2:00PM Water Cooler 5/6/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


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.

New York continues flirting with a geometric rate of 1.0, so here are the top ten (worst) states. Seeing some swing states there.

* * *

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.


“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

* * *


Biden (D)(1): “It Would Be Completely Absurd to Force Biden Out of the Race” [New York Magazine]. “All the writers now urging this were fervent Biden opponents during the primary. None of them seem to have considered that the overwhelming majority of Democrats who voted for him might be upset over denying the nominee they picked over something he may or may not have done in 1993. Indeed, none of them seem even remotely troubled at the prospect of the party elite functionally disenfranchising its own electorate. The point at which their argument gets around to the question of replacing the hated Biden is where the mechanics of their proposal break down completely. Replacing Kavanaugh was straightforward. He was selected by a single person. Biden was nominated by a lengthy, almost absurdly complex, and essentially democratic process.” • Nonsense. What we learned from the 2020 primaries is that of Obama gave his blessing to Strom Thurmond’s corpse, Democrat loyalists would fall right in line. Removing the hyperbole, if Obama wants to get rid of Biden, two weeks of bad news cycles would let him swap in Cuomo (say) and the two of them would be hailed for saving the Republic.

Biden (D)(2): “The Agony of Joe Biden” [Back-Country Populist]. “Like 2016, the Democrats are completely failing to read the room. The Democratic Party- the historic defender of rural, far-flung corners of the country and the longtime champion of the working class- has become a country club dominated by wealthy, white progressives. And while Democrats continue to perform among the lowest earners, it is more affluent, credentialed, and urban than ever before. After all, beginning in 2012, the wealthiest 4% of Americans have overwhelmingly voted Democratic. The richest 15% of House districts today are represented by Democrats and as Hillary Clinton infamously observed, those counties that voted for her in 2016 account for 64% of the nation’s GDP. Trump and his Republican insurgents, on the other hand, are transforming the GOP into the party of America’s working-class by capitalizing on the growing unhappiness and anger bubbling up in America’s middle class.” • So far as I can tell, the Bidne campaign won’t be relying on door-knocking (unlike the Sanders campaign and, amazingly enough, the Trump campaign), relying instead on “Five Minutes of Hate” from loyalists to drive turnout (it worked in 2018) and their control of the high ground in the media (and the intelligence community). Old school.

Biden (D)(3): “Amid Pandemic, Billionaire Donors Swarm To Biden, As Trump’s Support Falters” [Forbes]. “As the coronavirus pandemic took hold of America, a record number of billionaires backed Joe Biden, putting him ahead of Donald Trump in terms of support from America’s wealthiest. Thirty-two billionaires and their spouses backed Biden in March versus 14 who gave to President Trump that same month. Altogether 94 billionaires have now donated to Biden versus 90 who have given to Trump since he started fundraising in 2017. Biden has the momentum. The former vice president received contributions from 27 billionaires or their spouses for the first time in March; contributions from 13 of them came after Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency on March 13, 2020, according to the Federal Election Commission filings. (Contributions to super PACs were not included in this analysis.)” • With handy map:

Sanders (D)(1): “The Majority of Americans Aren’t Scared Off by Policies Like Medicare for All” [Jacobin]. “This analysis assumes that most voters have an ideology — an organized structure of political ideas — that runs counter to Bernie’s socialism. In this telling, the “centrists” or “moderates” in the Democratic Party won. In fact, the struggle within the party is not between the center and the Left but between high-income older voters, who are more active in the primaries, and low-income young voters. In fixating on ideology, the media has obscured class disparities and refused to acknowledge the electoral strength of the systematically disadvantaged — including, in an era haunted by climate change, the young.” • The old is dying and the new is struggling to be born…

Warren (D)(1):

* * *

Obama Legacy

“Michelle Obama Is Mad at ‘Our Folks,’ Not Trump Voters: ‘That’s My Trauma'” [The Daily Beast]. “‘It takes some energy to go high, and we were exhausted from it. Because when you are the first black anything…’ [Michelle Obama] said, referencing anecdotes from her Becoming book. ‘So the day I left the White House and I write about how painful it was to sit on that [inauguration] stage. A lot of our folks didn’t vote. It was almost like a slap in the face.’ ‘I understand the people who voted for Trump,’ she continued. ‘The people who didn’t vote at all, the young people, the women, that’s when you think, man, people think this is a game. It wasn’t just in this election. Every midterm. Every time Barack didn’t get the Congress he needed, that was because our folks didn’t show up. After all that work, they just couldn’t be bothered to vote at all. That’s my trauma.” • Pull up your pants, n****. And have a slice of my pound cake.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Relaxing Household Liquidity Constraints through Social Security” [Sylvain Catherine, Max Miller, Natasha Sarin SSRN (JS)]. “We show that giving workers early access to just 1% of their future Social Security benefits allows most households to maintain their current consumption for at least two months. Unlike other approaches (like early access to retirement accounts, stimulus relief checks, and expanded unemployment insurance), access to Social Security serves the needs of workers made vulnerable by the crisis, but does not increase the overall liabilities of the federal government or have distortionary effects on the labor market.” • Totally like heating your house by throwing the furniture into the fireplace. Natasha Sarin is on the power track for young liberal Democrat economists at The Hamilton Project. I wonder if she’ll climb a few more rungs up the ladder in a Biden administration?

The lanyard class:

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.

Employment: “April 2020 ADP Employment Declines 20,236,000” [Econintersect]. “The total number of job losses for the month of April alone was more than double the total jobs lost during the Great Recession…. Last month’s employment gain was cut. This month the coronavirus had a major impact on jobs. ADP employment has not been a good predictor of BLS non-farm private job growth.”

* * *

Big Ag: “Coronavirus infects more than 1,600 workers at four Iowa meatpacking plants” [Des Moines Register]. “More than 1,600 workers at four Iowa meatpacking plants have been infected with the coronavirus, state health officials reported Tuesday. The worst-hit factory is the Tyson pork processing plant in Perry, where 730 workers tested positive for the virus, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported. That means that 58% of the workers who were tested at the plant had the virus, Deputy Public Health Department Director Sarah Reisetter said at the state’s daily news conference about the pandemic. The plant in Waterloo had 444 workers test positive, which was 17% of those tested. The one in Columbus Junction has 221 workers test positive, which was 26% of those tested. At the Iowa Premium Beef plant in Tama, 258 workers tested positive, which was 39% of those tested, she said.”

Shipping: “Trucking companies are parking their fleet-expansion plans with unprecedented speed. Orders for heavy-duty trucks plunged last month to the lowest level on record” [Wall Street Journal]. “Transport research group FTR says it was the lowest order level it has seen in tracking that goes back to 1996, even exceeding the pullback during the 2008-2009 financial crisis. The decline is part of a broad slowdown in the transportation equipment market as companies cope with the deep economic downturn along with the safety of their own workers.”

Shipping: “A dramatic squeeze in airfreight capacity is pushing companies around the world to choose between sky-high shipping costs and exceptionally long delivery timelines. Postal services and even perishables exporters in Australia are among those turning to slower ocean transport services” [Wall Street Journal]. “The withdrawal of thousands of passenger flights left overall global airfreight capacity down 25% from a year ago, even after freighter operations accelerated to make up for lost passenger-plane space. That has sent air-cargo prices rocketing higher.”

Apparel: “Vietnam may become the largest exporter of clothing to the US” [Textile Focus]. “As soon as the COVID-19 subsidies are issued, Vietnam may become the largest exporter of clothing to the US. After the first two months of 2020 have analyzed the trend in clothing trade and anticipating the remainder of the year. Vietnam exported $2.38 billion worth of clothing in January-February 2020 to the US, which marked an rise of 3.50 per cent. It constitutes 18.80% of overall imports of clothes from the United States. Vietnam’s share in the US apparel market was 16.17 per cent in the corresponding period of 2019 and this indicates the share has significantly surged in 2020. On the other hand, China, the largest apparel exporter to the US, shipped apparels worth $2.69 billion with a drastic fall of 40.66 per cent.”

Apparel: “Business relationships in global apparel supply chains are unraveling. High-stakes disputes between manufacturers and their customers have exploded across the garment industry… as payments are delayed and retailers cancel orders while they cope with closed stores and plunging sales” [Wall Street Journal]. “Factories in Asia that have paid raw-material, labor and other costs say they have been left holding huge consignments of clothing or seen them disappear into distribution channels without payment. Many say they have little recourse as apparel contracts have shifted to give importers more flexibility. That is in part because many retailers have moved away from use of letters of credit, a once-common backstop guaranteeing payment through banks, and instead rely on an open-account system that is light on enforcement. The shift has been tough on apparel factories that often pay for labor and material costs out of pocket or with debt.” • Hmm. “[M]oved away from use of letters of credit” is a little light on agency.. Do we have any readers with insight on how this happened?

