The Lockdown Protestors Are Not Working Class

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Sarah Jones, in The Coronavirus Class War in New York Magazine, does a neat, tidy job of kneecapping the notion that the anti-lockdown protests are manned by workers who want to get back to their jobs so they can start making money again.

While there are no doubt some who feel like that, not only are they not well represented among low-wage workers, but they also don’t appear to be well represented among the protestors either.

Let’s look at the upper end of the working stiff income spectrum, employees at top tech companies. Their bosses are keeping them well away from their glam campuses. From Big Tech was first to send workers home. Now it’s in no rush to bring them back, in the Washington Post:

Tech’s titans set the agenda for U.S. employers in early March, sending staff to work from home as the coronavirus started to spread near their West Coast headquarters….those same giants — Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and Twitter — will likely be among the last large employers to reopen their office doors and welcome staff back.

Google and Facebook told employees that many workers who can do their jobs remotely should plan to do so until 2021. Amazon said its headquarters employees will stay home at least until October. Microsoft told staff Monday that working from home remains optional through October for most employees, though the company will allow some workers to voluntarily return to their offices in stages…

“What we recognize is that economies are going to need to be opened gradually by turning a dial rather than flipping a switch,” [Microsoft president Brad] Smith said. “And as economies do that, I think we have a responsibility not only to adhere to the public health guidelines, but to be slower than others in bringing people back simply because we can.”

The declarations are a big shift for an industry that has for decades prided itself on work environments with communal cafeterias, volleyball courts and open office plans — all design features meant to foster collaboration and make long hours more bearable.

Those perks have also served as popular recruiting tools for the tech giants, helping them hire hundreds of thousands of employees across the West Coast. And benefits like free food, virtual golf and napping pods help the firms retain valued engineers, project managers and more, providing campuses designed to discourage workers from joining rivals.

In other words, employers who made going to the office a perk (IIRC Google has a gym and even masseurs at its headquarters) are keeping staffers at home. Do you think they’d be doing that if their staff were keen to come back?

More generally, polls not only show that citizens prefer to keep the lockdowns on longer, but that that desire is strengthens as wages levels drop. They can least afford to contract a potentially deadly ailment. We’ve followed Mike Elk of the Payday Report on strikes by front-line workers at Amazon warehouses and meatpacking plants, as well as by nurses over the lack of PPE. The risks are highest for work in crowded conditions, and those laborers have sorted out they aren’t being paid enough to risk their health.

From New York Magazine:

Randy Narvaez had worked for a Denver-area King Sooper store for over 30 years by the time he died from the coronavirus. In a press release, his union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, said there are a dozen cases among his coworkers. Even if they all survive, they’ll see their pay reduced by the time they recover. King Sooper’s parent company, Kroger, ended a $2 “hero pay” bonus this week. Full-time workers will get another “thank you” payment of $400, part-timers get $200, and after that, it’s business as usual. Except it won’t be, not for Randy Narvaez and not for his coworkers, who are pleading with Kroger to extend the hourly bonus or at least shut their store down to clean it.

There’s an old conflict between employers like Kroger and workers like the UFCW’s members; it is far older, in fact, than COVID-19. A great difference in perspective, and thus of opinion, separates bosses from workers at all times….

…right-wing populists take one obvious, true point — that lockdown measures inflict economic pain….Consider a recent effort from Peggy Noonan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Wall Street Journal….“There is a class divide between those who are hard-line on lockdowns and those who are pushing back.” she ventured. A correct statement, though she doesn’t seem to know which side is which. In her version of class war, professional elites stand on one side of the divide, hectoring workers who just want to make rent. “The working-class people who are pushing back have had harder lives than those now determining their fate”…..

But reality doesn’t quite match up with Noonan’s imagination. Workers aren’t pushing back against lockdowns. They’ve organized protests of an entirely different variety. For weeks, they’ve rallied against elites, their bosses, who won’t clean their job sites or hand out enough masks and who take away hazard pay while they’re still dying. This isn’t left-wing sloganeering, but fact. Most Americans overwhelmingly back continued lockdown measures, even if they’ve lost major income during the pandemic. The polling is unambiguous. In April, Gallup reported that low-income adults were still more likely to fear illness from COVID-19 than financial hardship, which by then had already become acute. Later the same month, an IPSOS poll found that high-income households in 14 countries surveyed, including the U.S., were mostly likely on average to support economic re-opening. The poorer a household, the less likely a respondent was to agree that states should re-open.

Now you might then say, “But what about those protestors?” First, there’s a weird tendency among the chattering classes to view all Trump fans as poor white trash, resentful of their educated blue city latte-drinking, well-traveled betters. In fact, the average income of Trump voters in 2016 was more than $10,000 higher than that of Clinton voters. And no, Trump didn’t get more lower-income conservatives to turn out either; the percentage of Republican voters making less than $50,000 was lower than in 2012.

While it isn’t decisive evidence, the fact that many protestors drove long distances isn’t consistent with financial distress. From the Guardian:

Cellphone location data suggests that demonstrators at anti-lockdown protests – some of which have been connected with Covid-19 cases – are often traveling hundreds of miles to events, returning to all parts of their states, and even crossing into neighboring ones.

If you are part of that nearly half of America with less than $400 for an emergency, and you’ve already had weeks of no or diminished income, spending a tank of gas or more on driving, even with gas now cheap, is taking, to paraphrase the immortal George Bush, food off your family.

More specifically, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer charged the DeVos family with funding Michigan’s “Operation Gridlock”; efforts in other states emulated its approach and even copied language from Operation Gridlock organization materials. Far right groups like Proud Boys and pro-gun groups also supported the protests.

Lambert speculated in 2016 that an important slice of Trump backers were local notables: the successful business man who owned Taco Bell franchises, or a couple of car dealerships, or was a homebuilder, or had inherited oil and gas properties. That cohort would be hurting (relatively speaking) under the lockdowns, particularly if they’d borrowed money to finance their businesses.

Jones in her New York Magazine piece comes very close to speaking a crass truth, that another motivation for wanting the lockdowns over among well-off suburbanites is wanted to be served. I’ve heard women pining for a manicure and a haircut. I cringe when they maintain that the workers at those salons want them back, when employees are at best likely to feel ambivalent given the health hazard.

And workers on other front lines, namely teachers, who in New York City forced the closure of public schools, object to messaging on the necessity of reopening:

Finally, police abroad haven’t been shy about dealing with the anti-lockdown protestors the way they deal with other types of protestors, although admittedly there are some complicating factors here in the US. Specifically, in the case of Michigan, individuals are allowed to carry guns into the statehouse. And even though anti-lockdown advocated plenty of violent exhortations on social media, that does not establish that the particularly people who would show up had personally made threats. The governor and police might have regarded it as legally too fraught to try to document threats in real time and single out and arrest particular perps (admittedly, the police seldom have compunctions about rounding everyone up, but here the other side clearly has funding to make for a protracted court battle).

