Coronavirus Observations

I have seen memes defined as “a piece of culture that can be indiscriminately shared.” My experience with memes has been they are a poor way to express yourself and generally cause divisiveness. Welp… I have been saving memes since before quarantine about COVID-19 and issues surrounding it. I have also saved some articles which I will share at the end.

So for this entry, I will embrace them with some unasked-for commentary. Each meme kind of begins a new topic or mini-section. So, if this reads like an article written with no plan, that is because there was no plan:

Bernie Sanders called for $2,000 per month for people. Instead, we got $1,200 – once. Most people cannot live off of that, especially with 1+ children. Bernie’s $2,000 figure comes from a $15 per hour minimum wage. What interests me is all the people who hated the $1,200 number but are cool with others making min. wage.

One thing that cracks me up about “essential workers” is all of these companies have come out with “hero pay” and other clever terms. But, I have not seen a single industry commit to keeping that as a standard. Instead, everything is temporary. If the economy connects us all, then we need an economy that works for everyone and not just a few.

What anti-vaxxers and republicans seem to not understand is that your health is my health and vice versa. If you like having a longer life expectancy, then you can thank vaccines and scientists.

One thing I absolutely despise about our country is, for example, that I would love, as a private business, to force people to prove they have certain vaccines before entering a chess tournament I run. Why? To provide some safety to those around them because my health IS your health and vice versa! But no… in America… I would get sued for infringing on someone’s religious beliefs or whatever.

I remember on March 22nd, 2020 how, suddenly, many billion dollar companies were beginning to furlough and fire people, cutting people off from wages and healthcare… during a pandemic. You know… because no one needs healthcare during a pandemic.

I mean, I know that some people hate the idea of medicare for all. However, I hope you learn that you, and likely many people you know, absolutely can be cut off from your employer provided healthcare should something finicky happen to the stock market, such as a global health pandemic. How will will you feel if you get a $75,000 bill for your hospitalization for COVID-19? How will you feel if you simply get tested and get flooded with bills? How will you feel if surviving COVID-19 gives you a pre-existing condition in diminished lung functionality and, down the line, you are denied insurance?

One of my business owning republican friends always tells me about small government, taxes are terrible, entitlement programs are horrible, etc… However, the exact day the WHO declared a worldwide pandemic, he fired all of his employees of 30+ years to “help them” so they can get unemployment. Because that is the small government thing to do…?

No. What he did was pass the buck to the taxpayers the moment he was put in a position to help people financially. My business is very small; however, I will split my last dollar 7 ways before I fire anyone or stop paying them. None of this is their fault and I am not going to be the person who hoards cash because of greed. I am not a millionaire. If I were, I could do so much more… But not my “friend.”

By the way, the meme above is also relevant for when McConnell told States to file for bankruptcy. Essentially, preventing tax dollars to be used to bail out states and allowing the federal government to exact concessions on each state’s behalf in exchange for relief. Our leaders are depraved.

Costco announced all customers will be required to wear masks when shopping. A bunch of republicans got angry. Maybe if they’d stop blowing hot air the masks would be more comfortable.

Seriously… I make these types of comparisons all the time. People tell me “Those two things aren’t related” or whatever. I am tired of being told to view the world in this disconnected way. Disconnected thinking is how you get to a point where you feel our health is not related, our business decisions aren’t related, and our behavior isn’t related. Pretty much most things we do are connected in society. We need to observe and recognize these connections and end the divisiveness that proliferates on social media.

It is interesting to me how we treat people. When there is no pandemic, we ignore the homeless as a society. During a pandemic, we just want to make sure they are social distancing.

Eventually, many hotels across the country did allow homeless people in. However, most didn’t. Some housed essential workers, especially hospital staff.

I don’t like bringing this up but I am going to here because it is relevant. I have a friend who is homeless. While I lack the resources to give him a proper home in his own right, I do help him as much as possible. I do not have enough resources to donate to 20 different 501c3s. So, in my life, I chose two paths: Chess and helping individuals who I meet. Right now, I help my friend who is homeless. Before him, I had a friend who needed help because of his mental issues related to a brain injury he suffered in a car accident. So, I am not chiding people from an arm chair.