Pandemic: “Perspectives from Main Street: The Impact of COVID-19 on Communities and the Entities Serving Them” (PDF) [Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta]. “This report offers findings of a survey designed to collect information on the effects of COVID-19 on communities and the entities serving them.” n=3899 nonprofit organizations, financial institutions, government agencies and other community organizations. More: “Over one-third of respondents (35%) indicated it will take more than 12 months for their communities to return to the conditions prior to the disruption from COVID-19. … A quarter of respondents (25%) indicated their entity could operate for less than three months in the current environment before exhibiting financial distress.” • So, May, June, July…

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 42 Fear (previous close: 43 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 46 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 6 at 12:38pm.

The Biosphere

“Making commodity chemicals requires fossil fuels. New devices could do it with renewables” [Nature]. “As windmills and solar panels multiply, the supply of renewable electricity sometimes exceeds demand. Chemists would like to put the excess to work making commodity chemicals, such as the raw materials for fertilizer and plastics, which are now produced with heat, pressure, and copious fossil fuels. The electrochemical cells that can harness renewable electricity to make these compounds have been too slow to be practical. Now, two groups report redesigning the cells to achieve a dramatic speedup—perhaps enough to put green industrial chemistry within reach…. One research group uses carbon dioxide (CO2) as its starting material to make ethanol, a fuel, and ethylene, a starting point for plastics; the other turns nitrogen (N2) into ammonia (NH3), a key component in fertilizer. Both owe their progress to advances in the catalyst-coated electrodes that drive chemical reactions between gases and liquids.”

Health Care

“Spike mutation pipeline reveals the emergence of a more transmissible form of SARS-CoV-2” (preprint) [bioRxiv (Phacops)]. “We have developed an analysis pipeline to facilitate real-time mutation tracking in SARS-CoV-2, focusing initially on the Spike (S) protein because it mediates infection of human cells and is the target of most vaccine strategies and antibody-based therapeutics. … The mutation Spike D614G is of urgent concern; it began spreading in Europe in early February, and when introduced to new regions it rapidly becomes the dominant form. Also, we present evidence of recombination between locally circulating strains, indicative of multiple strain infections. These finding have important implications for SARS-CoV-2 transmission, pathogenesis and immune interventions.” • And vaccines. A comment the paper and on media coverage (the Los Angeles Times):

The whole thread is worth reading.

“Humoral immune response and prolonged PCR positivity in a cohort of 1343 SARS-CoV 2 patients in the New York City region” (preprint) [medRxiv]. “Here we show that the vast majority of confirmed COVID19 patients seroconvert, 26 potentially providing immunity to reinfection. We also report that in a large proportion of 27 individuals, viral genome can be detected via PCR in the upper respiratory tract for weeks post 28 symptom resolution, but it is unclear if this signal represents infectious virus.” •

“Feds Quietly Seek to Remove Leading Cause of Vaccine Injuries From Federal Payout Program” [NBC]. “A division of the Department of Health and Human Services is proposing to remove the leading cause of vaccine injuries from the federal program that compensates victims…. It’s called SIRVA, short for shoulder injury related to vaccine administration. It’s happened to thousands of people across the country who went in for a simple vaccine, just like millions do each year. But the location of the shot on their arm or the angle at which it was given caused the life-changing injury.”

“Cardiovascular Disease, Drug Therapy, and Mortality in Covid-19” [NEJM]. “Our study confirmed previous observations suggesting that underlying cardiovascular disease is associated with an increased risk of in-hospital death among patients hospitalized with Covid-19. Our results did not confirm previous concerns regarding a potential harmful association of ACE inhibitors or ARBs with in-hospital death in this clinical context.”

Class Warfare

There’s a lesson here for all of us:

Acela Corridor:

But not forever!

“Our Broken Unemployment System Is a National Scandal” [Vice]. “[I]f unprecedented unemployment is a five-alarm national emergency, then our backlogged unemployment insurance system should be treated as a true national scandal—an unnecessary and wholly avoidable extra crisis at the worst possible time… But to wave off what’s happening as an expected consequence of an unprecedented situation papers over the fact that our dilapidated unemployment insurance system was deliberately designed to keep certain people from accessing benefits, long before coronavirus came around…. Our country’s social programs have long been built around an ethos of framing people either as ‘deserving’ or ‘undeserving’ of benefits [or, as we say today, “essential” (and not essential]. It’s a racist trope furthered by Ronald Reagan’s welfare queen myth and the Bill Clinton era of welfare reform… This ethos can be seen throughout an unemployment insurance system that, like most of our welfare state, is built to prioritize rooting out “fraud” rather than get benefits quickly to the people who need them.” • This is worth reading in full. I don’t know what the heck’s happened to Vice, that it’s suddenly worth reading.

“There Is Only One Way Out of the COVID-19 Economic Crisis” [Daniel Carpenter and Darrick Hamilton, Slate]. “The current recession is steep and severe, and even under optimistic scenarios, millions of the jobs now lost are not coming back. Meanwhile, any successful test-fueled rush to “reopen” the country and get back to the America of January 2020 will only return us to a world in which, despite low official unemployment rates, four in 10 Americans reported that they could not readily meet an emergency $400 expense, millions were reliant upon gig work without benefits, our infrastructure crumbled, and our government was caught flat-footed in the face of a public health crisis. Such a rush will also likely lead to mass death on a scale beyond what we’ve already seen and is most likely simply impossible to succeed in returning us to the old normal. January 2020 is not a status quo to which we can or should try blindly to return. Instead, like President Franklin Roosevelt did in the 1940s, we call for a federal job guarantee that would create millions of jobs, end involuntary unemployment, and build out necessary and resilient public infrastructure. Unlike the stimulus ideas that have dominated Washington to date, a direct government hiring initiative would address inequality; build robust capacity in public health, conservation, education, and infrastructure; and provide not just stable jobs, but government capacity to meet the current pandemic and economic crisis as well as the next one.” • Which is why we should elect Joe Biden.

News of the Wired

“When It’s Hard to Take a Deep Breath” [Current Affairs]. “The incessant torrent of urgent and conflicting information is enough to make you hyperventilate, even if you’ve never had a single symptom of asthma (or any other respiratory illness, for that matter). It doesn’t matter how savvy of a news consumer you are. You can ‘listen to the experts’ like the CDC or WHO all you want, but what they say on Monday is often quite different from what they say on Friday…. How is anyone supposed to breathe in conditions like these?”

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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 (CR):

TH writes: “I took this one because I liked the gold leaves.” I like the layers of color. This is what it feels like to stand in the woods and decide whether to move forward or not.

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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.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      No worries. If it’s an open thread I say so explicitly. I was just trying to lure people into taking their naps by being two minutes late. (Seriously, I’m always trying to add just one more link.)

      It’s a good question. My answer is that I want cash now, not tax credits. Liberal Democrats are in love with tax credits, I assume because they’re complicated and don’t seem like expenditures, because big gummint bad, as everyone knows.

      1. jo6pac

        I took my nap a little earlier so I could be here near starting time;-)

        TH, Great Picture

      2. Pat

        Also tax credits, like tax cuts are bipartisan.

        My opinion, not only does it delay getting money into the hands of people who need it now, it also cuts out a fair number of people who need it now. Not everyone is going to qualify for it.

        It might be Warren’s idea of something that will pass, but more likely just another “I’m on the side of the angels, but really don’t want to do anything to upset the apple cart suggestion.”

        1. JBird4049

          Tax cuts are always easy to pass while getting payments done takes work between the Democrats and Republicans. Tax cuts also always favor the well off instead of the poors or the working classes. The one major exception is the EITC (Earned Income Tax Credits)

          It is unlikely, but not impossible that more direct stimulus will be passed. The Turtle could merely be using the economic suffering to give strip away more legal rights from workers and to give more money to the already monied. Between the calamitous effects of reopening the country to COVID19 and the lack of income we’re going to simply crash what is left of the economy.

          My guess is that Mitch McConnell will finally accept the need for more direct stimulus (and by then the payments will have to be greater than they would have been earlier), but the effects of the second greater wave of infections as well as the expanding collapse of the economy will take months, I think, to get through to Congress especially the Senate. I would say by June/July that they panic and in August/September the next stimulus will finally reach most Americans.