But by way of contrast:

How much would infection and death rates have to rise to stiffen officials’ spines? And if that doesn’t happen until, say, November, when the holiday entertainment and shopping season is about to start, how much willingness will there be to clamp down?

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    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, very good catch. I had debated including that clip precisely for the signage. Pre-printed signs are a sign that a group printed and distributed them, evidence of at least some money and some orchestration.

  1. Fireship

    > Lambert speculated in 2016 that an important slice of Trump backers were local notables: the successful business man who owned Taco Bell franchises, or a couple of car dealerships, or was a homebuilder, or had inherited oil and gas properties.

    Correct. The class lampooned by Chapo Trap House as MAGA CHUDs.

    From the urbandictionary:

    C.H.U.D. = “Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller,” sci-fi/horror film from the 1980’s named after the eponymous grotesque monsters depicted in the movie

    Known to congregate at Trump rallies, Confederate monuments, and chicken-based eateries. The quintessential subtype of maga chud, or the “Arch-Chud,” can be identified by their garish suburban McMansions, Punisher and/or Scarface tattoos/shirts/decals/posters, Gadsden Flag plates, “Trump 2020” bumper stickers, spheroid physique, and obsession with firearms (regardless of whether or not they actually own any). Chuds slightly higher in IQ but lower on the chud food chain can be seen wearing fedoras well into their 20’s, quoting Ayn Rand, and attempting to rehabilitate race “science.” Do not be fooled by their Wikipedia-intro-level recitation of Burke and Hayek. These “walking sticks,” as they are known, are every bit as much chuds as their more rotund brethren.

    1. .Tom

      Yup. CTH correctly identified the class of the protesters weeks ago. This article adds useful evidence and context and more politely identifies the same class.

    2. Mattski

      If you live in the South the notion that Trump’s support comes from a portion of the local business class is something of a no-brainer; I have bright friends who work for the security services who get to monitor the security systems on some of their gun rooms/caches–they are sometimes extensive.

      It’s fairly obvious that really poor people are too desperate to while away their afternoons at Trump rallies; when they do start attending abandon hope and cue the zombie apocalypse. The Democrats already lost most of them long ago (the rise of Reagan-Republican values voting providing a first step, careful Democratic partitioning of the working class into deserving Black voters when convenient and undeserving white voters on the other helped things along and–coup de grace–the deplorables comment might have cemented it for all eternity. Bernie got fewer of them this time than last time, though his overtures to them were messy and unsystematic, and he had come to be ID’d as another Democrat.

      It’s become axiomatic that Trump’s most vociferous followers are those on the shabbier side of the middle class who are very pissed off that people of color have prevented them from getting rich. (No, it doesn’t make sense.) It was those people in search of scapegoats who filled out the Nazi ranks, too. Among other things, we probably want to disambiguate rural voters from suburban whites who act like rural voters (see fishing boats and other accoutrements) as we assess them.

      If you watch the video embedded in this article you’ll see that these people aren’t stupid, but often deep in the grip of an ideology that I feel very discouraged they might be talked out of:

      They are entertaining themselves, of course. There’s a wry quality to much of the comment that not many of the CNN reporters catch.

      And it’s important to recognize that what demographers and even many left commentators think of poor is desperate-poor, and that most middle class people court desperation most times, too. It is undoubtedly complex, but there IS an undeniable class edge to this, especially where resentment is concerned.

      Meanwhile, actually wanting to HELP people–or expressions of class solidarity en route to creating a new political FDR-style coalition. . . not in the DNC’s plans. That’s the place to focus, IMO. Yawning political vaccum waiting to be filled right now. Outright fascism may yet get there first.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Given that ” yawning political vacuum” you mentioned, it’s all the more incredible that the #McResistance TM squandered more than three years on the preposterous conspiracy theory known as Russiagate, in the belief that that the hand of Archibald Cox would rise from the grave and magically remove Trump for us.

        Then again, perhaps not, since their dirty little secret is that, deep down, they prefer Trump’s re-election to a Sanders-type candidate winning the nomination, since that allows them to keep their grifts going.

        Whatever happens in November, they’ve already won.

      2. .Tom

        Great comment.

        We have some of this Trumpery even in Boston. It’s a bit different. I know about 6 individuals or households with this ideology. All but one are comfortably off and/or business owners. The other is a bus driver. They share resentment towards ill defined classes and concepts and enjoy Trump’s confrontational media games. With enough empathetic conversation they reveal a level of bitterness that I find disturbing and a bit frightening.

  2. John A

    “If you are part of that nearly half of America with less than $400 for an emergency, and you’ve already had weeks of no or diminished income, spending a tank of gas or more on driving, even with gas now cheap, is taking, to paraphrase the immortal George Bush, food off your family.”

    Is that a reference to Dubya who is supposedly going to live for ever, or his father who is already dead?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      It was Bush the Younger who once mentioned “putting food on your family”. Someone gave me a doll that would recite a W mangling when you pulled its string. Here are some:

      1. “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”—Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

      2. “I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family.”—Greater Nashua, N.H., Chamber of Commerce, Jan. 27, 2000

      3. “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?”—Florence, S.C., Jan. 11, 2000

      4. “Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across the country.”—Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004

      More here:

      1. John A

        Thanks Yves,
        reminds me of a time back in my schooldays when a teacher got fed up with the lack of silence in class and constant interruptions. In exasperation he finally said ‘every time I open my mouth, some fool speaks’.

        1. David in Santa Cruz

          “Shrub — the little Bush.”

          Molly Ivins had him down pat. May she rest in peace.

          1. Sy Krass

            In retrospect, he seems like a genius and a great humanitarian compared to the demon possessed maniac who lives in the white house currently.

  3. Burns

    How much would infection and death rates have to rise?

    I submit to this august assembly that infection and deaths would have to rise to the proportional effects of the Black Death before anything really changes in this country. For starters, covid would need to have a much more dramatic effect, say on the level of a respiratory but hemorrhagic fever that kills most of the people who get it incredibly quickly and in gruesome ways. Then, not only would hospitals be overwhelmed but crematoriums would be running nonstop while bodies piled up in the streets. Americans would have to watch entire families get carried out of houses in body bags by military personnel in hazmat suits. All classes of society would need to be affected, not just poor and marginalized frontline workers. Quarantine would be enforced by martial law.

    Maybe then survivors could start to think about a more equitable and fair political and economic system that fixes the flaws of the prior regime. As it stands now, things will change only superficially – you may see more people wearing masks out of habit even after the virus is past, and maybe nobody shakes hands anymore – but at 1.5 million infections and 90k deaths as of this writing, most of which have been those living in poverty, there just hasn’t been enough of a visceral impact to spur public policy reform.

