2:00PM Water Cooler 5/11/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

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At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching. All the charts are becoming dull — approaching nominal, if you accept the “new normal” of cases, for example.

Vaccination by region:

“Many police officers spurn coronavirus vaccines as departments hold off on mandates” [WaPo]. “Police officers were among the first front-line workers to gain priority access to coronavirus vaccines. But their vaccination rates are lower than or about the same as those of the general public, according to data made available by some of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies. The reluctance of police to get the shots threatens not just their own health, but also the safety of people they’re responsible for guarding, monitoring and patrolling, experts say. At the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, just 39 percent of employees have gotten at least one dose, officials said, compared to more than 50 percent of eligible adults nationwide. In Atlanta, 36 percent of sworn officers have been vaccinated. And a mere 28 percent of those employed by the Columbus Division of Police — Ohio’s largest police department — report having received a shot.”

“In the U.S., It’s Getting Better” [Bloomberg]. “The U.S. is by no means out of the woods. The slowdown in new cases is coinciding with a drop in the pace of vaccinations, which are crucial to keeping the deadly virus at bay. The latest vaccination rate across the 50 states is 2.29 million doses per day, on average, down from more than 3.37 million doses a day on April 13.”

NY: “Most Of New York City Remains Undervaccinated As COVID Restrictions Lift” [The Gothamist]. “About 44% of New York City residents have received at least one COVID-19 shot, and about 32% are fully vaccinated. But some neighborhoods are much further along than others. In wealthier and whiter zip codes, more than two-thirds of residents are at least partially vaccinated (one zip code in the Financial District is at 89%). Most neighborhoods in upper Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island are well below half their populations being fully vaccinated. East New York’s three zip codes, on average, sit at 34% with at least one shot and 24% fully vaccinated—even as the governor and mayor lift restrictions on social venues and city offices. By the time Israel rolled back its lockdown in mid-March, 50% of its residents had been fully vaccinated, and 60% had taken one dose. Israel’s population is similar in size to New York City.”

Case count by United States regions:

“The Math That Explains the End of the Pandemic” [New York Times]. “Places with rising vaccination rates, like the United States, can look forward to case numbers coming down a lot in the meantime. And sooner than you might think. That’s because cases decline via the principle of exponential decay. … Exponential growth means case numbers can double in just a few days. Exponential decay is its opposite. Exponential decay means case numbers can halve in the same amount of time. Every case of Covid-19 that is prevented cuts off transmission chains, which prevents many more cases down the line. That means the same precautions that reduce transmission enough to cause a big drop in case numbers when cases are high translate into a smaller decline when cases are low…. The end of the pandemic will therefore probably look like this: A steep drop in cases followed by a longer period of low numbers of cases, though cases will rise again if people ease up on precautions too soon. This pattern has already emerged in the United States.”

TX: “School Reopenings, Mobility, and COVID-19 Spread: Evidence from Texas” [NBER]. “Previous evidence suggests that schools can be reopened safely if community spread is low and public health guidelines are followed. However, in Texas, reopenings often occurred alongside high community spread and at near capacity, making it difficult to meet social distancing recommendations. Using event-study models and hand-collected instruction modality and start dates for all school districts, we find robust evidence that reopening Texas schools gradually but substantially accelerated the community spread of COVID-19. Results from our preferred specification imply that school reopenings led to at least 43,000 additional COVID-19 cases and 800 additional fatalities within the first two months. We then use SafeGraph mobility data to provide evidence that spillovers to adults’ behaviors contributed to these large effects. Median time spent outside the home on a typical weekday increased substantially in neighborhoods with large numbers of school-age children, suggesting a return to in-person work or increased outside-of-home leisure activities among parents.”

The Midwest in detail:

Continued good news. But Michigan’s decrease is agonizingly slow.

Big states (New York, Florida, Texas, California):

Continued good news.

Test positivity:

Down, except for the West, now flat.

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“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 Administration

“Life after Obama: Jay Carney is a top advisor to Jeff Bezos and architect of Amazon’s HQ2” [CNBC]. From 2019, still germane. This paragraph: “Carney is in a garage band with former deputy national security advisor Antony Blinken, journalists Dave McKenna and David Segal, and Eli Attie, a screenwriter for “The West Wing.” The members are spread out from Los Angeles to London, so they only get together about once a year to record songs they know will never get released, according to people with knowledge of the group.” • These people all seem to know each other.

“USAID chief Samantha Power: Getting shots ‘into arms’ can restore US global leadership” [The Hill]. “Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Samantha Power said in an interview published on Tuesday that she wishes to restore the prestige of the U.S. by getting vaccines administered in countries around the world. Speaking to Washington Post senior national security correspondent Karen DeYoung, Power, a former ambassador to the United Nations, said she wanted to revive USAID’s power and responsibility, which DeYoung said has waned since it was created in the 1960s. According to Power, part of this goal could be realized if USAID ‘is unleashed to design programs around getting vaccines into arms in countries where we’ve worked for generations, for 60 years.'” • Hey, remember when the CIA used a vaccination program as cover to flush out Bin Laden in Pakistan? Good times. Best stick to IP and manufacturing, not injections.

UPDATE “Bernie Sanders and Pramila Jayapal: We must fix the gaping holes in Medicare” [WaPo]. “Today, everyone in America aged 65 or older is guaranteed health-care benefits through Medicare regardless of income or medical condition, while the official poverty rate for seniors is now less than 9 percent. That is the good news. The bad news is that, since its inception in 1965, Medicare has not covered such basic health-care needs as hearing, dental care and vision. The result: Millions of senior citizens have teeth rotting in their mouths, are unable to hear what their children and grandchildren say or can’t read a newspaper because of failing eyesight. It is a cruel irony that older Americans do not have coverage for these benefits at the time when they need it the most.” •¨It’s a brutal demonstration of political power by liberal Democrats that they’ve been able to take #MedicareForAll “off the table” in the midst of a pandemic (and when free vaccines show that the way forward is health care that’s free at the point of delivery). So I’m glad that Sanders and Jayapal are in there punching, but how different it should be!

Democrats en Deshabille

“Kyrsten Sinema doesn’t feel the need to explain herself” [The 19th]. “[I]t is becoming increasingly unclear whether Sinema’s continued desire to hear from her Republican colleagues, but not explain herself to her more liberal constituents, is the best way to achieve the kind of durable change she has sought during her political career…. Who is, and isn’t, able to get an audience with Sinema has become the subject of much discussion in Arizona’s political circles. Trish Muir, the chair of the Pima Area Labor Federation, a local council of the AFL-CIO in the Tucson area, which is historically home to Arizona’s Democratic base, said that the federation’s members ‘are not just liberal Democrats’ and from ‘all walks and all political beliefs’ but have nevertheless been unable to get Sinema’s attention. ‘Outside of calling her general office number, I don’t know how to get ahold of this woman,’ Muir said, noting that she is in regular contact with Arizona’s other Democratic senator, Mark Kelly, who ‘has my cell phone number.'” • The least Sinema could do is give labor lip service.

“Opposition to Newsom recall grows as Caitlyn Jenner, GOP generate little support, poll finds” [Los Angeles Times]. “The campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom has failed to gain momentum in recent months as significantly more California voters favor keeping him in office, and only anemic support has surfaced for reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner while other Republican candidates hoping to take the governor’s place have little backing, according to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll that was co-sponsored by the L.A. Times…. And as governor of the most populous state in the union, Newsom possesses ample power and opportunities to court California’s electorate before the recall makes its way to the ballot. Aided by the state’s economic recovery and a $75.7-billion budget surplus, Newsom on Monday proposed sending $600 state stimulus checks to millions of Californians along with a $5-billion rental assistance plan.”