    2. Chris

      Not a worry :)

      As for increasing the EITC, sure, that’s a great idea. But it is in no way sufficient for the needs we had prior to this crisis and it is woefully inadequate now. People don’t need tax money and the related means tested shenanigans that come with them. They need cash. Now. EITC isn’t going to do that. But if increasing it gets our congresscritters over the hump to support direct cash supplements to citizens, I’m all for it.

      1. ambrit

        However, increasing the EITC can also be a useful tool for letting Congresscritters not support direct cash supplements. “See. We have already dealt with the problem. Now just be patient while the ‘wealth’ trickles down from on high.”

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        I concur.
        if EITC expansion can be a gateway drug for critters to end up doing Real Stimulus(“stimulus” is a terrible word for this), then sure…lets do that.
        I like EITC…we’ve taken full advantage of it since we became eligible/Parents….I built this house i’m sitting in with 5 years worth of EITC=No Mortgage and No Rent.
        But it’s gonna take more than that…especially since EITC relies on figuring your Income, and with…what?…50% unemployment?
        congress better go on and have their come to jesus moment right quick, or there will be blood.
        There’s a lot of frustration and fear out there.

    3. Tom Doak

      The main difference is the payER — increasing the EITC would mean the government gave back more in taxes, but businesses could keep profiting off the backs of their workers without paying any more salary.

      And, of course, strangling out those payments in time would be a lot easier to do if it only means strangling government, because taxpayers will consistently vote against taxes.

    4. Louis Fyne

      IMO, Warren is showing his true Rockefeller Rep. colors—-as (imo) a universal income is a better idea. There are literally millions of people on some form of disability to whom a EITC expansion does no good as they do not have the physical ability to work.

      And universal income gets rid of bureaucratic bloat—-but bureaucratic bloat = union government jobs, so no wonder Team Dem. tried to ignore Andrew Yang as much as possible.


      1. Bsoder

        Rockefeller that be the original eh? The old man who’d be worth a trillion dollars in today’s dollars. Ya, if you nothing about him you might think he had the morals of modern hedge fund manager or Axe in Billions. He was hard on the business end of things, not so much with his family, nor the communities he lived in. Warren got his start in hedge funds. He’s been on a really rant of late. Too bad. What is it with this either or thinking. Some things related to climate heating are best left to the government- one beholden to the people. Others if you going to have welfare then make it robust like in Sweden, et al.

      2. EricT

        The Dems have made it abundantly clear that they don’t care about unions for the past 40 years.

      3. Oh

        Warren Buffet is a phony. He talks but never walks the talk when he talks about the regressive tax rates He is an insurance moghul a la AARP besides other things. Of course he would not favor any increase in the minimum wage.

      4. Procopius

        … bureaucratic bloat = union government jobs, so no wonder Team Dem. tried to ignore Andrew Yang as much as possible.

        Objection! Assumes facts not in evidence. There is no indication “Team Dem.” desires or even approves of government unions. /s

    5. Glen

      Raise the minimum wage. If it had kept pace with growth it would be about $22/hr.

      But honestly, that discussion is over. We have over 30 million RECENT unemployed, you add that to the chronically underemployed, and people who gave up looking after the 2008 recession, I would wager we are close to 50 million or more people who need a income and/or job.

      We need a jobs program, we need to rebuild our infrastructure, something like the New Deal. Maybe we can call it a Green New Deal. Seems I heard about that somewhere.

      However, it looks like the DC elites have bailed out their billionaire owners, and so all the rest of us will get is a descent into a dystopian libertarian paradise.

      1. periol

        Personally I like the idea I read recently of a maximum wage, along with raising the minimum wage. Actually tax capital gains, and we might start getting somewhere.

        1. wilroncanada

          I think the maximum wage suggestion came from a video of a particular WWE Pres. candidate-for-a-minute arguing with a couple of neolibs.

          1. JCC

            I’ve been hearing various maximum wage proposals on and off for at least 30 years. The former Governor was not the first to mention it, and he won’t be the last.

      2. Pookah Harvey

        As Yang pointed out there is not enough work for the number of workers available due to increased productivity.
        There are 3 solutions
        1. UBI
        2. Guaranteed Jobs Program
        3. Decreased Work Week

        You can tie 2 and 3 together. Have a government guaranteed jobs program that has full pay for a 30 hour work week. This will force the private sector to reduce their work week due to the competition. Thereby decreasing the dependence on the government to take up the excess work force without any government regulatory action.

        1. Bsoder

          So you see reality as MIT would have it everything Is possible, between AI, Skynet, & robots there’s not going to any work for anyone? Thing is Covid-19 is never going away. Worse Global Climate Heating and are complete inability to get anything done means there is going to plenty of needs that require people working locally in their communities to provide the food and other things people need. It won’t be hi-tech. But it will be a much better life than people have now. *(I pick on MIT because I went there).

        2. Left in Wisconsin

          As Yang pointed out there is not enough work for the number of workers available due to increased productivity.

          This is a fallacy-of-composition argument. The fact that productivity is going up in some businesses/industries does not imply that overall productivity is rising rapidly (the last decade has had the slowest measured aggregate productivity growth on record) or that overall employment is due to decline. Also a “this time it’s different” argument. Productivity has been increasing since the invention of the steam engine but we have never run out of work. Not sure why this time is supposed to be different.

          There is virtually unlimited work available in home health care/senior care (i.e wiping other people’s butts).

          1. David R Smith

            You’re absolutely right, and Andrew Yang is absolutely wrong. For example, labor could become artisanal again, instead of submerged into industrial mass production.

          2. Pookah Harvey

            Put Yang together with Graeber’s Bull Sh#t jobs. There is a limited number of real jobs that actually are productive that are becoming more efficient. The BS jobs are taking up the slack (essentially the PMC). The number of administrative jobs has skyrocketed during the last few decades. Tell me how productive having a dozen assistants to the Vice President of Public Relations is.
            The coming recession (if not depression) will reveal this IMHO. We will then have to address the problem.
            The work week was lowered to 40 hours without any great strain on the economy. Now the US workforce works more hours than any other advanced economy. Isn’t it time for US workers to have a living wage and the free time to enjoy it.

            1. Basil Pesto

              While I’m convinced Bullshit Jobs are real, I’m not sure the book ever demonstrated that they exist because of a limit on the number of ‘real jobs’ (cf bullshit ones) out there.

        3. Lil’D

          There may not be enough jobs in private firms in the current neoliberal world but there are plenty of jobs that could exist to provide public goods. Plant trees, repair roads, lay down fiber, make art… no shortage of useful endeavors. They currently don’t exist as potential jobs because the private sector hasn’t figured out how to profit from them.

    6. Bugs Bunny

      Doesn’t work for people who don’t even know what to do with taxes. Imagine what someone without banking services thinks of a tax credit. It just disappears. That’s why it has bipartisan support.

    7. John Zelnicker

      May 6, 2020 at 2:04 pm

      The EITC is a refundable tax credit that is almost exclusively for families with children under 17. There is a very small credit available to very low income individuals with no children.

      The major requirement is that the taxpayer have Earned Income as the name says. That eliminates anyone who receives only Social Security or a pension or receives passive income such as from real estate. In addition, there are a number of other qualifying conditions that must be met.

      The benefit rises with income to a point, then declines to zero as income continues to rise, ending for those with income above about $50k (it varies according to the number of children).

      Like the unemployment compensation systems, the focus of enforcement is on rooting out fraud. In fact, recent data indicates that the US county with the highest per capita number of IRS audits is a poor county in the Mississippi Delta region south of Memphis. These are all EITC audits looking for, at most, $4,000 to $5,000.

      Other comments above have covered all of the major issues with the EITC, so I won’t repeat them, except to note that if Congress does increase the EITC, no one will get it until they file their tax returns next year.

      1. JBird4049

        >>no one will get it until they file their tax returns next year.

        This is why I think that Congress has too many who are malevolent, misinformed, or just do not care about the increasing economic collapse with any talk about “debt” and “our children’s future” just a smokescreen; if they were serious about debt and about stopping the collapse, they would be doing large direct stimulus right now to the average American. That is the only way to even slow the collapse and it also reduces the amount of stimulus spent in the future as it will cost more money to rebuild instead of maintaining the economy.

    8. Donald

      Thanks to everyone for all the replies. I understand the issue better now.

      I sort of like Buffet, but maybe I’m wrong. One thing I have noticed lately, or rather, something I have become consciously aware of, is a form of virtue signaling where there will be articles about inequality and how terrible it is, but no policy proposal strong enough to take care of the problem. For example, the NYT started this series on inequality right after it became clear that Biden would be the nominee. So it is okay to write about lower life expectancy in the working class once it is clear that nothing really serious will be done to solve the problem.

      There probably needs to be a name for this behavior, something more specific than “ virtue signaling”.

