Giving People Money Eases Poverty

Our analyses thus far have yielded a fairly simple story:
throughout the crisis, the level of hardship faced by U.S.
households can be directly linked to the federal government’s
response. Despite historically high unemployment, in July 2020
we found that rates of hardship were stable—and in some cases
declining—following the roll-out of Coronavirus Aid, Relief,
and Economic Security (CARES) Act income support programs
such as Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) and expanded
unemployment insurance. Hardship remained relatively stable
into early fall 2020 before increasing markedly in November and
December 2020 as the economic recovery stalled and Congress
delayed action on further relief measures. The trends we see in
these hardship data are consistent with trends in other metrics
of well-being during the crisis.

umich.edu (PDF)

…This really shouldn’t be news. I am flabbergasted that it is news.

The Indicator from Planet Money – The Jobless Benefits Experiment – June 28, 2021

These people who are being kicked off of their unemployment benefits are going to be out on the street in record numbers, that is what is going to happen. Poor, starving people living out on the street with the other homeless people who represent a vast swath of the population that have been failed by the American dream.

minimum wage in Texas is still 7.25 an hour. 

That isn’t a wage. That is a joke.

Hat/Tip to pacesconnection.com

Putin’s Trump Card

Eventually, the Russians will leak what they had to control Mr. Trump with his anti-American activities.

Gen. Barry McCaffrey

I’ll believe it when I see it. If Trump’s base can be relied upon to double down on their support of Trump yet again (and why not?) then this kind of revelation will only harden opposition to Trump and his supporters. I don’t know how this all ends other than in blood and Civil War, but I do know that anyone who values the country that they knew as the United States in prior times can not be willing to allow a return to power for anyone who supports a traitor like Trump is, and that most of his closest advisors are. They should all be up on charges already and I remain mystified as to why those charges have not been issued.

Why would Russia release this information? Because it will further destabilize the United States. Because Trump failed to do the job he was put into office to do. What job was that? Maria Butina asked the key question in 2015, and Trump promised to fulfill that obligation. Promised to remove sanctions and improve relations with Russia, a job he failed spectacularly at achieving. Scuttling the infidel that failed them, but that is still being encouraged to fight for a return to power, further divides the nation.

We can’t even get a measure designed to ensure access to the vote for all Americans passed through the Senate as it stands now. We are on the verge of becoming a failed state already. A few more nudges may well send us over the edge into oblivion. Perhaps that is Putin’s hope. I know it isn’t McCaffrey’s. He hopes that exposing the truth will take the wind out of Trump’s supporters and the Republican party. I don’t think that any of them believe in truth anymore or would know it when they saw it.

reddit

A Canceled Fear of Missing Out

All violence is an attempt to replace shame with self-esteem.

James Gilligan

I’ve never had a fear of missing out, what the kids these days refer to as FOMO. I really don’t know why this is. Growing up in a remote location you got used to the fact that stuff was happening elsewhere and you couldn’t be part of it. Growing up poor meant that there were things happening right in our own town that I couldn’t participate in because I didn’t have the money to be there for the thing when it happened. You will miss out on something. Accept this fact and move on.

This insight about FOMO does not make me an Iconoclast or a non-conformist all by itself. I aspire to rate a label of iconoclasm, the crusader bent on objecting to accepted norms and beliefs in all their forms simply to illustrate the failings of same; and I loathe the knee-jerk non-conformist when I meet one. The petty, childish “I won’t do it!” that never produces positive results. I’ve never had a group that I put myself firmly inside of that was more defined than trekkie, liberal, atheist or libertarian, and all of those labels aside from liberal are represented by people that I’ve strayed away from and don’t want to be part of anymore. Could I be an iconoclast crusading against the vanillafication of trekdom? Maybe.

In some way this knowledge that you can’t be part of everything important, everywhere that it happens, takes the edge off of FOMO for me. I think this understanding is why I unhesitatingly cancel people every day. If I don’t think a post is interesting and scroll past it? Canceled. If I block somebody because I don’t have time for their stupid? Canceled.