I thought this was a near map I found in mid-to-late March. Predictably, many of the states who didn’t shut down have higher numbers than those that shut down early. Hmmm….

In the future, I am going to compare this map to the next electoral map. I wonder if people will see through this crap? It took a global pandemic but we all know who our governors really are at this point. Those that follow science are acting very differently than those who are beholden to lobbyists of big business. Once again, in my life, I see big business trying to squish scientific leadership in the name of profit making.

May 4th: 1,212,835 cases (see link below). The United States has 1/3 of the world’s COVID-19 cases but only 328.2 million people out of 7.8 billion. I wonder if there is a correlation between these numbers and POTUS suggesting it is a democratic hoax?

I have to admit… the Left has me on this issue. I absolutely have no respect for landlords anymore. The whole world goes to pot and they all expect everyone to maintain rent levels? Even the government stimulus only allows 25% of SBA loans to go toward rent but with no provisions or moratoriums about lowering/suspending rent.

Landlords do not produce value – this is something my friend demonstrated to me over time and my chess club landlord is now proving in a real-world unintended experiment. As my friend says “They hold land and facilities hostage and demand money for it or evict you.” I have to agree with this take on it. I mean, you could say “providing a home” is valuable. But, they aren’t providing a home. If they were providing a home, after you pay the mortgage off you’d own it – but you won’t. I think the whole industry is a problem and I see that now.

Concise in meaning and words. I know not everyone is weathering this storm equally. But, for those that can, stay home. Your decisions affect everyone – that isn’t just true with COVID-19 and Quarantine, by the way.

While I did not check his numbers, the point remains. If corporations are going to avoid taxes, they should not be given tax dollars to stay afloat. Tax dollars need to work for people, not companies.

I feel this is another failure of capitalism. We prop up companies with tax dollars and receive little in return. When money becomes scarce, they fire employees, separating people from their healthcare when they need it most. The capitalistic failure here also shows itself when you realize government subsidies are used to keep prices low. If capitalism is so great, why does it need such a massive prop up? It’s because price gouging is a main driver of true capitalism, unfortunately.

Additionally, trickle down economics is supposedly about people at the top being able to bring in money and it will trickle down to people below. Obviously, that is a big lie. Companies who got historic tax cuts used most of their money for corporate stock buybacks. These same companies needed to be bailed out during Obama’s presidency and these same companies have also taken stimulus money at the expense of small businesses (I could cite a source for this but my own business got screwed by this so that is good enough proof for me).

So, yea… I say give the people the money and let the companies drown.

The background of this image is perfect. Kentucky is in this situation right now… ALL of the surrounding states are doing far worse than us and ALL are opening up. I predict these red states will spike. 😦

An expected move from Republicans. They want to call it bipartisan, get all the credit, and give MORE money to corporations. The first round of SBA loans mostly went to big business.

Also… Trump is petty. The lack of example set by our leaders gives false confidence to their supporters. Honestly, I am glad democrats were not in a photo with no physical distancing.

GOP for the past 40 years: “You have to take responsibility.”

Trump during pandemic: “I don’t take responsibility, at all he said.

GOP after Trump’s comment: “States can file for bankruptcy, and must take responsibility for their financial situation.”

I have no way to verify this meme. I am not privy to Trump’s schedule but I know he does golf a lot. But, it definitely seems like he regularly ignores his job as POTUS at the expense of.. well.. everyone. He was 2 months and 3 days late in declaring an emergency when he was briefed about this early on.

I know a multi-millionaire who recently said “Blood in the streets. Buy! Buy! Buy!” While I am sure that is reasonable advice, it disgusts me. The stock market is not the pulse of the nation.

Seriously… think about it… how much does the stock market affect the lives of most people in America? Those who are in a position, which is the vast minority of the country, to take advantage of the stock market will benefit from it. But the rest of everyone? Nope. Yet, what COVID-19 shows us is the stock market can remain strong while mass layoffs happen. When will people understand that the power of profit comes off the backs of the poor? Being anti-union is absurd. Wanting unions to be more representative and less greedy is very reasonable. But, collective bargaining is the only way to fight companies within the system – and they lobby against unions everyday.