    9. albrt

      Warren Buffet owns Dairy Queen. Of course he doesn’t want to increase the minimum wage.

    1. voteforno6

      There was a lot of other stuff going on in Germany around that time as well.

  1. Krystyn Podgajski

    “How is anyone supposed to breathe in conditions like these?”

    Stop reading the news and take a walk.

      1. D. Fuller

        Wait unitl the pandemic is over before comparison. The 1918 America Swine Flu Pandemic killed more also.

        Also consider that not all deaths due to Cv-19, Cv-19 aggravating existing conditions; are being recorded properly.

        At best, the number of CONFIRMED infections and CONFIRMED deaths? Leaves out those infections and deaths that authorities do not know about or are misclassifying.

        1. allan

          Already, the body count trutherism has begun.

          First Brit Hume with, `They died with COVID-19, not of COVID-19.’

          And now, straight from the top:

          Trump and some top aides question accuracy of virus death toll

          … A senior administration official said he expects the president to begin publicly questioning the death toll as it closes in on his predictions for the final death count and damages him politically. …

          Always be closing.

      2. Jack Parsons

        The spread of the coronavirus is due to two things:
        1) how dense is the population, and
        2) how dense is the population

      3. SteveW

        What would the numbers be if much of the world has not gone social distancing, masking or other such measures. 3 times, 10 times, or more? Hong Kong and Taiwan both have single digit deaths. They all use masks and are socially conscious of the infection. What would their death toll be if they just go about life as usual. If one wish to go about carelessly and get infected, go ahead but don’t use the medical systems.

  2. John

    People got no jobs. People got no money. People need jobs. People need money. What good is a tax credit? Can you eat a tax credit? Does a tax credit pay the rent?

    Our DC millionaires really need to pull their heads out into the sunshine and really look at the whole population.

    Temporarily rescuing the landlords and the banks solves nothing. When mortgages and rents are unpaid, when businesses remain closed, when trade is not moving, when bankers are too scared, as they always seem to be, to do more than stay in one place, there is no where to go but down.

    We are facing a depression and manipulating numbers will not solve it. Financialization is the trap the greed heads walked into now they want to be saved from their missteps and if it destroys almost everyone, well, so be it. Face it guys. You are going to take a big hit and things are not going to be as you thought they were in January.

    1. TMoney

      #PrimeThePump. A big one-time (no danger of “lazy proles”) payment say $20K each, to give consumers money to …well… consume. It must be big enough that we little people go and spend it on goods and services and not just enough to dig out the hole we are in. It must (like the hashtag say) prime the economic pump.

      Otherwise it’s 10 years of great depression speed recovery and hand wringing.

      1. JohnnySacks

        Agreed that a bottom up approach is long overdue. The ‘prime the pump’ analogy works for things like food and dining, but isn’t valid if most of the money cycles through WalMart, Home Depot, and Amazon into China or into the hands of finance and rent extraction. Other than boutique brands, we as a nation can’t even make our own socks and shoes anymore so the pump we end up priming will still suck the life out of our industries and communities. It would be a dream to look back in 50 years to this time and see some WPA level projects built from a jobs guarantee, of course alongside the landfills full of consumer goods.

        1. Bsoder

          Few changes in the bankruptcy code and we have a debt holiday, like it or not. Then we roll out MMT and get people going.

      2. HotFlash

        #PrimeThePump. A big one-time (no danger of “lazy proles”) payment say $20K each, to give consumers money to …well… consume.

        I can see a couple of problems with that.

        First, the record of people doing well with large windfalls (believe me, $20k is large to folks who can’t raise $400 for an emergency) is poor. See, lottery winners, exhibits A, B, and C. Handling unaccustomed amounts of $$$ is not easy to do successfully.
        Second, consumption is not the primary goal of life, it is only the primary goal of the people who profit from consumption. #PrimeThePump — yeah, but what does it pump? And to where? Most of that $20k will be in the hands of the .01% pretty darn quick. Walmart and Amazon, maybe some car manufacturers, landlords of course, some real estate people, and an assortment of ‘financial advisors’.

        What we really need is a steady livable income, perhaps a job guarantee, but *not* for 40 hour weeks (we don’t need that much ‘work’ done!) should do us fine and leave us time to enjoy our lives, our families and friends, and our lovely world.

        1. J7915

          My mother lived, worked and kept her hair dresser business afloat during the currency reform in Germany, in West Berlin in 1948 (?). She said that essentialy every small business received 100 Marks
          above the standard 10 Marks that every German was given…and within weeks if not months the poor were poor and the wealthy were wealthy again.

          1. TMoney

            This West German thing in 1948 is a bit of economic history I’ve never looked at. All sorts to be learned there.

            I’ve got some profound thinking to do with the comments from this afternoon.

            There’s the question of what sort of economy we want, and then when do we want it ?
            (utopia – tomorrow please)
            Then there’s the question of what could we actually get if we play within the current play book or a bit outside it. (bailouts or better ?)
            Then there’s what we are likely to get. (shudder)

            Even if my idea wasn’t great, these responses have gifted me several rabbit holes to go down. They also covered just about all the stuff above in some form or another.

            I love NC because no matter what, it feeds the brain in unexpected ways.

        2. JBird4049

          Plenty of people would manage any windfall well, but because there are those who can’t, just break the windfall into separate smaller payments for everyone. Ten payments of $2000 each would probably be just as an effective pump primer especially as most people honestly just don’t want to be homeless and hungry.

          Also, Congress’ nonchalant dithering, debating, and general virtue signalling is in someways worse than not having a stimulus. If Congress had the same understanding that over 80% of Americans have of the seriousness of the collapse, we would not have this national embarrassment. That so much of Congress is so truly unable to see what almost everyone else can see just with a minuscule effort, shows just how determined that they are to be dysfunctional, which is helped by becoming blind.

    2. HotFlash

      People don’t need jobs. What people need is food, clothing, shelter, friendship, meaningful work and beauty. Under the current system, we need money to get any of those things. That doesn’t have to be. Our species needs to care for and continue itself (well, I suppose that’s debatable). Unfortunately, many (most?) of the jobs, esp those that pay well*, are unnecessary and destructive. We really need to rethink what we humans need in our lives, what we want to do with our only-get-one-per-person lives, and set about making it happen.

      *Oddly, or not, the amount of unnecessariness and destruction seems to correlate directly to compensation.

      1. Chef

        “People don’t need jobs. What people need is food, clothing, shelter, friendship, meaningful work and beauty.”

        Thus spoke Vonnegut in Player Piano.

      2. Procopius

        People don’t need jobs. What people need is food, clothing, shelter, friendship, meaningful work and beauty.

        That “meaningful work” is something the New Dealers recognized. They saw the demand coming from the people who were out of work too. That was why Harry Hopkins was able to create four million jobs in only two months with the CWA, a greater mobilization effort than the armed forces’ mobilization for The Great War. There were debates in the cabinet over how much welfare could be tolerated without demoralizing the unemployed. The push for a jobs program started early on. A lot of the work wasn’t very meaningful, but there was an amazing amount that was.

  3. Louis Fyne

    re: Michelle Obama. shaking my head. election day 2008 was a blank check for Obama and the Democrats—Democrats even won Indiana!

    the voters didn’t let down the Dem. Establishment. It was the other way around. But the unworthy plebs are too dumb to know that obviously. /sarc

    1. ambrit

      “America Needs Two Mommies!”
      “Hillary and Michelle for Co-Presidents!”
      “Think outside the FEMA camp wire!”
      “America Needs Your Sacrifice Now!”

      1. Monty

        Hillary and Michelle losing big in 2020 would be the antidote to the rest of this horrible year.

        1. Synoia

          And they’d appoint Typhoid Mary to handle the Corona Virus plague

          She’d be the best qualified.

    2. Carolinian

      Apparently Michelle’s whole message in Becoming is about how even someone like her from slave ancestors (the ultimate underclass) can go on to become a “presidential,” the club she included herself in when asked why she was taking candy from Bush jr. Or as Reverend Ike used to say: the best way to help the poor is not to become one of them (not that I’m comparing Michelle to Ike).

      Meanwhile Trump’s aspirations all seem to be in the other direction–born with a silver spoon in his mouth but prefers to identify with the Big Mac eaters and the high school educated. No Arugula for him. Thus we have a wacky fake class war of reverse aspirations. The pretend populists actually identify with the rich while the rich Republican pretends to identify with the poor.

      In any case seems unlikely that Michelle will take the time and trouble to join the actual political fray. After all she’s already a “presidential.” Mission accomplished

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      “Becoming”: How to relentlessly repeat simple, first person pronouns for fun and unbelievable profit.

