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

Opening Hazard

I’ve been taking part in illness tracking with outbreaksnearme.org since the Spring of 2020, when the Trumpist COVID debacle was in full swing. Ya’ll remember those days right? The hazy smoke-filled days as civilization fell? The zombies roaming the streets swarming the unwary?

There was no official testing to be had. No way to know who was sick and who wasn’t and no way to socialize without risking your own life. So we hunkered down without any government to been seen, no authority coming to the rescue, waiting for the chance to score some toilet paper from the remains of the local shopping center while covered in protective gear to keep the zombie plague at bay.

When outbreaksnearme.org started it called itself COVID near you but within a few months the organizers realized that they could use the more generalized data to track spreads of any infectious disease in the population. It also allowed people who just had symptoms to report themselves sick even when they didn’t know what it was.

A full year has passed since those hellish days of anarchy, with me always always responding “healthy” to the prompt:

COVID Near You is now Outbreaks Near Me! We now track flu too. Are you still healthy? Please answer Healthy or Sick. Reply STOP at any time to unsubscribe.

Today I finally had to respond with sick. The Wife has been out galivanting around town joyful at having escaped from the zombie apocalypse, mask-less and fancy-free for the first time in recent memory. While she was out having a good time she apparently picked up a bug. I, of course, caught it from her because that is what I do. I’m three days into it now, a nasty cough, aches and pains, and chest tightness that is triggering the Meniere’s symptoms. I’m having a joyful time.

It’s almost enough to make you miss 2020. Hunkered down in your hovel, hoping to score a clean corncob to wipe your ass with. Zombies scratching at the walls while you heat yourself next to the fire you made from the last chair in the house, boiling the leather upholstery for something to drink and chew on later. At least there was only one disease out there then. One disease that made you want to chew on the brains of your neighbors.

Ah, the good ol’ days.

Featured image: What I Learned About the Coronavirus World From Watching Zombie Flicks

Postscript

I’m not dead yet.

Monty Python – “Not Dead Yet” SceneAmazon

…although the lethargy spread out over nearly a week. I’m only getting back to my old habits now, three weeks later. Getting back to my old habits just in time for the Wife to be hospitalized with some other unrelated illness. Ah, the joys of normal life.

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

Anti-Vaccination Agitation

One way to look at it is this – a small minority now has the ability to hijack public health policy by waging their own shadow campaign on social media. They are accountable to no one. They can force the expenditure of limited public health dollars just to minimize the effect of their own campaigns. This is also an asymmetric campaign, because it is much easier to spread fear than proper information. At the very least it is reasonable to filter out their harmful misinformation from private platforms. Panels of experts can be used to provide the filter, and fair processes can be made available for appeals. At the very least these options need to be explored.

Sciencebasedmedicine.org
Sciencebasedmedicine.org

This article was about Gardasil. The vaccination worked, but social conservatives hated it because it gave women permission to be promiscuous. Think about what that means. They wanted people to suffer and die from a preventable cancer rather than vaccinate them against the cause of that cancer on the grounds that sex outside of marriage is bad and should be discouraged. They used vaccine fear to wage a war against this vaccine, and this isn’t even the first time, nor was it the last.

facebook/Stonekettle

That is the Conservative-Republican-Trumpist line now about the coronavirus vaccine:

Oh, we’re not anti-vax. We just don’t think vaccines work.

…Strangely, it is the same argument they offer about their obvious racism. What their resistance is about now is still religion. Their religion of conservatism. Their invented Republican Jesus, the one who loves capitalism and profit more than he does the poor and the sick. Their belief that government can’t do anything good in the world.

I’ve heard this pushback from dozens of sources now. They just object to this one vaccination, not the general idea that vaccinations work. Either the science is real, or it isn’t. Either we have stopped Small Pox, Polio, etcetera through vaccination, or the entire business is a sham. A con job. Pick one side people, because it can’t be both sides at the same time. The vaccine works. It works and you should get it.

Editor’s Note

This was originally posted as a quote on January 11, 202o, I have advanced and appended the quote with the current coronavirus crap.

