The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Month: April 2020 Page 1 of 7

The Inability to Do Basic Things

So, we now have multiple cases of packing plants which have spread Covid-19 cases through the workforce.

These businesses have workers cheek to jowl, but most did not make even basic efforts.

Let us say that you can’t find official protective devices.

Have cloth ones sewed, three layers. All it takes is someone who knows how to use a sewing machine. Label them with numbers one to six, large print, plus each worker’s name.

I’ve seen reports that cloth masks are good for about two hours, then they have to be cleaned. So, you give each worker two sets of six. For their first two hours, they wear the one labelled ONE, and so on. Compliance can easily be checked. At the end of the shift, they all go into a bin for cleaning, and they are hung on the outside of workers’ lockers (these sorts of jobs have worker lockers) or other appropriate place for the next shift.

Does this cut it all down? Heck no. But it’s a start, and it only requires the plant manager and his logistics people to get off their asses.

There’s some weird sort of incapability in much of the Western world today. We seem unable to even carry through the basic motions. We just sit around stunned, doing the least amount possible unless ordered to do otherwise. When authority fails, we fail.

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April 30th US Covid Data

Our benefactor writes:

Well, we crossed the symbolic threshold of 60,000 deaths before May 1. I’m not sure why it is symbolic, other than that earlier predictions were 60,000 deaths by the end of August. People are beginning to realize that this is an enduring pandemic and preparing themselves for the long haul. It’s going to be a huge challenge for the world. From what I understand, this is not quickly dissipating.

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April 29th US Covid Data

Our benefactor writes:

Well, we’ve crossed the one million cases threshold, with estimates of 3x to 5x that number of actual cases in the population. We’re about to cross the 60 thousand deaths threshold. NYC’s recent restating of their deaths upwards by over 30 percent to 40 percent due to analysis of normal death rates this time of year is also indicative of under-counting.

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Why the Left Keeps Losing and What They Must Do to Win

In 2018, I wrote an article, Seven Rules For Running A Real Left-wing Government.

The article was based on an ur-fact that wasn’t made explicit in the piece:

Centrists and right-wingers don’t consider left-wing government legitimate.

When I wrote about the seven rules, it was in reaction to the turn of the tide in South and Central America: the loss of left-wing governments there. Since then, Bolivia has suffered a right-wing coup.

What is remarkable about these reversals is that they were either done illegitimately, or, once done, the full power of the prosecutorial state was used against the left. In Brazil, Lula, who would have easily won, was locked up on bogus corruption charges. In Bolivia, electoral fraud was alleged. It turns out there was none. The government which took charge did not, however, win the election by any measure.

Once governments were in power, they used the force of the state to destroy their left-wing enemies.

They did things they would never do against right-wing or centrist opponents.

That’s because, to them, the left cannot ever be allowed to take or hold power, period. If a left-wing government gets in power, it is prima facie illegitimate.

This is a profound and genuine belief.

And it has an effect even before the left gets into power. The best recent example is that UK Labor party staffers were working actively to lose the 2017 and 2020 elections. We have emails, we have proof. They went so far as to micro-target Corbyn with Facebook ads tailored just to him, so he wouldn’t see the real ads that they were running–ads meant to make Labor lose.

In part, this is a case of the iron law of institutions: It’s better to run a weaker institution than to lose control of one.

But it is also an ideological matter: The left is considered illegitimate. Therefore, you do not have to play by they rules when fighting it.

The left, bless their hearts, tend to think that there are rules, and that they can play by them, win, and be allowed to rule. But all along the process, the left’s opponents do not and will never play by the rules when facing the left.

This has a long history. The US overthrew multiple elected governments overseas if they considered them left-wing. At home, coincidentally, JFK, RFK, MLK, and Malcom X were all assassinated within a period of less than ten years, and we are expected to believe that the US security apparatus had nothing to do with that. (This doesn’t even pass the laugh test.) There was a LOT of violence in the late 60s and early 70s, to the point of bombs going off every day, because there was, in fact a war going on and when the left realized their leaders were being killed and that peaceful victory would not be allowed, some of them actually fought.

They lost.

This is war. It is not a game.

Corbyn was deliberately sabotaged by his own bureaucracy, because he thought there were rules. His MPs sabotaged him. The press lied about him over 75 percent of the time. Sanders was taken out when every opponent except Biden all dropped out at the same time–a coordinated action for which I can’t recall a precedent. It was NOT normal, and it is not what would have happened if a centrist had been beating Biden. That theoretical centrist would have been allowed to win, and there would have been no hand-wringing about how that was happening because of a split field, because split fields are normal.