      Whether you prefer the nominative or objective case, singular or plural, this book and companion film demonstrate the use of these simple words for a self-aggrandizing payday you would not have believed possible.

      I, me, we, us–don’t be shy. Order your copies TODAY. Supplies are limited. Shipping and handling included.

    4. Will S.

      Seriously, you have to wonder in what universe Barack “didn’t get the Congress he needed”… a supermajority in the Senate and control of the House isn’t enough? What would have been?

      1. Acacia

        Mirrorverse in which Obama has a beard?

        More seriously, I think it’s just a lame-o excuse that O-Bots tell themselves.

      2. Procopius

        I don’t think “supermajority” means what you think it means. The most the Democrats ever had in the Senate was in June, 2009, after Al Franken was certified by Wisconsin. Then, until Ted Kennedy died on August 25, 2009, the Democrats had 58 Senators, and Kennedy was in bad health so not attending every day. “Supermajority” usually means 67 Senators, or enough to overcome a presidential veto. 58 is not even enough to overcome a filibuster. In that year the Republicans conducted more filibusters than in the whole previous history of The Republic. This myth that Obama had a majority in both houses and could have done whatever he wanted annoys the heck out of me. They were lucky to have two Independents who usually voted with the Democrats, but one of them was the loathsome “Weepin’ Joe” Lieberman, who had campaigned for McCain. There are lots of things Obama did or failed to do that I hate, but you can’t blame him for failing to “take advantage of an overwhelming majority in both Houses.”

    5. The Rev Kev

      If there was any person that should not voter shame it is Michelle and she damn well knows it. Therefore I know that she is lying her face off here. Under her husband, the condition of American black went backwards so in 2016, many could not be bothered voting at all – so hard was the eight years of disillusionment.

      Forget the warmongering of her husband, the re-starting of the Cold War, the erosion of civil rights, the destruction of Main Street in favour of Wall Street – put that all aside for the moment. I am here to say that there was one incident which showed Obama’s disrespect and mocking of black people and revealed his true character and that was when he pretended to drink the water in Flint, Michigan.

      Why do I mention her husband in this context here? Because she did not criticism him, she launched no initiative in helping the people in Flint, nothing of consequence in eight years. Planting a feel-good garden does not count. She was no Eleanor Roosevelt and in short contented herself in being Obama’s arm-bracelet. She has no right to criticize black voters and should really do an apology tour of America. But she will never do this but content herself with her wealth and shared power.

  4. John k

    I believe reed. But there’s never just one… where are the others? Maybe liberals terrified if they come forward they’d help trump? But if another credible does comes forward… would biden survive, or would team dem just press on?
    And if he doesn’t survive… and given the ny primary is back on track… why wouldn’t bernie win? Who else would voters vote for? Yang? Cuomo isn’t on the ballot, and says he isn’t interested, anyway.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Would you stick your head up if you were an “other?”

      avenatti’s in jail and I hear that, for the first time in recorded history, neither gloria allred nor her daughter are accepting any new clients.

    2. Dr. John Carpenter

      Aside from the though of helping Trump, there’s a heck of a lot of personal risk to coming out. The Dems and MSM are sending a message: you will be drug through the mud and have every inch of your life scrutinized, tarred as a Putin puppet and Trump lover and, worst of all, you will not be believed by #woke #metoo #resistance “heroes”. I can’t imagine the level of strength that requires and, especially in a society that expects women to “take it”, why keeping quiet would seem like a better alternative.

      As for Biden, the fact that whoever wins is going to have an unprecedented mess to clean up may be enough to insure no one else really wants the job, not to mention the risk of losing to Trump. I wouldn’t worry about it too much though. The Dems have already asserted that primaries are just a show and they can put whoever they want on the ballot. Cuomo can say he’s not interested, but people like him (and Hillary and Biden) always do. They would rather be asked than ask.

  5. Monty

    Here’s a tip about the virologists & epidemiologists who you see mouthing off about the non lab origins of Covid-19 on Twitter.

    Google -> [their name] “gain of function” before:2020

    Usually you can find them writing, doing or supporting the ‘important work’ to upgrade corona-viruses so they could infect humans.

    1. marku52

      You are thinking of that link from Martensen, aren’t you? I found that quite terrifying.

      Short version: C19 has a new cleavage site (the gene position where it breaks off and the viral RNA can enter the cell) that is not found in any of the other C viruses that it is well correlated with. The nearest one with that cleavage only correlates about 35%. Whereas some other coronas correlate in the 90’s, BUT DONT HAVE THIS SITE. And it’s not a simple mutation. It is a 4 letter insertion.

      Like somebody cut and pasted it in there. “Oh but we can’t do that”. Not true. Geneticists have a long history of successful insertions. Several teams have built the entire virus from nothing but the description.

      So…….for a long time people who were skeptical about GMOs were saying, what if somebody makes a mistake, or some bad experiment escapes into the wild?

      Well, maybe that’s just what happened. (“Gain of function” is intentionally modifying a virus to make it cross species, or more deadly. Yeah, sounds like a terrible idea to me, too)

      Peak Prosperity, title is something about scientists lying.

      1. Bsoder

        Didn’t happen. Too bad I can’t paste in the dna assays from Dec to now (n=1031), Covid-19 changed alright from the S form to the L form in February. since then changes continue, but it’s the same 20 proteins we started with. If China is telling the truth with regard to infections and deaths then the L form has been more dangerous. But it’s just not that simple. Different humans have various genes turned on and off affecting in particular matters related to ACE2. The virus came from the wild not a lab. If you want to go down that route there’s about 20 experiments conducted by the military in the 1950-60s where they released viruses, over entire cities like Los Angeles & Chicago that made many people very sick and killed a few.

        1. monty

          Google -> bsoder “gain of function” before:2020
          No hits!

          What do you think of the gain of function experiments they have been doing?

          Don’t you think it’s a bit of a coincidence that the same people telling us it didn’t come from a lab, were working on ways of enhancing bat viruses so as to infect humans?

          1. Keith

            It’s like I told a chemtrail “theorist” one time. “I don’t doubt that parts of the government are evil enough to do nasty things. However, you’ve not presented one shred of evidence that anything nefarious is happening. You’ve only presented half-truths, suppositions and vaguely circumstantial links. If you really want to convince people, have a few of your fellow true-believers get training as jet engine technicians, get jobs around the country in various maintenance hangars and hop jobs around the country and world. You will find out what’s really happening, will gather the proof or point enterprising journalists to the proper sources and won’t need to annoy me with your crap anymore.”

            Of course virologists who think gain of function is nifty and can be done safely are more likely to end up working on gain of function experiments or advocating for the work. Believing the labs couldn’t/wouldn’t possibly screw up and release an enhanced virus is probably a pre-requisite to have an internal cost-benefit analysis that comes down on the side of supporting gain of function experiments. So it’s really no coincidence at all that someone like Fauci would insist there was no chance of of a lab accidentally releasing an artificially enhanced viral strain. In his mind, there probably isn’t.

            What you’re presenting isn’t proof of anything. It’s idle supposition. Go get some proof and quit annoying everyone else.

      2. deplorado

        I think this is something people should see, regardless of what they know or believe:


        Truth of Doctors – Features scientist, Dr Judy Mikovits PHD. Mikovits also used to work on HIV. She claims that it takes “800 years” for viruses to jump from other species to humans, among other very serious claims around her background.

        1. Aumua

          Here’s an article about Judy Mikovits that is somewhat interesting, and doesn’t seem to be very biased on way or the other about her. Personally someone with that much controversy surrounding her is a cue for me to take that video with heavy dose of skepticism. I’m not commenting on whether she is right, or partially right or not, cause I don’t really know.

          Edit: the system seems to be stripping my link out so lets see if this works…


        2. jessica

          “She claims that it takes “800 years” for viruses to jump from other species to humans”
          I found that the least credible statement she made.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > it takes “800 years” for viruses to jump from other species to humans

          So she’s a loon, then?

          > I think this is something people should see, regardless of what they know or believe:

          No, it isn’t. Presumably if NC readers encounter this in the wild, they can sort if for themselves.

          NOTE After reading the Heavy article on Mikovits, let me remark that these two propositions:
          1) Judy Mikovits is a loon and

          2) Anthony Fauci ramped Gilead like a penny stock

          are not mutually exclusive.

    2. ChrisPacific

      I tried it and from what I can tell, “gain of function” simply refers to any mutation (engineered or natural) that gives the virus a new capability. So you get a lot of hits on studies of natural mutation patterns, for example. I have not encountered any weaponization papers yet (and frankly I’d be a little surprised if they were publicly searchable, although the USA for one can be remarkably up front about its atrocities at times).