Accendi l’arcobaleno (Light Up the Rainbow)

I can’t understand a word of this song, but it still moves me to tears:

Accendi l’arcobaleno Song by Andrea Mingardi Simona Camosci and Coro in corsia

The composition reminds me of the way that We Are the World was presented back at the dawn of time, internet-wise. According to the segment of Deutsche Welle – Inside Europe 18.03.2021 (Dany Mitzman) that brought the song to my attention, the proceeds from the sales of the song will go to funding the education of more nurses in Italy and Europe. (Spotify Link)

“At that time of turmoil and sadness, and a profound need to cling on to something good, I wanted to write optimistic lyrics that would project me towards the end of this tragic event,” she tells the BBC.

When the Covid crisis hit Bologna early last March, she had just transferred from the local health centre to a specialist hospital clinic. After 36 years, she had been hoping to spend the final chapter of her career in a less frenetic environment.

Within a week her new workplace had become Bologna’s designated Covid hospital and she was at the checkpoint, filtering patients.

Simona’s idea was to put together a group of nurses to record the song, then use it to raise money to set up bursaries at the University of Bologna. If there was one thing the pandemic had highlighted, it was the scarcity of qualified nursing staff in Italy.

BBC

A hat/tip is owed to sky.it. It was because I discovered the video on their site that I knew it had to exist somewhere. Damn, was it hard to find on Youtube. The only way I ended up finding the official Youtube video was to follow a link from this Facebook profile that came up in a Google search for the nurses name. A hat/tip is owed to them as well. The fundraising link triggers trojan warnings on my internet security program, so I haven’t been able to go to the site without disabling security and I don’t have a disposable computer system to surf with at the moment. I consider that sentence to be a Fair warning for anyone who is concerned about internet security.

Mandated Vaccination

facebook.com/Stonekettle

The Atlantic & WNYC – The Experiment: The Crime of Refusing Vaccination – MARCH 25, 202

The Jacobson v. Massachusetts decision made clear that the government could mandate vaccination, arguing that collective good sometimes outweighs individual rights. But the line between the two is blurry. More than two decades after Jacobson’s case, the Court used the same logic in another decision, one the historian Michael Willrich says is among the “scariest U.S. Supreme Court decisions of all time.”

The episode of The Experiment that is embedded above illustrates how easily we can be manipulated into thinking something that is good for us is bad, and it illustrates that the converse is also true. It is illegal to refuse vaccination when that vaccination is mandated by government, that is a basic public health criteria. This isn’t about you and your vaccine fears anymore than it is about me and mine. this is about keeping everyone in the population as healthy as we can, and the way to do that is to make sure that we achieve and maintain herd immunity through vaccination for easily communicable diseases.

This is why you should get your influenza vaccination as well as all the other vaccinations on the list of required vaccinations. Get them because you care about the people around you more than you care for yourself. If you can’t find it in yourself to do it for other people, do it so that you don’t get sick from an easily preventable disease. Wish for a vaccination for every communicable disease that you might casually be exposed to so that you don’t die from that disease, either (I see you hiding over there, Malaria) I do, and I hate needles more than anything else I encounter in day to day life.

I have little doubt that Stonekettle is right in the article embedded above. There is too much bullshit out there circulating for this to not be something that Russia is trying to seed throughout the United States in order to weaken us. That other shoe will drop eventually (if we can’t just take past actions as proof in and of itself) and then we’ll know for sure who is spreading the anti-vaccination bullshit this time around aside from the anti-vax idiots in our midst.

There should be a mandate to get the COVID vaccine just as there is for all the other vaccinations we undergo. The influenza vaccination should be mandated as well.  What form that mandate takes is the only real question left to answer. Do we just pass a law making refusing a vaccination a crime again, or do we try to nudge people in the direction of doing the right thing without holding guns to their head to get them to do it? Americans can’t seem to get away from doing everything that they can at the point of a gun. Maybe we should try something different for once.