So, as with the seven rules, which include facts like having to restructure and (non-violently) purge the press, the same is true of being a left-winger. If you get into a place like where Corbyn was, you have to get rid of all the internal enemies. Not people who just disagree. This means all staffers who are not ideologically-aligned. As for MPs, test them; the moment they do something traitorous (as Labour’s MPs did over and over again), remove them from the party. For all MPs, re-select. Note that Boris Johnson immediately removed all MPs who challenged him on Brexit (his main issue) when they crossed him. He then won the election handily.

You do this because neoliberals and conservatives cannot be trusted because they do not believe that left-wing government is, or can be, legitimate. They already view it as war and they will cheat, lie, and put you in jail if they can. Failing that, they will engage in coups and assassination if they can.

You can’t play a game by the rules if the other side is determined to cheat and thinks you shouldn’t even be on the field.

Oh, and, if it’s not obvious, the police and the military always must be brought under control. This is a somewhat delicate process, but you cannot leave the violent institutions run by right-wingers, as they are today. The second they have an excuse they will turn on you. (This is one of the things that Venezuela got right and why Maduro has not yet been overthrown.)

This is a violent conflict. Centrists and right-wingers don’t even see old-style New Deal liberals as legitimate, and they will do anything they can to destroy them. This is how it has always been: They always hated FDR, they always hated the New Deal, they always hated and wanted to destroy the welfare state. They bided their time, used their power in the conservative institutions of the deep state, like the FBI and intelligence outfits, and they won. They learned by starting in peripheral nations like Iran, then they transferred what they learned back home.

More on that in another article.

For now: If you are left-wing, the right and the center see you as an enemy, and they will do anything necessary to destroy you if you reach a level they consider a threat.

Understand that in your bones.

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April 28th US Covid Data

Our benefactor writes:

A couple more days in this direction, and we may actually have progress. The current doubling rate would get us to two million cases and 120 thousand deaths by the end of May. Hopefully, that does not happen.

The results of the work I do, like this article, are free, but food isn’t, so if you value my work, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.

The Covid Live Test of Your Government

One thing Covid-19 has done is allow us to rank a lot of governments by competence. There’s a lot of governments in the running for most incompetent. The UK and the US are up there, and if Sweden’s experiment doesn’t work, they may take the crown.

Probably the most competent government in the world is Vietnam. They managed to keep deaths to zero despite being right next to China and having massive economic ties. They jumped right on top of it, tested, traced, isolated and quarantined. They made sure people isolating had food (heck, they installed rich machines which gave rice for free).

This tracks what I’ve heard from ex-pats: Vietnam is a country where things get done, and that its cities are among the most dynamic in the world. Vietnam still has the sense that there’s a task, and you don’t put profit before that task. So they are able to build infrastructure and complete goals with stunning rapidity and minimal, by our standards, waste.

Was a time, of course, when the UK was like that (in the mid to 19th century British efficiency was often commented upon). Not so long ago Japan was like this, but they’ve lost it at the top, though the rot hasn’t gone all the way through the entire society yet.

In the Anglo-Saxon world, New Zealand and Australia have performed well. Canada’s performance, while good compared to the UK and the US (not even faint praise), was delayed. I was somewhat surprised by Australia’s performance, but I guess they can still be competent when it doesn’t touch on their corrupt resource extraction industry, as was the case during the wildfires (which is, in itself, interesting information).

The keys to good performance were acting early, testing and tracing contacts, and doing isolation properly: Quarantine away from your family.

The key to fixing this is going to be widespread testing, contact tracing, and then proper quarantine, which means you have to support the people in quarantine and make it mandatory.

Tracing is slow work. It can take five days to trace one person’s contacts. That means, if you’ve let things get out of control, you need a large number of people. Oddly, in the US, millions of people now need work and hey, it can be done from home: It’s phone work.

So competence means ramping up testing as fast as possible. It means distributing masks to everyone, free of charge. It means tracing, tracking and quarantining.

Until these things are done, releasing restrictions after a drop in cases will just lead to another spike in a few weeks.

Truly competent governments got ahead of this: They didn’t need an army of tracers.

But those who didn’t, do.

Let us hope our governments can, at least, learn from their mistakes.

The alternative is a year and a half of waves of cases, isolation, and more waves. In the US, with its refusal to support individuals and small companies, that means widespread hunger. And, as the food system is impacted in many countries, along with logistics, there is likely to be famine in other areas (for example, India, which has very low margins).

Few readers thought they might want to live in Vietnam, I suspect.

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April 27th US Covid Data

Our benefactor notes a significant drop in deaths. New Jersey reported no new deaths since yesterday, which is odd.

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April 25th US Covid Data

Our benefactor notes that deaths will definitely 60k by the end of April.

The results of the work I do, like this article, are free, but food isn’t, so if you value my work, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.

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