, without any mischief that might require the majority of House members to fly back to Washington.

Their preference for passing the bill would be through unanimous consent, in which a member asks for everyone to agree to the bill and, in the absence of an objection, the agreement would become official. Similarly, the House could try to pass the measure by voice vote: The speaker asks for the yeas, then the nays, and the loudest side (in practice, whichever side the speaker chooses) wins.

But a single, determined member can obstruct either of these options. A unanimous consent request can, by definition, be stopped if any member objects. On a voice vote, meanwhile, any member can raise a point of order that a quorum—a majority of the House—is not present, forcing a roll call vote.
On the other hand, if there's a way to get on the record which parts one objects to, and to collect these objections when everyone eventually gets back, then in theory the bill could be passed simply by unanimous consent, and objections could still be officially lodged anyway. Theoretically anyway.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:07 PM on March 25

COVID-19 is spawning a global press-freedom crackdown (Joel Simon, Columbia Journalism Review)
In his remarks to the media and the public, World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom has regularly emphasized that accurate, timely information is essential to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet around the world, governments are cracking down on journalists and implementing sweeping restrictions under the guise of combating misinformation and “fake news.”

[...] There’s a growing acceptance of the false view that the dramatic measures required [to defeat COVID-19] may come at the expense of civil liberties and democratic rights.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:24 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]

Re exterminism: once again, as if to leave no question of where they stand, folks on the Right say the quiet part out loud.

Somewhere, somebody is probably telling Trump: Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed 2.5% of the population, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:29 AM on March 26 [6 favorites]

N95 Mask Shortage Is A Horrific Manifestation Of America's Crazy "Defense" Priorities (Tyler Rogoway, The Drive)

Tyler Rogoway specializes in writing about the military and the defense industry.
"A lack of investment has left America's N95 stockpile hollowed out. Meanwhile, the U.S. will spend $738 billion on weapons and war-fighting this year."

[...] It is a fairly straightforward problem to deal with. Just stock enough of the masks to meet the most likely cases that will be experienced during a pandemic health emergency. They have a shelf life of roughly five years—although they can be used after that if there is no other choice—so every year a fifth of the stockpile would have to be replenished to keep the entire supply fresh. This is standard logistics for big government.

[...] At retail, small-batch prices, the average N95 mask costs between roughly $.75 and $1.50 under normal circumstances. Buying millions at a time direct would cut this cost down massively. Mike Bowen, vice president of Prestige Ameritech, which makes N95 masks, told the New York Times:
"You know what a mask costs?... Listen to this: A Class 2 medical device, you can buy two of them for the price of a gumball. They’re cheap. They’re automated. They’re not handmade."
So let's just use $0.50 per unit for government stockpile-sized contracted buys, which is likely high. In order for the U.S. Government to have a proper supply on-hand for a pandemic, we are talking about $1.75 billion worth of masks needed in the Strategic National Stockpile at any given time. Since the masks expire roughly every five years, that equates to $350 million a year. That is very roughly the cost of two KC-46 aerial tankers, a single Littoral Combat Ship, roughly one-thirty-eighth of a Ford class supercarrier, or about three F-35s and an F/A-18 Super Hornet. Once again, this is assuming an entire stockpile of 3.5 billion masks is on hand at all times instead of securing emergency production for a portion of that number if needed.

Of course, these are just comparative numbers. The country does need a strong military and you could plug in many other government spending initiatives here for fiscal comparisons, but how on earth do we spend the type of money we do on weaponry in the name of keeping the American people safe, yet we have only a fraction of the stockpile of cheap N95s masks in place necessary to fight a flu-like pandemic while having no way to make up for the difference in the short term? We can prepare for World War III in every way conceivable, but we can't stock some throw-away masks to ensure that our entire healthcare system doesn't implode during a pandemic that has been long considered as just a matter of time.

This is so astonishingly near-sighted it seems criminal.

In doing what I do for a living, I see so much government waste and financial abuse it can get very discouraging at times, but this may be the worst example of absolutely broken fiscal priorities I have ever seen, and it could cost you your life.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:19 AM on March 26 [9 favorites]

“The Coronavirus Is the Worst Intelligence Failure in U.S. History,” Micah Zenko, Foreign Policy, 25 March 2020
posted by ob1quixote at 8:54 AM on March 26 [9 favorites]

I'm predicting Trump is going to (try to) use the Venezuela charges to attack socialism and social policies in general, at least until the election.
posted by rhizome at 1:11 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]

House leaders look to expedite $2.2 trillion relief package but face possibility that one GOP lawmaker may delay passage (Erica Werner, Mike DeBonis, Paul Kane and John Wagner, Washington Post)

"Democratic and Republican leaders are seeking a voice vote on Friday, which would not require all sitting members to return to Washington."
But at least one lawmaker is considering upending those plans. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said Thursday that he opposed the bill, approved Wednesday by the Senate, and is concerned that voting without a quorum present — the majority of the House chamber — would violate the Constitution. Massie said he has yet to decide whether to press the issue, which could delay a House vote until late Saturday or Sunday.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:57 PM on March 26

Video: MSNBC's Morning Joe discusses an ad by Priorities USA, built out of recent Trump quotes. The Trump campaign is suing to get it off the air.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:07 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]

Boris Johnson has just announced he's tested positive for Covid-19. Says he'll continue to run things via video conference.

So... there's that.
posted by bcd at 4:33 AM on March 27 [3 favorites]

Boris Johnson has just announced he's tested positive for Covid-19.