Republican Funhouse

“Stop saying Republicans are ‘cowards’ who fear Trump. The truth is far worse.” [Greg Sargent, WaPo]. “Take the shenanigans in Arizona, where GOP state legislators have commissioned a recount of ballots in Maricopa County. It is being conducted by a firm whose chief executive has promoted nonsense about fraud in the 2020 election. What’s more, the GOP-controlled county board of election supervisors has blasted the recount while vouching for the election’s integrity. Even one Republican supporter of the recount has now denounced it as ‘ridiculous’ and ’embarrassing.’ Given all this, it’s impossible to chalk this effort up to ‘cowardice’ or ‘fear of Trump.’ It is a deliberate action plainly undertaken to manufacture fake evidence for the affirmative purpose of further undermining faith in our electoral system going forward.

UPDATE “President Bush’s portraits of immigrants reflect a lifelong kindness to strangers” [Dallas Morning News]. “George W. Bush, the governor of Texas, had spotted me and somehow innately understood my discomfort in that moment. Across that dusty dance floor, through throngs of people exponentially more important than me, Gov. Bush came right up to me, looked me square in the eye, extended his hand for a shake, and said, “Hello young man, how are you this evening?”… I have never forgotten the kindness and sincerity Gov. Bush, now former President Bush, showed to me that evening and has shown to so many other strangers during his public service.” • This is so, so stupid. In fact, Bush was an extremely effective politician, and this anecdote shows why (“When you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made”). I think the Iraqi strangers tortured at Abu Ghraib or incinerated with white phosphorus might take issue with the headline. Man, the propaganda on George Bush is so thick you can cut it with a knife. To what end? A government of national unity? A seat on the Supreme Court? The political class — led by the Obamas — is putting so much effort into Bush’s rehabilitation there must be some political calculus involved.


“Study Finds Connection Between Believing Russia Rigged 2016 Election And Believing 2020 Election Was Foolproof” [Babylon Bee]. “The study also found that people who believed the 2016 election was trustworthy and legitimate now believe the 2020 election was completely fixed.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Viral Visualizations: How Coronavirus Skeptics Use Orthodox Data Practices to Promote Unorthodox Science Online” (PDF)[CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems]. From the Introduction:

Almost every US state now hosts a data dashboard on their health department website to show how the pandemic is unfolding. However, despite a preponderance of evidence that masks are crucial to reducing viral transmission [25, 29, 105], protestors across the United States have argued for local governments to overturn their mask mandates and begin reopening schools and businesses. A pandemic that affects a few, they reason, should not impinge on the liberties of a majority to go about life as usual. To support their arguments, these protestors and activists have created thousands of their own visualizations, often using the same datasets as health officials. This paper investigates how these activist networks use rhetorics of scientific rigor to oppose these public health measures. Far from ignoring scientific evidence to argue for individual freedom, antimaskers often engage deeply with public datasets and make what we call “counter-visualizations”—visualizations using orthodox methods to make unorthodox arguments—to challenge mainstream narratives that the pandemic is urgent and ongoing. By asking community members to “follow the data,” these groups mobilize data visualizations to support significant local changes.


These findings suggest that the ability for the scientific community and public health departments to better convey the urgency of the US coronavirus pandemic may not be strengthened by introducing more downloadable datasets, by producing “better visualizations” (e.g., graphics that are more intuitive or efficient), or by educating people on how to better interpret them. This study shows that there is a fundamental epistemological conflict between maskers and anti-maskers, who use the same data but come to such different conclusions. As science and technology studies (STS) scholars have shown, data is not a neutral substrate that can be used for good or for ill [14, 46, 84]. Indeed, anti-maskers often reveal themselves to be more sophisticated in their understanding of how scientific knowledge is socially constructed than their ideological adversaries, who espouse naive realism about the “objective” truth of public health data. Quantitative data is culturally and historically situated; the manner in which it is collected, analyzed, and interpreted reflects a deeper narrative that is bolstered by the collective effervescence found within social media communities. Put differently, there is no such thing as dispassionate or objective data analysis. Instead, there are stories: stories shaped by cultural logics, animated by personal experience, and entrenched by collective action. This story is about how a public health crisis—refracted through seemingly objective numbers and data visualizations—is part of a broader battleground about scientific epistemology and democracy in modern American life.

As usual, liberal Democrats think their opponents are stupid, when they’re not. DDascinating and well worth a read.

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“Hey, I’m runnin’ for mayor here!” [Politico]. “The Democratic mayoral primary is the most consequential election in New York City in recent memory. It is the first competitive race for mayor since 2013, and the winner will likely go on to inherit a city still reeling from a deadly pandemic, an economy in crisis and a dramatic spike in crime. To rank the candidates, we considered five statistics: donations, contributors, share of New York City donors, remaining cash and average donation size.” #1, Andrew Yang, #2 Scott Stringer, #3 Eric Adams, #4 Dianne Morales, #5 Maya Wiley, #6 Kathryn Garcia, #7 Raymond McGuire, #8 Shaun Donovan.

“Philadelphia Embraced Larry Krasner’s Progressive Vision. But He May Be Running Out of Time” [The Trace]. “n January 2018, Larry Krasner walked into the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office fresh from a historic victory. A PBS camera crew followed, capturing him and his core staff mapping out a plan to drop prosecution of a series of low-level offenses, including possession of small amounts of marijuana, crack and powder cocaine possession under a few grams, and prostitution. The meeting offered Krasner more than just a chance to set policy. As he sat back in his chair and declared the old ways of thinking about prosecution in Philadelphia had to go, no matter the political consequences, Krasner was girding his office for battle. ‘A lot of the entrenched power in the city believes in things based on ideas they formed 25 years ago, and they are going to attack us for doing different things,’ Krasner said…. as Krasner runs for reelection in a May 18 primary, the honeymoon is over. Philadelphia’s homicide rate soared in 2020, and Krasner’s position on guns has drawn criticism from all corners. The city’s police are using the crime surge and Krasner’s tactics against him. ‘Krasner’s catch-and-release plan is not working,’ said John McNesby, who leads the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police union. ‘We have people on the street who should not be on the street.’ Since Krasner’s successful run in 2017, the nation’s political landscape has changed. If the protests in the summer of 2020 were a litmus test of support for police reform, Krasner seemed to be on the right side of history. The mainstream caught up to this once-novel theory. ‘Defund the police’ became shorthand for deeper efforts to transform public safety. But the protest movement wasn’t the only event dominating the news. Even as COVID-19 lockdown measures reduced overall crime, homicides in cities like Chicago, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Nashville, and St. Louis either remained relatively high or increased. In Philadelphia, 499 people were killed in 2020, the highest total in more than five decades….. Critics say Krasner’s stance on guns drove the historic surge in homicides across Philadelphia in 2020, although there’s no evidence to support any causal claims.”

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Job Openings” [Trading Economics]. “The number of job openings in the US rose by 597 thousand from the previous month to 8.123 million in March 2021, the highest level since the series began in December 2000 and well above market expectations of 7.5 million. Jobs were created in a number of industries led by accommodation and food services (+185,000); state and local government education (+155,000); and arts, entertainment, and recreation (+81,000). Meanwhile, the number of job openings decreased in health care and social assistance (-218,000).”

Small Business Optimism: “April 2021 Small Business Optimism Up In April But Job Openings Remain At Record Highs” [Econintersect]. “The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index rose to 99.8 in April, an increase of 1.6 points from March. The Optimism Index has increased 4.8 points over the past three months since January but a record 44% of owners reported job openings they could not be filled.”