I don’t run around telling everyone “cancel this guy, cancel that girl” I don’t need to be an influencer or a trend-setter. I just do the thing and move on. No one cares what your opinions are anymore than you care what a random stranger’s opinions are when it comes to which shoes you will wear today. If you do care, you need help.

I have canceled people for years now, online. I’ve been actively engaging in this behavior ever since I determined that there is a vast swath of people who post online specifically to stop the passage of information, the forming of understanding between two other people or groups of people. I didn’t call it canceling when I started doing it, but cancel appears to be the word of the day for being selective about who and what will demand your time:

On the Media – Shamed and Confused – June 4, 2021

Conservatives afraid of being canceled? They are so damned predictable. They accuse everyone else of creating death panels, then continue sentencing the poor to an early death just as they traditionally always have done. They accuse liberals of creating political correctness, then pass laws making sure that only their political views are taught in school. They accuse the liberals of creating a cancel culture, then they set about canceling liberals left and right as they see fit. It never ends and it is never surprising.

However, Conservatives are no longer satisfied with having created their own set of facts and their own news organizations that parrot the things they call politics. Things they call politics but are in fact the same religious beliefs that they also claim to be theirs alone. They maintain a broad spectrum of bullshit outlets that spew a carefully constructed view of the world that they won’t find troublesome. This is why we have such high percentages of Republicans that think that Donald Trump is still president right now, they have news outlets willing to tell them this comforting lie, day-in and day-out.

Because of this fact, the spoon-fed nature of their delusions, there needs to be a journalistic standard of ethics that is enforced by law or by the authority of a licensing board, an opinion I’ve aired before:

It is a common concern. How can we continue on as a country or a people if we can’t agree on a set of facts? Donald Trump is not president. Do you know how I know this? Because he is in Mar-a-Lago living in a made-up world that he has the money to create around him. The benefits of being wealthy on paper. He is not president because someone else is sitting behind the resolute desk and that person now controls the US government. That person could squash Donald Trump like a bug if he so desired.

So why doesn’t he? Therein lies the crux of the problem. Vladimir Putin is now sounding off about the persecution of the January 6th attackers and the stealing of the election from Donald Trump. He is doing this because he knows what he would do if he were sitting in Joe Biden’s shoes right now. What would he do? For starters there wouldn’t be a Mar-a-Lago anymore other than a smoking crater where the place once was, and he would have had most of the people opposing him executed or jailed pending execution. People like Vladimir Putin see restraint as weakness, because they don’t respect anything that isn’t bold action.

If Joe Biden shows any inclination to crush the rebellion at play in the United States, he plays right into Vladimir Putin’s hands, and into the hands of people who hate the United States simply for being the United States in all it’s failed glory. But he has to do something because the threat to the reality of the United States’ existence has never been more dire than it is right now. Not even Nazi Germany or Japan had the impact on the reality of the continuing existence of the United States as a global force that Vladimir Putin has had in getting Donald Trump elected to the presidency. That he has in continuing to support this disgraced, twice-impeached, former holder of the office of the presidency.

We need to cancel this cause celeb, this slow-moving coup d’état that is still in progress. There are traitors in our midst, and we need to sort them out of the rest. That requires investigation, and the investigation should have started already. As others have pointed out, Mitch McConnell still holds all the cards as far as getting anything through the Senate because of the filibuster rule, and this includes an investigation that has support from all sides concerned. The filibuster has to go, even if it means removing the senators who don’t want to see it go as a part of the process.