Vaccination

I received the first injection of the Moderna vaccine yesterday. The Wife, in one of her near-daily outings to the doctor’s offices for the many (and growing) pains that plague her existence, noticed that there was a pop-up vaccination clinic at the hospital where her doctors offices are located, so she did what she always does when presented with an opportunity. She seized it. She got us both an appointment for the next day, and we went to get our first injections of the COVID vaccine.

We both have been on the list here in Austin for over a month now. I didn’t think I would qualify as 1-B. She did qualify when she checked and she begged me to check to see if I qualified or not. Sure enough, when I (honestly) answered all the questions asked, lo and behold I am also at risk and qualified to get the vaccine. Apparently, having a suppressed immune system is worth something after all.

The arm that I got the jab in is more than a bit sore today, and I feel like I’ve got a mild cold, the kind of cold that you almost feel ashamed to call into work to ask for time off for. Coughing, low fever, aches and pains. The stress is setting off my meniere’s symptoms too, but all in all this is a cakewalk. I’ve seen worse.

When I was a child I had to get a penicillin injection for some malady or other, I don’t remember what it was. The doctor and nurse failed to understand the fight or flight response that I would respond with after being jabbed in the ass with a needle, and the needle nearly broke off in my ass before the nurse and my mother managed to get me restrained. That is my first conscious memory of being vaccinated or injected with anything. It has colored my relationship with the medical profession and their favorite tool, the hypodermic needle, ever since.

Every time, through grade school, junior high, high school and into adulthood, every vaccination, from the TB tine test to the tetanus shot I had to get after stepping on a nail on a construction site somewhere, all of them have been greeted with the knowledge that this was the time when the needle would get me. It was finally going to kill me, like it tried to do that first time. None of those experiences come close to the one I had while trying to determine if I had a problem with my immune system.

Back when I was looking into causes for my Meniere’s symptoms, I consulted many specialists about possible conditions that could have lead to these symptoms. I have long thought that allergies were at the root of the cause for me, and I still don’t know one way or the other if this is true. But during the investigation I discovered that my immune system seemed a little sluggish, and the immunologist suggested we do a test to see if it really was a problem or not. I figured why not, and so I agreed to get a vaccination known as PPSV23 (Pneumococcal vaccine) and then get myself tested again to see how well my immune system responded to the vaccine.

After they jabbed me with that one, I really did think I was going to die, and the symptoms that I had following the vaccination only persuaded me further that this was true. Cold sweats. Hot flashes. Confusion. Body aches that had me hardly moving at all. The lymph node under my left arm, the arm that got the injection, swelled up to the size of a golf ball. I could barely move the arm, and I was essentially bedridden for a week with these symptoms.

After everything had cleared up, I got the immune test done and sure enough, the immune response was less than it should have been. A little more investigation showed, however, that I hadn’t gotten PPSV23 but instead gotten PCV13 (fewer variants) which meant that if I wanted to know how well my immune system responded to the correct vaccine, I’d have to repeat the experience again. So I did it. Again. As repeat performances go, that one was just as painful as the first one was, and as I was laying there bedridden for a second week, I realized on some level just how much my anxiety about the needle really made the entire experience so much worse than it had to be. The dread of the shot really wasn’t warranted, in a general sense. Because no experience before that one had been nearly as bad, and yet I still survived it, too.

Since that time I’ve gotten my flu shots twice a year, every year. I’ve donated blood a half-dozen times. Every time the needle is there and I just can’t look at it. Not if I want to stay sane. Every time the aftermath has been a cakewalk compared to those pneumonia vaccines. This vaccine, the COVID vaccine? It too is a cakewalk. I won’t be doing much other than watching TV for a few days. Even so, my lymph nodes are not visible under the skin yet; and for me, that is what cakewalk means when it comes to encounters with the needle.

texasstandard.org/typewriter rodeo

Featured image from NIH: Peer-reviewed report on Moderna COVID-19 vaccine publishes

Postscript

The second dose is frequently rumored to be much worse than the initial dose. I can only say that my second dose was less painful the first day, more painful the second day, and almost unnoticeable every day since. Other than the conviction that I was about to die for half of this last Saturday, from chest congestion that felt remarkably like pneumonia as well as body and joint aches that kept me from moving other than getting up to go to the bathroom, the experience has been a cakewalk, just like I said before. Much easier than getting a cold or the flu, which is not as bad as the disease this is a prevention for.

