2:00PM Water Cooler 5/11/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

#COVID19

At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart:

The data is the John Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. I have changed to a logarithmic scale for US States and territories.

Once again, “Default view is now new cases/day” which changes the graph, more optimistically, and perhaps more accurately. I can change this back to “Total Confirmed Cases” if readers prefer. I thought I’d pick the “Bottom 25” states, which are the best off, highlighting Colorado, home of Castle Rock restaurant. Here is the latest New York Times map of re-opening (and not re-opening) states”

* * *

See Vice, “How to Read the Coronavirus Graphs“:

Quantities that grow exponentially, when depicted on a linear scale, look like curves that bend sharply upward, with the curve getting constantly steeper. On a log scale, exponentially growing values can be depicted with straight diagonal lines.

That’s the beauty of plotting things on log scales. Plots are meant to make things easy to understand, and we humans are much more adept at understanding linear, straight-line behavior. Log plots enable us to grasp exponential behavior by transferring the complexity of constantly steepening curves into the simplicity of an exponentially increasing scale.

On a log scale, we want to constantly be making the line more and more horizontal. The general concept of “flattening” is still a good one, but it’s never going to curve down. And so what we should be looking, and hoping for is a trend toward horizontal.

Politics

“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

* * *

2020

Biden ((D)(1): [heavy sigh]:

You know that liberal Democrats believe that Sanders running a small-donor based campaign at scale was the most important thing about his candidacy. How? They never talk about it.

Biden (D)(2): [puts head in hands]:

That’s not an idea. Does everyone know about the Biden Insult Bot?

It looks like there’s a Biden Platitude Bot, too, and whichever intern is running the Biden Twitter account is pinging it.

Biden (D)(3): “Should democratic socialists endorse Joe Biden?” [NJ.com]. “Good politics meets people where they are, not where you want them to be. DSA is a socialist organization, and as such, it will not and need not formally endorse Joe Biden, whose campaign merchandise proudly features ‘socialist’ crossed off alongside ‘plutocrat,’ as if they are equivalent. But defeating Trump and, more importantly, Trumpism are strategic DSA priorities, and to that end, we urge everyone to make more compelling arguments here by addressing left concerns. Instead of vote-shaming the left, which might feel good but demonstrably does not work, those concerned about a Biden win might show that they are pushing Biden in more progressive directions. The COVID-19 pandemic is not just a medical crisis but a political one, ravaging communities already suffering from inequality. It shows clearly the need for much of the Sanders platform. We believe swing state leftists should vote Biden, not because he deserves it but because a Democratic administration offers more fertile ground for the left than a Republican one, where we desperately scramble to fight for basic union, reproductive, immigrant, and queer/trans rights. For those seeking to build third-party power, we’ll do better under a Democrat as well, since Trump generates a false sense of ‘resistance’ unity that obscures the deep divisions within the Dems.” • I’m not sure I agree. For one thing, there’s no reason for a DSA member to feel “resistance” unity; DSA members don’t do brunch. I think. For another, Democrats are expert at decapitating the left, either by sucking them into NGOs or simply arresting them (see Occupy and Black Lives Matter). So why does “a Democratic administration [offer] more fertile ground for the left than a Republican one”? Sort of amazing to see a headline like that in a mainstream venue, though.

Cuomo (D)(1): “NY’s Cuomo criticized over highest nursing home death toll” [Associated Press]. “Cuomo faced criticism at a recent briefing for saying that providing masks and gowns to nursing homes is “not our job” because the homes are privately owned…. One key criticism is that New York took weeks after the first known care home outbreaks to begin publicly reporting the number of deaths in individual homes — and still doesn’t report the number of cases. By the time New York began disclosing the deaths in the middle of last month, the state had several major outbreaks with at least 40 deaths each, most of which were a surprise to the surrounding communities and even some family members.” • To the ice floes!

Cuomo (D)(2): “New York Gov. Cuomo enlists former Google CEO to head commission to ‘reimagine’ the state after COVID-19” [MarketWatch]. “New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he has enlisted Eric Schmidt, former chief executive of Google Inc. and Novell Inc., to head a blue-ribbon commission tasked with “reimagining” New York state in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Cuomo has been pushing for the state to consider using the crisis to make changes and improvements to how it handles such issues as public health care, education and housing at his daily press briefings on the virus. Schmidt, who headed Google from 2001 to 2011 before it came under the umbrella of Alphabet Inc., appeared briefly by webcast to say he would focus on issues such as telehealth, remote learning and expanding broadband access.” • I wonder how Schmidt feels about public broadband?

Sanders (D)(1): “Voters Have a Right to Know in 2020: CLC Files FEC Complaint Against Secretive Group” [Campaign Legal Center]. “Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against “The Big Tent Project” for illegally hiding the identity of the donors who bankrolled over $4.8 million on ads in the Democratic presidential primary…. Big Tent Project formed the day after Sanders won the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary, and one week after Sanders finished in a virtual tie in the Iowa caucuses. Its executive director, Jonathan Kott, said he created the group after being approached by wealthy donors concerned about Sanders’ rise.” • Oh.

* * *

“Democrats to unveil ‘Rooseveltian’ COVID-19 relief bill” [FOX]. • I heard the word “Rooseveltian.” I shiver with… anticipation:

Still got the means-testing details on the slab, no doubt….

A rising star:

“Without a lawyer by their side.” Twice repeated!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Hillary Never Married Bill” [Frank Bruni, New York Times]. • Oy.

Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please contact me at the email address below.

No stats of interest today.

* * *

Commodities: “Carmakers Urged to Invest in Mines to Avoid Battery Metal Pinch” [Bloomberg]. “Mine developers scrambling to fund projects to meet forecast demand for battery metals see the threat of looming supply crunches as a trigger for electric-vehicle makers to step in with investments. An already tough environment to raise project finance for the mines is being made worse by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and plunging global auto sales. It’s a scenario that’s threatening to slow a pipeline of operations planned to supply lithium, nickel and cobalt materials…. ‘I scratch my head and wonder where is all this metal going to come from,’ Clean TeQ’s Riggall said. ‘The risks to the automotive sector are very, very large unless they secure their raw materials supply chain.'”