    1. Steve

      Well said! I have been around these type of people way more than I ever wanted to be in my life and my life is less because of it. The level of just hate is hard for most people to understand unless you get exposed to it often. It will sadly take a very high level of death to begin to change some of these people and some will never change. They have been trained to hate for a long time. A recent article (I’m sorry I can’t remember from where, but just in the last few days) pointed out that in the rural PA where people have had family deaths from Covid it hasn’t changed their support for Trump which is very depressing. I don’t think things should have gotten this bad. There should have been ongoing push back against the alt-right for the past two decades. The failure to do so lies completely at the feet of the Democratic Party.

    2. rd

      I think it is when it gets into the white rural and suburban communities with the morbidity and mortality rates that have been hitting the coastal urban areas that we will will see the change. A significant percentage of the country has not seen any personal impacts. I live in upstate NY in a suburban community. I do not personally know anybody who has gotten Covid-19 because the circles I deal with, including the people I teleconference with across the country for work, are all middle-class to upper-class white collar workers who went home to work early in March and have been isolated since then. Nearly all of these people are white or Asian. Difficulties getting TP and disinfectant wipes was the apex of our crisis along with just getting our work done. The conservative Trump supporters within that network earnestly believe the whole thing is overblown because they also don’t know anybody who has been sick or died.

      So this scenario will exist as long as everybody is isolated. Once they get out and start to socialize though, all bets are off. White evangelical churches in the Mid-West and South are going to be big deciders in this. The big question is whether or not those impacts occur before or after the election. With the big push to reopen everything now and celebrate religious freedom, many of the answers to how contagious and deadly this is may be known before Labor Day.

        1. rd

          He won with only narrow margins. If he loses swing voters, his base can’t carry him to victory unless they are the only people voting.There is about 35% at either side of the political spectrum that can’t be dissuaded under any circumstances, so its the people in the middle that make the difference.

    3. HotFlash

      How much would infection and death rates have to rise?

      When 90% of us are dead. It is all going according to plan. When what is left is the 1% and the 9% they need to serve their needs, with the .01% to rule them all and in the darkness bind them. See also “US Indian policy”, “Katrina response”, and “Hurricane Sandy response”.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Seriously, you might have a point. The population of the United States is about 330 million at present. Suppose that this virus mutates into a more lethal strain so that it ends up killing 100 million Americans, you know what the elites would say? Their idea would be ‘Hey, that is not so bad. That brings us back to the population we had back when Reagan became President.’

        1. rd

          During the Middle Ages, the Black Death killed so many people that labor became valuable and the laborers gained power. The guilds were formed as negotiating unions. A surplus of labor is necessary to have the very cheap labor wages that allows for extreme inequality. So the wealthy may think they want more deaths in the proletariat, but in reality it won’t be beneficial for them. also, the more people that get sick, the more likely they will get sick.

          1. mpalomar

            I recall, perhaps incorrectly, the opportunities for land and labor following plague also led to peasant revolts. The aristocracy was not entirely on board with the idea of paying more and a modest transfer of power and wealth, hence the disturbances which usually ended badly for the peasants.
            Our elite predators would likely not be distressed to lose the medicare and medicaid folks; the susceptible older and vulnerable diabetics, copd, general ill health, etc., who conveniently are prime covid-19 targets no longer unproductive and a net drain on balance sheets.

            1. England Arise

              Although wikipedia says that The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 was due to the wage rise following the plagues of 1348 and 1361, Juliet Barker, in her authoritative work, “1381: The Year of the Peasants’ Revolt” (published in the UK as “England, Arise: The People, The King & The Great Revolt of 1381”) posits that It was due to the incessant and overreaching taxes imposed by King Richard II.

              When the king’s men (sheriffs etc) came to collect the taxes (paid in cash, i.e., coins. No electronic banking back then) they were assaulted by rebels and these rebellions spread, eventually to London. And then ultimately the rebels were put down.

              1. mpalomar

                Somebody was putting the squeeze on.
                Wat Tyler, named tyler possibly because it was his profession, wound up leading a mob of sorts, first outside of London and then into.
                A young King Richard, his sheriff and his men slew Wat Tyler indecorously on a field outside London (probably inside London now) possibly where Tyler went for a parlay.
                Wycliffe was involved on the edges because he saw the moral inconsistency of elite oppression within feudal Christianity but he was under the protection of a powerful lord, was it an Essex? Or have I got that entirely wrong?

      2. IdahoSpud

        At this point in time, that might very well be their line of thinking. It’s not clear to me that the virus is able to distinguish a person’s position in the hierarchy however.

        If a mutated lethal virus happened to make its way into the government gerontocracy, who knows what sort of positive humanistic policies might see the light of day?

    4. Mikel

      After the globetrotters spread it, they locked themselves down, then said, “everybody else, get out there and die for this BS system.”

      It’s not even about having a treatment that will make working people better. They can see the dollar signs in the eyes of the “death care” system here – it will be all about the money.
      They won’t afford this shit.

      And people are mistaken if they think others are going to continue to work while their co-workers drop.
      F that. They will say “I’d rather die on my own terms, not for these over privileged snots” – IF PUSH CAME TO SHOVE.

    5. Jeremy Grimm

      Be careful what you wish for.

      I still hope there might be other less terrible ways to spur public policy reform.

  4. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    The approach taken by the tech giants echoes an e-mail I received from a friend, lawyer in the City turned head hunter in San Francisco. She said that these firms are thinking of scaling back their campuses and having staff work more or less permanently from home and / or have a network of smaller offices around Silicon Valley.

    Tony Blair was on the BBC’s Newsnight yesterday evening. He wants schools to reopen and teachers back. His alma mater, the private Fettes, won’t reopen until September, or Michaelmas, at least.

    Speaking of Blair and his family, they own two small estates on the border of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, manor houses and land owned by the Grenville Dukes of Buckingham in the 19th century. The little people marvel at their approach to lock down.

    1. Winston Smith

      On what basis can someone living in splendid isolation atop a mountain of seemingly ill-acquired wealth give advice of this kind? He should remember that there are a few “know unknowns”: Availability of a vaccine, development of immunity post-disease, development and availability of therapeutic and prophylactic agents as well as the very strong possibility of a second wave of infection akin to the Spanish flu. Long, long ago an English friend of mine professed his profound hatred of Blair due to his betrayal of Labour principles. No wonder.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you.

        The manors are a few miles from where I am typing (WFH).

        His acquisition of wealth continues, including advising firms and their bankers, including my employer, on the new property developments in and around Jakarta.

        The Blairites are on the comeback trail, as per some of the appointments made by the new Labour leader.

    2. John Wright

      I remember reading that Blair was widely disliked in the UK after his Iraq War support.

      Also that Blair had to come to the USA to experience warm, uncritical support.

      If the BBC is going to Blair for wisdom, what has changed?

      Is Tony Blair being “rehabilitated” in a manner similar to George W. Bush on this side of the pond.

      Maybe this is as desired, as a lesson to future leaders, be unconcerned as one does great harm knowing any reputational damage will be washed away by the media and its masters.

      1. Graham Shevlin

        Leaders are over-venerated when they are in fashion, and over-excoriated after they leave office and/or they are out of fashion.
        Leaders are also (mostly) a lot less influential than they like to pretend they are.