      What’s an example of a name that gets the kind of hits you are talking about? I tried it with Dr. Rasmussen and turned up nothing.

      1. Monty

        Yes exactly. How did this bat virus get the “new capability” to infect humans. Was it a fluke in nature, or did it happen in the lab where they were attempting to give new capabilities to bat viruses?

        1. ChrisPacific

          That’s all well and good, but your method of proof (the Google search) doesn’t work for me, even after I tried it on a few other names. And you did not answer my follow-up question on how to reproduce your results, preferring to pose more rhetorical questions of your own. So I’m going to file you under ‘conspiracy theorist’ and move on, unless you feel inclined to answer my question.

          1. Monty

            Try Robert F Garry of Tulane University. He has been doing the rounds.

            Kristian G. Andersen, Andrew Rambaut, W. Ian Lipkin, Edward C. Holmes and many more….

            Look at the people who are telling us in articles that it’s impossible Covid19 is man made… Their lives work revolves around manufacturing viruses.

            1. ChrisPacific

              OK, I tried Robert Garry quickly. I got a hit on a paper on Ebola for which he was a co-author, but there was no indication that they were trying to modify viruses at all, or any mention of coronavirus other than in passing. The “gain of function” term appeared to refer to a variant of bee venom that was being used as a control for a biological process (this was synthetic, but it seemed to be intended as a reagent for experimental purposes, and was clearly not a pathogen). Overall it just looked like a pretty standard virology study to me, nothing about bioweapons or anything sinister. A few other hits referenced the same bee venom peptide, then they tailed off, with one search term or another missing. Adding ‘coronavirus’ to the search produced nothing except the Ebola paper I mentioned above.

              Am I missing something?

            2. Yves Smith

              If you don’t cut this nonsense out, you will be banned. You’ve got nuthin’, evidence wise, as readers have repeatedly pointed out. You are well into “Making Shit Up” terrain as well bad faith argumentation.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                This is a rare case where Yves is nicer than I am. The thread begins with garbage question-begging (“mouthing off about the non lab origins of Covid-19”) and continues in that vein. I would rip it out if so many readers hadn’t patiently tried to clean the thread up. But you can’t buff a turd.

                1. Procopius

                  Lambert, I don’t like to complain, because your whole team works so hard, but I wish you and yves would include the nym of the person you’re addressing. The threading function of your software is one of the worst I have ever seen (I think Daily Kos and Reddit are worse, but whatevers). This is especially true if there are many comments between the original post and yours. Thanks in advance.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Was it a fluke in nature

          Holy Lord. Charles Darwin, Origin of Species:

          It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.

          The “it was made in a lab” argument is an argument from teleology, the creationist’s “watchmaker analogy” (fallacy) secularized.

          I would hazard a guess that the psychological predisposition to adopt and then cling fiercely to such fallacies stems from an inability to accept that chaos and randomness, evolution and adaptation, are real; and to assert a sense of control and derive comfort from making this world human-sized, when in fact it is not, and it would be a tragedy if it were.

      2. rowlf

        …frankly I’d be a little surprised if they were publicly searchable

        There have been several oopsies with cloud data storage where data wasn’t as secured as the marketing group portrayed. Police departments and the US military have had a few problems where there are holes in the fences or no fences.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > “gain of function”

        Sound like one of those earworms, like “kompromat,” that lend a spurious air of self-taught legitimacy to yarn diagrams. Yes, I know what it means, and don’t @ me.

      1. Massinissa

        After they’re born the great all-powerful Market decides whether they live or die.

    1. Stormcrow

      Democracy Now (5/6/20):

      “Worst case is that it becomes a new permanent feature on the landscape for generations to come,” Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Laurie Garrett says. “It is already not a single isolated wave. Parts of the country are starting to get their first cases. Other parts of the country are starting to have a downturn… This is how it is going to be for months and months to come — sporadic outbreaks here and there, moving toward the southern hemisphere, coming back to the northern hemisphere.”


    2. Milton

      Wow! Two sentences and a bunch of tweets, some duplicated. At the bottom of the “article” is a reminder that if you appreciate good journalism, blah, blah. Not that I don’t agree the governor is most probably an A hole to the nth degree, but supposed news content, such as this, does nothing except stir up murder hornets on all sides.

  6. Hepativore

    These establishment Biden-pushers are completely shameless. Now they are suddenly concerned with disregarding the will of the electorate that voted for Biden when they were perfectly happy to say that they would blatantly give the nomination to somebody else should Sanders have gone to a contested convention. Nobody was concerned about disregarding the will of the voters then.

    This is why I cannot bring myself to vote for Biden. I cannot give these people the incumbency, not to mention that Biden is probably drawing a target on Social Security as we speak. Trump might be awful, but at least he will be gone in four years. With the DNC as it stands now, these guys will be buried in our political system deeper than pinworms when 2024 rolls around should Biden become president.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Exactly! A vote for Biden is a vote for up to 12 more years of liberal Democrat chicanery. I cannot wait!

    2. clarky90

      IMO, Biden is blatantly; a repugnant, misogynist clown. Any one (!) of the other Dem candidates (as awful as most of them were), would have been a more viable choice. If one builds anything (say a campaign), the raw material (the candidate) must first be of sound mind and body. On the other hand, being devoid of any ethics can be covered up, or argued around later. No problems there!

    3. David R Smith

      No one is asking you to vote for Biden this week. Please, just calm down until October.

      1. Bob

        Calm down? After all the games and trickery the Democratic establishment has played on us rube voters so they could put in place their favored candidate and continue stuffing their rice bowls with cash? Maybe you should be a little more angry.

  7. zagonostra

    >Relaxing Household Liquidity Constraints through Social Security

    So rather than providing direct financial support to people who have been forced by gov’t shut down of businesses due the COV19 – like most civilized countries – they want you to absorb the cost by borrowing against future SocSec. This is coming from a Democrat?

    1. D. Fuller

      Well, with D’s and R’s wanting to gut Social Security (behind closed doors away from the public eye)…

    2. Carla

      Whatever fantasies you are entertaining about Democrats are just that. Here’s the story of our two-party system:
      The Republicans tell us they’re gonna f**k us over, and then they f**k us over.
      The Democrats tell us they’re gonna help us, and then they f**k us over.
      That’s really all you need to know.

      1. Aumua

        Pretty much. Republicans (and especially Trump) don’t really care about looking like the bad guys. I kind of gotta give them some grudging props for that. At least they’re honest in that.

    3. periol

      I will say the one benefit to this idea as a Gen-Xer is that I have absolutely no faith that Social Security will still be functioning by the time I’m old enough to start receiving benefits, so why not get some of what I paid into now? Better now than never…

  8. allan

    Update from Cuomostan: Yesterday’s federal court injunction reinstating the Democratic primary on June 23
    appears at first reading to only reinstate the Democratic primary, not several special elections to fill
    vacant Senate and Assembly seats which Cuomo’s hacks on the state BOE had cancelled
    at the same time that they scratched the primary:

    The following Special Elections are cancelled: SD-50, AD-12, AD-31, AD-136; Queens Borough President; NYC Council District 37. The vacancies will be filled at the November General Election.

    … Meaning that the winners won’t be sworn in until next January. Giving the voters in those districts
    no representation in Albany or NYC municipal government for lengths of time varying from 8 months
    to an entire year.

  9. Jason Boxman

    It’s funny you mention the Hamilton Project, as the NYTimes just trotted out a Hamilton study in a story about children going hungry. I guess the Times is just shocked, shocked! that this could be so. These people are so disingenuous, I doubt much anyone at Hamilton actually cares about starving children, except as an avenue for grift.

    Gotta watch your wallet around these people.

  10. antidlc

    Lesson to be learned from the Japanese bees dealing with murder hornets:

    When we all gang together, we can take down an ——- (family blog, fill in the blank)

    None of this rugged individualism!

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      you volunteering to be the sacrificial bee or shall we draw straws?

      1. Basil Pesto

        I have to say, from the video, it wasn’t clear to me whether the sacrificial bee perished – I didn’t see its lil corpse afterwards. #beetruther

    2. polecat

      But things gotta get hot n heavy first. Maybe the European strains will evolve to pack heat as well.

      Cue long, drawn-out sigh ..
      As if there isn’t enough to worry over.

    3. Oregoncharles

      True – but it’s a complicated lesson: honeybees die after they sting, so every one of those bees will die – to save the hive.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > True – but it’s a complicated lesson: honeybees die after they sting, so every one of those bees will die – to save the hive.

        Not so, amazingly enough. The bees swarmed the murder bee and cooked it to death with their body heat. Isn’t that amazing?

