Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Pandemic Journal - Day 215

Two of my relatives have Covid. I love them both in my own way and I'm quite concerned for them, especially the older one. I won't name them out of respect for their privacy, but they are what I consider "immediate family."

Everyday I watch the numbers in my county climb. We're up to 357 cases here, with 12 confirmed deaths. That means 1.1 percent of the population has have Covid, which is a very long way from any sort of herd immunity.

We only had 43 cases in June.

Still people do not wear masks. My brother said, "You can't force people to do things." Well, we "force" them to wear a shirt and shoes. No shirt, no shoes, no service, the signs used to say. We force them to get a new plate when they eat at the buffet line. The signs say that: New Plate for Each Visit, or something similar. We force people to use seatbelts, stop at stoplights and stop signs, follow a speed limit, not drink and drive. We keep them from using marijuana for medicinal purposes.

They're called laws. Sometimes they're rules. Sometimes they're social norms. We don't run around naked in parking lots and if we do, someone hauls us away in a paddy wagon. Sometimes things have to be done for the public good. To promote the general welfare, to quote a revered document called the U.S. Constitution.

I am all for a mask mandate until we have a vaccine in order to promote the public health and general welfare. Note I am not in favor of one forever, just until we get a handle on this thing. If people hadn't been such jerks about it to begin with, we wouldn't be where we are now (and this is worldwide - apparently 50% of the population of the entire world are selfish, except in New Zealand). 

Even my father, an ardent Republican, believes in mask wearing. He told me yesterday when we were talking about my staying out of the stores because so many people go unmasked that those people are being disrespectful to me and everyone else (his words). We both turn and go the other way if we start down an aisle and see an unmasked person.

"Stay home if you're scared," they (mostly conservatives) say on Facebook and elsewhere. That works both ways. If you won't wear a mask, then you stay home.

Why can't we create a new set of Mask Marshalls - we have loads of unemployed people now - and let them stand in front of each necessary business (grocery stores in particular) and hand out a ticket if people do not have on a mask? If people want to ball the ticket up and throw it at somebody, let them. That's why we have duplicates. Eventually it will catch up to them.

In other news, I am sick of politics but I am going to talk politics here. I will be glad when the election is over, however it unfolds, and if people begin shooting each other, well, then I guess that is the way it has to be now. We have devolved into a third-world shithole nation, so we may as well act like one. Although frankly, some of the third-world nations have done a better job with their coronavirus efforts than we have. So maybe we're like a fifth-world shithole nation now.

Someone (I think it was my brother, but I'm not positive) posted a meme on Facebook that said something like "voting is not a Valentine to the candidate, it's a move on the chessboard in the direction you want to go."

That's a great analogy, except for the fact that nobody is playing on the same chess board. We aren't playing conventional chess. We're playing something made up, like Star Trek chess or Dragons and Dungeons chess. Maybe it's a combination of Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Star WarsDungeons and Dragons, and Harry Potter chess. Something with no stable rules, anyway.

So my "chess move" is a desire to bring about certain things. What do I want to bring about?

  • Accessible, affordable health care (I don't care if it's public or private, just there and available)
  • Equality for all (don't care what sex, gender, color, etc., you are, everyone should have equal rights, no one is "less than" anybody else. I don't care who marries whom or what happens in anybody's house, so long as they aren't harming one another.)
  • People working 40 hours a week should not have to live in poverty.
  • CEOs shouldn't receive 3,000 times the wages of their workers
  • Children shouldn't have to worry about being shot at school.
  • No corporate welfare (subsidies)
  • No government interference in healthcare decisions for anybody, especially women.
  • Everyone should have access to higher education if they want it.
  • Clean air, clean water, clean world.
  • Equal pay.
  • No lobbyists.
  • Term limits for all politicians and the Supreme Court.
  • Homes and jobs for veterans. (Nobody should be homeless unless it is by choice.)
  • Better funding for child welfare services, national parks, the space program, etc., and less funding for military.
  • Regulations on television and radio, similar to what it was in the 1970s, for example.

That's where my chess move would take me.

As best I can tell, a Republican's chess move is: no regulations, no taxes, and control over women. I'm sure that's not correct, but that is what it looks like from my side of the very confused chess board.