  5. Edward

    At this point, the United States is going over the edge of the epidemic waterfall. We are going to find out the hard way what happens when you don’t have testing, social distancing, and lockdowns. I think in the medium term, the challenge is going to be figuring out how to keep the economy running in the presence of this virus; what changes must a business make to reduce risks to an acceptable level? It seems to take about 6 months of disasters before the U.S. starts taking action. Still on the to-do list: socialized medicine and economic relief. How bad will the situation need to be before action is taken?

    1. .Tom

      On the plus side, the US is very large and different states are applying different “strategies” and that may help the states being more cautious avoid the political push to rush to lift precautions.

      On the minus side, “How bad will the situation need to be before action is taken?” For socialized medicine and economic relief to be possible, consensus in the ruling class (that owns politics, government and the media) would have to accept that providing it is a better option for them than denying it. Why would they grant it otherwise? So the question, imo, comes down to: In what plausible circumstances that we can imagine would such consensus emerge? How can we bring about those circumstances? This is basically asking how some power might be taken back from the ruling class.

      Personally, I don’t know how to answer those questions and I don’t feel very hopeful because for the time being our politics is dominated by rancorous fights between team blue and team red over other topics (Russia, guns, public toilets, hydroxychloroquine) for a bankrupt prizes in lesser-of-two-evils electoralism.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        “…For socialized medicine and economic relief to be possible, consensus in the ruling class (that owns politics, government and the media) would have to accept that providing it is a better option for them than denying it….”

        and what would that look like.
        I recall a few musicians dying of this…have there been any millionaire/billionaire deaths from it?
        Wall Street?
        Invaders of the Hamptons?
        I also recall a few politicians getting it…where’s Rand?
        I can’t even remember who the others are.
        Boris, of course…but then we get back into the Legitimacy Crises, just made more acute by the pandemic: I almost need to see video of Boris on a ventilator or something…because I don’t trust any of those people.
        I also recall that in NYC, the rich areas are almost immune….while the virus rages in the poorer sections…and none of the latter get anything but a passing mention, at best.
        Just add all this to the drawer that holds the Unknowns regarding Covid.

        1. HotFlash

          have there been any millionaire/billionaire deaths from it?

          Amfortas, why would you think that would result in M4A? Billionaires can pay for the very best medical care in the world. Even mere millionaires own hospitals. And if one shark dies, the other sharks would just have a feeding frenzy on the carcass.

    2. rd

      Interesting piece here on how governments are going for herd immunity but without saying it:

      Personally, we are pretty much in hiding to give as much as time as possible for the medical system to figure out how to treat this so the mortality and serious injury rate can decline. That is the real point of flattening the curve. NYC and Northern Italy were only nominally helpful because they were such a disaster that the medical system was effectively in war zone triage. But other areas with lower case loads have the luxury of being able to think it through and experiment in a more organized way.

      1. Ian Ollmann

        Yep. Hiding out was in fact the stated point of flatting the curve at the time. No deception there! Don’t flood the hospitals so they are able to take care of everyone who gets sick.

        The problem is really that the hospital capacity (in the US) is so low that a successful bend the curve strategy will keep us cooped up for years. As we are learning from Yves, the small business owners who are not able to profit off the Fed’s largesse are quickly losing their shirt. Volume is down. Profits are losses. Sadly for them, I just don’t see many going down to the coffee shop any time soon, even after things open up. The government restrictions aren’t really the problem. With or without them, business will still be lousy.

        At the end of the day, they say that 50-80% of the population has to become immune before the virus will have enough trouble finding new hosts that it will naturally go away. Obviously we aren’t anywhere near that. We have maybe 300,000 confirmed cases in the US. Even if the real number is ten times that, only 1% of the population has had the disease. State policy seems to be that 50-80x the number of people should get sick or die. So, this herd immunity isn’t really a plan that anyone is going to like. Furthermore, if you think you are going to dodge the disease, recall that by the time this plays out 50-80% of people have to be immune so 50-80% of the people have to get sick. Your chance of avoiding the disease is therefore not so good! 90k deaths so far, multiply by 50-80… Yup, that is not an outcome that anyone should want.

        How are the small business owners going to fare? Well… you see, if we have had 1% get sick so far in the last 3 months, and the official numbers are 1/10th of that, then we can guess that we have another 150 months to go, at least. Those small business owners are apparently praying for everyone to get sick over the next few months, in time for a excellent Christmas shopping holiday!! You know, the one when we celebrate 5-8M deaths, with merry songs.

        Personally, I plan to hang out here with my family, driving them crazy, for the next however long it takes to come up with a vaccine. Hopefully our infrequent shopping trips won’t get us sick and the vaccine can save the day when and if it comes. In the mean time, there is working from home.

        The thing that will ruin it will be school reopening, alas.

        1. rd

          Flooding the hospitals is only one part of it. One of the key things I am waiting for is the improvements in care as they figure out what works and what doesn’t work. I figure that once they get that sorted out, the mortality rate and serious injury rate may drop 50% or more, especially for non-high-risk categories without a lot of underlying conditions that make treating anything difficult. My guess is it will take until the fall to really start to figure that out.

  6. notabanker

    I don’t have a time machine, so who knows, but I really believe WFH is here to stay. These measures aren’t temporary in the sense that the danger is finally gone, this is a new normal. Effective spacing and distancing is needed for “office” work that has to be on site. SF per employee goes way up. The company I work for is targeting a 20%-35% “campus” occupancy rate with no real plans to bring it back up. That means 65%-80% not on site.

    Retail locations, different story. New layouts, plexi everywhere and tons of PPE. Density in these locations is not the problem, exposure is.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      That echoes the e-mail I received overnight, as per the above comment.

    2. Keith

      In theory, social distancing can be a new normal, but the reality is difference. I had a crew at my home doing some light construction and landscaping work after the WA state lockdown got somewhat lifted. While working, playing with my spreadsheets, I was able to watch them, and the nature of the work really does not allow for much distancing at all. They need to be in close contact when lifting items, cutting, pouring, etc.

      Once I go back to my regular duties, performing inspections, again, not real way to social distance, as the areas I will be inspecting can be tight passages, going around tanks, hoses, etc. I need the proprietor there to either explain what is what or so I can explain any remedial actions. Then add in barbers, nail salon types, etc, etc. Social distancing may be nice, but ultimately, may not effective.

      And that is not even getting in the social aspects of life, dancing, drinking, dating, etc. I think the social distancing aspect definitely has a count down running on it, just from a practical point of view.

  7. Tim

    Does anyone think that Timothy McVeigh was a “class protester” – looking out for the interests of the workers and downtrodden in this country? No, he was a sociopath. Trump and many of his adherents are just that – sociopaths who look out for no one but themselves. From what I have seen, most are contractors, car dealers, and other occupations that require little training or education and are rife with low ethics and sleazy business practices. As noted, they are not for the most part suffering economically or from racial or ethnic prejudice.
    Like Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini et. al., Trump brings out the worst people and the worst in people.