I appreciate this observation. You can see the advantages and disadvantages to different government systems and responses. Authoritarian governments locked down pretty fast, like China. While the US, a freer country, essentially has 50 different responses (as opposed to one cohesive response). In my perfect world, science would lead the way on this one. But, the major republicans are mostly science deniers.

Oregon has an established history of voting by mail. During a pandemic, this makes a whole lot of sense. I am sorry but it is the most practical option. Don’t like it? Then stop being anti-vaccine and a bit more pro-science.

Here are a list of links and websites I have found interesting over the past few months:

COVID19 Stats
This website is absolutely amazing. Obviously, data collection on this scale is going to have problems and testing isn’t happening enough. But, one of the most interesting comparisons with the presented data is (1) India vs. the USA and (2) USA vs the World Totals.

Our science illiteracy, ignorance, and denial is reflected in our numbers.

Meat Packing Companies
Republicans are all about small government… until they aren’t. I am a lifelong meat eater and I cannot stand eating salad. I wasn’t raised eating salads and I really hate the texture of lettuce. However, I am fine going on a meatless diet if necessary.

But, in our country, meat is so important that the POTUS used the Defense Production Act to force certain meat packing companies to remain open. This is in spite of worker safety and high levels of COVID-19 transmission still going on. I find this absolutely bizarre.

Here’s a fun anecdote… The first week I went grocery shopping after the pandemic was announced formally, I saw this suburban woman acting all kind and smiling at people. She had about 30 packs of meat in her cart. When I tried to get some burger patties, she smiled at me while using her cart to box me out. No problem – I am a type A personality. I moved her cart, as she looked at me in shock, and I grabbed ONE pack of burgers.

People like her are why we are in this mess. Greedy privileged jerks who will act or say anything to justify their hoarding. I don’t personally care if you have “mouths to feed.” We all do. But your selfishness is why you feel you need to hoard food, “lady.” It is why there are shortages. When will people learn that the only way forward as a civilization is mass cooperativeness?

Tampa sets up homeless tents
This makes a bit more sense than the stupid meme above where Las Vegas was putting homeless in parking lots as opposed to hotels. And, question…. why can’t we set up homeless tents in general? Why do we have to wait for a pandemic to suddenly care about homeless people?

I mean, tents aren’t that expensive… Hell, I think we should do more than tents but we don’t even do tents on a good day. Kentucky has bulldozed homeless camps. I know other places have, too. Well… at least Tampa gave homeless tents instead of open air parking lots. Both are, of course, better than the accommodations Trump provides people fleeing tyranny in central America. But there I go again… bringing up unrelated topics and comparing them. Am I really wrong to do this?

COVID19 and Climate Change
This is a great article. It demonstrates that people deny climate change and COVID-19 but COVID-19 converts people back to believing a little faster. I mean, when you have dying friends and family, things may seem a little more urgent. But with climate change? Deny Deny Deny! despite overwhelming evidence.

The whole world has done a global experiment by not driving as much and staying home. Venetian canals are clear for the first time in a long time (that dolphin and swan thing were fake), San Diego has the least polluted skies in the world due to COVID-19 as of mid-April, pollution levels across the planet are significantly down, CO2 levels have dipped below 1975 levels, etc… etc… etc…

We need to flatten the global warming curve, too. Will people learn the lessons COVID-19 teaches us? I doubt it.

Price Gouging and US Competition Problems
Price gouging, a very capitalist idea, took hold early on in the pandemic with PPE, specifically with N95 masks and hand sanitizer. Well, because Trump told states “Try getting it yourselves” all the states were forced to compete with each other. Then, the federal government, who does not have a law requiring balancing the budget, begins to outbid all the states.

This bidding procedure not only drove up prices for everyone, but was entirely avoidable. While many private companies within the US sold PPE overseas, the federal government could have told states “We have to bid against other countries. Since we don’t have to balance our budget, we will get PPE. We need each state to submit plans for how much PPE they need and we’ll get it to you as best we can.”

But, that didn’t happen. Instead, capitalism shined again by forcing a supply and demand situation with people’s lives in the balance. I think that is a massive failure of capitalism. Considering the points made above about US population vs. we have 1/3 of the world’s COVID-19 cases, it remains clear capitalism is a joke during a crisis.