Debt: “February 2021 Loan Performance: Small Uptick In Overall Delinquencies, Serious Delinquencies Continued To Decrease” [Econintersect]. “The Loan Performance Insights Report for February 2021 5.7% of all mortgages in the U.S. were in some stage of delinquency (30 days or more past due, including those in foreclosure), representing a 2.1-percentage point increase in the overall delinquency rates compared to February 2020. The slight (0.1 percentage point) increase over January 2021 marks the first uptick in month-to-month national delinquency since August 2020.”

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Commodities: “Gas Pumps Run Dry in U.S. South as Pipeline Shutdown Bites” [Bloomberg]. “From Virginia to Louisiana, convenience stores and corner gas stations are turning away customers as tanks tap out amid panic buying. The White House relaxed some environmental rules in a bid to allow gasoline to flow in from other parts of the country. One Washington D.C.-area fuel distributor warned that ‘catastrophic; shortages are imminent and called on government officials to order school buses to stay off the roads. Four days into the crisis, Colonial Pipeline Co. has only managed to restart a small segment of the pipeline as a stopgap measure and doesn’t expect to be able to substantially restore service before the weekend.” • Colonial’s ginormous leak, naturally, got almost no coverage. Colonial’s quite the company, isn’t it?

Retail: “Walmart vs Amazon: the battle to dominate grocery” [Financial Times]. “Spearheading it is Stephanie Landry, an Amazon veteran who launched Prime Now grocery delivery back in 2014 and has been involved in Amazon’s previous ventures in food. She will need to learn lessons from them, including Amazon’s $13.4bn purchase of the high-end Whole Foods chain in 2017. The deal alarmed supermarkets, but their fears have not been realised. One problem was that Whole Foods stores, more compact than a typical Target or Walmart, became clogged as staff picked items for delivery while walk-in customers tried to shop.” • Amazon is not a stupid company. But that was stupid. No attention given to aisle layout? In retail? Really?

Shipping: “Insurer of ship that blocked Suez Canal says reduced claim still high” [Reuters]. “UK Club, an insurer of the container ship that blocked the Suez Canal in March, said on Monday a reduced compensation claim made by the Egyptian authorities for almost $600 million to free the vessel and cover related losses was still ‘exceptionally large.’ The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) adjusted its claim from an initial $916 million in an effort to settle out of court, SCA head Osama Rabie told private TV network MBC Masr on Saturday.”

Shipping: “Commodities boom sends bulk shipping costs to decade highs” [Financial Times]. “‘China’s insatiable appetite for iron ore has been the single most important factor,’ said Ulrik Uhrenfeldt Andersen, chief executive of Golden Ocean, the largest listed owner of capesize ships. Iron ore, a crucial source of profits for some of the world’s biggest miners, hit a record high of almost $230 a tonne this week as Chinese steel mills cranked up production to make the most of high domestic prices. This followed the introduction of production curbs in Tangshan, China’s top steelmaking city, as part of a pollution crackdown. However, the move only served to reduce capacity and push up domestic prices, which mills in other parts of the country have seized on.”

The Bezzle: “The Autonomous Vehicle World Is Shrinking — It’s Overdue” [The Verge]. “After years of positive vibes [propaganda] about the future of autonomous vehicles and nearly unrestricted access to cash from Kool-Aid-drunk venture capitalists, the AV industry is confronting some hard truths. The first is that autonomous vehicles are going to take a lot longer to reach mass scale than previously thought. The second is that it’s going to be a lot more expensive, too. And the third hard truth: going it alone is no longer a viable option…. The mid-level engineers always knew this to be true, [Reilly Brennan, general partner at venture capital firm Trucks] said. It was the CEOs who were making the erroneous predictions about the availability of self-driving taxis by 2020. “I think the CEOs of those companies knew that they were going to be playing golf by 2020,” he said.” • NC readers will not be surprised by any of this. The whole piece is worth a read.

Manufacturing: “EXCLUSIVE Tesla puts brake on Shanghai land buy as U.S.-China tensions weigh – sources [Reuters]. “U.S. electric car maker Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) has halted plans to buy land to expand its Shanghai plant and make it a global export hub, people familiar with the matter said, due to uncertainty created by U.S.-China tensions. With 25% tariffs on imported Chinese electric vehicles imposed on top of existing levies under former U.S. President Donald Trump still in place, Tesla now intends to limit the proportion of China output in its global production, two of the four people said”

Manufacturing: “Boeing 737 MAX deliveries shrink to four planes in April due to electrical issue” [Reuters]. “Boeing Co (BA.N) said on Tuesday 737 MAX jet deliveries fell to just four airplanes in April from 19 in the previous month, as the U.S. planemaker’s best-selling aircraft struggles with an electrical problem that has re-grounded part of the fleet. Boeing said last month it was halting deliveries of the jet again due to the electrical problem.”

Mr Market: “Wall Street stocks join global sell-off as inflation concerns mount” [Financial Times]. “Wall Street stocks joined a global equities sell-off as concerns mounted that rising inflation will prompt central banks to tighten monetary policy. The Nasdaq Composite index, whose largest constituents include big tech groups Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Tesla, pared back morning losses of about 2 per cent to be down 0.6 per cent at lunchtime in New York. The broader-based S&P 500 index slid 0.9 per cent, with all of its sectors in the red. Concerns have surfaced that sustained high inflation could force the US Federal Reserve to reduce its $120bn of monthly bond purchases that have boosted financial assets since last March.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 50 Neutral (previous close: 53 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 51 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 11 at 12:12pm.

The Biosphere

“‘Forests are not renewable’: the felling of Sweden’s ancient trees” [Guardian]. The deck: “Forests cover 70% of the country, but many argue the Swedish model of replacing old-growth forests with monoculture plantations is bad for biodiversity.” • “Many argue”?

“U.S. Set to Greenlight Vineyard Wind Project” [Marine Link]. “The Biden administration is on Tuesday set to approve the first major U.S. offshore wind farm, the Vineyard Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts, according to two sources with knowledge of the process. Final approval will be announced by the Department of Interior, which hopes to launch a new domestic energy industry along the U.S. East Coast that will help create jobs and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.” • I’m not enthusiastic about wrecking the viewshed, and for Maine offshore wind, I’m even less enthusiastic about all the power (and the profit) going out of state. But I’m even less enthusiastic about cooking the planet with coal, oil, and gas. So….

Health Care

Handy chart on school reopenings:

Proper school ventilation doesn’t have to be expensive:

Party hearty:

I’ve got an idea! Let’s try shaming!

Our Famously Free Press

“Why I Did Not Take A Selfie with Obama” (interview) [Matt Taibbi, Conversations with Slava]. Taibbi: “When I was sent out to cover Barack Obama in 2008 – I liked Obama, I think all the reporters did, we all thought he was cool -, but when I first went on the plane, I went back into the press section and I saw that all over the press section the reporters had pasted pictures of themselves posing with Barack Obama. I was like a high school yearbook room, you know. This was like a ritual that everyone has done where, you know: “Oh, we have all taken our own cool pictures with the cool candidate.” And again, back in the seventies, you would never have seen reporters, you know, doing that kind of thing. It was considered unseemly to be seen even shaking hands with a politician and there was a big culture shift in the business where suddenly the idea is we are on the other side of the rope line now, you know, we are part of the system, we don’t mind being pals with the president or the candidate. I was really shocked by that. It took me a while to get over that. And I had arguments with people on the plane about that. But for me that’s the perfect illustration of how this generation of reporters doesn’t see itself as separate in the same way that people in Seymour Hersh’s day would have, for instance.” • Again, journalists think of themselves as in the same class as those they cover. This interview, which precedes the Substack and cancel culture madness, is well worth a read.