I wonder why?
posted by PenDevil at 5:11 AM on March 27 [3 favorites]

NYC plans to expand free child meal program to adults. Good, also Universal SNAP now (studies in basic income schemes show most people spend it on food first) Universal Basic Food!
posted by The Whelk at 8:58 AM on March 27 [4 favorites]

Trump's death cult finally says it: Time to kill the "useless eaters" for capitalism (Chauncey DeVega, Salon)

"Republicans say the quiet part out loud: Americans must die of the coronavirus in order to save capitalism"
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:49 AM on March 27 [3 favorites]

The most important thing to come out of the last few days is pretty obviously that I've been validated in my longstanding position that the CDC was basically misleading the public with their position on masks! The consensus is coming around to the idea that masks in public work and are good. Which was obvious to me but apparently people still want to believe the CDC.
posted by Justinian at 10:17 AM on March 27 [3 favorites]

The problem is that there are no masks. Not even the simple disposable surgical style masks. Trump is doing nothing to relieve the shortage.
posted by JackFlash at 10:19 AM on March 27 [3 favorites]

Justinian, do you have any links on a change in consensus on masks? The WHO's advice also is still that healthy people don't need to be wearing them unless they're caring for someone who's sick.
posted by XMLicious at 11:37 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]

From everything I’ve heard from epidemiologists, the WHO’s advice on masks would almost certainly be different if masks were actually available in sufficient quantities for the healthy to be using them.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 11:56 AM on March 27 [4 favorites]

Instacart should treat its workers better, but in big cities the earliest available delivery is already a week out so I'm not sure how much of an impression it will make. I haven't bothered trying to use Instacart for well over a week now, same for everyone else I know.

On the other hand, until Kroger shapes up I intend to avoid all of their stores (which include Ralph's and Fred Meyer).
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:13 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]

If the WHO's advice has been modified for a shortage of masks it seems strange that they're also advising that masks should not be re-used.

This supposed new consensus or new research has been mentioned in a couple of threads now as a reason to distrust the CDC (and presumably the WHO too, if they've been giving the same advice) but no one has linked to an actual source of evidence.
posted by XMLicious at 2:11 PM on March 27

Rational use of face masks in the COVID-19 pandemic, The Lancet, March 20th, 2020. Authored by a group of epidemiologists, immunologists, and public health researchers at Oxford University, Imperial College London, University of Hong Kong, and University of York.

"As evidence suggests COVID-19 could be transmitted before symptom onset, community transmission might be reduced if everyone, including people who have been infected but are asymptomatic and contagious, wear face masks."

"One advantage of universal use of face masks is that it prevents discrimination of individuals who wear masks when unwell because everybody is wearing a mask."

"It is time for governments and public health agencies to make rational recommendations on appropriate face mask use to complement their recommendations on other preventive measures, such as hand hygiene. WHO currently recommends that people should wear face masks if they have respiratory symptoms or if they are caring for somebody with symptoms. Perhaps it would also be rational to recommend that people in quarantine wear face masks if they need to leave home for any reason, to prevent potential asymptomatic or presymptomatic transmission. In addition, vulnerable populations, such as older adults and those with underlying medical conditions, should wear face masks if available."

"Universal use of face masks could be considered if supplies permit. In parallel, urgent research on the duration of protection of face masks, the measures to prolong life of disposable masks, and the invention on reusable masks should be encouraged."
posted by mbrubeck at 2:26 PM on March 27 [6 favorites]

German medical association says the public should make masks and wear them in public spaces (Ärzteblatt, 26 March 2020, German language article). Translation:
The President of the German Medical Association (BÄK), Klaus Reinhardt, has called on the population to make and wear protective masks. "My advice: Get simple protective masks or make your own and wear them in public spaces," he told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. While such masks do not guarantee protection against infection, they can reduce the risk somewhat.

Simple masks made of fabric or other materials are just a partial measure, Reinhardt conceded. "But they are better than nothing because they filter the air we breathe." At the same time, the medical official urged the use of simple masks. "If you are not in healthcare or have previous medical conditions, you do not need FFP2 or FFP3 masks."
posted by mbrubeck at 2:34 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]

Microbiologist Adrien Burch: What’s the Evidence on Face Masks? (19 March 2020)
Although Covid-19 is a novel disease, it is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is closely related to the virus that caused the SARS epidemic 17 years ago. However, since Covid-19’s true genetic identity was not widely publicized until recently, influenza research probably shaped doctors’ initial opinions about face masks instead. What does the actual science say about SARS?

According to research on the SARS epidemic, face masks were the most consistently effective intervention for reducing the contraction and spread of SARS. In a Cochrane Review on the subject, 6 out of 7 studies showed that face masks (surgical and N95) offered significant protection against SARS.

Although most of the studies in the Cochrane Review were on medical workers in a hospital setting, one study followed community transmission of SARS in Beijing. It found that consistently wearing a mask in public was associated with a 70% reduction in risk of catching SARS. [...]

Based on the research, face masks are much more likely to help than hurt. Even if it’s just a homemade cloth mask — if you wear it correctly and avoid touching it, the science suggests that it won’t hurt you and will most likely reduce your exposure to the virus.

Beyond self-protection, one of the most compelling reasons that we should all wear face protection in the upcoming months is to ensure that silent spreaders also cover their faces.
posted by mbrubeck at 2:42 PM on March 27 [7 favorites]

Zeynep Tufekci, New York Times, 17 March 2020: Why Telling People They Don’t Need Masks Backfired.
posted by mbrubeck at 3:14 PM on March 27 [3 favorites]

Beyond self-protection, one of the most compelling reasons that we should all wear face protection in the upcoming months is to ensure that silent spreaders also cover their faces.

Since we can't get tested, and 1/3 of patients have no symptoms, all of us are potential silent spreaders.
posted by benzenedream at 3:22 PM on March 27 [5 favorites]

There aren't enough masks because Trump has dropped the ball.

You really shouldn't just use the same mask every day. You breathe over 10,000 of liters of air a day. So your mask is taking all of the potential infectious contaminants from 10,000 liters of air and concentrating it on a few square inches of mask material.

You should treat the outer surface of your mask as if it is radioactive. If you touch the outside of your mask to put it on or take it off or adjust it, you should immediately wash your hands.