We need to cancel the Republican groups who are currently trying to cancel the American experiment. We need to secure ballot access for all Americans, even if that means that the Republican base will not support anything the rest of us do for a generation. We need not fear missing out on the future they have planned for the rest of us. That future has been painted in vivid color for anyone brave enough to read the speculative fiction that has been penned over the last hundred years. We can rest assured that future is not a thing we want to experience.

facebook/heathercoxrichardsonsubstack.com

Repairing Pandemic Damage Not All That is Needed Now

To repair the damage done by these people in these times will not be easy. I may not see the wounds mended in my lifetime. It may take a generation or more. The social damage of the pandemic itself, the fear of our old social lives, in bars and restaurants and dance halls and sports stadiums, will take time to heal (although a percentage of people seem to know no fear already). We will hug and kiss again. But will there still be movie theaters? Will there be bookstores? Will we feel okay in crowded subway cars?

wapo/salman-rushdie

I would say that the lack of workers volunteering to die for minimum wage across the United States today in what is rapidly becoming a post-pandemic world says volumes about the actual rethinking that is going on right now. Whether we will turn these things we’ve learned about ourselves and our world into real world changes remains the question. I will say that if we don’t make the changes, heal the breaches in our lifetimes, those ills will fester and re-emerge the next time society hits a breaking point.

It wasn’t the name of the black man that police killed that made last summer’s protests a fulcrum to leverage change. It was simply the fact that the policeman killed another black man while the rest of the world was forced to watch him do it. The pandemic made change possible by forcing the entire world to become passive observers of what the rest of the world was doing in their lives and in their essential work. Essential work that appears to include killing random black people in every corner of the United States.

The next time we are strapped down and stretched thin like we were last summer, there might be some other breaking point that appears and fulminates the last great war, rather than just a call for the equal justice we all were promised. We really can’t afford to keep kicking the can down the road. We need to step up and make the changes now while the motivation is fresh and our intentions pure. I’m becoming deathly afraid that we don’t know how act of pure intention anymore, or even act at all.

facebook

Salman Rushdie: I’ve seen dictators rise and fall. Beware, America.

These “audits” don’t have to find anything; the fact that they exist at all is enough to do what they are designed to do: undermine voters’ faith in the system at the same time they indicate that no election result that elects a Democrat is legitimate.

heathercoxrichardson/june-3-2021

Trumpism Abides

Republicans who sought to undercut or overturn President Joe Biden’s election win are launching campaigns to become their states’ top election officials next year, alarming local officeholders and opponents who are warning about pro-Trump, “ends justify the means” candidates taking big roles in running the vote.

politico

This really isn’t news. Not really. Trumpists been beating this dead horse since the election last November, not just since the attempted coup on January 6th:

This is why I muse about the question of allowing Republicans or their intellectual inheritors to ever regain power in the United States in this article:

…and then agitate for instituting jungle (blanket) primaries in every single state in the Union before 2022. We don’t have a choice. Either we open up the system and destroy the possibility of minority rule in the US forever, or we embrace the idea that we like overlords telling us what to do. Embrace it, because that is what we will get if we ever let the Trumpists that Republicans have turned into back into power. If we allow the possibility of minority rule by any one group of Americans, then someone will seek to wield that power for their group. This is a no-joke emergency we are caught up in right now.

Facebook

If you elect those who hate and fear government to run government, then you’re going to get a government of hate and fear.

Stonekettle

Still Bullshit

Moscow Mitch thinks we don’t need to investigate the January sixth riot:

All Things Considered – House Passes Bill To Investigate Capitol Riot, But Its Fate In Senate Is Unclear – Updated May 19, 2021

This really doesn’t merit a lot of thought. I’m just going to cut and paste what I said here after the first impeachment started against Donald Trump:

I don’t know what the hurry is. Why do we have to have this all done by the end of the year? now? Why not investigate side by side with the police efforts to uncover the depths of crime involved in the attempted coup? Let’s be sure to get every single gory detail on the record for the Republican party to wear to the end of its days.

Republicans were happy to pretend nothing was worth worrying about for two five years while Trump stole the nation blind and Moscow Mitch shoehorned every judicial nominee he stole from Barack Obama through an otherwise catatonic Senate. Republicans were happy to talk about #Benghazi for three years. What’s the rush? I say we keep the impeachment hearings January 6th inquest going until November 3rd, 2020 November 8, 2022. I suggest they hold hearings on election day, even. Draw it out. Reveal the crimes of all of Trump’s yes-men as well as all of his 40 years of financial and real estate crimes. and his instigations to riot in the streets of Washington D.C. after telling black people they couldn’t riot in the same city streets six months earlier.