Commodities: “America’s meat shortage is more serious than your missing hamburgers” [Recode]. “Sick workers mean meatpacking plants are shutting down, and these closures are contributing to a deeply disruptive breakdown in the meat supply chain. The vast majority of meat processing takes place in a small number of plants controlled by a handful of large corporations, namely Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods, JBS USA Holdings Inc., and Cargill Inc. More than a dozen of these companies’ beef, chicken, and pork plants closed in April, and despite an order by President Trump to reopen the plants, managers fear that doing so will put lives at risk so facilities continue to close…. The plight of these workers is just the starting point in a chain of crises the coronavirus is creating in America’s food supply. The shuttered meatpacking plants have created a bottleneck in the system through which most meat in the United States must flow in order to get ground beef to Wendy’s, chicken breasts to your local grocery stores, bacon to the nearby diner now trying to run a takeout business, and so on. Things get really tricky on the other side of that bottleneck, where thousands of farmers have planned the lives of their animals around a schedule that terminates at those meatpacking facilities. If those plants aren’t operating, it’s not like they can just keep the cows, chickens, or pigs in a nearby field. Now imagine this at scale. According to Jayson Lusk, an agricultural economist at Purdue University, the meat processing capacity in the United States is down by about 40 percent. In the pork industry alone, that amounts to 200,000 pigs that won’t get sent to slaughter, because the meatpacking plants that would process them are closed or otherwise unavailable. If nothing else changes, those 200,000 excess pigs a day become a million pigs a week with nowhere to go but a mass grave.”

Shipping: “Tanker veteran warns on rates: The storm is coming” [Freight Waves]. “Diamond S CEO Craig Stevenson and his CFO Kevin Kilcullen did not mince words about the trouble they see ahead — as soon as the third quarter, earlier than implied by tanker executives on prior calls. Stevenson is veteran of the tanker industry and the former CEO of OMI Corporation, the company that famously sold its entire fleet in 2007 for $2.2 billion at the very peak of the boom, leaving buyers Teekay Corporation and Torm holding the bag when the financial crisis struck….. In the current cycle, the future rate trough — which will come about when floating storage is unwound — is clearly visible, even if exact timing is unknown. This visibility makes charterers less likely to agree to charters of a year or more in duration at rates acceptable to vessel owners, because charterers expect future spot rates to fall.”

Shipping: “The urgent demand to get staple goods to consumers isn’t compensating for the sharply-contracting U.S. economy’s impact on transportation and logistics employment. Trucking companies slashed payrolls by 88,300 jobs in April and warehouse operators cut 74,100 jobs… leaving package-delivery companies as the only transportation sector boosting employment” [Wall Street Journal]. “The loss of 2.36 million jobs in goods-producing sectors, including 1.33 million manufacturing jobs, shows why many truckers say the added business moving cleaning supplies and other high-demand products pales next to the lost trade from industrial-scale operations.”

Manufacturing: “A swath of manufacturing won’t resume production even as states ease coronavirus-driven restrictions. Factory furloughs across the U.S. are becoming permanent shutdowns…. in a sign that the pandemic’s heavy damage to the industrial economy won’t be repaired quickly” [Wall Street Journal]. “Makers of dishware in North Carolina, furniture foam in Oregon and cutting boards in Michigan are among companies that have shut factories, and boat-and-motorcycle-maker Polaris Inc. and tire maker Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. also plan to close U.S. plants. The shutdowns will further erode an industrial base that has been shrinking as a share of the overall U.S. economy for decades and likely will help redraw the country’s distribution maps. Factories have raised output in recent years through automation, but manufacturers’ capital spending since the pandemic has cratered, and plants that haven’t invested are less likely to rapidly resume operations.”

Manufacturing: “Washington in talks with chipmakers about building U.S. factories” [Reuters]. “Intel Corp is in discussions with the United States Department of Defense over improving domestic sources for microelectronics and related technology, Intel spokesman William Moss said in an emailed statement… Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., on the other hand, has been in talks with the U.S. Department of Commerce about building a U.S. factory but said it has not made a final decision yet…. The [Wall Street Journal] had also reported that U.S. officials are looking at helping South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co., which has a chip factory in Austin, Texas, to expand its contract-manufacturing operations in the United States.”

Mr. Market: Confidence Called Key Ingredient for Robust Post-Covid Economy” [Bloomberg]. “‘I would love to see robust economy, but that would require a breakthrough in vaccines, a breakthrough in widespread testing, a breakthrough in therapies to give all of us confidence that it’s safe to go back,’ Kashkari said on ABC’s ‘This Week.'” • Well, er….

Mr. Market: “Why the stock market rally is actually signaling an ‘abnormal’ economic recovery, not a V-shaped coronavirus rebound” [MarketWatch]. “Investors are reading the stock market’s breakneck bounce off the March 23 lows all wrong, says one prominent Wall Street analyst…. There’s a widely held perception that the rally reflects expectations the COVID-19 pandemic will have a piercing but short effect on the economy, with growth rebounding sharply later in the year once the outbreak is corralled, workers return to their jobs and the economy begins humming again…. That isn’t the case, said Tony Dwyer, chief market strategist at Canaccord Genuity, in a Monday note. ‘In our view, it hasn’t spiked on the anticipation of a strong economic rebound, but has ramped based on the coronavirus impact and a probable abnormal economic recovery,’ he wrote. It’s ‘abnormal’ because the sectors that usually lead the stock market out of a recession-induced downturn aren’t doing so. Instead, leadership has come largely from big tech stocks and pharmaceuticals rather than financials and cyclical sectors that closely track the ups and downs of the economy, such as industrials and consumer discretionary stocks.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 45 Neutral (previous close: 44 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 44 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 11 at 12:40pm.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Satanism. “The lack of activity has downgraded this category” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 186. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.

The Biosphere

“What You Need to Know to Start Backyard Beekeeping” (interview) [Hilary Kearney, Modern Farmer]. Beekeeper Kearney: “The best beekeepers are the ones that have developed a love of honeybees and the love of learning about them. Focus on understanding how these bees live without a beekeeper to get a good understanding of their behavior and their biology. And know what actually goes on inside the beehive before you start focusing on beekeeping techniques. If you can grasp an understanding of the honeybee first, you’re going to be a lot more successful.”

Health Care

“Coronavirus Came From Bats, Can Infect Cats, Ferrets, WHO Says” [Bloomberg]. “The novel coronavirus comes from a group of viruses that originate or spread in bats, and it’s still unclear what animal may have transmitted the disease to humans, Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO expert in animal diseases that jump to humans, said Friday in a briefing with reporters. The virus probably arrived in humans through contact with animals raised to supply food, he said. Recent studies showed that cats can transmit the virus to other cats and the WHO is aware of instances of pets of Covid-19 patients being infected, it said in a statement Friday. While precautions should be taken to avoid the infection of pets from close contact with Covid-19 human cases, further evidence is needed to understand if animals and pets can spread the disease. It’s important to find out which animals can get infected to avoid creating a ‘reservoir’ in another species, Ben Embarek said…. WHO scientists are considering a new mission to China to get more information about the virus’s animal origin, Maria van Kerkhove, one of the agency’s top epidemiologists, said at a press briefing Wednesday.”