And if you are planning to use it again the next day, you need to think about what you do with it over night. Don't put it on a table face down, because you have just contaminated your table. You could put it in a plastic or paper bag, but then the inside of the bag is contaminated, so don't jostle the bag or reuse it.

If you are going to require everyone to wear a mask, then you have to have enough that they can replace them regularly. Otherwise they are just using masks to collect and concentrate infectious material and then using it to contaminate themselves.
posted by JackFlash at 4:20 PM on March 27 [2 favorites]

We should normalize wearing face masks now so we can keep doing it later and break the facial recognition stuff they were trying to do.
posted by bleep at 4:22 PM on March 27 [10 favorites]

Hell, imagine the knock-on effect of not having a basis on which to tell women to smile more.
posted by cortex at 5:05 PM on March 27 [10 favorites]

If you haven't seen this South China Morning Post video/article from February about making your own highly effective face mask from paper towels, tissues, tape and rubber bands, no sewing machine needed, it's worth a look. I'm going to try to put some together tomorrow and see how it goes:

How to make your own mask: Hong Kong scientists reveal temporary solution for those unable to get protective gear because of panic buying and price-gouging

Joe Fan King-man, the institution’s assistant hospital chief executive, said the home-made masks had undergone laboratory tests by City University and were proven to have achieved 80 to 90 per cent of the function of regular surgical masks in terms of their filtration of aerosol and droplets.

The process seems very easy. I'm a bit confused about how they're tying the rubberbands, but I'll figure it out.
posted by mediareport at 5:15 PM on March 27 [4 favorites]

What should socialists be demanding and doing faced with pandemic, global recession, and climate change?

In the immediate pandemic crisis, socialists must be demanding that working people should not pay, as they are always forced to, for this crisis. Monetary and fiscal stimulus packages should be directed to saving jobs, keeping wages and sick pay at levels needed to live, reducing rent and interest burdens for households and providing health support for all. Instead of governments bailing out companies and banks, they should be alleviating the misery of working people. The virus and capitalism
posted by The Whelk at 6:48 AM on March 28 [3 favorites]

Don’t Worry, America, Jared Kushner Is Going to Save You From COVID-19 (Molly Jong-Fast, Daily Beast Op/Ed)
"Having conquered Middle East peace and innovated America to within an inch of its life, the Trump son-in-law is now taming COVID-19. Oh—Ivanka too!"
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:54 AM on March 28

You breathe over 10,000 of liters of air a day. So your mask is taking all of the potential infectious contaminants from 10,000 liters of air and concentrating it on a few square inches of mask material.

You should treat the outer surface of your mask as if it is radioactive.

Jackflash, do you have any citations for the idea that face masks would act as dangerous concentrators of coronavirus? I just ran your comment past a few respiratory nurses that I work with, and the responses ranged from “huh?” to “that’s really not how things work”.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 9:58 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]

I am SO glad that someone is reminding us who Andrew Cuomo is. I'm not surprised that he's got people from the Blackstone Group on his COVID-19 task force. Honestly, just because someone on TV sounds authoritative and forceful, and people fall over themselves to tweet "#PresidentCuomo"? The fuck out of here.

It's going to be a hell of a week next week when rents are due and no one can pay. But, hey, he's "got it under control," though there is a rent freeze bill in the Legislature that he's ignoring.
posted by droplet at 10:17 AM on March 28 [3 favorites]

do you have any citations for the idea that face masks would act as dangerous concentrators of coronavirus? I just ran your comment past a few respiratory nurses that I work with, and the responses ranged from “huh?” to “that’s really not how things work”.

Probably the nurses you are talking to are in the practice of using a mask for one procedure and disposing of it. But now we are talking about using one mask all day or multiple days, which is different.

For any filter there is a dirty side, the input, and a clean side, the output. It is standard procedure when using any filter medium whether air or water that you treat the open or input side as highly contaminated. It is just common sense. You are using the filter to capture diffuse contaminants from the air or water and all of those diffuse contaminants become concentrated on the outer filter surface.

If you have ever used a filter mask for industrial work, or workshop, or housecleaning or just a furnace filter you can see the contaminants accumulating on the surface in high concentration. The longer you use the filter, the more contaminates accumulate on the outside. In the case of virus contamination, it's the same thing but invisible. If you wear your mask all day in an environment where you are exposed to virus aerosols or particles, you will accumulate concentrated virus on the outside.

You don't want to touch the highly contaminated outside surface because then your hands become highly contaminated. If you do touch the outer surface, you want to immediately wash your hands.
posted by JackFlash at 10:46 AM on March 28 [4 favorites]

[Folks this isn't a thread about masks, and now isn't a great time for "it's just common sense" answers to practical questions that may have very serious implications for some readers. Please drop the "here's how I personally think you should handle masks" advice.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:56 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]

people fall over themselves to tweet "#PresidentCuomo"? The fuck out of here.

Yeah, well, the tweets about "cutting budgets amidst a crisis" are full of shit too. The budget cuts are for FY2021 for starters, and the process was already happening -- independently of Covid -- because of a lack of Medicaid funding.

I see a lot of people tweeting about it who were also trying to signal boost the person trying to primary Nancy Pelosi amidst this crisis, in favor of some unknown whose Twitter timeline doesn't go back further than February.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:00 AM on March 28

Yes, let's go with someone who is no better politically, but also gross to women, and visibly coming apart at the seams.

Bernie isn't getting the nod, here's what Jacobin had to say about Biden just a couple weeks ago:

Joe Biden Has Built a Career on Betraying Black Voters

Not to mention Delaware Correctional Industries.

Let's make a fuss about Cuomo consulting Blackstone, and ignore that Delaware has more corporate citizens than human ones, and that's been Biden's true constituency.