    1. tegnost

      If your contention is that only trump supporters favor ending lockdown maybe you should peruse the post on the “wave of corporate lawsuits”.
      Also there are plenty of landlords, airbnb hosts, and minor kings of all stripes who in isolation are “safe” (in their deluded minds) but rely on workers to get money themselves, think a carpet cleaning biz with 5 or 6 trucks. They need people back to work, and that stock portfolio could be at risk also so yeah, it’s those poor dumb trump supporters, sure thing…they are likely part of it, but certainly not the whole. Does the acronym TPP mean anything to you? Whose grand plan was that?

      1. HotFlash

        Tegnost, I believe that Tim’s contention is that “landlords, airbnb hosts, and minor kings of all stripes” are Trump supporters, in fact, his base. As per Yves above:

        First, there’s a weird tendency among the chattering classes to view all Trump fans as poor white trash, resentful of their educated blue city latte-drinking, well-traveled betters. In fact, the average income of Trump voters in 2016 was more than $10,000 higher than that of Clinton voters. And no, Trump didn’t get more lower-income conservatives to turn out either; the percentage of Republican voters making less than $50,000 was lower than in 2012.

    2. mpalomar

      Curiously I think Gore Vidal may have thought McVeigh’s domestic terror violence had its source in some kind of legitimate grievance gone badly awry.
      Foreign wars, damaged, ill used, uncared for vets and family farm country plundered by agri industry and banks. I’m not sure that was the story but Vidal wrote some about it.

      1. tim

        As much as I find children unappealing, I can’t come up with a legitimate grievance to bomb a day care center. Sounds like intellectual bullshit from Vidal who has never spent a day in rural America.

        1. mpalomar

          I think Vidal would say it is important to understand where these actions derive, from what kind of society that is seemingly tearing itself apart, in order to begin to correct the problem.
          To date things have probably only gotten worse.

  8. Sound of the Suburbs

    Jane Mayer “Dark Money”

    Billionaires keep organising these little protest groups to look as though there is widespread public support for what they want.
    As long as they can get enough media people to report on these little protests, it looks as though there is widespread public support.
    Not enough people are working and the billionaires don’t like it one bit.

    The only movement that did gain any real support was the Tea Party movement.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      Friends and colleagues who live in London, including policemen, say that there are few mass gatherings, no more than, say, the number of people who ignore warnings of storms to go out to sea or hike in the mountains. They wonder if the UK MSM, including state owned broadcasters, are exaggerating, especially with narrow shots of parks, beaches and beauty spots, so that the Tories can blame the public for not following instructions and making the crisis worse.

      1. rtah100

        We had read the regulations carefully and continued to drive around our part of Devon to exercise from the beginning(*).

        The local woods were originally deserted but have been busier since the “relaxation” but only with five cars in a car park for twenty and a couple of mountain bikers on the trails. This on the limits of a city of 100k people.

        The local sandy beach has been busy from the off with family groups walking, dog walkers etc. No crowds of sunbathers but a steady stream of people walking past, usually keeping a good distance. A handful of souls like us were swimming. My wife went more recently and found it too busy for comfort so we have taken to going to the pebble beach around the bay, which has fewer takers for its discomforts.

        However, we went to Dartmoor this weekend and New Bridge car park was full, to the point of people parking on the no parking zones where you get a ticket. Even the ice cream van was there and plying its trade (rather them than me at this time, and I love ice cream…). However, in US parlance, it is a trailhead for a number of walks, so my hunch is that the walks up and down the Dart were sparsely trafficked. We were disappointed because we had wanted to swim in the Dart. We passed a police car which had driven past the car park without enforcing even the parking restrictions.

        We went further on to Dartmeet, which is more of a picnic site where you can paddle in the river and jump between the stones, and found the car park only 20% full despite brilliant weather. In terms of enforcement, the National Park warden turned up at Dartmeet while we were there and drove round the car park and left. They didn’t even enforce the parking ticket rules (hardly anybody had bought a ticket because the machine only takes change and the shop and tearoom were shut so nobody could get any, nobody wanted to ask anybody else or handle their money and nobody wanted to touch the machine!).

        There was plenty of space there for everybody but a father and two children turned up and failed to keep their distance from us despite our being stood in the middle of a river! How inconsiderate can you be?

        It all became a bit stressful so we moved on to have a picnic by a stream with easy parking but another family had got there first. We ended up pulling off the road just after the Warren Inn and having our picnic there, listening to a cuckoo in the woods. There were a few cars and bikes driving past and in between absolute silence.

        I haven’t seen any pullulating mobs on travels. The most worrying place is the town centre which is bizarrely full of people ambling around. I think they only know how to consume and wander about hoping a shop might be open to fill their time. It’s bizarre!
        (* the UK confinement law has allowed people to meet one other person from the beginning provided both are outside their home with a reasonable excuse – the “relaxation” is another mind-game treating us like children).

    2. rd

      They need to tell the anti-lockdown protestors to leave the guns at home. When I see the protestors armed to the teeth with Ar-15s etc., it is immediately obvious this is not the great majority of voters protesting. Instead, it appears to be the anti-government conspiracy theory folks.

      Call me when a multi-racial group of people in t-shirts and jeans wearing their favorite team’s baseball cap show up en masse.

      1. Aumua

        You might be surprised at how quickly the “anti-government conspiracy theory folks” are infiltrating into the mainstream right.

      2. Chef

        The non-activist “multi-racial group of people in t-shirts and jeans” don’t show up to protests en masse. They just flout the lockdown by going to the park, beach, lake, etc. as we’ve seen in many cities like NY, LA and Chicago where the voting populating swings heavily blue.

        1. rd

          I saw a photo of the masses sunbathing on a beach in LA – it seemed like it was 1-2 person groups about 10-20 feet apart lying on the sand. It seemed like a sane way to spend a day.

    3. Kurtismayfield

      What tea party movement? I haven’t heard a peep about runaway federal budgets, deficit spending, and Muslim Kenyan socialists since 2016. It’s almost like they were astroturf that rose up just to oppose one man in the White House..

      Speaking of astroturf, look at those dozens of protesters at state houses with lots of press coverage!

    4. Amfortas the hippie

      “Billionaires keep organising these little protest groups to look as though there is widespread public support for what they want.”

      it began like clockwork…you had things like “General Strike”, “Rent Strike” and “Debt Strike” all being the top words/”trenders”(?) on Twitter one week—
      and the very next week, these little astrotruf “protests” erupted…and it didn’t take much digging to find the same money funnels behind it all as with the Tea Party…”Freedomworks” or whatever.
      It’s an Op.

      1. Aumua

        I think when you’re talking about strikes, there’s a mixed bag of genuine and phony proponents of various kinds of strikes organizing out there.

    5. fajensen

      Billionaires keep organising these little protest groups to look as though there is widespread public support for what they want.