        1. nippersdad

          That was amazing.

          I wonder if there wouldn’t be some merit to importing Japanese honeybees in areas affected by murder wasps, and using murder wasps to go after the Africanized killer bees… Japanese honeybees may be less subject to the Italian honeybee decline we have seen the past few years as well…..but then you get into the eternal problem of using lizards to eat the beetles; then getting snakes to eat the lizards; mongeese (?) to eat the snakes; wolves to eat the mongeese and then bears to eat the wolves, at which point you can’t go outside anymore anyway.


          Where does it end?

  11. Fiery Hunt

    A little update from the West Coast…
    Unemployment is creating some …um…interesting issues for employers/employees.

    I know of a 3 dentist office that can’t get enough of their “assistants” to come back to work because the benefits the employees are getting are almost as much as their full time pay. For the staff that are working part time, they can’t work over 24 hours a week or they lose their unemployment benefits and access to that $600 a week. The bosses are good people but they’re struggling with the “Why wouldn’t they come back to work??”. It’s amusing to see them realize that their VERY lucrative business is now completely dependent on their underpaid staff’s desire to work.

    That said, lots of PPP loans kicking in…and the bosses are completely going for the grift. Instead of payroll checks going to employees to STAY HOME, the PPP is being used as an excuse to require people to COME BACK to work. Essentially, the US taxpayer/gov’t is paying for the owner’s labor force and yet the owners are reaping the fruit of that labor. Lots of people not happy with going back to work for pittance particularly after having been seeing checks for $1,050 weekly.

    Finally, self-employment unemployment is (at least in California) a happy mess. They’re not even certifying hours or pay, they’ve literally said no certification necessary for weeks from 3/15 thru 5/10 at least. They’re shovelling money/benefits out…and plan to (somehow) claw back overpayments somewhere down the road…

    It’s an amazing firehose of institutions/government just saying..
    .”Fvck it! More Money! We’ll figure it out later!”

    Not the worst response but the grift and skim is gonna be epic.

    1. Monty

      Interesting anecdote, that might explain the sudden desire to force everyone back to work. Cant have those lazy takers getting any benefit from the crisis! That’s what “the makers” are for.

      I have no idea of the truth of the matter is, but that’s certainly a far cry from the tales of woe and starvation that the red cap wearing, Reopen℠ enthusiasts are telling us.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        It is California…where they’re even trying to get undocumented immigrants a $500 payment…

        And just cuz they’re shovelling money out doesn’t mean everyone (or even the people who need it most) are gonna get it.

        I’ve supposedly qualified for roughly $5,000 in unemployment benefits retroactive to the shut down here in SF Bay Area on Mar. 19th.
        Haven’t seen a dime yet. ;)

    2. Glen

      Grift and skim at this level is PEANUTS. Think how much corruption was occurring leading up 2008 to eventually collapse the world economy. And realize that Dodd-Frank just made the Wall St Fed bailouts automatic. The Fed has pumped over $30T into Wall St since 2008.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Oh, I get ya…but what’s different here is it’s not just the Wall St. Masters of the Universe (although they’re getting their usual hefty cut…did everyone know that BofA runs the entire state of California Unemployment dispersal? I didn’t!)..what’s new is the grift is now being actively used by both the PMC/10%ers and the plebs!

        We’ve been trained by 40 years of grift and corruption, now everyone’s just “WTF… Get it while you can if you can!”

        Pretty epic if you ask me.

    3. sd

      Yes, they do say that you don’t need to file a claim….but I strongly recommend that you do file if you want to get your unemployment benefits. I logged in and found two weeks sitting waiting for claim forms.

    4. Geo

      As a freelancer in Cali I’ve not been paid for any of the jobs I did from 12/19-3/10 and all clients are blaming Covid for delays. Thought I’d be ok for a while with three months of work paying soon but who knows when/if I’ll actually get paid.

      Still awaiting news on my UI application. Pretty well *family blogged* for the foreseeable future.

  12. Pelham

    “The richest 15% of House districts today are represented by Democrats and as Hillary Clinton infamously observed, those counties that voted for her in 2016 account for 64% of the nation’s GDP.”

    But how much actually useful stuff or useful services did they produce or provide? I understand Lambert’s objection to the distinction between “essential” workers and everyone else as counterproductively divisive. So I won’t quite go there. But this gets to the objection I have when liberals note, for instance, that red states are net recipients of federal largess while blue states tend to be net contributors.

    True. But this is only after the blue states — where corporate HQs, markets and financial institutions are based — extract enormous gobs of wealth from the agricultural, mining and manufacturing red states in which many of the nation’s most “essential” workers are wickedly relegated to the bottom of the national pay scale. Then we casually allow that these inflated blue state PMC neolibs are somehow more “productive” than the rest of us, who — just incidentally and by the way — also happen to be federal moochers.

    1. Louis Fyne

      I’d survive if Facebook and Instagram disappeared tonight. I’d be pretty hard pressed to grow wheat and milk if the farmers got raptured—let alone mill the wheat

      just saying

      1. Bsoder

        We started growing wheat 9 thousand years ago. Not that hard to do. Milk, find a cow.

        1. Oregoncharles

          You ever milked a cow? I haven’t.

          Haven’t tried to grow wheat, but I did quinoa; had a pretty good crop, never figured out how to winnow it.

          If I was hungry, I’d probably figure it out, of course.

        2. nippersdad

          You need at least two cows to get one to provide milk, by which time you have three cows to keep out of your wheat, one of which you will have to share your milk with. You need at least an acre of forage per cow and an acre of wheat per person; so you will need quite a bit of real estate as well, otherwise your lawn might look great, but since they are also hell on your azaleas it might piss off the little old ladies of the HOA. Especially if they get out of the fence and eat the neighbors prized perennials.

          That whole scenario just looks too problematic.

        3. Kfish

          That cow has to have had a calf in the last year to still be producing milk. You want milk long-term, she has to get bred every year, with all the risks of birth. Farming is a lot harder than it looks.

  13. Joel

    FYI, there’s no reason a logarithmic scale can’t trend downward. Adjust that first graph to plot “Total Active Cases” and you’ll see that China’s number show it sloping downward.

    1. ambrit

      That’s if we can trust the “official” numbers coming out of China. The Chinese government has an at best spotty record with the accuracy of their numbers.
      I remind myself of the comment about Chinese cultural norms about contracts. They will agree to a lot of things, even signing contracts, and turn around and do exactly what they want, irrespective of what the contract stipulates.
      Maintaining Harmony often involves lying with a straight face.
      Now that I think about it, this also fairly well describes American Politics. Act like your Party is the champion of the working men and women of America, and once elected, turn about and stab those workers in the back.
      Ah, human nature.
      Interesting times.

  14. JohnMinMN

    Lambert – Sema’s twitter page shows up twice. Did you mean to show a different one under the heading “the lanyard class”?

    1. ambrit

      My money is on Lambert pulling a meta snark here. What are lanyards used for? Why, yanking things around. We have just been given a master class in “lanyarding.” Similar to the Big Lie concept, ‘lanyarding’ ties one to the vicinity of a preferred meme through repetition. Drag us back to the “Official Version,” for our own good. Please.

  15. Pelham

    Re dropping Biden and disappointing all those Biden voters: I can see that. But if Biden were to graciously drop out, wouldn’t the only legitimate choice be the runner-up, namely Sanders?

    No doubt the party could concoct a way around this. But how it could it possibly be justified? How could a Cuomo or Hillary, who never faced the 2020 voters, be slotted in? Or how could any of the other primary contenders, who earned only a tiny fraction of votes, be given the nod?

    1. ambrit

      The Obama ‘Night of the Long Knives’ put to rest the quaint concept of hewing to “the Rules,” at least as far as the DNC is concerned.
      We are firmly in “smoke filled backroom” territory here. And three guesses what that smoke is being blown up.

      1. polecat

        Where has All the Smokium gone
        Up our Arses .. long

        We have been screwed-up royal
        We have been put through more .. toil

        Had a young blackish pres who put us through the grind
        Said ‘The Pleasure’s Mine

        We have been screwed-up royal
        We have been put through more .. toil

  16. ewmayer

    Re. Dr. Angela Rasmussen’s tweet on the D614G spike protein mutation – wait a minute, she writes “It may even increase transmissibility. But we won’t know until this is tested experimentally.”

    But the BioRxiv preprint says “The mutation Spike D614G is of urgent concern; it began spreading in Europe in early February, and when introduced to new regions it rapidly becomes the dominant form” — that is prima facie evidence of increased transmissibility, i.e. Dr. Rasmussen’s ‘experiment’ is already occurring in nature, and natural selection has provided the conclusion she claims is currently unknown. Paging Dr. Rasmussen, you appear to have forgotten the fundamental basis of Darwinian natural selection, which in 10 words can be stated as “heritable traits which increase reproductive fitness spread throughout populations over time.”