Jacobin would do well to stop treating people it's trying to persuade as though they were idiot children.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:14 AM on March 28

Or maybe let's go with the guy who's actually a candidate and is already leading in delegates? I'm not really sure what a skeptical but well-researched article about Cuomo in Current Affairs has to do with Jacobin and Bernie. Biden is pretty terrible, but he's going to be the nominee. Trying to shoehorn in a governor with a very problematic political history because he's made a few replacement-level speeches in a time of crisis makes about as much sense as taking Rudy Giuliani seriously because he didn't melt into a puddle of goo after the towers fell.

Biden's the disappointing, milquetoast, misogynistic, problematic, centrist nominee for the Democrats. Deal. With. It.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:46 AM on March 28 [8 favorites]

The Who Andrew Cuomo Is link above is a Jacobin piece. The criticisms in the Current Affairs article are all well and good, but its not as if the current presumptive nominee is better. Which was the context. And it's silly to pretend that both of those outlets aren't writing from the perspective of frustrated Bernie supporters. (I say that as a frustrated Bernie supporter.)

I don't think replacing Biden with Cuomo is actually something likely to happen, and I intend to vote for whoever the Democratic candidate is, but I dislike the condescension now being directed at anyone who might prefer Cuomo to Biden. There are legit reasons.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:59 AM on March 28

Abstracting things away from present circumstances to make it a general "anyone who might prefer Cuomo to Biden" discussion is at best imprecise. I can imagine many legitimate reasons to prefer Cuomo over Biden in an alternate universe where Cuomo were running for President from the beginning, but that's not the world we live in. Were Cuomo not being seriously talked about as a Presidential candidate, there would be no reason to discuss him outside of his capable handling of COVID-19.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:06 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]

people fall over themselves to tweet "#PresidentCuomo"? The fuck out of here.

Again, this was the context.

If you actually read the Jacobin article linked in support of telling people to get "the fuck out of here" with their legitimate political preferences, it's more or less a hot take on other people's hot takes and a finger-wagging lecture on movement politics that is explicitly criticizing people who prefer Cuomo to Biden, not some "abstraction." And doing so without discussing how Biden is as bad or worse, historically.

And that along the way does stuff like making misleading statements about the Medicaid reform process, and mocking those silly women on Facebook who are "crushing" on Cuomo.

That's a nope from me, but I (unlike the comment above) won't tell you what to think.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:15 PM on March 28

If you think Jacobin is offering a "finger-wagging lecture" in support of Joe Biden, I think we're just not inhabiting the same reality. One can say "Cuomo would be a bad president" without a compulsory list of reasons the frontrunner also sucks.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:24 PM on March 28 [2 favorites]

Wouldn't that be the "abstraction" you just suggested I was perpetrating?

I'm going to leave it there, I don't have the energy to argue with people I ultimately mostly agree with right now. I get that NY (and nearby) progressives are especially opposed to Cuomo, and have reasons.

We're (hopefully) all going to hold our nose and vote to turn out Trump, including in the very unlikely event Biden steps aside in favor of Cuomo, and that's what matters to me.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:30 PM on March 28

i liked the masks fight better
posted by poffin boffin at 12:32 PM on March 28 [13 favorites]

I've been living in New York for almost 30 years. I have my issues with Biden and I will hold my nose to vote for him. I'm not a Bernie bro. I was for Warren.

But to make it absolutely clear, I don't like Cuomo because of Cuomo. I don't how he's buddy-buddy with state senate Republicans. I don't like he won't raise taxes on the rich, but is willing to cut funds for the MTA when over half the damn system is still operating on 1930s tech, and that he's happy to cut funds for public education and Medicaid. His top aide was convicted for corruption and bribery, and somehow this is ignored.

My opinion of the man is not good, and I'll just leave it at that.
posted by droplet at 12:37 PM on March 28 [8 favorites]

[One deleted. Please take mask stuff over to the mask thread. Don't try to continue fighting about masks or kick up a weird protest about how mask instruction needs to be in here even after I have mailed you about this. I know everyone is stressed, but there are more productive places to focus that energy. This is a thread about progressive politics and the pandemic. ]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:18 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]

Biden's the disappointing, milquetoast, misogynistic, problematic, centrist nominee for the Democrats. Deal. With. It.

Just like with the election of Trump himself, this is who we are. We'd love to have a woman president, we'd love to have a(nother) POC president, but that's not who the US is (yet). I'm not a big Biden fan, but it's not entirely his fault (only that the effects of his career helped hold things back) that other candidates weren't able to get enough traction to overcome the inertia of old-guard Dems.
posted by rhizome at 3:00 PM on March 28 [4 favorites]

Ron DeSantis Previews the Trumpist Line on Who’s to Blame for COVID-19 (Josh Marshall, TPM Op/Ed)
You can see at a distance the evolving political narrative. The sorrows that befall Florida and soon other red states will be blamed on the symbolic capital of deracinated liberalism, New York city, with its immigrants, bad values and dirty ways.

The kind of grievance politics which created Donald Trump and which he embodies and champions can only understand or confront challenge through the prism of grievance, blame and betrayal. This storyline, the groundwork for which has been laid for years, is rapidly coming into view for how the American right will explain the crisis of COVID-19.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:34 PM on March 28 [4 favorites]

Trump is delighted (no Twitter link for him, you know where to find it if you want):
“President Trump is a ratings hit. Since reviving the daily White House briefing Mr. Trump and his coronavirus updates have attracted an average audience of 8.5 million on cable news, roughly the viewership of the season finale of ‘The Bachelor.’ Numbers are continuing to rise...

...On Monday, nearly 12.2 million people watched Mr. Trump’s briefing on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, according to Nielsen — ‘Monday Night Football’ numbers. Millions more are watching on ABC, CBS, NBC and online streaming sites, and the audience is expanding. On Monday, Fox News...