Ventilators and Capitalism
Ah, yes… more capitalism “success” stories. Ventilators went from $25,000 up to $45,000. Many hospitals, in conjunction with engineers and clever doctors, retrofitted many of their ventilators to serve 6 – 10 patients each depending on the circumstances. While likely not optimal, it was better than waiting on the federal government to issue ventilators.

Capitalism fails here, too, for 2 reasons:

1. The price for ventilators went so high because of the federal government sending states into a free-for-all.

2. Rather than design a ventilator system that can serve multiple patients, we’ve always relied on ventilators who serve one patient – which means each hospital has to buy multiple units.

These costs are passed down to us taxpayers and human beings. I do not believe for one second that ventilator companies “never considered” the idea of a cheaper ventilator that serves several patients. But, it isn’t the norm, and the price of these machines is extraordinarily high even during non-pandemic times.

Capitalism should not be in charge of our health.

Florida religious services exempt from stay at home order in Florida
I don’t mind people celebrating and exercising their religious freedoms. But, this was ignorant of Florida in my opinion. As they say, your right to hit me begins with your fist and ends where my nose begins. If gathering in large groups spreads a disease that can infect and/or kill non-congregation members, then the gatherings must be prohibited during the crisis time. Telechurch is still available, now more than ever, and drive-in church has been approved in various states, too.

The point is that your right to your religion is not being infringed upon. It has changed, yes. And these changes are temporary. But, just like a smoker blowing smoke in your face or a drunk driver crashing into your car with your family in it, if your behavior leads to harm in others, it needs to be prohibited. For example, people can smoke at home, they can drink at home, and you can certainly worship at home.

Iceland’s Response was way faster than the US Response
Like South Korea, Iceland’s response was much better. I’m just going to let the article speak for itself on this one. Trump was late and more lives were lost as a result.

Some states are receiving equipment they ask for and some are not
This is unfortunate. I live in KY and for a time it was speculated that KY received all kinds of PPE while other states did not. So far as I currently know, this was not true. However, I do know Trump hinted at this concept when he referred to “that woman from Michigan” (Gov. Whitmer). He was trying to argue that states who are not “nice” to him and are not “Thankful” will receive nothing. Of course, Trump denies this but it is evident in his behavior, too.

Bleach and Ultraviolet Light
Trump suggested putting bleach and ultraviolet light into the body to kill COVID-19 in people. Here is a story with an image that shows Trump formulating his terrible ideas just before he began speaking at a press conference. Trump then, a day later, tries to claim he was “being sarcastic.” I do not believe he was being sarcastic at all. And even if he was, that is extremely inappropriate to do during a press conference that is supposed to get people to feel safer.

On Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s podcast Star Talk, several months before a world pandemic was declared, him and his co-host Chuck Nice discuss UV Light and what it does to the body. In short, the UV Light breaks apart DNA of cells and cells begin to break down or, worse, mutate and become cancerous.

The point is that Trump was serious, he was not sarcastic, and he is a dangerous person to remain POTUS.

The Death of Expertise
I will conclude with this gem of a story, and book. We need to re-claim dialogue and healthy debate. Before seeing this story, I actually deleted Facebook for a few days. I was intent on keeping it that way until I realized I cut myself off from my gaming groups.

So, I re-activated my account and then deleted 550 people from my friends list out of around 575 people. I did this because I am tired of fruitless debates about politics. I am equally tired of science denying republicans and people who agree with me 9 times out of 10 hounding me for 2+ weeks with comments, sniping, and dismissive language they’d never use when face-to-face when they disagree with me on the occasional issue.

Disagreement is fine. Presenting evidence for your claims is great. Reasoning back and forth is fine. But no – this is not what happens most of the time on Facebook. Usually, what happens is quippy memes are shared in lieu of good sources; insults are the mortar that hold someone’s “beliefs” together; and the trolls wallow in it all as if they have proven superiority over others when they get upset at their attacks.

Instead, I have filled my “Facebook time” with educational podcasts, completing projects, learning more about woodworking, and reading both chess books and non-chess books (I recently purchased The Hero with a Thousand Faces and I really enjoy it).

Therefore, I will write my posts and if people wish to debate them, so be it. But, consider these posts as me speaking my peace. I don’t need to add anymore than I do.

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