Don’t be stupid, go get vaccinated!

How does the mRNA vaccine work? Seize the forks!
Vick KrishnaHow mRNA Vaccines Work? – Mar 13, 2021

h/t to NPR’s Shortwave.

SpotifyShortwave – The Past, Present and Future of mRNA Vaccines

The J&J vaccine is no different than any other vaccine ever produced. Go get that one if mRNA vaccines scare you, but got get a vaccination for crying out loud!

Trump Impeachment Anniversary

A year ago today, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

In his plea to Senators to convict the president, Adam Schiff (D-CA), the lead impeachment manager for the House, warned “you know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country.” Schiff asked: “How much damage can Donald Trump do between now and the next election?” and then answered his own question: “A lot. A lot of damage.” “Can you have the least bit of confidence that Donald “How much damage can Donald Trump do between now and the next election?” and then answered his own question: “A lot. A lot of damage.” “Can you have the least bit of confidence that Donald Trump will… protect our national interest over his own personal interest?” Schiff asked the senators who were about to vote on Trump’s guilt. “You know you can’t, which makes him dangerous to this country.’’

Heather Cox Richardson

A year later, a month away from Trump’s ouster from the White House after losing the election to Joe Biden, the damage that President Trump has done is all around us, impossible to ignore:

The Senators who voted to acquit President Trump are accomplices in the murders of all of the people who died unnecessarily this year. They are accomplices in the theft and corruption that they have enabled over all of the span of the Trump administration. The most corrupt administration in the history of the United States, hands down. They are as guilty as Trump is when it comes to the destruction of the US economy, a destruction that they are now stoking in hopes of destroying any chance of Biden being able to be successful in reviving the country before 2022.

These are the kinds of people that the Republican party sends to Washington. These are the values of the party of the Moral Majority laid bare. President Trump is actively working to destroy the country, and Mitch McConnell is helping him. Who wants to bet that the slowdown in delivery of the Pfizer vaccine isn’t Caudito Trump lashing out at the American public who rejected him?

Rachel Maddow won’t say it, but I will. I will go so far as to suggest that this is not only possible but probable. When Trump and his Republican lackies are willing to risk the kinds of global destruction we are potentially heading for right now if the United States collapses in upon itself in an orgy of self-destruction, what it means to plan for the failure of the Biden administration, the notion that a petty narcissist would stop delivery of life-saving medication out of spite is entirely believable.

What Trumpismo and its supporters have done is prove that Adam Schiff and the Democrats who impeached President Trump a year ago undersold us on the hazard that the country could face in his hands. If only we could go back in time, what would we say to them? What could we say to the Republican base that might possibly have changed their minds?

300,000 Dead Americans

We went from 200,000 to 300,000 in less than three months.

We hit 100,000 officially dead to the Coronavirus back on May 27th. It took 4 months to get to 200,000 from that number. It is expected we will hit 400,000 dead by January 20th, a mere 2 months away.

Joe BidenPresident-elect Biden Delivers Remarks on the Electoral College Vote Certification

I wouldn’t even have known we passed 300,000 today if Joe Biden hadn’t observed that we passed that landmark after marking the victory that was recorded by the electoral college today. A grim pairing for a grim year.

Fuck you 2020. Let’s hope your next of kin is kinder than you were.


I hate being right.

washingtonpost.com

Toxic Isolation

Perhaps even before the virus, before Brexit, we had all been quarantined in our own naked individualism — an isolation far more toxic. There we were, incarcerated and alone inside the penitentiary of our temporal identities with no faith or care for anything other than the fleeting fulfillment of our wayward wants. This is the divide that British people have to reach across for there ever to be any real sense of unity among us. Ultimately, it is the island of self that we must either leave or remain trapped within.

NYTimes – Brexit: What Were We Thinking?!