An important thread on the social determinants of health:

“Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions and Mortality in U.S. Cities during the Great Influenza Pandemic, 1918-1919” [Robert Barro, NBER]. The abstract: “Non-pharmaceutical public-health interventions (NPIs) were measured by Markel, et al. (2007) for U.S. cities during the second wave of the Great Influenza Pandemic, September 1918-February 1919. The NPIs were in three categories: school closings, prohibitions on public gatherings, and quarantine/isolation. Although an increase in NPIs flattened the curve in the sense of reducing the ratio of peak to average deaths, the estimated effect on overall deaths was small and statistically insignificant. The likely reason that the NPIs were not more successful in curtailing mortality is that the interventions had an average duration of only around one month.”

Screening Room

Spending too much time indoors:

Class Warfare

“The Way Out — William A. Peffer” [Medium]. From 1890: “The proper function of money is to serve a public use…. he money power is the most dangerous foe to republican liberty at this hour; it must be disabled. Fortunately this can be done justly and peaceable, injuring none, benefiting all. The remedy is to take money out of the list of commodities which may be bought and sold for gain, and limit its use to its proper function of serving the people in the conduct of their everyday affairs.”

“‘Can People Pay Rent This Month?’ The Consensus Was No” [Jacobin]. “The rising cost of housing has been a dire issue for working people in the United States for decades. But the arrival of COVID-19 has brought this crisis to a head, throwing millions out of work and leaving them unable to afford rent. The call for some kind of rent forgiveness legislation is growing; politicians like Ilhan Omar have introduced legislation to forgive rent and mortgages, while state representatives such as New York state senator Julia Salazar have brought similar measures to state bodies. But none of these laws have yet been enacted. While New York has passed a temporary eviction moratorium and a temporary suspension of some mortgages, no action on suspending rent has occurred. In the meantime, renters are taking matters into their own hands.”

Teen Vogue should review this:

News of the Wired

Crapfication:

A maze of sans-serif characters, all alike.

Get me rewrite:

* * *
Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (pq):

pq writes: “Maple tree leafing out in a May snowstorm, Upstate New York. This is day two, one more in the forecast for tomorrow (May 10).” Thought I’d let something newsy jump the queue!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

120 comments

  1. JTMcPhee

    Maybe Lambert questions the stats in this Econintersect link, or has not run across it yet — I don’t see it anywhere today in links or water cooler.

    Gives a rather daunting picture of likely real levels of unemployment, maybe 56% of working age people “not working.” http://econintersect.com/pages/investing/investing.php?post=202005102359

    I’d put this in the category “terrifying realities.”

    Maybe I’m just not reading it right, I’ve noticed my intellects ain’t what they might have been years ago…

    Reply
      1. WheresOurTeddy

        “But the market is doing so well!”, screeched the purged suburbanites as they were carried off by the angry mob

        Reply
    1. John Beech

      Please switch from log to linear for a better understanding about what’s going on right now. Log was fine up until recently, but we use both to graphically display data for a reason and log-view all the time isn’t better. Especially right now.

      Reply
  2. jo6pac

    $100,000.00 for 1 hour of hillabillie, perzel, and old joe. What a deal. I wonder if the money goes first to the chilton foundation? I wonder how much goes to old joes foundation? I would love to see who in the hell paid that much.

    On another note I received my $1200.00 by mail today.

    Reply
    1. petal

      Those people are soul-crushing. When I think about what $100,000 could do…I want to cry. Heck, any of the amounts listed on that poster!

      Glad you received your cheque, jo6pac.

      Reply
    2. Off The Street

      Why pay for Chilton when you can find everything free online. /s

      Of course, that access would undermine the entire premise of the Hillabillie effort and result in collateral damage to Ol’ Joe.

      Life has become The Onion, again.

      Reply
        1. MichaelSF

          You need to look for that book at your local Fremen Lending Library. They should have a few copies that were captured from Harkonnen aviation mechanics.

          Reply
        2. polecat

          I’m sure there’s a repair manual on a shingawire reel lying around in an sealed Arrakeen cave somewhere, on hunter-seeker repair …
          … and who knows, if you dig hard enough, you might get lucky in finding an old, dusty and tattered 1st edition copy of ‘Gom Jabbar Repair for Dummies’.

          Just don’t let the Rev. Mother Hellary get wind of it ! You Don’t want her using the ‘voice’.

          Reply
            1. ambrit

              Yep! I’ve heard real bad things about that place. It’s a centre of the TedX cult I’m told. I hear that you can get the absolute best “Long Pork Bar-B-Que” there.

              Reply
          1. ambrit

            She sure ain’t a Maitre. In fact, she is suspected of using an exoskeleton built for her on Ix. Try as she might, the Witch of Little Rock cannot bend reality to her will. A Guild Navigator she is not.

            Reply
    3. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, we know that grifters gotta grift but what I want to know is this. For those that spend that $100,000.00, is it tax deductible? Having the tax payer pick up the tab for most of the cost of it would make the circle complete.

      Reply
    1. Elizabeth

      I’ve seen that video so many times, and each time I look at JB’s face he has a defiant look with his hands on her shoulders. It’s definitely a power play and she’s saying – somebody get me out of here. Then her husband puts his hand on her shoulder as to calm or comfort her -. or perhaps to send a message to JB that this is his wife -get your effing hands off her. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall after that event was over between her and her husband. I absolutely believe Tara Reade was assaulted by JB. JB professes to just be an “affectionate” kind of guy – along with the goofy persona he’s often described as. If he gets away with his public behavior it’s not hard to imagine what his private behavior is like – yeah – creepy Uncle Joe. I can see the Trump ad now playing various videos and other shots of him with women and little girls. Oh, I forgot, he’s a champion for women’s rights! #neverBiden

      Reply
    2. Stillfeelinthebern

      The author of that article is the daughter of my former Republican Wisconsin Congressman, Tom Petri, who refused to endorse the pathetic human being who replaced him, Glen Grothman.

      Reply
    1. Louis Fyne

      the font crapification isnt the fault of modernity—

      it is the fault of all the art designers, marketers, and CEOs who generally all come from the same pool of respective schools, live in the same 4 cities, socialize in the same respective circles, and whose customers all aspire to be just as milquetoast, lol

      Reply
      1. christofay

        The brand fonts have been changed to read more clearly on the small screens of the smart phones. All those details gone.