      They did pretty much the same number in Lebanon, with every billionaire running an heavier and heavier armed militia to make their impression on government policies. Eventually, with all of that “war-fuel” sloshing around, somebody dropped a lit match wiht a little massacre and the Lebanese Civil War kicked off in earnest – from 1975 to 1990.

      Just imagine: A bunch of arab-looking or black people “protesting their gun carrying rights” at the same time as those spoiled white fratboys. Some butterfingered constitutional hero drops a loaded gun, a round goes off and everyone suddenly “fears for the lives”, especially the police presence!

      The Lebanon Civil War used to be on TV for one hour per week when I was a kid. The joke here was that whenever General Aun had a shitty breakfast, he would shell Beirut with howitzers (and if someone didn’t have the need to shell someone any particular morning, Israel would be there to put them up to it again). Hezbollah and the Druze Amal militia appeared as the most sane of the entire lot.

      Lebanon used to be a really nice place too!

  9. Henry Moon Pie

    Petit bourgeois facing downward mobility are one of the nastiest political groups historically. They are fertile ground for the growth of fascist impulses.

    A lot of small business owners make decisions regularly that risk employee or customer welfare for the sake of profit.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      In France, the poujadist movement began like that. One of their recruits was Jean-Marie Le Pen, followed by some, but not all, of the Lehideux banking family. Thatcher’s movement was built on similar impulses. She came from such circles.

    2. Off The Street

      What will happen to many of the Acela Class that have to worry increasingly and privately about their own station? Is there much honor or cohesiveness evident in that group?

      WFH has an impact as a type of leveler. That can expose anyone and bring out their own variations of nastiness. Reminds me of old Joyce Carol Oates works, so nothing new under the sun.

  10. cnchal

    . . . In April, Gallup reported that low-income adults were still more likely to fear illness from COVID-19 than financial hardship, which by then had already become acute. Later the same month, an IPSOS poll found that high-income households in 14 countries surveyed, including the U.S., were mostly likely on average to support economic re-opening. The poorer a household, the less likely a respondent was to agree that states should re-open.

    There is no mystery as to why. Being forced into a potential death march for someone else’s profits while making barely enough to feed yourself so you can get up and do it all over again the next day is unappealing as hell. Add the good odds of catching this virus at work, then going through the equivalent of a financial woodchipper for “health care”, it is clearly better to cower in place than cower before the health care system. The losses are forseeable, but if one get’s corona cooties the losses range from financially staggering to death.

    1. Tom Doak

      The poor are not scared of becoming poor. They’ve adapted to that way of life. They might fear becoming homeless for not being able to pay the rent, but they’ve probably contemplated that before, too.

      It’s the people above them on the economic ladder who want businesses to re-open: those who identify with their jobs, who are suddenly afraid of losing their retirement savings, and the “perks” of being semi-well-off. They can’t stand the idea of being brought level with the Deplorables, partly because they know they wouldn’t survive real hardship as well.

  11. flora

    an aside:

    From the New York Magazine quote:

    There’s an old conflict between employers like Kroger and workers like the UFCW’s members; it is far older, in fact, than COVID-19. A great difference in perspective, and thus of opinion, separates bosses from workers at all times….

    Very true, the divide between the financial interests of the owners/employers and their workers/employees, whether it’s a small shop or an international corp. The GOP has always represented the interests of the owners. Fair enough. Sadly, the Dem party represents the owners interests now, too, starting 30 years ago. The latest bailouts are proof the Dems are on the owner/employers side, not the workers/employees. Language policing but no material benefits for the employee class.

    1. Philip

      The process of the Democrats turning to the owner class started in the 1970’s. By then the elected politicians and party officials of the Democrat party had moved to come predominantly from the educated professional classes which are closely tied to Corporate America. By the time Bill Clinton was elected their control had become solidified, hence the 30 years of only changes for the worse since then for median Americans and below. Will it change? On the left only if the Democratic party goes out of Business. For it to go out of Business people will have to stop buying its now fake product, and turn away from the PMC hucksters selling it.

  12. The Rev Kev

    It’s funny about those tech workers when you think about it. All that stuff like communal cafeterias, volleyball courts, free food, virtual golf, conferences, national & international travel and napping pods were much sought after bonuses as was working with a group of your peers. Now every single element of those goodies can be potentially dangerous enough to rate hazard pay. Who would, for a start, lay down in a napping pod anymore unless all the workers were living full-time in the campus with no contact with outside people. All the goodies that made that career tolerable have now been taken away along with the intense socializing. Apple not long ago dropped $5 billion on their circular Apple Park and suddenly that investment I bet is mostly standing empty.

    As for those crowds at the protests, I noticed at the time that most seem to drive pretty good trucks and I could see no rust-buckets. But what I really noticed was how, on two separate occasion, that two individuals say not that they want to get back to work but that they wanted their workers back to work. Very clarifying that. Lambert speculated in 2016 that an important slice of Trump backers were local notables? Well I would say that we are looking at some of these well-off Trump voters here who do not care who they have to sacrifice to save their businesses. I would dearly love to know how many of them were running Airbnb rackets. And these protesters had links for the Whit House along with Trump cheering them. If Trump uses these protesters to force the States to open up, well, just because they open it does not mean that they will come.

  13. rowlf

    I have a dumb question. Why don’t the police check (harass) that the people carrying firearms at these protests are carrying them legally? Some of these people may have 80% lowers (a semi-machined receiver which does not require a serial number at this stage) and the police could have a lot of fun making the protesters prove they haven’t defaced the serial numbers. There may be a few others that are no longer on the right side of their ATF Form 4473s due to warrants and court orders. A picture of the person and the firearm could show if the firearm was a commercially manufactured item or a homebuilt. If the protesters start to realize that they will have to slog through a bunch of legal wait-a-minutes they may decide to leave their version of a barbee doll at home.

    Unless this is all theatre and the firearms were passed out by the props department.

    1. rd

      What was more baffling to me was the video showing the assault rifle carrying people being told to go around the metal detector and allowed in. What is the point of harassing the general population with metal detectors if you allow anti-government gun carrying protestors in without even flinching?

      Another example of security theater.

      1. rowlf

        Maybe they should have posted Firearms Are Prohibited On This Property signs? (The image of the tollbooth in the movie Blazing Saddles comes to mind)

        Build a replica of a one-room schoolhouse and declare the area a school zone?

        1. rd

          Not even Mel Brooks could have come up with much of what is going on in government in this pandemic. Blazing Saddles is looking more and more like a serious drama in this day and age. Similarly, the Onion seems to be having difficulty writing headlines that differentiate itself from the main-stream media.

    2. fajensen

      Police don’t harass white people. One of the family friends, Walid, gets done over every time he crosses the border, with drivers license, car registration & insurance, passport, permit of residence, ‘do you have anything illegal in the car, sir’.

      I drive through on my drivers license. Because, exaclty like him I am a Danish citizen and don’t need papers for ‘nordic’ border crossings – except you still do if you carry a brown face!