Guillotine Watch

I think Bezos got a little wobbly, mentally, in the last few years. Check the detail here:

Class Warfare

“The Solution Is Not Always Stomping On Workers” [Esquire]. Only sometimes? “‘The disappointing jobs report makes it clear that paying people not to work is dampening what should be a stronger jobs market,’ the Chamber said in a statement dashed off almost immediately after the report was released. ‘One step policymakers should take now is ending the $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit. Based on the Chamber’s analysis, the $300 benefit results in approximately one in four recipients taking home more in unemployment than they earned working.'” • Well, that’s a miserable wage and a miserable life, isn’t it! Maybe those businesses should fail, and be replaced by businesses that can pay workers more and still be going concerns?

“The Debate Over Service Work and Unemployment Benefits Shows Why Marxism Is Right” [Luke Savage, Jacobin]. “With very few exceptions, low-wage work is a meat grinder designed to extract the most labor for the least compensation permitted by law, less scrupulous owners and managers cutting corners or skirting regulations wherever they think they can get away with it. By and large, it’s not something any rational person would choose to do (let alone enjoy) unless they had no other option — a reality impressed on me again last week as America’s business and restaurant lobbies complained of worker shortages and elected politicians dutifully regurgitated their talking points…. This kind of line might be pretty standard fare in American politics, but it’s also a very revealing statement about how a large swath of the US economy actually functions — the implication being that the only thing keeping many businesses in low-wage sectors going is millions of people forced to sell their labor at bargain-basement prices because the alternative is quite literally destitution.” • For example:

“Space Colonization Is A Capitalist Perception Management Op” [Caitlin Johnstone]. “Space colonization is largely a capitalist perception management op promoted by the likes of Musk and Bezos to strengthen the narrative that it’s okay to continue the world-raping global capitalist principle of infinite growth on a finite world because we can escape the catastrophic ecological consequences of that paradigm by fleeing to space. ‘Ecocidal capitalism is fine, we’ll just go to space before it kills us!’ is the message we’re all meant to absorb. And too many do. A large obstacle to waking people up to the existential crises we are facing as a species is the blind faith that technology will save us from the consequences of our mass-scale behavior, and therefore we don’t need to change. Which suits the world’s richest men perfectly. But it’s a lie. Humanity will never colonize space. We are not separate or separable from this planet in that way.” • Elon makes it to Mars and all his gut bacteria die. Hilarity ensues!

News of the Wired

“How cities will fossilise” [BBC]. “Like other wealthy cities, Shanghai will be vigorously defended against sea level rise, but climate feedback loops mean that the oceans will creep upwards for centuries to come. When the water does become unmanageable, there will likely be a slow abandonment, with the wealthiest leaving first. Poorer people, with nowhere to go, may have to adapt to semi-submerged conditions. Over several hundred years, the upper levels of Shanghai Tower will decay as wind and water erode them. Perhaps they’ll be weakened, too, by scavengers harvesting valuable materials. If the lowest levels have managed to remain above water, only the bottom one or two storeys will remain standing, surrounded by a rubble layer of fallen debris. The inevitable inundation may come from the sea, or from the collapse of the massive Three Gorges Dam higher up the Yangtze river. But as it floods, the water will bring vast amounts of mud and sediment that will cover the ground floor and subsurface levels like a wax seal. After 500 years, only a low-lying island would remain where the tower once stood, streaked red by oxidised iron left over from the four immense steel supercolumns that once held it in place. The real story will be below ground.” • Reminds me of Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140….

“Supplemental: The Streets of Paris” (podcast) [Mike Duncan, Revolutions]. • Unexpectedly moving essay from an American in Paris: the streets of Paris during France’s victory in the World Cup, during the gilets jaunes, and during the first French Covid lockdown.

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DL writes: “From the wilds of the Bronx.”

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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. NotTimothyGeithner

    Oh no, windmills off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard! The cause of Ted Kennedy’s life has just been ruined! I guess his was Cape Cod…still. Won’t people consider Teddy’s legacy?

  2. Brindle

    Vestiges of slavery…
    “— the implication being that the only thing keeping many businesses in low-wage sectors going is millions of people forced to sell their labor at bargain-basement prices because the alternative is quite literally destitution.”

    1. Mikel

      And none of that, despite the narratives by economists and their theories, has anything to do with the economic well-being of an alleged civilization. It’s about power and greed.

  3. zagonostra

    >“Many police officers spurn coronavirus vaccines as departments hold off on mandates” – [WaPo].

    Interesting and somewhat related is that McDonald’s is partnering with the Biden Administration to provide information on COVID-19 vaccine, Uber and Lyft are giving free rides to vaccine sites and there are stories of giving out “Joints for Jabs,” and giving free beer to college students, all to encourage getting the vaccine.

    What to make to make of all this?


    1. Jason

      What to make to make of all this?

      What to make of what? The nauseatingly superficial nature of mass society?

    2. Hepativore

      One thing that a lot of people like myself have encountered with getting the COVID-19 vaccine, is that while the vaccine itself is technically “free” many vaccination sites and clinics will tack on a $40-$60 “administrative fee” that you will have to pay up front if you are uninsured like myself. I had to do some shopping around for a place where I live that actually offered the vaccine without any strings attached.

      This is not a critique of the vaccines themselves, but an example of even things that are supposed to be freely available in the US healthcare system have private institutions all scrambling to get their cut and they especially take advantage of people who cannot afford health insurance.

    3. Carla

      People don’t trust their president, but McDonald’s is a “trusted, independent source”? Thought I was reading the Onion.

    4. ambrit

      It’s everywhere. Every few days, YouTube will put in, at the third row from the top of the matrix of “viewing opportunities” a feature variously titled, “Learn about Covid” or “Learn about the vaccines.” The videos on offer are all, uniformly, versions of the “official version” of ‘science’ and ‘public health.’ In other words, Propaganda.
      I do not know enough about the underlying science to definitively state whether the mRNA vaccines are safe or not. However, seeing the sheer immensity of the dysfunction in the “official” response to the Pandemic, I am reflexively skeptical.
      The Precautionary Principle has gone “out the window.”
      Incidentally, any “public health” entity that includes the economic effects of any response to a pandemic in their calculations is guilty of incompetence, malfeasance, and sheer bloody mindedness.
      Public health is not like forest management. You cannot expect a sterilizing effect from allowing the underbrush, (read, vulnerable populations,) to burn off.
      The present iteration of the American public health establishment’s response to the Pandemic looks eerily like Social Darwinism.

      1. ChristopherJ

        Thank you, Ambrit. It is social Darwinism, it being any public health response which is reliant on vaccines. Unless you can create an environment where the virus is largely non existent, ie the elimination strategy, the virus will still be circulating in your communities forever.
        Forever means no travel, even if vaccinated, as there are plenty of cases where vaccinated people have had covid, with or without symptoms, and are hence capable of infecting other people. Forever means many of you will need to avoid crowds and mask up forever, which many clearly cannot do where they are not being paid to remain at home.
        I feel that even if things were to get like India or Brazil in the USA, the public health response would not waiver. Truly shocking for us to read

    5. Louis Fyne

      why not team up with taxi cab companies as well? Literal small businesses when compared to Uber. of course, we all know the answer, NYC’s Yellow Cab Association can’t afford any big lobbyists, nor hires ex-White Houseadministration officials to be on their board of directors.

      if you’re a sci-fi fan, you may get this reference…the future is “Blade Runner” Uber-Lyft will replace the MTA/your local mass transit agency and I won’t be surprised if one day McDonald’s will be allowed to accept SNAP benefits for payment.

  4. Otis B Driftwood

    The comments on that Kimmel video are brutal. What a terrible idea this was.

    I got the Pfizer vax. The second dose gave me chills, a fever and fatigue that lasted three days. So yes, concerns about the vaccine are not irrational.

    Would I do it again? Yes.

    I understand societal obligation and the math behind herd immunity and have decided the risk is worth it.