        Reply
  3. Louis Fyne

    To be cynical, Cuomo’s initial not reporting the nursing home numbers because they are abysmal and go against the narrative that everything is Orange Man’s fault

    In my state 48% of deaths are in homes, so presumably NYS was much worse

    Reply
    1. L

      Yes, here too, the nursing homes are epicenters with individual locations jumping by an order of magnitude over a week or more. I have yet to see how these are correlated with management, relative privatization, or staffing of the homes but I suspect there is a related factor. The nursing staff that are suing the homes believe it too.

      Reply
      1. albrt

        I have a relative who works for the CDC and was recently detailed to visit nursing homes. He said there isn’t much correlation with quality. The disease is so contagious in that environment that even the highest levels of pre-Covid infection control were not good enough once they had the first case.

        Plus the residents in higher quality homes are harder to control – can’t just dope them into immobility and leave them for the day.

        Reply
  4. Rogue Scholar

    Sorry Lambert. Ice floes are being phased out. You can use the new plastic garbage patch floes now.

    Reply
    1. polecat

      Can we send Eric out for some much needed (for us lowly mokes, anyway) extended R & R (Retribution & Restitution) collecting gigo bags … until he goes mad ?

      Reply
      1. Bsoder

        Self awareness how remarkable in these days. I’m good with being ‘bad’, breaking or otherwise.

        Reply
    1. km

      “Our One and Only Hope”® is supposed to bear the (R) symbol ®, as it is a registered trademark.

      Also, every time you use those words, you’re supposed to send Biden a nickel.

      Reply
  5. Pookah Harvey

    Trump used the Production Defense Act to get those essential meat workers back on the line risking their lives to keep our food supply going, only one problem. Headline at Reuters:

    As U.S. meat workers fall sick and supplies dwindle, exports to China soar

    The disruptions mean consumers could see 30% less meat in supermarkets by the end of May, at prices 20% higher than last year, according to Will Sawyer, lead economist at agricultural lender CoBank.

    While pork supplies tightened as the number of pigs slaughtered each day plunged by about 40% since mid-March, shipments of American pork to China more than quadrupled over the same period, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

    Are those workers essential because Americans aren’t capable of being vegetarians for a few weeks or because they are essential for corporate profits for foreign companies?

    Reply
      1. sd

        lol, that’s like asking if the supply side have noticed there’s a demand side.

        Answer: No, not yet.

        Reply
    1. ewmayer

      The headline is somewhat misleading, there is a lot more detail in the article, where the Facebook headline-and-link-spewing-without-actually-reading-the-articles crowd will never see it. The spike in exports predates the pandemic reaching the US:

      The supply concerns could not have been foreseen when Trump signed a deal in January to ease a trade war he started with Beijing two years earlier. China promised to increase purchases of U.S. farm goods by at least $12.5 billion in 2020 and $19.5 billion in 2021, over the 2017 level of $24 billion.

      China increased its purchases because of its dire need for protein after the pig disease African swine fever led to the death of half the country’s herd over the past two years. Beijing lifted a nearly five-year ban on U.S. chicken imports in November and also waived retaliatory tariffs on meat shipments to help boost supplies.

      Year-to-date, about 31% of U.S. pork has been exported, totaling about 838,000 tonnes, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. One-third of that volume went to China, accounting for more than 10% of total first-quarter production, the industry group said. It added that exports help increase U.S. production by raising overall demand.

      Carcasses, which include most of the pig, were the top product shipped to China in January and February, according to USDA. Loads also include feet and organs that many Americans do not eat.

      And per the article processing plants are retooling to boost domestic output, although e.g. in cases like China-owned Smithfield I hope those numbers are being tracked to see if they match the rhetoric and the demands of the DPA:

      The company is now retooling its namesake pork plant in Smithfield, Virginia, to supply fresh pork, bacon and ham to more U.S. consumers, according to a statement. The move is an about-face after the company reconfigured the plant last year to process hog carcasses for the Chinese market, employees, local officials and industry sources told Reuters.
      ….
      Pork processor Fresh Mark resumed making bacon and ham for global customers at a Salem, Ohio, plant it shut in April over coronavirus cases.

      “If we start having a shortage in America, I think it should stay here,” said Bruce Fatherly, a maintenance worker at the plant and member of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

      Fresh Mark said exports are a small part of its business.

      And there was a sanctions-war-related oversupply of hogs already at beginning of the year, so at the time boosting exports to China seemed like a win-win:

      U.S. farmers, who struggled financially during the trade war with Beijing, say they still need importing countries, including China, to buy their pork. Prior the pandemic, they grappled with an oversupply of hogs.

      Reply
      1. Pookah Harvey

        The question is: “why is it essential to endanger workers’ lives to provide meat to anyone?”
        As I asked, are Americans not capable of surviving on a vegetarian diet for a few weeks? The Chinese consumption of meat has been skyrocketing over the past few years, so much so that the Chinese government had a program trying to get the Chinese to cut their consumption by 50% in 2016. The producers of pork are not happy because they are pork factories, not farmers.
        Maybe before complaining about “Facebook headline-and-link-spewing-without-actually-reading-the-articles crowd” you should look to see what the business biased MSM doesn’t include in their stories.

        Reply
        1. ewmayer

          Meat processing plants are an easy Covid-19 bugbear because they pack an immense throughput into a small footprint. We’ve no idea how long the covid-19 situation might last – any prospect of a vaccine seems at least a year away, and it may well prove to be like the coronaviruses responsible for ~1/3 of “common colds”, which have proved themselves to be “not vaccine targets”. An open-ended “shut it down and everyone eat vegan” proposal is simply not a realistic option. Also, who do you think picks most of America’s veggies? Underpaid/migrant workers, often living in dense dorm-style housing. The main difference is that those crops spread the harvesting and processing over a huge area relative to meat, so even if it turns out that the danger of those workers catching covid-19 is similar, it’s going to occur via smaller, more diffuse outbreaks, less nightly-newsflash worthy.

          In that regard, a “cases per Teracalorie of food produced” might be a useful metric. And of course USians could stand from a general “eat 30% fewer calories than before” regimen, but that is actually on the order of the reductions in meat processing expected even after the DPA-associated plant restarts.

          Reply
  6. Kurtismayfield

    “A self-made investment guru who is the niece of a billionaire”

    Ms Monopoly is fantastic.. virtue signaling without an ounce of awareness of their own privilege.