Paint it all in glorious technicolor detail, for all the world to see. The damage has been done already, anyway. No one will trust the United States again. Not for a generation. I have now given Moscow Mitch’s dismissal of the bill all the thought that it deserves.

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NBC NEWS – Ryan: ‘This is a slap in the face’ to U.S. police – May 19, 2021

One hundred and seventy-five Republicans voted against the January 6th investigation bill. Those seditionists (to use Stonekettle’s term for them) should never have been allowed to sit in congress. Anyone that wasn’t willing to state in advance that the election that put them there was a valid election should not have been seated. This action was permitted by the rules of the House and the Senate and should have been enforced:

If the election that put you here is in question then you shouldn’t be in a body that represents the people. Plain and simple. Congress chose to go this route instead, seating representatives that declared their intentions to muck up the works as much as possible. Now we have seditionists in Congress. I don’t see how this scenario is better than the outrage that would have been engendered when the 175 seditionists were not seated in the first place. This may be complex political maneuvering, but I don’t see how the Democratic strategy is going to win the next election for them.

…which is the only point that matters on this subject. Making sure the Republicans never see power again on the national level. They have made themselves the enemy of democracy. They should be declared a terrorist organization if they don’t change their tune.

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facebook.com/heathercoxrichardson

Fear Unaccounted For

I’ve found myself yelling at podcasters and news hosts for the last week or so as they muse about what is keeping people from going back to work. Strangers stare at me in the park as I appear to be yelling at myself. It is not an attractive behavior. Even my family is worried about my mental health.

It isn’t the unemployment benefits that Republicans and the Right are self-defeatingly targeting in their red states:

All Things Considered – Conservative Economist Blames High Unemployment On ‘Richer’ Benefits – May 16, 2021

…and it isn’t the minimum wage being too low, as the Democrats and the Left are asserting:

facebook.com/RBReich

The wages are too low, but that isn’t even half of the equation. Fear dominates the markets right now. Breadwinners aren’t willing to go out and risk death for any wage if they don’t have to. Their families rely on them to keep them all afloat. So they will wait and make sure the water of commerce is safe before they will re-enter it.

If you want people to get back to work you are going to have to convince them that their families will not starve without them if they were to die doing whatever it is they do for a living. For example: we need to expand and increase survivor’s benefits from Social Security so that every American who has a family that relies on them for their survival will be able to be at peace with the fact that at least their families will be cared for in the future.

If we did this, insured that families would not go hungry or homeless if the breadwinner dies, and we increased the wages, then you would see people returning to work in droves. Without it you will have to bribe them with dollar figures much higher than what businesses are offering now. A few piddling extra thousand dollars ain’t going to entice people back into the workforce, and making the poor suffer will only make you, the state leadership, the target of their suffering. Look to see red states become more purple in the future if that behavior continues.

This episode of On The Media:

On the Media – The Ghosts of the Rust Belt – May 14, 2021

…will explain everything you need to know about the delusion that Americans have ever had good, steady jobs that paid well. The haven’t and they won’t until they get smart about politics and economics.

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Featured image: What is Thalassophobia?

texasstandard.org

Battlefield Casualties?

facebook/Stonekettle

What kills me is he’s surprised this was how it turned out. Did he honestly think that attacking Congress and trying to stop the government from doing the thing it has a clear mandate to do was going to be something that government would just forget? Did he think that attempting a coup was a thing he wouldn’t be punished for?

This idiocy has happened time and time again through history. People talk themselves into believing that they will be better under a different government; and then even when they succeed in destroying the previous government, they are appalled to discover that governing takes blood and treasure to carry out, even in the best of times. The failed revolutions are far more numerous than the successful ones, and the people in power never forgive and forget. Not if they want to stay in power.