  5. petal

    I almost sent you that Jimmy Kimmel shaming piece the other day but was so p-ssed off about it I walked away for the evening.

  6. Alternate Delegate

    This statement is incorrect: “Humanity will never colonize space. We are not separate or separable from this planet in that way.

    Thinking life is vastly bigger than capitalism.

    Thinking life is going to be bigger than biology.

    In fact, thinking life will go out into the larger universe.

    If we don’t kill ourselves on this planet first.

    1. Ranger Rick

      Kim Stanley Robinson makes a regular appearance here, so it would be appropriate to plug his book Aurora, a profoundly pessimistic take on what would happen if humanity tried to leave the solar system.

      1. Hepativore

        I think we have an obligation to try and colonize other planets/moons or create artificial habitats in space eventually. This is because I think it is unwise for humanity to put all of its eggs in one basket as all it takes is one major meteor impact, supervolcano eruption, or similar planet-wide natural disaster and we would all be doomed along with many of the other plants and animals on Earth. Since we are the first ever species on our world to be able to modify our environment on such a large scale, we could also take specimen/genetic samples of Earth organisms with us to colonies so that they do not go extinct if something did happen to Earth.

        Now, with that being said, I do not think that we should let space colonization be privatized and in the hands of a few wealthy individuals. Hopefully, by the time we do end up colonizing space we will have put an end to neoliberalism.

        1. Alfred

          Humanity has already had a more devastating effect on the Earth than all of the natural disasters that have occurred. Taking hapless “specimens” if we are obligated to flee to what can not compare to what we have destroyed is par for the arrogant course of … I don’t know what to call it … those who believe we are the only “thinking beings” around?

          1. BlakeFelix

            I don’t know, there have been some pretty epic natural disasters. The oxygenation of the atmosphere killed most everything, the SO2 cyanobacteria kill most everything once in a while, triggered by things we don’t understand but are in my opinion quite possibly toying with. The big meteor gets most of the attention, and supervolcanoes are dramatic, but when the whole atmosphere goes poisonous you learn to hide or suck it up and die. Also, Elon Musks Starship program looks to be doing amazingly well to me, we are on course to be spacefaring before long.
            And you can argue that humanity is terrible, and should have never left the first cave in Africa, but I am more of a Hume~manitarian, beist thou a philosopher but first beist thou first a good man. Or go into viral gain of function research, apparently…

        2. freebird

          How many of the 7.9 billion of us do you think you can transport, Mr. Scott? I guarantee you it will be only the wealthy who catch a ride. And it will be another travesty if the little people have to fund costly ‘exploration’ to places we should leave the heck alone.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Lots of myths and memes to connect to, in thinking about this. At the full-comfort end of the spectrum, “WALL-E” Then there’s “Elysium,” and “The Expanse.” For business models, think the “Alien” series. “Total Recall,” if you’re into Schwarzenegger. And “Outland,” for the Sean Connery fans. Humans will bring their junk and sh@t and “capitalism” with them.

            All this concern about “saving the species:” what is worth saving, of a bunch of naked apes the arc of whose political economy most resembles the Evil Aliens in “Independence Day”?

            Most of us fear death, but sure go about our daily lives shedding death on others and ourselves, even on our “loved ones,” sending our boys off to war, sidestream tobacco smoke, industrial pollution from our consumer choices, can’t even squeeze universal health care out of the politicians and oil-igarchs ho own and rule us, left, right and center.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Kind of elided life with we there. Life should be fine on this planet for the next billion years according to current estimates. We should be fine, as an existential concept, for the usual span of a breakout species. I’m optimistic, only rats can keep up with us.

      If there are good spots for life in the solar system, Chicxulub, et al. should have given them plenty of invasive species.

    1. Doc Octagon

      Except this story ran on Sputnik a month ago and the tone which follows is the Defense Minister trying to drum up scientific interest in his home state in Siberia. The Onion-esque is usually outside of state-media’s wheelhouse, and the area in question is Tuva, a formerly independent state occupied by Russia in 1944, so I would say the story is deadly serious political overture of increased defense largesse. Plus, it functions as a subtle reminder the Mongolian Tuvans who speak Mandarin are a historically conquered people. Tuva is why Shoigu has his job in the first place. It is wise to appoint a head of your army that is not a member of a majority ethnic group and eligible for leadership, lest your general become too popular. — And who doesn’t like a pop-science / military history factoid? Gen Patton used to say he was reincarnated.

      1. BlakeFelix

        Seeing as through a glass darkly,
        Come like the dew and leave like the dew…
        Enjoy life as a dream within a dream.. ;-)

  7. km

    “Free and fair election” = “election that my team won”.

    That applies to Team D as well as Team R.

  8. John

    Trump won the electoral vote in 2016 in a close but fair election. Biden won in the electoral vote 2020 in a not quite as close but equally fair election.

    The “Russia meddled” was bunkum in 2016. The Big Steal was bunkum in 2020.

    Just because your preferred candidate fails to win does not mean that there th election was rigged.

    If I am wrong, the “riggers” are so good they leave no tracks.

    The whinging is getting increasingly tedious. Stop it. Grow up. If you aren’t satisfied get out there and work to win next time.

    1. urblintz

      No amount of “Big Steal” whinging comes anywhere close to the “tedious” 4 years of non-stop “RussiaRussiaRussia” which has the USA (F*^% YEAH!) eagerly puffing up its chest for another cold war (including support for the Nazi’s in Ukraine) and I am far less sanguine regarding the fairness of either election. Any election is only as fair as its process and there’s just too much evidence that the process itself is seriously flawed.

      I swore I wouldn’t vote and voted for Biden anyway. I don’t doubt that he “won” the election as run. That has nothing to do with whether elections are “fair.”

      So… thank god Trump “lost” and heaven help us that Biden “won.”

      1. John

        The Big Steal whinging has had only a few months not four years. Give it time and then compare.

        In the context of our presidential elections, 2016 and 2020 were less problematic than 1960. Illinois and Texas were suspect. Is the manner in which elections are conducted open to question? Of course; but this year the solidly Republican officials whose job it was to oversee and certify the Arizona and Georgia elections insist that they got it right and appear to resent the implications of their fellow party members that they did not.

        All the suggestions I have heard for “improving” the conduct of elections give advantage to one party or the other. Keep the electoral college as is and propose and pass laws that appear to make it more difficult for those who vote for the other guys to vote … all in the name of fraud prevention … the fraud that is vanishingly rare or non-existent when that is to your advantage.
        The Democrats would like to abolish the electoral college by some sort of work-around since a constitutional amendment is not in the realm of probability. They prate about one- man, one-vote etc. Look at the popular vote in recent elections and tell me that they want this because it is fair to all.

        Until the next turn of the political wheel, the Democrats will dominate the popular vote. But the electoral vote has been much more in balance. This suggests to me that different regions and different constituencies are being represented. Further 1952-2024 the Republicans have had the presidency for 40 years and the Democrats for 32. Go back to 1900 and it is 64R and 60D. Maybe the system we have, as odd and undemocratic as it looks, is not a bad way of electing the president of such a huge and varied nation.

        The House would be “fairer” if districting was in less partisan hands. Don’t hold your breath. The Senate was never intended to be democratic. It represented each state and as we know the ease of bribing your way into a seat by one means or another gave us 17th Amendment. I do not see popular election of Senators as much of an improvement.

        The present arrangements would likely work as well as they ever have had politics not become a blood sport. When the goal of each party is only to thwart the other and for members to look to their individual goals with no one looking out for the good of the nation as a whole, what can we expect beyond the shambles with which we are presented.

        So Trump won an losing the popular vote and he lost an election losing the popular vote. His party as a party took the proper lesson from that. Find ways to reduce the votes of the opposition however “undemocratic” that might be. The other party seeks to increase the popular vote which appears to be in its interest. No one is going to play politics by any other rules. If only they would give a thought every now and then to what we the people actually want. Perhaps that would be in the interest of both parties and end up being an electoral null.