      1. ewmayer

        One can debate whether viruses are truly alive, but it is beyond doubt that they are subject to Darwinian natural selection, so your point is what, precisely?

    1. Phacops

      Thank you. Interesting that describing what epidemiologists know about populations from evolutionary biology 101 was missed by the virologist. In vitro tests for infectivity do not necessarily predict performance in an immunologically naive population.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      ” you appear to have forgotten the fundamental basis of Darwinian natural selection”

      And just about everyone seems to have forgotten that not only the virus but also WE evolved on this planet. In fact, it could and should be said that we are OF this planet, not merely ON it. We are “designed” by natural selection to fit within this planet’s infinitely complex systems not to rule over it, extract from it and despoil it.

      Our perception of ourselves as powerful and brilliant conquerors/adventurers (lookin’ at you, Elon) is suffering from quite a bit of cognitive dissonance these days with a little virus confining us to house arrest. Ridding ourselves of our hubris is the first step to adapting to this newcomer and returning to what the Earth has shaped us to be.

    3. ewmayer

      LOL, it seems my standard phrasing of ‘the basis’ has evolved behind my back to have an 11th word. :) Here, let me try that again:

      “Heritable traits conferring reproductive advantage spread throughout populations over time.”

      The reason this is so importat is that when expressed in such fundamental terms, the process of natural selection – irrespective of the myriad of details involved in each aspect, such as how variations arise for different living species and even for non-life-forms such as prions, and the mechanisms for heredity – becomes in essence a truism, a “how could it be otherwise?” process.

  17. bstamerjon

    The Biosphere

    Time to dust off my recommendation of Thom Hartman’s
    The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight

    ‘‘Twas an eye opener.

  18. Earl Erland

    Re: The Des Moines Register article on the 1600 souls.

    As far as I can tell, John Hopkins is picking up Covid-19 in state’s correction facilities populations only from Michigan. As of today JHU is reporting 1936 Inmates as infected. See: Admin 2 Tab.

    There is approx 41K inmates in the MDOC system. The workers in these plants, as a guess about total employee numbers, appears to be as expendable as the milk and eggs and pigs I hear being poured, smashed and slaughtered. In this world there’s lots of piggies living piggy lives . . .

  19. ChrisAtRU


    Oh my – “Every time Barack didn’t get the Congress he needed, that was because our folks didn’t show up”

    … is she for real?!!

    Perhaps Michelle should look at the composition of the 111th Congress – a.k.a. the Congress he started with.


    1. albrt

      Interesting that Michelle thinks she and Barack own the “folks” and are entitled to permanent loyalty from them.

      Perhaps Barack should have tried not being a war criminal and a banker blowing whore.

      1. nippersdad


        My respect for that guy didn’t even last long enough for him to get inaugurated the first time.

  20. allan

    Australian concern over US spreading unfounded claims about Wuhan lab [Sydney Morning Herald]

    For weeks the Australian government had been growing concerned about the Trump administration’s promotion of the theory that experiments on bats at a Wuhan laboratory had unleashed COVID-19. This week that anxiety peaked. …

    “We can’t repeat the mistakes of the past. The WMDs fiasco was not that long ago,” one former security official said, referring to the incorrect intelligence claims of huge Iraqi weapon stockpiles that formed the basis for the Iraq War in 2003. …

    The Australians became even more anxious on Saturday when a similar sequence of events played out closer to home. News Corp Australia tabloid The Daily Telegraph ran a lengthy front-page story about a 15-page “dossier” that laid “the foundation for the case of negligence being mounted against China”. The Telegraph story, which alleged China destroyed evidence at Wuhan research facilities, was soon being quoted by national security experts and commentators in the US. …

    Senior members of the Morrison government and Australian intelligence agencies at first had trouble finding the document. Eventually they found a research report, based on publicly available information including news reports, which appeared to fit the description. The research paper contained no information that was generated from intelligence gathering, according to people who have read it. …

    Dick Cheney and Judith Miller’s IP attorneys should issue a DMCA takedown notice to NewsCorp.

  21. Chris

    Sharing this link because I haven’t seen it here yet and I think this is one of those things that’s going to go viral and be used to resist a lot of what’s going to happen with the next stages of the pandemic. As the saying goes here, sharing is not endorsement. The link is for a video of a “movie” called PLANdemic.

    There are details in there that are correct. There are some that seem wrong. And then there are those which I find drastically far fetched. The claims about Ebola for one. But I think there’s enough truth in it and and enough of a black comedy of errors on the side of US authorities and the WHO that something like this will gain a wide audience.

  22. VietnamVet

    ‘…build robust capacity in public health, conservation, education, and infrastructure; and provide not just stable jobs, but government capacity to meet the current pandemic and economic crisis as well as the next one.” • Which is why we should elect Joe Biden.’

    This must be Water Cooler Sarcasm. More than 101,000 people have died in the USA and UK because of failed governments. Anyone who believes that Joe Biden can suddenly make the Washington DC federal government work like the governments of South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, or China has Stockholm Syndrome.

    1. albrt

      Anyone who thinks Joe Biden would even try to make the federal government work better than it does under Donald Trump has Stockholm Syndrome at the very least.

    2. Jeff W

      “This must be Water Cooler Sarcasm.”

      It’s not—it’s Water Cooler Irony.

  23. ObjectiveFunction

    Re: garment supply chain stiffing its manufacturers in a volatile buyers’ market:

    Hmm. “[M]oved away from use of letters of credit” is a little light on agency.. Do we have any readers with insight on how this happened?

    1. It’s a profoundly discretionary market whose upstream is essentially commodities, largely the labor of young peasant women. And actual demand has abruptly tanked vs. forecasts, for reasons that should now need no explanation. So a lot of distributors are in a massive bind, paying huge freight and storage costs, and this is one of the ways some of them share the pain.

    2. When the shoe’s on the other foot, e.g. PPE, with near infinite demand and limited supply, manufacturers feel free to use force majeure and other loopholes to buy themselves breathing space to catch up. Lots and lots on that at ChinaLawBlogs, and also here.

    3. More macro, the Sibylla Bostoniensis blog gives a very well written and lay-accessible take on the fragility of modern arms length supply chains to abrupt forecast shocks (the Bullwhip Effect). As demonstrated in Jay Forrester’s infamous “Beer Game” which I myself played (and bombed at lol) in MBA school. As the initial demand shock reverberates and KPIs get blown, stressed out supply chain participants begin blaming each another for malfeasance and then ‘retaliating’ with massive overstocking orders. Or else by stopping payments, force majeure etc.

    She also talks about this in the context of health care, which should greatly interest the commentariat here.

    TL:DR: Low trust (arms length / bid-and-bash ) overseas contracting in any business is a sure fire recipe for drastic breakdowns in communications and cooperation the moment things don’t go as planned.

    It’s kind of like that mellifluous Daniel Plainview spiel early in There Will Be Blood: I can load a rig onto trucks and have them here in a week. I have business connections so I can get the lumber for the derrick – such things go by friendship in a rush like this – and this is why I can guarantee to start drilling and to put up the cash to back my word. I assure you, ladies and gentlemen, no matter what the others promise to do, when it comes to the showdown, they won’t be there.

    Or put another way, there are benefits as well as drawbacks to vertical integration. Relationships do matter.

    I hope that is interesting, if not directly responsive.

    1. Procopius

      Good Heavens, the Sibylla Bostoniensis is fascinating. The hypotheses she offers explain so much. Thank you.

  24. Procopius

    Looking at the awful, “business as usual,” new bailout for lobbyists, I realize that the Trump-Mitch-Pelosi-Schumer gang have not grasped the enormity of the situation. I guess they’re too young, born too long after The Depression. Probably they think it’s going to end in a couple more months and things will be back to normal. I believe, because of the interconnectedness of things like the economy, and the way they’ve torn down the props over the last fifty years, this is going into Great Depression territory and will stay there for at least five, probably ten years. I don’t think we can afford to go to war with Iran, Russia, or China because nuclear weapons (no, Iran doesn’t have them, but they are closely allied with Russia and China, who do and who we will turn on in a New York second). That, if you remember, was how we finally got out of the last depression. We’ll probably have an experience similar to the Long Depression of 1873-1896. Anyway, my point is that in a couple of years of this [expletive deleted] they’re going to see pitchforks and torches. Metaphorical, if we’re lucky. That’s what it will take for them to realize they really need to do something for working people.

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