Why anyone thinks they should get a free pass and not pay taxes to live in this country, or anywhere there is a government, is beyond me. We all use the roads, we all use the public schools, the police forces, fire departments, ambulances, public parks, water and sewer, etc., paid for by united funds from all who pay taxes. We wouldn't have this stuff if we didn't pay taxes. Corporations couldn't move their goods without public infrastructure. Barrack Obama was right when he said, "No one does it alone," because despite the hardest working efforts of every self-made business person, there was somebody, somewhere, helping him along, either because of his or her education in the public school system, the use of public roads and other infrastructure, or the fact that a fire department is available to keep the building from burning down and that lowers the cost of the company's insurance.

The lowering of taxes is why much of our infrastructure is collapsing and needing repair. The money is being diverted inappropriately to corporations that don't do anything, not to needed infrastructure spending.

I wonder how many people know that the top federal income tax rate was 91 percent in 1950 and 1951, and between 1954 and 1959. In 1952 and 1953, the top federal income tax rate was 92 percent. This applied to income over $200,000 (or about $2 million in today's dollars).The tax rates of the top 0.1 and 0.01 percent of taxpayers have dropped substantially since the 1950s. The average tax rate on the 0.1 percent highest-income Americans was 50.6 percent in the 1950s, compared to 39.8 percent today. The average tax rate on the top 0.01 percent was 55.3 percent in the 1950s, compared to 40.8 percent today.

But enough about that. As things stand today, the current unemployment rate is officially 7.9%, although I think it is higher because people who became unemployed in March and have stopped looking for work aren't on the rolls anymore. I'm unemployed and not on the rolls, for example. I wouldn't mind a part-time job, but I'm not looking for one during a pandemic.

Personally, I do not think the economy ever fully recovered from the recession in 2007. I know it didn't here. New housing construction, for instance, has not returned to anywhere near the highs of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The county's efforts to court new corporations usually turn into corporate welfare schemes where the public loses in the end. Not always, but frequently enough to make anyone who thinks about it consider the notion that luring corporations in with financial incentives may not a good idea in the long run.

The federal government's response to the pandemic has been anemic, at best, and continues to be among the worst in the world. Apparently listening to the scientists is now a bad thing. I listen to my doctor and she reads the journals. She tells me that if I get Covid, I will likely die. I believe her.

So, I am staying home, mostly. We've taken a few drives, but not gone where there are people. I am doing grocery store pickups, with infrequent masked run-ins to pick up medicines and things the grocery pickup people can't locate (the items are in the store, the people apparently don't know where to look for them). I talk on the phone with friends. My husband and I have started walking in the evenings when he comes home from whatever he has been doing, and we both enjoy that even though all we are doing is walking in a circle around the house.

I've weeded the flowerbed and readied it for winter, for the most part. My roses are over 30 years old and I think they need to be dug up and replaced with something else. I just don't know what. Bushes of some kind, maybe. I am looking into that.

My birdfeeder is attracting loads of birds - some not so welcome. Yesterday I watched a big black bird land on the feeder and proceed to throw the food all over the ground. Then his friends swooped in and ate the seed off the ground. It was actually quite clever, but after I felt like they'd had enough to eat, I went outside and shooed the birds away. The starlings also have found the feeder and I shoo them off after a while, as well. I don't mind them eating the birdseed, just not all of it at once.

Yesterday, as I headed to pick up my groceries, a cardinal flew into the car. I felt very bad about killing a bird as I hate to kill anything. It couldn't be helped, as the bird hit the car and not the other way around, but I still felt badly about it. Here I am feeding hundreds of birds only to have Virginia's state bird fly into the side of the car and commit suicide.

One thing I have noticed about this strange year is that my focus is unclear. This post, for example, seems to me to be all over the place, because my thoughts are all over the place. Many of my friends are noticing the same problem. Inability to concentrate, sadness, feeling overwhelmed. 

When utter chaos surrounds you, I suspect that's a normal response.


  1. I enjoyed your post today. I like you seem to have hard time focusing at times. Funny about the bird suicide. Good that you are your husband are walking. We need to do that too. Hopefully now that the weather is cooling down. We have a gym membership which we have not used since the lockdown. Enjoy the rest of your week!

  2. I also enjoyed this post. You gave better words to my thoughts than I could have.

  3. Excellent. I'm stealing part of it.


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