...The CBS News poll said 13 percent of Republicans trusted the news media for information about the virus.” Michael M. Grynbaum @NYTimes
That's a lovely fiddle you've got there, Nero.
posted by bcd at 1:30 PM on March 29 [6 favorites]

I asked Staten Island Amazon Warehouse workers why they’re walking off the job on Monday “this place is a (COVID) breeding ground.
posted by The Whelk at 9:24 PM on March 29 [6 favorites]

Whole Foods Employees Are Staging a Nationwide 'Sick-Out' (Lauren Kaori Gurley, Vice)
Workers say they will strike Tuesday because the Amazon subsidiary has failed to prioritize their safety during a period of record sales.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:22 AM on March 30 [10 favorites]

General Electric Workers Walk Off the Job, Demand to Make Ventilators (Edward Ongweso Jr, Vice)
GE workers who normally make jet engines say their facilities are sitting idle while the country faces a dire ventilator shortage.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:24 AM on March 30 [7 favorites]

Whole Foods Employees Are Staging a Nationwide 'Sick-Out'

I hope Bezos does a walk of shame to address the WF policies, and overall I'm waiting on tenterhooks these days to see what public gesture Bezos, Zuck, and the rest manage to come up with. Zuck poked his head up a week or so ago with a Fauci event, wisely leaving anything other than his blank expression in the publicity clips. I imagine that's foreshadowing what their PR staffs and consultants are clocking lucrative hours on these days.
posted by rhizome at 11:38 AM on March 30

Doctors Are Being Told That Wearing Masks “Might Freak Out Patients” (Kiera Butler, Mother Jones)
As hospitals face a wave of patients with COVID-19, Dr. Christopher Garofalo, a family physician in Massachusetts, has become increasingly concerned about physicians working without masks and other protective equipment. In private Facebook groups for doctors, Garofalo asked them to share their experiences—and he received a torrent of responses from health care workers who said that hospital administrators forbade them from wearing the gear. The reasons for this vary: Some administrators say hospitals are afraid the gear could spread the virus to uninfected patients; others say administrators are worried that patients will be scared if they see doctors wearing masks.
Fear keeps doctors from speaking out against management.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:54 PM on March 30 [4 favorites]

GE workers who normally make jet engines say their facilities are sitting idle while the country faces a dire ventilator shortage.

Those jet powered ventilators are going to be AWESOMESAUCE!
posted by mikelieman at 3:18 PM on March 30 [2 favorites]

Wasn’t expecting this from the New Yorker but Reality Has Endorsed Bernie Sanders and Medicare For All
posted by The Whelk at 10:19 PM on March 30 [3 favorites]

Taxpayers Paid Millions to Design a Low-Cost Ventilator for a Pandemic. Instead, the Company Is Selling Versions of It Overseas. (Patricia Callahan, Sebastian Rotella and Tim Golden; Pro Publica)

"As coronavirus sweeps the globe, there is not a single Trilogy Evo Universal ventilator — developed with government funds — in the U.S. stockpile. Meanwhile, Royal Philips N.V. has sold higher-priced versions to clients around the world."
[...] The story of the Trilogy Evo Universal, described here for the first time, also raises questions about the government’s reliance on public-private partnerships that public health officials have used to piece together important parts of their disaster safety net.

That’s the problem of leaving any kind of disaster preparedness up to the market and market forces — it will never work,” said Dr. John Hick, an emergency medicine specialist in Minnesota who has advised HHS on pandemic preparedness since 2002. “The market is not going to give priority to a relatively no-frills but dependable ventilator that’s not expensive.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:43 PM on March 30 [11 favorites]

Group Behind Central Park Coronavirus Tent Hospital Asks Volunteers To Support Anti-Gay Agenda (Jake Offenhartz, Gothamist)
On Tuesday morning, a makeshift tent hospital in Central Park will begin treating overflow patients from Mount Sinai, as the spread of COVID-19 begins to overwhelm local hospitals. Announcing the 68-bed respiratory unit this weekend, Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the relief organization, Samaritan's Purse, responsible for funding and erecting the facility.

The mayor did not mention that the group is led by Franklin Graham, a notorious anti-LGBTQ and Islamophobic preacher with a track record of using humanitarian missions to proselytize an evangelical agenda.

Graham, the son of prominent minister Billy Graham, has specifically sought to recruit Christian medical staff to the Central Park facility. According to the group's website, all volunteers, including health care workers, should read and adhere to a statement of faith, in which marriage is defined as "exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female" and the unrighteous are sentenced to "everlasting punishment in hell."
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:44 AM on March 31 [6 favorites]

SF Chron. -- Exclusive: Captain of aircraft carrier with growing coronavirus outbreak pleads for help from Navy

That this needed to be leaked to get the brass to deal with it is extraordinary.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:57 AM on March 31 [11 favorites]

After 10 Workers Get COVID-19, 1,000 Meatpackers Walk Off the Job in Colorado

Fargo tenants urged to join 'Rent Strike' as pandemic takes economic toll

“Yesterday I got a tip that Hobby Lobby was secretly reopening stores and violating state-mandated closures. So I called all 39 stores in Wisconsin and Ohio and found that 36 of them reopened Monday.“

"Cuomo’s instinct is to forego billions of dollars of desperately needed aid because he is unwilling to give up Medicaid cuts which themselves will directly jeopardize the lives of those most at risk of dying from Covid-19." Julie Hollar

Senator Loeffler not only invested in telecommuting, she sold shares in retail stores including Lululemon and T.J. Maxx and "invested in a company that makes COVID-19 protective garments."
posted by The Whelk at 6:30 AM on April 1 [10 favorites]

Texas pastors demand a “religious liberty” exemption to coronavirus stay-at-home orders (Ian Millhiser, Vox)
Last week, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who oversees the area of Texas that includes Houston, issued an order requiring “all individuals currently living within Harris County ... to stay at their place of residence except for Essential Activities” (in Texas, the title “county judge” refers to the chief executive of a county government). [...]