        1. fresno dan

          May 11, 2021 at 6:31 pm
          I’ll just say what I said yesterday – the counts aren’t the problem. The problem is both parties

          fresno dan
          May 10, 2021 at 3:33 pm
          “Trump’s ‘Big Lie’ imperils Republicans who don’t embrace it” [Associated Press].
          …. • Exactly as with RussiaGate. One of the saddest spectacles of 2020 was Sanders buying into it, because “he has to say that.”
          Yet, ironically, our two parties are both correct about the reality of our government and our country – our elections are corrupt and give us illegitimate results. But not because the vote counts are incorrect, but because the issues raised (or more accurately, ignored) and the candidates chosen are designed to ignore and thwart the will of the majority (i.e., only do the bidding of the wealthiest).
          Neither party seems particularly concerned with, or motivated to, appeal to most Americans. The two parties do seem very good at pre-emption and co-opting the other party. You say the Russians helped the repubs steal the election, we say the dems stole the election without assistance.

          Reply ↓

    2. PHLDenizen

      If you don’t look for fraud, you won’t find it. D’s and R’s are fixated on political fights over voting, but they never, ever do forensic audits of the voting infrastructure itself. Blind faith in the results of the machines — the technocrat delusion — means you have a large vector to manipulate results in subtle ways with absolutely no means to detect it. And neither party seriously investigated the consequences of the horrid state of voting security.

      Infosec is decidedly in my wheelhouse and, based on the documents I’ve studied, there is absolutely no way vote tallies are correct either through malice or defective design. The architecture is so broken and porous a teenage script kiddie could change the results without anyone being the wiser. Writing exploits is a trivial exercise. There are never, ever credible audits of voting machines, communication channels, aggregators, and all the components in the system. Binaries aren’t cryptographically signed. There are custody problems with the data cards. Most of, if not all, data transmission channels aren’t encrypted. There are no publicly published unit and integration tests to show that what you select on the screen actually changes the model backing it correctly. Access databases? EOL’ed versions of embedded windows? C’mon man.

      Trump’s biggest mistake in the demand for recounts was not pursuing aggressively this line of inquiry. It’s not difficult to build a case that the design is defective, offer examples of easy exploits, and then prove that there is no way to prove fraud didn’t happen. Intent is unimportant. Particularly with the increasing uselessness of polling data.

      The “riggers” don’t have to worry about leaving tracks because successfully rigging the election doesn’t require much effort to hide them. That’s how bad the situation is.

      Just because the Trump voters failed to articulate the correct reason to be incredulous doesn’t mean that what they claimed did not happen.

      1. marym

        Thanks for your comment. Sadly I’m interested in this topic but it’s totally not my wheelhouse to have an informed opinion! If you care to take the time to reply here are some questions. If they’re too simple minded just ignore. Thanks.

        Links and discussion of the forensic audit of voting machines in AZ here. Is it one you’ve looked at and if so do you think it did some of the necessary checks?

        In GA there was a hand recount of all the ballots for the presidential election. This would have been a recount of hand-marked mail ballots and ballots marked by BMD’s. The potential of the BMD process changing the vote and the voter not verifying the print-out would still exist, but would a full recount be a fair test of whether the tabulation process changed the vote?

        Also, can you offer a general opinion on what would be the logistics of human tampering – physical access to the machines, passwords, internet connectivity, how much time it would take? I can think through practical possibilities, challenges, and control procedures for tampering in other parts of the process (inserting fake ballots into the process, for example) but have not a clue as far as the voting machines.

  9. doug

    ‘led by the Obamas — is putting so much effort into Bush’s rehabilitation there must be some political calculus involved.’
    A rising tide floats all former presidents?
    Banking some effort, for when he needs rehabbing?

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Exactly. If W is a war criminal then Obama is one too.

      You can remove the word “if” if you want.

    1. Laura in So Cal

      I guess your premise is that only white nationalist types in the police force are vaccine hesitant? At least in the LAPD that isn’t borne out by the numbers:


      Los Angeles times article states that as of late April only 50% of LAPD personnel (12,000+) had received at least 1 shot of the vaccine. Emergency Services personnel have been eligible (Phase 1B) since early February. LAPD is @70% Non-White. (Per LAPD Stats for February 2021).

      Vaccines have been plentiful here in LA Country for quite a while and they are pushing to vaccinate teenagers here. If anyone in LAPD wanted a vaccine, they could get one.

  10. Baby Gerald

    Re: “Many police officers spurn coronavirus vaccines as departments hold off on mandates”

    As an anecdotal confirmation of this, my brother is a deputy in the sherriff’s department of a county in upstate NY. Married with two small children, his 70+ year old in-laws living literally in the same household, he was forced to quarantine during Christmas because a suspect he interviewed in mid-December tested positive. You would think he would be– if not eager– then at least reluctantly accepting to the concept of vaccination. Think again. According to reports from family, he and his colleagues are avoiding the vaccine as if it were the plague.

    A couple weeks ago the NY Times ran an opinion piece by Rahm Emmanuel’s creep doctor brother Ezekiel in which he argues that certain workers should be forced to take the vaccine. I’m no advocate of enforcing vaccination in order to keep one’s job but if any group should be near the top of this list, it should be law enforcement.

  11. cocomaan

    Lambert always bringing the great links. “Viral Visualizations: How Coronavirus Skeptics Use Orthodox Data Practices to Promote Unorthodox Science Online” (PDF)[CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems].”

    Don’t know where you found this one, but it really nails how the covid skeptics I know operate. They are not dumb people. They just find trust hard to come by.

    From the article:
    In other words, anti-maskers value unmediated access to information and privilege per- sonal research and direct reading over “expert” interpreta- tions.

    Many of them read the same papers that so called experts read, but things that differ include risk threshold vs other phenomena (especially cause of death like car crashes, cancer, heart disease, etc)/ They reject anecdotes like reports about long covid as being unscientific.

  12. Henry Moon Pie

    Caitlin (not Caitlyn) has it right:

    “I must change” is always the first possibility that an ego rules out when evaluating a dilemma, and it’s the same ego which says we are separate individuals, and it’s the same ego which created our dilemma in the first place. But we must change. We must transcend the ego.

    That’s always the last thing anyone wants to hear, that we need to change, but it’s true. We’ll either collectively change our minds in a way that enables us to drastically shift the way we operate on this planet, or we’ll go extinct. It is evolve or die time. We’ll either make it or we won’t.

    And this is more true the higher one’s standing in our society because in 21st century USA, societal standing correlates strongly and directly with money and money correlates strongly and directly with carbon footprint.

    Our PMC-ers, who love to wag their fingers at the unWoke, even with their Priuses and fair trade coffee, are the ones who must change the most to save the planet.

  13. Carolinian

    Amazon is not a stupid company.


    And should be said that Walmart aisles are also becoming crowded with all those order puller carts–particularly the drug store sized Walmart Market food stores. The Benton behemoth is going all in to compete with Amazon on convenience via exploiting their vast real estate footprint. The real question is why Amazon feels it needs to be in the grocery business at all.

    1. Taurus

      I think that Amazon is one of these large scale cobbled together entities which are held together by the sheer will of their founder. And once the founder is gone, the centrifugal forces become too great to deal with. Alexander’s empire is a good model.