      But, yeah, I think the police should *absolutely* give those goons a hard time.

      As it is now, everyone has a license to rush a law-making assembly with assault weapons and the police can only legally intervene AFTER they take people hostage or shoot someone!? That would NOT work out well in Europe, even with our diminished terrorist outfits!!

      1. flora

        Well, yes and no. Yes, they should give them a hard time to be fair. However, in the 90’s the Clinton admin cracked down very hard, fed marshals and even tanks, against a couple of basically, afaik, minding-their-own-business, white separatist religious compounds. Those assaults led to a terrible blow-back in Oklahoma.

        I’m not saying the police should give these armed protestors a pass, but I wonder if some of the protestors ( or their instigators) want a gun-fueled confrontation or some kind of dangerous confrontation. (see Charlottesville). Think of the headlines that would produce. Rather than give any loons or provocateurs an excuse or cause celebre the cops stood back. I don’t know that’s what the reasoning was, but it would make sense, given that this is the US.

        1. neo-realist

          Being a white agitator for the left (or a lefty of any color) is one of the few exceptions for police harassment. Otherwise, they get through life with authorities with a sheet of teflon, with few to no problems with police compared to what black people of all stripes get from the authorities.

      2. rowlf

        Police don’t harass white people.

        I think I need to go look up some pictures from Occupy Wall Street and Iraq War protests…

        On the other hand, there was a White Power protest a few towns over and the unfortunate deputies assigned to keep them separated from the counter-protesters had a hard time not having a Biggus Dickus laughing attack. The WP group was pathetic. The counter-protesters should have brought laugh boxes and bullhorns.

        1. fajensen

          I think I need to go look up some pictures from Occupy Wall Street and Iraq War protests…

          Hippies are not White People :)

          The WP group was pathetic. The counter-protesters should have brought laugh boxes and bullhorn

          Indeed! Taking the piss out off Really Serious Fundamentalists (of any stripe, flavour or denomination) is one of the most effective ways of hurting both them and their cause.

    3. Keith

      I guess because the average cop is not that knowledgeable of the minutia of federal firearms law. It can be quite a bureaucratic maze that most, unless they are in the industry, know much about. I even recall a legal firearms class I took a few years ago that judges can cause havoc during a divorce proceeding if they as a general rule issue protective orders to keep the spouses a apart. That single order requires the owner of a firearm to get it out of their possession, or be in violation of federal law. I do not remember the provision off the top of my head, but if you are going through a divorce with someone that owns a firearm, it is leverage and you could call the police on their for their possession of a firearm while subject to a protective order.

  14. tim

    I keep hearing interviews with small business men who are not anywhere near the bottom of the economic ladder who got basically free money from the PPP because they had a profitable relationship with their banker, lawyer or trade association. They now are bitching because they are supposed to use part of their PPP money to keep paying employees who can’t work because of the shut down.

    They seem to think that they are making some kind of moral argument e.g. no work, no pay but the PPP is the Payroll Protection Program – passed specifically to provide continued income to employees during the shut down. They are also unhappy because the augmented unemployment benefits give people a (temporary) option not to work for slave wages.

    Yes, I get that Trump and his kleptocracy garner plenty of support from billionaires etc but if you want to know where the millions of Trump supporters are, look at the “Petit bourgeois” as described above. They are also often the ones who complain most about regulation because regulations cut into their sleaze profits.

    These are generalizations, yes. But also generally accurate.

    1. rd

      Its a government handout when somebody else gets it. When you get it, it is just a refund of your hard-earned tax dollars.

    2. Tom Doak

      The PPP allowed businesses to keep paying their employees at the same levels as the past year for two free months, as well as their health care and rent and insurance — but they were not allowed to ask employees to take a pay cut and spread it out over MORE than two months. That’s one of the reasons there’s a push to end the lockdown.

      If the business received their loan in the first wave of approvals, it is probably just about to run out now, and they are contemplating whether they want to / can afford to keep paying their employees out of their own pockets in June. I’d guess most believe that business is not going to bounce right back to normal and they are wondering how they will make it and whether they will indeed have to lay off a lot of people.

      1. tim

        The PPP gave out large forgivable loans that essentially allowed businesses to break even for two months after they took the loan. However, businesses had to use 75% of the loan proceeds to pay employees (including a salary for the owner) for the loan to be forgiven by the SBA. Many businesses took the money and then started whining about having to use money to continue to pay employees while their revenue was diminished. The feel like the loan should be forgiven even if they lay off and don;t pay employees – even though that would put them in the same economic position as if the shutdown had not happened.

        The entire PPP program went to businesses connected through their law firms, bankers associations etc. $350 billion was gone in two weeks and I assure you the beneficiaries were not small restaurants in the Dorchester owned by people of color, small bodegas in the Bronx or small independent manufacturers in East St. Louis. We would be able to find out but the SBA did not require demographic information on the loans as it normally does.

    3. HotFlash

      Agreed, it’s these self-made millionaires who are most likely to resent gummint taxes and regulations at a personal level. The big boys don’t stress. They have tax departments, legal departments and ‘government relations’ departments to handle that stuff, and besides — if the regulations bother their profits, they just have them changed.

  15. Alex Cox

    I spoke to a casting director and to a producer friend yesterday. Both have been told that the studios will go back into feature film and TV production in July.

    However, my producer pal informed me that no one can get Covid 19 insurance for a production. So “temperatures will be taken on set and there will be a nurse present. ” Of course he knows that pre- and asymptomatic people won’t have a high temperature and that infections will almost certainly spread among cast and crew.

    Not to worry! The studio will require all cast and crew members to sign a waiver indemnifying the production should they get sick or die.

    What could go wrong?

  16. Worm wood

    You have to be careful about generalizations. On Labor Day 2020 22,000 people flooded into Richmond Virginia to lobby state legislatures to show their belief in their right to keep firearms. It was the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and the crowd seemed quite diverse. Newspaper descriptions (Richmond Times-Dispatch) noted a young male African-American participant, wearing a T-Shirt that read “Black Guns Matter.”

    Would the NC readership consider supporting gun sanctuary cities, counties and towns as a means of creating a national bloc of low to middle-level wage earning majorities of all races, ethnicities and creeds to help stop the degeneration of our civil life? And if not, why not?

    1. flora

      Quite provocative to combine support for the second amendment with support for undocumented workers’ sanctuary city movement. One might almost think this is a strawman sort of question.

      For the record, I support the second amendment but do not support the sanctuary cities movement, which imo amounts to a stealth ‘open borders’ movement that benefits scofflaw employers. (I’m a bad liberal. ha.) Your question seems designed to divide, imo.

      1. Mark Ó Dochartaigh

        I’m not defending the poster to whom you are replying, I doubt if I would agree with them on anything other than the most basic arithmetic functions. But in the Evil Mirror Universe into which we have been warped “Second Amendment Cities” are actually a legal construct all over the South, Midwest, and West.

        1. flora

          are actually a legal construct all over the South, Midwest, and West.