    Reply
    1. Acacia

      Yeah, and wasn’t Monopoly about teaching the evils of rentier capitalism, not saying it’s cool?

      Reply
      1. Bsoder

        More like the ‘joys’ I think. Social behaviorism at work. How to enjoy the misery you cause others. Get’s you ready for reality. At least as it worked before Covid-19.

        Reply
        1. polecat

          It taught me to give the board a good 9.0 shaker, causing all that real estate fall off the edge of the boardgame world.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Uh oh! You sound like you employ the ‘Divine Intervention’ strategy one of our kids used to use when the game went against them. One night she cried out in glee: “Behold! The Wrath of G-d!” To which her sister replied: “Behold, the foot of the Adversary!” I was trying to subvert them a bit with some teaching about Manichean Dualism. They were about ten and twelve at the time. Phyllis still gets mad about it from time to time.

            Reply
          2. Clive

            When I used to play Monopoly with my sister, I’d set the board up beforehand and make sure I secreted a couple of £500 notes hidden underneath “my” side of the board, to be surreptitiously retrieved when I found myself the victim of some unfortunate impecunious turn of events.

            Needless to say, I haven’t changed a bit. So that’s one life lesson gift that kept on giving.

            Reply
            1. Tony Wright

              So does that mean that there are a lot of £500 notes stored on the Cayman Islands and similar tax friendly locations?
              It would seem that many of the wealthier citizens of the world have taken your childhood habits into adulthood.

              Reply
  7. Oh

    From Marketwatch:
    Politicians gone berserk might be the biggest threat to the stock market

    “By Nigam Arora Almost endless stimulus and bailouts could eventually capsize the economy Some investors believe the rules of risk and reward have been suspended, as the U.S. government borrows heavily and the Federal Reserve prints money to prop up the economy. A dangerous connection is forming between stock market investors and politicians gone berserk. There are many stimulus proposals from both Democratic and Republican politicians. An example is the Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act (https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sanders-harris-markey-introduce-bill-to-provide-monthly-2000-payments-during-the-covid-19-crisis-) offered by Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Ed Markey. The bill would send as much as $10,000 a month to families. The cycle of politicians borrowing and money printing, and investors buying stocks is right in front of our eyes. This is dangerous in the long term, as the debt has to eventually be paid off. It does, of course, provide us with money-making opportunities in the short to medium term. Let’s explore with the help of two charts.”

    Of course it’s only a threat when $$ are proposed for the people but not if $$$$$$$ is for big corporations!

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      >as the debt has to eventually be paid off.

      I’m not reading the stupid thing, but do they tell us *who* needs to be “paid off”? I’m betting they don’t.

      Reply
      1. Billy

        Remember, interest on hypothetical money, assuming various forms, compromised, promised, tranched, all the interest on that money has to be paid back from real income.

        Reply
  8. Carolinian

    Re meat–hamburger still plentiful at grocery stores here and at usual prices. Perhaps I can barter some for toilet paper.

    Reply
  9. BoyDownTheLane

    https://shiva4senate.com/kennedy-lawsuit/
    The complaint can be found at this link: CLICK HERE
    The case will be heard by Judge William G. Young.

    Mr. Kennedy is a pro-vaccine advocate and three-time endorser of Hillary Clinton. Mr. Kennedy’s nephew Joe Kennedy, who supports mandatory vaccinations, is a Democrat candidate in the U.S. Senate election in which Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai is running as a Republican.

    Dr. Ayyadurai’s U.S. Senate campaign slogan “Truth Freedom Health” has galvanized millions of supporters and activists of the medical freedom movement.

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      Thank you for that political advertisement for Republican candidate Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai. And the anti-vaccination plug. Tough being in a small-fraction minority. In my own life, my community drinks fluoridated water, and I may be glad I had smallpox, polio, BCG and other vaccinations, and my daughter and grandkids have vaccinations available too.

      Well aware that vaccines are not a be-all-and-end-all “fix” for a lot of diseases. I used to work with the US Attorney’s office in Cleveland, OH, when I was an enforcement atttorney with US EPA. The AUSA I had the most to do with spent about half his time dealing with Federal Tort Claims actions related to Guillain-Barré syndrome cases from the swine flu episode.

      But there’s the baby, and there’s the bath water…

      Reply
      1. BoyDownTheLane

        https://chicago.suntimes.com/2020/4/27/21238293/coronavirus-chicago-covid-coach-app-public-health-register-vaccine-lightfoot

        Chicago creates app to pre-register for coronavirus vaccine; registrants to get ‘daily check-ins’ (which could become ‘daily compliance checks’) –The web-based ‘Chi COVID Coach’ app is accessible on a computer or smartphone and does not need to be downloaded. Those who register will get ‘daily check-ins’ on their well-being. | 27 April 2020 | Chicagoans can now pre-register for a coronavirus vaccine, get text messages “tailored to their symptoms” and also receive guidance about “where and when to seek medical care” by downloading a new web-based app unveiled by City Hall Monday. The “Chi COVID Coach” app was developed by Google and MTX to help the Chicago Department of Public Health communicate with Chicagoans who have either tested positive for the virus or may be experiencing symptoms. Those who register will get “daily check-ins” on their well-being [later, the medical-insdustrial complex will deem these morph into ‘compliance checks’], as well as advice about “what they and other people in their households should do to limit the spread of the coronavirus.” Although Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said a coronavirus vaccine is not expected until 2021, both added they are already mapping plans to vaccinate the entire city by purchasing syringes and other equipment and choosing locations to administer shots.

        Reply
        1. BoyDownTheLane

          I was a volunteer member of a local CERT team and a local Medical Reserve Corps in Lowell, MA when the MRC ran a walk-through drill for a citywide emergency vaccination program. Back then, the model 50-state legislative package included the public health enforcement language (since passed in most states).

          Reply
    2. Spring Texan

      Joe Kennedy is a crap candidate compared to incumbent Senator Ed Markey, an actually GOOD senator – it will make me sick if he wins owing to name recognition. Disgusting.