[The resulting] restriction on in-person worship services has sparked a lawsuit, filed by three Texas pastors and Steven Hotze, a medical doctor and anti-LGBT Republican activist whose political action committee was labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. These four men ask the Texas Supreme Court to strike down Hidalgo’s order, claiming, among other things, that it violates the “religious liberty” of pastors who wish to gather their parishioners together during a pandemic.

The case is named In re Hotze. [...]

Hotze places the public health of an entire community against the interests of a handful of pastors (and, potentially, parishioners) with an idiosyncratic view of the pandemic.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:02 AM on April 1 [4 favorites]

As coronavirus spreads, so do reports of companies mistreating workers (Christian Davenport, Abha Bhattarai and Jena McGregor; WaPo)
"From [medical professionals] to retail salespeople, employees are walking off the job and facing retribution for speaking out"
Overview of multiple coronavirus related stories of employers making or enforcing rules that put the employee's health, or the health of others, in jeopardy.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:48 AM on April 1 [6 favorites]

Drew Magary (formerly of Deadspin and GQ) for GEN on Medium :

"No One Should Want a Return to Normalcy"
A return to safety? Sure. But things haven’t been ‘normal’ around here for a very long time.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:30 AM on April 1 [6 favorites]

I think when stuff like this religious liberty exemption question or the issue of gun store closure comes up, it really highlights just how off the rails some people are with their understanding of the bill of rights. Their constitution is a suicide pact.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:45 AM on April 1 [7 favorites]

Forget it Jake, they're millenerian escheatologists.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:46 AM on April 1 [3 favorites]

Coronavirus Update: Rent Day Sending Shockwaves Through NYC Amid Shutdown
posted by The Whelk at 5:47 PM on April 1 [3 favorites]

OANN threatened with removal from White House press room after correspondent Chanel Rion makes unauthorized appearances (WaPo)
Under strict new guidelines jointly imposed last month by White House officials and the White House Correspondents' Association, which represents journalists, access to the cramped briefing room is now restricted to about 15 reporters each day, to enforce social-distancing measures amid the coronavirus crisis, and several smaller news organizations can rotate in only once every several days.
Guess who's been jumping ahead in the queue. And guess who's looking the other way.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:34 PM on April 1 [3 favorites]

Here's a webinar series from Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute, on COVID-19: Advancing Rights and Justice During a Pandemic.
posted by NotLost at 7:37 AM on April 2

I noticed that Amazon is running TV commercials now about how valuable and appreciated their workers are. I think they might even be 60sec spots.
posted by rhizome at 10:32 AM on April 2

Politico: ‘It's a sh-- sandwich': Republicans rage as Florida becomes a nightmare for Trump

Already anxious about Trump’s chances in the nation’s biggest swing state, Republicans now are dealing with thousands of unemployed workers unable to navigate the Florida system to apply for help. And the blowback is directed straight at Trump’s top allies in the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Rick Scott.

Privately, Republicans admit that the $77.9 million system that is now failing Florida workers is doing exactly what Scott designed it to do — lower the state’s reported number of jobless claims after the great recession.

“It’s a sh-- sandwich, and it was designed that way by Scott,” said one DeSantis advisor. “It wasn’t about saving money. It was about making it harder for people to get benefits or keep benefits so that the unemployment numbers were low to give the governor something to brag about.”

Republican Party of Florida chairman Joe Gruters was more succinct: “$77 million? Someone should go to jail over that.”

Scott was Florida's previous Governor.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:11 AM on April 3 [10 favorites]

WARTIME LESSONS FOR INDUSTRIAL MOBILIZATION IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC - " A pure market approach to resource allocation produced chaos in an emergency; only when the government stepped in and ironed out a system for managing allocations strategically did the problem wane. "

A Department of Actual Defense in a Time of Coronavirus
A Department of Actual Defense, as opposed to a Department of War renamed Defense, would be looking very hard at the twin dangers of nuclear and climate apocalypse, and the accompanying spin-offs like coronavirus. I don’t mean looking at them with an eye to militarizing borders, getting more oil out of the arctic as the ice melts, demonizing immigrants to sell more weapons, or developing “smaller” and “more usable” nukes. We have all of that sociopathy already. I mean looking at these threats in order to actually defend against them.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:35 PM on April 3 [6 favorites]

Politico: ‘It's a sh-- sandwich': Republicans rage as Florida becomes a nightmare for Trump

I don't think "sh-- sandwich" means what he thinks it means. I think he means "show", not "sandwich".
posted by eviemath at 1:32 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]

Outflanked 3: the Healthcare Outflankening
@CitizenCohn: Here -- via @StephArmour1 scoop -- is how the Trump administration is planning to help the uninsured get COVID care. Government will just pay the bills.

@davidsirota: So the government would be the funder...or, in the parlance, the SINGLE PAYER

If you’ll forgive me for belaboring the obvious:

* Compensating hospitals who treat the uninsured for specific emergencies is both not “single payer” and a longstanding part of the American healthcare system.

* The last Democratic administration signed a massive, historic expansion of the public insurance program for the poor, and every Democratic candidate running this cycle (including Biden) ran on substantially expanding the ACA. Floating the idea that the government should temporarily compensate hospitals who treat uninsured patients if they have one particular illness “outflanks” the Dems from the left only if you have no idea what Democratic healthcare policy is.

* It’s amazing to see people fantasize about Trump becoming the party of single payer when 1)the Trump administration’s top legislative priority was to take health insurance away from 10s of millions of people to pay for a massive upper-class tax cut and 2)Trump is currently supporting a suit that would strike down the entire ACA, the Medicaid expansion included. How can you delude yourself?

* Mitch McConnell’s explicit plan is to do nothing until April 20 and then focus on confirming more judges who (among many other things) will vote to strike down any healthcare reform the next Democratic Congress can pass.