      The people who inherit the empire can keep the illusion of the monolith a little longer, but they are just a shadow of the formerly dominant personality. Examples like this abound in the American corporate world – Cook after Jobs, Balmer after Gates …

  14. Mikel

    “Today, everyone in America aged 65 or older is guaranteed health-care benefits through Medicare regardless of income or medical conditionwhile the official poverty rate for seniors is now less than 9 percent. That is the good news. The bad news is that, since its inception in 1965, Medicare has not covered such basic health-care needs as hearing, dental care and vision. The result: Millions of senior citizens have teeth rotting in their mouths, are unable to hear what their children and grandchildren say or can’t read a newspaper because of failing eyesight. It is a cruel irony that older Americans do not have coverage for these benefits at the time when they need it the most.”

    It’s a more cruel irony that this reads like not being able to take care of rotting teeth, failing hearing and vision is not a sign of poverty…according to “official poverty rates.”

    1. Michael Ismoe

      If Pramila and Bernie want to make a difference in Medicare recipients’ lives, kill the co-pay. I spend more for my co-insurance policy that covers the 20% than I do for the Medicare-paid 80%. Put the insurance company out of business. Raise the medicare premium by 20% and pay out 100% per event and I’ll save a fortune.

  15. shinola

    Re. the Esquire article on the supplemental unemployment benefit:
    “… the $300 benefit results in approximately one in four recipients taking home more in unemployment than they earned working…”

    $300 per week is $7.50/hr. gross pay (prior to deduct’s) for a 40 hr. work week. With just FICA withheld & no other deduct’s, a worker would have to gross @$325 per week (@$8.12/hr); and the Federal minimum wage is already clear up to $7.25/hr!

    Damn lazy, greedy workers…

  16. Grant

    “many argue the Swedish model of replacing old-growth forests with monoculture plantations is bad for biodiversity.”

    I love how these types of comments are supposed to be things that are debated. Like, many say deregulating financial capital is a disastrous idea. Many say that capitalism in a context where growth is increasingly impossible and where non-market impacts cannot be monetized is not sustainable. Many say that a privatized, chaotically decentralized and multi-payer healthcare system cannot ever realistically be efficient. No need to explain why or to delve into the data. No, many say CO2e emissions are not good for the planet’s environment and ecosystems. And I would guess “many said” that smoking was not good for your health decades ago. The “many say” thing seems to come out when capital is impacted. Then things that aren’t debatable are presented as being open to debate.

  17. Grant

    “The Solution Is Not Always Stomping On Workers”

    Rajani Kanth has a great book on classical economics, which focused on the poor laws and the corn laws. The classical economists wanted to end the corn laws (largely, Malthus not so much), because they thought that it increased the price of land, and land rent with it, which squeezed profits. The rising price of land also increased labor costs since wages were in part linked to the costs of food, which also squeezed profit. Michael Hudson has talked a lot about this. The poor laws were a really skeletal social insurance system that the classical economists wanted to get rid of. You really were not entitled to anything more than the market would give you in exchange for your labor. If you gave people anything so they could survive, they would have more kids and the need for food and resources would outstrip the capacity of the market to provide those things. Malthus at one point basically argued that we should make life miserable for workers and encourage unsanitary conditions, we should court the return of the plague he said, because it would get population and living standards back to the appropriate level, which is where most workers were paid just enough to live and to produce their replacement, their children. This is always what capitalism is about, and Kalecki too emphasized that profitability is not the only factor for capitalists. He at one point talked about how capitalists sometimes choose productive techniques that actually reduce profitability if it gives capital more power over workers. Power dynamics matter a ton too, and capital (especially footloose capital) has a ton of collective power over labor and governments right now.

    This system is brutal, inequitable, undemocratic and unsustainable, but with the way the international economic system has been set up, it is almost impossible to put in place radically different policies. I remember someone from the Bolivian government talking about socialism, and he said basically that trying to build socialism in this international context is like trying to change the engine in a car while the car is driving. Since the capitalist system is not environmentally sustainable and is fundamentally opposed to basic tenants of economic democracy, seems to be a recipe for societal breakdown.

    But, getting back to that article, the point is always to crush workers. That could end if there was widespread worker ownership though.

  18. Mikel

    Re:“The Autonomous Vehicle World Is Shrinking — It’s Overdue”

    Need it small enough to drown in a bathtub.

    (couldn’t resist…)

    1. Taurus

      The autonomous vehicle business was a great story to separate some venture capital from the owners of said capital and redistribute it to bold founders with a vision. It is a tradition in Silicon Valley.

      The technical issues are so hard as to be practically insurmountable. I have had some exposure to several of the technical domains that are relevant and we are nowhere close to be able to have the cars drive themselves without killing a bunch of people in the process on a regular basis.

  19. marym

    Cancel culture

    “Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation on Tuesday that would remove certain voters from the permanent early voting list.

    Republicans have argued Senate Bill 1485 will help ensure the accuracy and efficiency of the list of voters who have signed up to receive a ballot in the mail automatically ahead of each election, but Democrats contend it will purge irregular voters and is an effort to suppress turnout.”

    The Permanent Early Voting list had been in place since 2007.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Deleting people from the voting rolls who haven’t voted in two years is standard operating procedure in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

      The AZ proposal allows in-person voting even if the mail ballot has stopped so it’s actually more generous than the Dem controlled states. It’s almost like they don’t want you to vote, huh?

      1. marym

        When politicians do something bad it does sometimes provide the opportunity for whatabout-ing worse things other politicians have done, and that’’s sometimes good food for thought. It doesn’t make the bad thing less bad.

        The National Voter Registration Act prohibits purges solely for not voting, so I’m not sure where things stand on that process. The link below mentions an exception in OH that made it through the SC in 2018. The change in AZ isn’t about purging people from the rolls. They ended a process for automatically mailing ballots to registered voters that appears to have worked without problems since 2007.


  20. Kathryn

    Re: Vineyard wind project

    Honestly, the project proponent seems to have done a good job protecting the viewshed. From the mainland, only the very tops of the turbine blades will be visible due distance and curvature of the earth, and only when not obscured by haze (approximately 50% of the time) or waves. More of the turbines are visible from Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, but still from 15 miles away and only approximately 50% of the time due to haze. Additionally, the turbines will be painted to blend in with the environment. There is a good visibility impact analysis posted at the link below with maps showing locations from where the turbines will be visible and photos of simulated views starting on page 216.

      1. neo-realist

        The health authorities should do a deeper dive on the vaccinated infected. While the vaccines are not 100% full-proof, the Brazilian and South African variants have been much more resistant to the vaccines than the UK and Original covid-19 variants. If those mutant variants have spread to Sullivan County and infected the vaccinated, it isn’t all that big a surprise. At least you do have the silver lining that if you are vaccinated and get infected, your chances of getting really sick and or dying are dramatically reduced.

        1. Jen

          I don’t know if the state of NH has revised its guidelines, but earlier in the year when there was an out break at the “small liberal arts college” where I work, they were only sequencing samples from people who had been out of the country. Meanwhile, we’ve got another nursing home outbreak involving fully vaccinated residents. Similar statement – no vaccine is 100% effective, nobody died…but infection among the fully vaccinated in nursing homes does seem to be a thing.


  21. Carolinian

    Thanks for the Taibbi. Surely the problem is not just that current journalism is shockingly bad but also that younger people have no memory of an alternative and therefore no basis for objection. What Taibbi talks about does go in cycles, and reportedly JFK had as many reporter fanboys as Obama but at least there was once a standard of professionalism born, as he says, from fear of being sued as well as years of grizzled and even cynical experience on the part of newsroom wise hands. Sadly back then and now power only seems to fall through its own mistakes and rarely the result of fourth estate watchdogs. For the rest of us, though, being lied to gets old. Bravo for the objectors.