      Reply
  10. ambrit

    Zeitgeist Watch:
    We have seen a sharp increase in Phishing E-mails and “You Are A Big Winner” telephone scams in the last month. One e-mail purported to be from Pay Pal, (those b——s!,) warning of something being ‘wrong’ with my account, with handy attachment to open for the gory details. LOL Scams! (I forwarded this one to Pay Pal’s security directorate, unopened. They replied within the hour. Which fact should tell us something about the state of play in the electronic money handling cosmos.)
    Second, there has been another tool shed break-in on our block. (Right next door. Bolt cutters versus padlock. Unequal contest.) Two in a month when one a year was the prior norm.
    Third, the incidence of gunshots during the night is ramping up. Several shotgun blasts recently. Important because most non-gun nuts I have spoken to over the years understand their limitations and chose a shotgun for ‘self defense’ purposes due to the technical factors involved; ease of use, minimal aiming needed, general ‘ought to get ’em’ effectiveness, plus, for the more conspirationaly minded, no barrel rifling marks to positively identify the weapon. (The last because the public’s trust in the police has been seriously degraded in the last decade.)

    Reply
  11. Gary

    Beekeepers: I once had bees living in my attic. I did not want to poison them so I found an online forum of bee keepers. They referred to themselves as “beeks”. I have to say that these were some of the nicest and most helpful people I have ever met. One of them drove for hours to collect the queen and as many workers as they could. He told me they were not a commercially viable strain of bees but he would see that they were re-homed to a safe bee friendly area.
    I bow humbly to the bee keepers of this world.

    Reply
    1. polecat

      I hived my bee package on April 23. They are off to a grand start. Foragers bringing in lots of pollen – many kinds. Checked things out 2 days ago, and found plump uncapped brood on comb on the 3rd bar-frame I pulled. So by that, I’ve deduced that Queenie is on a roll !
      I hope to hive my other empty hives, each with a frame containing house bees and a viable capped queen cell .. should I be lucky in my timing. Or if not that, then catching a swarm, or two, should they cast off …

      Incidentally, I never smoke my bees. I’m just extremely gentle in my interactions with them, which they appreciate. Very rarely am I stung !

      Reply
    2. Alternate Delegate

      Still a newbie, and feel I need the smoke. Just graduated to using bare hands, though. Definitely have to be a little more gentle than with gloves!

      Got my two hives through the winter, and did divides on both. Feeding sugar syrup sure convinced them to start a lot of brood. I’d like to go more “natural” and use less sugar next spring. Was warned off trying to do a “walkaway divide” in May in our latitudes as there aren’t enough drones abroad to ensure a good mating flight. Will be checking back this week to see whether the new queens got accepted.

      Reply
  12. bassmule

    “You end up with this trope of radical uncertainty as one of the kind of historical conditions that we live in, in modernity. And that poses fundamental problems [for] rational decision making. Whether you think of that, in terms, you know, of narrow calculus of cost/benefits, rational choice…How do we orientate ourselves to reality? That becomes an actually fundamental concern.

    I mean, at the beginning of the year, no one would have imagined that we’d be in this moment.”

    Adam Tooze, Professor of History, Columbia University; with Mark Blyth

    “Fundamental problems for decision-making.” I do not like the sound of that.

    The Ultimate Hidden Black Swan Risk (w/ Mark Blyth & Adam Tooze)

    Reply
  13. BobW

    Following “News of the Wired” Twitter links and came upon this:

    Two key factors influencing the spread of Covid-19:

    1) How dense the population is

    2) How dense the population are

    DrVxD

    Reply
  14. T

    Could not bring myself to read the NYT thing. Is the conceit that Hillary passed the bar, or at least had the confidence to take it a second time and then passed, and therefore did not marry Bill?

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      It’s about a novel that speculates what might have happened to Hillary if she hadn’t married Bill (but they still date).

      Bruni doesn’t tell us but there’s not much suspense as the answer would be–nothing. All else is fantasy fiction (and possibly already covered in Game of Thrones).

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        There is an old story of how on the way to the Presidential Inauguration, Bill & Hillary stopped at a garage for gas when Hillary discovered the guy working there was an old boyfriend from high school. Bill turned to Hillary and said “Just imagine what your life would have been like if you had married him instead!”. She turned to him and said “Why, it would have been the same but I would have been driving with him to his Presidential Inauguration instead!

        Reply
  15. Matthew G. Saroff

    That Tallyrand quote did not originate with Tallyrand.

    He may never have said it at all.

    Reply
    1. barefoot charley

      Thanks, I see you’re right. The quote reminds me of Napoleon’s term for Tallyrand in an argument, “a turd in a silk stocking.”

      Reply
  16. ambrit

    I have to grant kudos to the gingerbread Bates Motel project. The screen shown, with the parody of Hitchcock’s multiple image, multiple points of view, technique in respect to the shower scene is masterful, (mistressful?) Something this subtle is not a waste of time. Plus, do I detect a mega meme here? As in, poor Bate’s mummy was quarantined at home, with some ‘dry humour’ resulting.

    Reply
      1. ambrit

        Oooooooooh. At least the artist didn’t try to do it in marzipan.
        I imagine the sound effects for this version of the shower scene will go: “Crunch! Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!” (in a minor chord,) and end with a shot of gingerbread crumbs being washed down the tub drain.

        Reply
  17. JBird4049

    So why does “a Democratic administration [offer] more fertile ground for the left than a Republican one”?

    Hey man, don’t diss the narrative!

    Reply
    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Asked and answered!

      “No one will…. Without a lawyer by their side.”

      Well, it’s really Janice, your plucky AI legal paraprofessional from GoogleLaw.com, with access to all current online caselaw, Big Data and (for a fee) on demand access to live chat consults with an actual degreed attorney in Hyderabad.

      Ain’t life sweet? I feel Good! I feel Better than James Brown!

      Reply
    2. John Anthony La Pietra

      I think it would be more amazing if a mainstream headline asked, “Shouldn’t 99% of Democrats — or Democrats in the 99% — Vote Democratic Socialist? Or Green? Or . . .”

      Reply
  18. chuck roast

    “Washington in talks with chipmakers about building U.S. factories”

    Intel had a huge chip making factory (“fab” they called it) in Rio Rancho, NM for many years. I went by it a year ago and it was closed. My sister-in-law worked there upon its opening. She is in her mid/late 50’s. I heard recently that her brain has lost function and she is in assisted-living requiring full time care. IMO she was poisoned by years of inhaling the toxic stew of chemicals that she was exposed to on a daily basis. I wonder how many anecdotes like this circulate in Nuevo. Best leave the “fabs” where they are.

    Reply
    1. Acacia

      I believe the usual process involves silicon wafers being doped with phosphorus or gallium vapor, then etched with hydrochloric acid, and washed with potassium hydroxide.

      Not exactly stuff you want to breathe or dump into the environment.

      Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      There was a huge chip plant in Eugene, OR, too, heavily (and controversially) subsidized by the city. Lasted maybe 10 years before the company – forget the name – moved on. Don’t know about sick former workers; might be worth looking into.