* People who imagine that Comrades Trump and Cotton and Romney are going to OUTFLANK the Dems from the left are the anti-anti Trump left equivalent of reporters who rush to give “today is the day Donald Trump became president” takes whenever he can string together three sentences without any insult comedy. How can you delude yourself?
posted by tonycpsu at 1:53 PM on April 3 [10 favorites]

These two coronavirus maps provide a terrifying glimpse of what’s coming (Greg Sargent, WaPo OpEd)
The first one is from a New York Times analysis of cellphone data, which showed that in places like Florida and the southeast, folks “have continued to travel widely, potentially exposing more people as the coronavirus outbreak accelerates"
Many have seen this already. Does not bode well for the South.
The second map is from the Kaiser Family Foundation. It shows that many of these same states have not expanded Medicaid
This does not bode well either. Losing work-based health care without any other kind of health care is scary, especially given how widespread COVID-19 is becoming.
The twin crises we’re facing — an all-consuming pandemic emergency combined with a slide into a horrific economic downturn — are revealing with unique force just how exposed and vulnerable individuals have been left by our failure to invest sufficiently in public health and a robust welfare state.

As political theorist Jedediah Britton-Purdy recently put it, we’re now learning to our great horror that our system is “totally lacking in resilience to shifts in human need.” Britton-Purdy added: “We can afford truly public health, but if everyone is driven to try to stay healthy alone, it won’t work, and trying will kill a lot of us.”
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:15 PM on April 3 [6 favorites]

“It’s a sh-- sandwich, and it was designed that way by Scott,”

Oh cry me a river. Do Republicans take responsibility for anything? Sack up and shut up and get to work. Can we roll back the tax cuts yet?

Every single time, it's someone else fault. "Always have an Obama" they might say when mentoring younger candidate, just like "leave yourself an out" in driver's training.
posted by rhizome at 7:55 PM on April 3

I thought the Scott referred to was a Republican? Did I completely misread the article somehow?
posted by eviemath at 10:11 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]

Florida saw a pandemic coming and prepared. Then state leaders started to cut. (Neil Bedi and Steve Contorno, Tampa Bay Times)
Officials knew as early as 2005 that an outbreak could devastate the state and infect much of the population. They wrote reports predicting a crisis remarkably similar to the one playing out now: a virus that could infect more than a million Florida residents.

And they responded in force, bolstering the state health department with resources and specialized workers to combat a potential crisis.

But that operation was dismantled by governors and lawmakers more worried about the bottom line, the Tampa Bay Times has found. [...]

Most of the cuts were made under former Gov. Rick Scott, now a U.S. senator. In a statement, Scott spokesman Chris Hartline defended the cuts, saying: “The Democrats and their media partners believe that bigger government and more bureaucracy are the solution to every problem. People who actually know what they’re talking about realize that that’s not always the case. We’re certainly not going to apologize for making government more efficient and effective for Florida taxpayers.”
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:56 PM on April 6 [4 favorites]

I hope the left can crystallize what's going on here. Republicans like to say that tax and spend Democrats are ruining everything, but now we see how the conservative drive to shrink the government and starve the system of tax revenue and other resources is now putting actual lives in danger. I suppose conservatives might say allowing people to buy Doritos with SNAP benefits puts people at risk of contracting diabetes or obesity or other health problems, but this is a situation where people go two weeks from "I feel weird" to "you are dead," and without the spare resources that Republicans have a perpetual hardon for cutting, this becomes a certainty.
posted by rhizome at 9:34 PM on April 6 [3 favorites]

I hope the left can crystallize what's going on here. Republicans like to say that tax and spend Democrats are ruining everything, but now we see how the conservative drive to shrink the government and starve the system of tax revenue and other resources is now putting actual lives in danger.

It has been putting actual lives in danger for a long time. That's why many of us have opposed such policies, and exactly what we've been saying all along. The current scale of harm does make this much more visible across strata of class, race, gender, sexual orientation, and ability, which can potentially be useful for building wider solidarity or understanding, yes
posted by eviemath at 8:52 AM on April 7 [3 favorites]

That's a good point I didn't account for: it's putting straight white lives at risk. The "no cure" part is also a huge issue, but a lot of us saw how things went (or didn't) with AIDS, too.
posted by rhizome at 12:17 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

I didn't want to stink up the dedicated thread, so here I'll say I hope that people are blaming Trump for John Prine.
posted by rhizome at 8:50 PM on April 7 [6 favorites]

These Are The Conditions In Which Revolution Becomes Thinkable, Ben Tarnoff, Commune Magazine - "This is difficult work, and it requires a sustained, collective effort. It’ll take a lot of people thinking and acting together to make sense of our new terrain. What follows is an early contribution: a partial inventory of circumstances in the US and a provisional picture of how they fit together."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:35 AM on April 9 [1 favorite]

Walter Schaub, who was the Director of the Office of Government Ethics within the Executive Branch, tweeted a clear and unnerving assessment of the US political landscape right now.
posted by rhizome at 2:43 PM on April 9 [4 favorites]

I think Shaub is pulling his punches. How many states are even holding fair elections? I mean, the House Speaker in Georgia is on camera saying that conservatives can't win fair elections. If the elections — municipal, county, state, federal — aren't fair, then the resulting governments are unjustly constituted. If the governments are already illegitimate, what does the rule of law even mean?
posted by ob1quixote at 4:14 PM on April 9 [2 favorites]

If Schaub is pulling his punches I should dump all the money I can find into Seagrams futures.
posted by rhizome at 4:17 PM on April 9

Hennepin County [MN] tells library workers to staff homeless hotels or take PTO (Susan Du, City Pages, 4/10/2020)
Since Hennepin libraries closed for COVID-19 on March 17, librarians and library specialists moved to working from home, running online collections, assisting people search for jobs, and tutoring kids doing homework.

A week ago, Hennepin County Administrator David Hough informed 220 library specialists they could no longer do that. Instead, they could apply to redeploy to a homeless hotel.