    1. fresno dan

      May 11, 2021 at 6:49 pm
      To me, the question always is: was it just as bad back than as it is now? Hiding Roosevelt’s paralysis, Kennedy shenanigan’s, not to mention the serious interference in foreign elections like Iran in the ’50’s.
      For a very brief period of time, Vietnam, Watergate, Church commission, reality seemed to break through.
      But than, the people who own, and manipulate, obfuscate, hide, and lie regained ascendency.
      If anything, it seems to me mechanisms of manipulation are greater, more subtle, more pervasive and more effective than ever.

  22. Wukchumni

    The iceman cometh & got 5x 10 pound blocks today @ Smart & Final-for free from SoCal Edison, thanks to a coupon they enclosed along with the announcement we’ll be electricityless for 7 hours on Thursday when they’re working on the power lines.

    I’ll be back in the roaring 20’s if only from a fridge fringe…

    I’m ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille.

    1. rowlf

      Visiting family a few recent years ago in Chicago my brother-in-law explained the layout of the 120-ish year old apartment building they lived in. There was a common alley behind the streets and apartment buildings and the kitchens all had doors with locks on the doors between the kitchens and the main apartment rooms. This was due to the practice of having food and ice delivered to the kitchens.

  23. fresno dan

    “Stop saying Republicans are ‘cowards’ who fear Trump. The truth is far worse.” [Greg Sargent, WaPo].
    From what I have read about Trump, the truth of the matter appears to me is that Trump is a panderer, and does whatever his base wants. Sure, Trump has core beliefs:
    1. The poor are losers
    2. Trump is a very stable genius
    3. No taxes for Trump is the best public policy
    If the republican base for some reason decided immigration without restriction was the best possible policy, Trump would flip faster than a Lindsey Grahm.
    Trump, to whatever extent you can use the word genius near his name, understood that the vast majority of republican polices were contrary or unimportant to the vast majority of people who vote republican (I would make the same case for democrats). Example:
    yet somehow, it doesn’t happen… curious

  24. tegnost

    It’s one heck of a lot easier to make a list of the things that make a good story than it is to make a good story.

  25. lobelia

    Re: Opposition to Newsom recall grows as Caitlyn Jenner, GOP generate little support, poll finds and the linked, Los Angeles Times Staff [Person] ™ piece:

    I smell a rat. That headline is not at all to say that a decent, and Non-GOP, human being running against Newsom wouldn’t have major support amongst millions eligible to vote, (versus the non voting eligible immigrants Newsom always welcomes and pretends to care about).

    ‘Interesting’ that the staff writer did not include – or was not allowed to include – any links to that polling data, despite the fact that it was noted as: co-sponsored by the L.A. Times.. If there are any decent Democratic Party™ politicians left in California with the resources they’d need (dubious, at best), they’ve very likely been threatened by the DNC if they run against Newsom.

    Oh, and this blip from the piece was pricelessly sickening:

    Aided by the state’s economic recovery

    HUH? Well, I guess at least it wasn’t claimed to be millions of suffering California residents’ economic recovery. E.g., from just 4 days ago, and updated yesterday, emphasis mine:

    05/07/21 By Emily Hoeven Backlogged claims, calls: Things are getting worse at state’s jobless agency

    “Everything that should be up is up and everything that should be down is down,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in January when lifting California’s regional stay-at-home order.

    Today, that statement holds true for many aspects of California’s pandemic response — vaccinations are up, infections are down, hospitalizations are down — but rings hollow when it comes to the state unemployment department, where numbers are trending in the wrong direction. According to figures released Thursday, the Employment Development Department’s backlog of unresolved claims had ballooned to 1.08 million as of May 1, up from 1.05 million the week before and 1.03 million the week before that. The logjam has contained more than 1 million claims for 13 straight weeks.

    Around 283,800 of those claims are pending EDD action — including 166,208 that have been on hold for more than three weeks — while the remainder are awaiting certification from jobless Californians, according to agency documents. But residents have long said jammed phone lines and tech glitches have hampered them from certifying claims, and data shows EDD’s call center is also going in the wrong direction. The agency answered less than 6% of the 4.8 million calls it received from April 24 to May 1, with each person calling about 12 times in an attempt to get through. That’s significantly worse than in late March, when EDD answered 10.5% of calls and each person called about eight times.


    Also, sigh, much harder for me to ‘link to’ are those Californian’s who’ve already been exponentially, and increasingly forced into homelessness, as many (most?) people try to leave their apartments versus going through the horror, degradation, and permanent Scarlett Letter of eviction in an historically totally rigged system against the average US renter; while both the California and the Federal – pre, and post, covid-19 – predatory rent gouging and eviction protections are not, never have been, even minusculely close (and never have been) to what they actually should be. (And, as far as Newsom’s so called recent proposals recall election bribes noted in the piece – which he should have introduced well before the recall, and the covid pandemic – they need to be highly vetted, particularly when he usually (and very quietly) leaves matters up to local officials as to whether to follow those proposals, or not).

    I’ve lived in California for decades, have never voted Republican, Libertarian, or Bircher, and have never run into anyone who thinks Newsom is anything but a wealthy, amoral, striver scumbag who would run as a Republican, quicker than a snake’s smile, if he thought it would benefit him.

    gotta run

  26. chris

    Local anecdata update for coronavirus in my NoVA/MD/DC community…

    We’ve hit about 75% of 16+ year old residents with at least one dose of the vaccines. Approximately 58% are fully vaccinated. 7 day case count per 100k is about 8.9. 7 day average positivity rate is 1.76%. We are looking to hit zero soon based on available statistics. We expect to start vaccinating children 12 and older beginning next week. One of my children will be in that group.

    Now, I’m not sure what to make of that data because I know the places my neighbors commute to and they are nowhere near that good. I’ve been particularly shocked at the behavior I’ve seen in Delaware. When I’m in Wilmington no one seems to be wearing a mask or taking the pandemic seriously. I’ve heard very educated people in Alexandria tell me COVID is a hoax and it’s just the flu. They were Democrats for what it’s worth.

    But all of my neighbors wear masks. Regardless of party affiliation. Just about everyone who lives near me has at least one dose of the vaccine. The normal block parties and community events have been kept very small. Schools are open but only for hybrid two days a week for roughly 85% of the students. A select set are allowed to attend 5 days a week and some get services at home. Sporting events at schools are occurring but attendance is limited. In the three schools my kids attend we have received 3 notices of students with positive test results since March 1. None of my kids or my neighbors have had their kids in quarantine because of a coronavirus concern at school.

    I’m cautiously optimistic.

    I hope others in the Commentariat are seeing the promise of a COVID free summer too.

  27. noonespecial

    Re Jacobin

    Jacobin quote: If the threat of destitution were removed, millions of workers would doubtless opt to stay home over performing grinding, tedious, or dangerous tasks for next to no money.

    A snapshot of life for a single parent of 3 children in Newark, NJ, in one of New Jersey’s news service highlights: (https://www.nj.com/news/2021/05/a-year-living-in-a-hotel-with-3-kids-inside-newarks-affordable-housing-crisis.html)

    [Newark, NJ, resident Shari Brown] – “Her last job on the books was working in the bakery at ShopRite in Livingston, but she quit because she didn’t have anyone to watch the kids. (at $10.50/hour in a city where median rent is $1,093).”

    The article also notes that Ms. Brown, “…didn’t finish fashion school, but still freelances from time to time. ‘I do sewing on the side…If somebody needs a dress, I’ll make them a dress. I really enjoy making dresses.”

    Add to this that Newark is about to pilot a UBI program, so who can tell if someone like Ms. Brown may land a job with a living wage, or benefit from the recent decision.

    George Carlin strikes again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdH38k0iUgI

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > it just kills me the stifled lives

        See the two Eoin Higgins stories yesterday (or the day before?) under class warfare? A common thread was working class people feeling that the stimulus checks gave them breathing space, and many used them to improve the kind of work they can do (improve, from their perspective, the nature of the work).

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