      Reply
  19. Mikel

    RE: “Why the stock market rally is actually signaling an ‘abnormal’ economic recovery, not a V-shaped coronavirus rebound…”

    V-shaped assumptions ignore all the forces at work to remake the economy and imagines that everyone wants to return to the pre-Covid status quo – everybody has their own and varied reasons.

    Reply
  20. NotTimothyGeithner

    In regards to the hologram of Biden in Fortnite, I guess everyone is so beaten down to notice Biden wants to reach kids in a shooting game.

    Reply
  21. richard

    Hey, I just sort of started on Twitter (Beezus Quimby3 – check me out!) and have a question that relates to a Tweet Lambert used today, the Kennedy boy’s latest brain spasm. I responded in a very direct, terse and funny way and got no response. Now I’m quite used to that, nothing unusual, but I’ve noticed that it always, ALWAYS happens when I’m responding to a tweet by an elected official. Jayapal, Patty Murray, a couple dozen times by now I’ve responded to tweets from office holders, but I never get a bite from anyone. Dead silence. Never an answer, or debate from supporters. Nothing.
    My question is, do some accounts have special settings that promote this? Is there some way this is “fixed” for them too? It just seems to defy the laws of probability is all.

    Reply
  22. smoker

    Sorry, in my last post, currently in moderation, I messed up the ‘blockquote’ html coding, the article quote should have ended after the sentence New York nursing homes now operate with practical impunity., and just before my last, parenthesized paragraph.

    Reply
  23. Person

    New piece from The New Atlantis, “The Analog City and the Digital City“:

    The Digital City disabuses its citizens of a key myth that structured our shared political space: that modern institutions are neutral, that they enjoy a god’s-eye view of reality. The modern scientific enterprise, the press, the university, the justice system, the free market, the technological systems that ordered the modern world, even reason itself were understood as neutral instruments of the common good. In the Digital City, the neutrality of the common good, and so the very notion of the common good, are called into question. The clearest symptom of this may be the mounting challenges to the traditional liberal order and its key institutions, as well as the sudden and dramatic disrepute of the idea of centrism and political compromise.

    In the Digital City, it is increasingly difficult to believe in the neutrality or objectivity of these institutions. This is not because arguments against the liberal order have won the day. Indeed, to believe as much would be to assume that the Analog City still rules. Rather, our trouble believing in neutrality is in part because of the new arrangement of social relations through digital media, which sustains the proliferation of niche identities and brings these into volatile proximity with one another. This new social order is hyper-pluralistic, a place of ceaseless and irresolvable conflict. Our identities take shape as we self-select into ever more narrow subcultures, and we are then drawn together in public forums lacking a sense of a greater whole to which we might all belong.

    The effect is a deeper experience of plurality, without any countervailing centripetal forces. Sundered into multiplicity and without recourse to a common narrative thread, we are bereft of a view of the world held in common. Civility, consensus, and compromise take on the character of fantasies entertained by the naïve or foisted on the public by a self-interested elite.

    This is a great framework for thinking about the causes behind the “internet of beefs“.

    In a way it may be that the information age is ending the brief era of humanism. I think this is the opposite of what most people expected, except for the more pessimistic sci-fi authors. I was in the optimistic camp, a believer in the idea that sharing information would connect us all, help us see the common good in each other, and set the world free. I suppose there is still time for that to come to fruition, but it’s looking less likely now. As McLuhan and Postman and Ong and many others have pointed out, new technology changes our way of thinking. While television shaped us into tuned-out couch potatoes who couldn’t organize a community luncheon, the internet has somehow turned us into hyperagressive tribalists whose idea of “fun” involves pulling wings off virtual flies.

    Prolonged immersion in the information firehose tends to cause burnout, so my hope is that Twitter-style hyperreality is a fad, and the internet will split into the literate net and the TV-style net after enough people fry their brains watching “the feed”.

    Reply
    1. Acacia

      Hey, thanks for the link and your thoughts about it. The era of humanism is under pressure from other angles, as well. I gather that’s what the current academic discourse on the Anthropocene is concerned with. I would agree with the more recent sociologists of media and people like Castells (i.e., post-McLuhan, post-Boorstin, etc.), that we are experiencing a transition from mass society to what Japanese theorists have called a “segmented society” [bunshu shakai]. Where mass media in the last century had the effect of creating large groups (audiences) of people who shared similar experiences (e.g., the moon landing), the evolution of this via Internet has produced a new social landscape in which people today seem to organize and define themselves more narrowly around specific values, tastes, and styles. E.g., by selectively following certain accounts on Twitter (and blocking things you don’t want to see), you can in effect create your own highly-mediated “reality”.

      As for the split between “the literate net and the TV-style net”, couldn’t we say that it’s already very much here? You can watch an endless amount of bizarre stuff on YouTube, or visit /pol/ on 4chan and find a constant stream of truly offensive talk, or you can visit the London Review of Books or McSweeney’s and find something utterly different.

      Reply
      1. Person

        Thanks, I had not heard about the “segmented society” and will look into this more. It sounds a bit like the “bubble” or “echo chamber” effects that were under discussion a few years ago.

        I think that the split is here to some degree, but we still are in a transitional period. There are many people plugged in to the mass social media channels, which are absurdly addictive by design and which encourage the production of shareable “hate reads” and “rage clicks”. But growth is slowing. My hope is that social media users will continue to burn out on this and diverge to either niche platforms or less interactive consumption-focused channels like YouTube and Twitch. On the other hand, Silicon Valley may adapt and find a way to make a profit on less-addictive social media, which might also improve the situation.

        Reply
  24. ambrit

    Another Zeitgeist Watch item.
    I, having a morbid curiosity, check the coronavirus statistics most days, utilizing the ‘service’ embedded in the Weather.com web site. It gives county level data, and so is of use hereabouts.
    Also, there is a list style ranking of world and country figures. Suddenly, the previously top dog spot, which was hosting the figures from America, no longer shows the figures for America. Today, it starts with Spain.
    It seems that this is the result of some sloppy book keeping. The United States appears about half way down the list. Instead of showing one million some odd cases, as before, it now shows one thousand some odd cases. Hmmmmm…. Deflation has begun. Whack three zeros off of the end of the numbers!
    The Treasury Department’s future strategy has been inadvertently revealed!

    Reply
  25. ignacio

    Recent studies showed that cats can transmit the virus to other cats and the WHO is aware of instances of pets of Covid-19 patients being infected, it said in a statement Friday. While precautions should be taken to avoid the infection of pets from close contact with Covid-19 human cases, further evidence is needed to understand if animals and pets can spread the disease.