Those who weren’t able or willing would have to start using their paid time off days. Should they run out of PTO, they could borrow up to 240 hours of leave and go into debt with the county. Their final option is to take unpaid leave.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:33 PM on April 10 [2 favorites]

David Hough's public contact info, for anyone who'd like to let Hough know how he's doing. Career background.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:24 PM on April 10 [2 favorites]

Medical Staffing Companies Owned by Rich Investors Cut Doctor Pay and Now Want Bailout Money (Issac Arnsdorf, ProPublica)
Companies that employ emergency room medical personnel, many owned by private equity firms, say they are reeling from vanishing demand for non-coronavirus care. But critics worry that bailout money would be a windfall for rich investors. [...]

Before the pandemic, Envision made a lucrative business out of buying practice groups in specialties where patients don’t choose their provider, such as ER physicians and anesthesiologists, according to Dr. Marty Makary, a surgical oncologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine who studies health care costs. Envision could then charge patients high prices for out-of-network care, a practice known as “surprise billing.” The model was profitable until a public backlash led lawmakers to investigate the practice, according to Makary.

“Private equity consolidated large physician groups in an unprecedented financial gamble using capital and banking on revenue not skipping a beat,” Makary said. “When the investment model works, investors get rich. When the investment goes sour, who bears the risk? As in the mortgage crisis of 2008, taxpayers are bearing the risk of financial gambles of investors.”
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:27 PM on April 10 [5 favorites]

The final note on that paramedic's diary piece seems important:
Not one of the 12 people suspected to have died of Covid-19 on Anthony's shift had been tested for coronavirus. As a result, their deaths were not included in the official coronavirus death toll in New York last Sunday, which stood at 594.
posted by Not A Thing at 1:50 PM on April 11 [5 favorites]

I personally know of deaths in the Dallas area that were probably covid, but there's no tests, so they're not counted. Including a perfectly healthy man in his mid40s who returned from Italy, and was dead two weeks later. His wife and daughters can't get tests, because they can't prove they were near someone with the virus. They're all sick. Neighbors and their church are dropping food and stuff in coolers at their door, but everyone is aware that the death is stalking their neighborhood.

There will never be an accurate count. We will never know how many people needlessly died because there wasn't testing, there wasn't a quarantine plan, there wasn't a plan to keep everyone housed and fed, there wasn't, and isn't, a plan to take care of citizens.

The GOP has proven that they do not care if most people live or die. They are amoral succubi feeding on the labor and treasure of the majority.

Our privatized health system has been stripped down to an efficiency model designed to generate profits, not health. Doctors and nurses in many cases have become indentured servants. Our healthcare is shackled by a system designed to return as much money as possible to the top 1%, and if that means people die, well...

Americans live on credit because we haven't had substantial wage increases in decades. Meanwhile Congress gives itself raises constantly. CEOs and shareholders have had their wealth increase by obscene amounts, and yet they are still a voracious void, trying to suck the last cent from the turned out pockets of the working class.

Our "vote" is so gerrymandered and watered down that despite Dems winning more votes, consistently, year after year, in state, local, and federal elections, Republicans still hold the reins in many districts, including the presidency. We use antiquated methodologies, absurd laws and an unfriendly judiciary to make sure the elite don't lose power.

And now, the government of the United States, following the direction of the President's Son In Law, who holds no elected, appointed, or official position, is committing what can only be called piracy, whereby they intercept goods, with no recompense, so that they can give them to a private company who will sell them to the original recipient for 4X the price, and maybe the promise that the government won't seize orders from these distributors. At least, that's what Project Airbridge looks like to me.

So, what do we do? I mean, right now, we have this vast amount of brainpower around the world, at home, and getting stir crazy. The situation as stands, is intolerable, and we shouldn't "go back to normal when this is over". We need to take this as a wake up call that we need to change. How do we convince ourselves that we have the power to change the direction, and steer towards a brighter timeline.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 10:52 PM on April 11 [18 favorites]

I think for the US, the most important thing right now that we can do is work to ensure that the destructive Republicans are removed from power. The Trump Administration has to become an object lesson in unacceptable behavior, philosophy, and actions.
posted by rhizome at 3:01 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]

Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia faces blowback as he curtails scope of worker relief in unemployment crisis
In recent days, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, who has expressed concerns about unemployment insurance being too generous, has used his department’s authority over new laws enacted by Congress to limit who qualifies for joblessness assistance and to make it easier for small businesses not to pay family leave benefits. The new rules make it more difficult for gig workers such as Uber and Lyft drivers to get benefits, while making it easier for some companies to avoid paying their workers coronavirus-related sick and family leave.

[...] Still, Scalia has made clear he is wary of taking an excessively lax approach to disbursing aid, an argument that he used to help win GOP support for recent legislation. Writing on Fox Business Network’s website on Monday, he warned that he does not want unemployed people to become addicted to government aid.

“We want workers to work, not to become dependent on the unemployment system,” Scalia wrote with Small Business Administration chief Jovita Carranza. “Unemployment is not the preferred outcome when government stay-at-home orders force temporary business shutdowns.”
Yes, we need to do something, because these fuckers will never stop belittling and scorning us and willing us to die as they wallow in the trough. I don't remember electing this asshole. He has some fucking gall.
posted by droplet at 6:34 PM on April 12 [10 favorites]

Amazon Fired An Employee Involved In Workplace Organizing In Minnesota, Sources Say - BuzzFeed News, Caroline O'Donovan, April 14, 2020
The fired worker, Bashir Mohamed, said that in addition to organizing workers to advocate for better working conditions, he had begun pushing for more rigorous cleaning and other measures to protect against the transmission of the coronavirus. Mohamed, who worked at the warehouse for three years, said he believes that his workplace advocacy is why he was fired.

Amazon, however, told him that he was terminated because he refused to speak to his supervisor. Mohamed did not deny that allegation, although he accused his supervisor of treating him unfairly.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:54 AM on April 14 [4 favorites]

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