          Here I must confess ignorance that the Bill of Rights has in parts some special, geographic, cultural attention to a particular amendment to the Constitution. For me, the entire Bill of Rights is whole, as are the Beatitudes. As I value in its entirety the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment – freedom of speech, of worship, of the press, to peaceably assemble, the right to petition government for redress of grievances – so I value the Second Amendment, and also the 3rd through 10th amendments.

  17. Tomonthebeach

    Think of the savings!

    I wonder if office buildings are becoming noticeably obsolete. I have long argued that office buildings are monuments to Owner egos. Just look at the Hanock Building or Sears Tower in Chicago – now both renamed as those companies buried themselves in mortgage debt.

    Most employees could work from home and just meet once or twice a week for several hours of coordination and tasking meetings (sorry but Skype, Zoom, etc. just does not cut it – not to mention security issues). My office at NIH was doing work from home when I retired. It was great! I did not have to set foot on the Beltway, I could lunch at home on the cheap, I got a stipend to cover the overhead costs of a home office, and I got a PC if I needed it. Moreover, I usually worked longer hours – time normally spent in the cafeteria or crawling down I-495.

    COVID-19 might force the experiment that will wake up America about working from home. When I and my colleagues surveyed organizations regarding objections to telework, it was rather clear that management mistrust was the main issue. Few office jobs have clear productivity matrices. Thus, bosses felt that being able to see everybody in their office meant they were being productive. LOL. They also felt that pop-up meetings were essential for crisis management. Based upon your own experience, how many pop-up meetings you were dragged into ever achieved more than reassuring a panicked boss that we can handle it? Subsequent scheduled meetings were always needed to actually strategize a response, right? Well, COVID-19 is likely making it clear that telework can work. Whether telework will catch on post-pandemic remains to be seen.

    1. Graham D Shevlin

      The management mistrust gets me every time. Whenever i hear or read managers saying “if I let them work from home I can’t trust that they are getting stuff done”, I feel like saying “if you don’t trust your workers, you need a different set of workers”.
      Alternatively, it might be that they treat their staff like disempowered morons, so the staff that will tolerate this ARE acting like disempowered morons. People often act down to your expectations of them if you have no motivational skills.
      I’m a consultant who has worked from home for most of the last 15 years. My employer gets a lot more hours from me working from home than they would get if they forced me to commute. It also costs them nothing to house and feed me. It is a better deal for both of us.

      1. HotFlash

        “if I let them work from home I can’t trust that they are getting stuff done”

        Absolutely! I would add, “if you can’t tell if they are getting stuff done, you are a piss-poor manager.”

      2. wilroncanada

        Maybe, instead: if you feel you can’t trust your workers, you should get out of management, because, obviously you’ve crash landed against the Peter Principle.

    2. Philip

      Well Yes
      My home town once had four very large office buildings in the centre of town occupied by a large insurance company in the 1980’s. Today it partially occupies only one, and the company is bigger today then in the 1980’s. Of the other three buildings one is now up market apartments, another local government offices (with part of the building demolished), and the last was empty for ten years until recently partially occupied. This has had a very dramatic effect on the lunch time trade in the town centre, and a big knock-on effect on retail as well. To add to that reduction of office space, there are at least three that I know of other former office buildings that have been converted to apartments within 200m of the four insurance company buildings, and a couple of office building long term empty elsewhere in the town centre. Please note this is a town within 1 hours commute of central London. The reduction in needed office space has been on-going for a long time, the last 20 years at least. The swanky offices of the big tech companies are a luxury they COULD afford for reasons of EGO and status, that is not so for other companies especially when property prices, taxes and rents have skyrocketed under cheap money central bank polices. I remember working in an office converted from a chicken shed for 3 months in winter, very cold, but very cheap rent for the business owner! A good number of my friends who work for big companies do part or most of their office work from home and have done for many years. COVID will only accelerate the process of out sourcing costs to others that big corporations are so good at.

  18. dcblogger

    This is a disaster for business interruption insurance. No one has the reserves for this sort of thing. I am convinced that insurance companies are behind the protest.

    1. tim

      Property insurance contracts generally have exclusions from losses arising from war, pandemics, terrorism etc. “Insurance” only makes sense if you are providing protection from isolated events within a large pool of insureds. Policies generally exclude hazards that would likely impact most or all of the insured base for the very reason you articulate.

      For this reason, there was significant litigation revolving around the legal characterization of September 11th and why the US Treasury explored having the federal gov offer “Terrorism Insurance”.

      Nonetheless, I’m sure many lawyers will be gainfully employed dancing around these issues for a while.

      1. rd

        Classic example is “flood insurance” which is specifically not covered by most property insurance packages. The US government sells flood insurance instead.

        It should be a short court fight if the policy specifically excludes “pandemic”.

        1. tim

          You’d think, but read all the litigation surrounding Sept. 11th insurance coverage. Also, insurance companies can take surprising positions based on reinsurance etc. Lawyers can be very clever when the losses are in the $billions and litigation attorneys will likely prospser.
          Yes, good point on the flood insurance.

  19. @pe

    > Lambert speculated in 2016 that an important slice of Trump backers were local notables: the successful business man who owned Taco Bell franchises, or a couple of car dealerships, or was a homebuilder, or had inherited oil and gas properties.

    True enough — but Lambert is a class reductionist, which really limits the power of this speculation. It’s the evangelical-fundamentalist axis that joins local sales/small business owners (which anyone who has lived in middle-America recognizes as the backbone of the church-as-sales-opportunity) with tech powerhouses like Mercer and his libertarian allies, as well as the church universities and church organizations that give them real network-power, in addition to some church-meat in the pews, and stretches their organizations across the Americas (and into the poor Navajo lands now dying of COVID because of their evangelical-church going ways, like happened at the start of the show in S. Korea). Bunch of engineers also back this group more for cultural identity reasons than class reasons, and they also do the libertarian compromise between the church-ideology and their needed academic background (leading you to the Musk-scented ones).

    That identity is pitted against the secular/academic axis, which connects other tech giants, the PMC proper, academia, and it’s lower working class reaches into the teachers and allied unions, the professional leadership for many minority groups, on top of the the foundations like Gates & Ford.

    The point is that a class analysis is important — but these organizations are vertical to class and represent different but interlocking elements of these elements (engineers cross-cut all over the place because of their diverse cultural identities, for example). It be nice if primitive Marxism was enough, but it’s clearly not.

    Of course, where it’s important, it’s really important — neither of these groups are driven by working class interests, even if they both have some working class foot soldiers (something the hard-left always tries to wave away, going all the way back to the French revolution and the uprising in the Vendee).

    1. tim

      Excellent points! I’d never thought about it this way before, but certainly resonates with my experience and observations. I sold a house in an area where all the real estate agents and ancillary services all belonged to to the same evangelical church. They all over-charged and did a lousy job and made your life miserable if you brought in anyone that wasn’t part of their little mafioso.

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