    I think this is important or at least has the potential to be very important.. The role of pets and farm animals as reservoirs in the spread of human resp. diseases is not well-known but cannot be ignored. Besides, a virus spreading into other host species means that the diversity of virus populations will increase as they adapt to these. Such new variants might have different clinical outcomes. Many milder but a few could be more severe.

    Reply
  26. Victoria

    “If nothing else changes, those 200,000 excess pigs a day become a million pigs a week with nowhere to go but a mass grave.” Spoke to a local farmer who raises pigs the other day and she laughed when I asked about farmers killing them. She insists that that is theater–no-one will do it or can afford to do it, despite meat “processing” crunches. I don’t know what she knows that I don’t but thought it was interesting. Factory farms may be angling for a bailout.

    Reply
  27. smoker

    Re: NY’s Cuomo criticized over highest nursing home death toll

    Looks like they have been criminally under regulated for a very, very, long while, just like California’s (I’m currently witnessing, for the fourth time in ten years, and the third time, in a little over a year the horrid circumstances in for profit (millionaire making) skilled rehab/nursing homes), and no doubt, many or most other states. I just accidentally bumped into the following piece checking a footnote reference while revisiting the Gray Bears’ wiki page, emphasis mine:

    022816 Laurie Kash, Commentary Reform at nursing homes key

    Here is how bad it has gotten: New York state nursing homes cause pervasive harm. And the state Department of Health’s lack of oversight is a major part of the problem.

    My late mother was a poster child for the horrors that occur daily in these facilities. The catastrophic breakdowns in her care did not happen in a vacuum. Horribly, hers is one of many flesh-and-blood examples of systems that are in utter failure and must be held to account.

    I learned all of this only after my mother walked on her own two legs into a nursing home for temporary care, physically intact, and three weeks into her stay became a paraplegic, paralyzed from the chest down. She was injured in repeated episodes of neglect and medical malpractice at the institution entrusted with her care.

    The background: One night my mother fell after a nurse failed to follow a physician’s order detailed in her care plan. Her subsequent 13 days of progressive neurological deterioration and severe pain were ignored or dismissed as exaggerated. Instead of receiving the critical treatment, she was referred to a psychiatrist.

    It took a brief neurological examination by my brother-in-law, a heart surgeon who came from out of town, to diagnose her paralysis. But by then it was too late to reverse her spinal cord injury. My mother spent the remaining three years of her life confined to the nursing home, in a wheelchair, without autonomy or independence.

    We filed a complaint with the Department of Health, which, after six investigations, dismissed most concerns. Despite clear evidence of neglect, DOH found only one deficiency and rated it as “causing no actual harm.” Meanwhile, outside expert physicians saw clear violations of the state’s standards of care, and the record shows that nursing home staff repeatedly violated their own care plans.

    Our family filed a lawsuit against the nursing home and repeatedly asked the state to act. DOH stonewalled us. I prepared a “Contrast Study” in 2013, comparing my mother’s case to one in which the state shut down a nursing home, and submitted it to the state health commissioner. Even after seeing these documented disparities in applying federal and New York law, DOH took no meaningful action.

    Finally, two years ago, I approached the state comptroller’s office with my study, along with fellow advocates at New Yorkers for Patient and Family Empowerment, the Gray Panthers, and other organizations. We asked for an Audit and Policy Analysis of DOH’s Nursing Home Oversight agency, which was last done 16 years ago in 1999. Thankfully, the comptroller agreed to conduct this long-overdue audit. It is what I hope will be the beginning of the resuscitation of our state’s lapsed nursing home oversight.

    In my nine-year pursuit of nursing home reform, I have encountered countless family members experiencing agony and incredulity at the harm done to their loved ones by the state’s systemic dysfunction. New York nursing homes now operate with practical impunity.

    (Sorry in advance, but I can’t nest a response to any comments on this – as allowing scripting is currently crashing my computer – my only option is to post at the bottom of the page, which likely won’t be noticed. I’m only posting this because people need to be highly aware of what hell holes the US has allowed nursing facilities to become. It strikes me as particularly evil when it’s in a for profit facility that’s made a handful of predators millionaires, which has repeatedly happened in California for at least the decade that I first witnessed it with my parent (in a skilled rehab/nursing home for physical rehabilitation) and started studying it, likely the decades before that too. The experience was made all the more horrid by the fact that the Los Angeles couple who owned the for profit, DOJ sued (for elder abuse) facility, were major millionaire, political contributors/fund raisers; perhaps Ed Buck took a cue from them.)
    smoker
    smoker@smoker.com

    Reply
  28. smoker

    Sigh, I made the same blockquote coding mistake again, as I made yesterday in my above comment at 9:40 AM. The article quote should have ended after the sentence New York nursing homes now operate with practical impunity., and just before my last, parenthesized paragraph.

    Too overwhelmed with the potential fate of my loved one, just recently knowingly and needlessly dumped in yet another totally understaffed and resourced, For Profit SNF/Nursing Home for skilled rehab, with at least one covid-19 patient. After negligence all the way around. Horrid hospitals; horridly run State and County health departments; horrid Property Managers of Millionaire owned HUD Subsidized Housing; a horridly broken home housing support system; and a broken ombudsperson system play a role in this also.

    Reply
  29. smoker

    Just realized I referenced a Gray Bears’ wiki page in my 05/12/20 9:40 AM post above – there is a Grey Bears organization in Northern California, and my mind burped – I meant, the Gray Panthers wiki page (see reference 14). Too bad there is no longer a Gray Panthers organization in the stunningly wealthy Covid-19 Hotspot County my loved one was dumped in from another stunningly wealthy California County; with far, far, far fewer covid-19 deaths and cases.

    Apologies for the error, again, I am so broken after over a solid year of disasters and increasing bad access, particularly the horrid, punitive and broken phone systems existent and lack of promised and TIMELY callbacks in the healthcare industry and government regulatory agencies. After a time, this provokes righteous outrage, but the horrid people provoking it, use it against the patient’s loved ones when their volume raises above the gentle tone one tried to use. Just for one, the inability to communicate with loved ones in Nursing Facilities when one is unable to visit, has been going on far, far longer than when Covid-19 exposed it.

    Also, in the now horrid Hospitals which dump patients in Nursing Facilities and don’t inform family members, it does not matter at all whether one has an Advanced Health Care Directive, loved ones are treated like terrorists and blocked from information if they ask any incriminating questions (even threatened with police involvement if they push back).

    Reply

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