It’s almost like these Trumpists, anarchists and conservatives have never heard of the Whiskey Rebellion. You know the one. That rebellion where the subjects of the first US tax thought they could just do a repeat on the revolution and George Washington had to personally explain that they were going to have to die if they didn’t give up this cause they had declared war on the US over? Made them all swear oaths to the Union and locked a few of the leaders up for their trouble? Yeah, we’ve done this a few times now, historically. You’d think they’d learn eventually. Apparently not.

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Carbon Monoxide

Etenesh Mersha, 46, meanwhile, made a fateful decision, one repeated by scores of Texas residents who lost electricity that week. Desperate to warm up, she went into their attached garage and turned the key to start her car. As the engine hummed, it provided power to run the car’s heater and charge her phone while she talked to a friend in Colorado — at the same time, filling her garage and home with a poisonous gas.

propublica.org

The number of deaths from the Winter storm that passed through Texas and the rest of the nation back in February is almost certainly an undercount. There were 86 deaths that occurred in Travis county in that timeframe, and yet only twelve deaths are claimed as storm-related. I simply don’t accept the number as reported by Republican controlled Texas state agencies.

I find it hard to believe that so many people died of carbon monoxide poisoning. I’m not sure why. Maybe it is because I was almost killed by carbon monoxide poisoning when I was night stocking at the Piggly Wiggly in San Angelo. They had decided to remodel the store, and they were running gas-powered concrete saws to cut in new refrigerant lines to the new display cases. They didn’t want people to just walk into the store at night, so they locked all the doors and started up the saws. They couldn’t figure out why we all got headaches and had to go home.

Maybe it is because the heat exchanger on our upstairs furnace leaked due to the previous owner welding a crack in the furnace rather than replacing it. We almost died that time as well, until I noticed that I was having the same symptoms that I had when they were cutting the floors that time in the 80’s.

American media is replete with stories about people committing suicide by sitting in their cars in an enclosed garage. I have a hard time believing that most people hadn’t been exposed to the knowledge that carbon monoxide is a killer and that you shouldn’t burn fossil fuels in an enclosed space because of carbon monoxide buildup. Then I remember my own near-misses with the gas, and I am thankful that we put carbon monoxide sensors up in the house after we found out about the leaky heat exchanger.

Knowledge is power. Even this latest winter storm reveals this fact. Knowing the facts about the machines you use and their effects on your environment will keep you from dying. You certainly can’t rely on your government to tell you these things, especially not in Texas.

Lawmakers this year are considering a broader modernization of state building codes that is unrelated to February’s storm. If the measure passes, it would require carbon monoxide alarms in some new homes and apartments, but not those built or renovated before 2022. And it would allow local governments to opt out.

propublica.org

Democratic Shutout? Why the Surprise?

spotify.com fivethirtyeight.com

The district went Trump +3 in 2020. Who was dumb enough to think it would go Democratic? That it would go Democratic without the DCCC taking an interest in the race? Every seat in Texas is rigged for Republicans. Rigged. They cheated a decade ago and they’ve yet to be punished for this transgression. That is the fact that you should takeaway from the election. The panel says a lot of stuff about the election and what that means to the nation, stuff that really shouldn’t be applied broadly. Texas Republicans are not like Republicans in other states. Texas politics is not like politics in other states.

As far as the opening segment on the census goes, the states didn’t choose to undercount. Donald Trump chose to undercount while appealing to his White Nationalist base. The real question there is “why did Trump pick up Latino votes in 2020?” I will bet you that this is because a certain portion of the Latino community thought that Trump was talking to them. They don’t know that he’s talking about them when he talks about illegal votes. They are all illegal voters in Trump’s eyes and Trumpist eyes. They need to understand this fact about Trumpismo.

The Republican base has committed political suicide with their support for Trump. The corpse of the Republican party simply hasn’t stopped twitching yet. Give it time. Eventually rigor mortis will set in. I hope.