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

Open Thread

Use to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts.


What Is Right for Those You Love Is Right for All


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 7, 2022


  1. Ché Pasa

    “My Covid Advnture.”

    So I went to the Urgent Care and was transferred to the ER at another facility on July 18th. Spent about 90 minutes at the Urgent Care and 5 hours at the ER before being treated (chronic condition I’d been neglecting in part because of the Covid). I’m double vaxxed and boosted, but all shots were some time ago.

    Neither the Urgent Care nor the ER were strictly observing non-communicative protocols. Surgical masks were dispensed beside a pump jar of sanitizer at each facility, and everyone was masked with something, but… I saw no one wearing an N95 or similar mask, staff was not always gloved nor did they always use sanitizer between patients, and the waiting rooms, while not full, were not well ventilated. It was hot in Albuquerque and the waiting rooms were cool, so there was ventilation, but not very efficient. Patients came in — at least 4 I noted while waiting — stating they had Covid and asking should they sit somewhere apart from the others? At the Urgent Care, no. No separation, though check in staff were in glassed in positive ventilated enclosures. At the ER there was a section of the waiting area with a glass partial wall where the Covid patients were asked to sit. But anyone could sit there and did. I would suspect that anyone who sat with Covid patients for more than 15 minutes in those waiting rooms that day got Covid, vaxxed or no.

    The treatment room I was in at the ER had very strong positive ventilation, as I understood all of them did. Staff seemed unconcerned about spread of Covid within the facility, however. It was kind of like, “If you get it, you get it; you’ll get treatment and practically everyone comes through ok.” We of course are skeptical.

    I was in treatment for about 8 hours. Went home. Started having suspicious symptoms the next day (litter box mouth). Two days later, I tested positive. Paxlovid was obtained (with some difficulty out here in the wilderness), 5 days later, most symptoms gone, test negative. Ms. Che still has faint positive tests. Her provider says it’s ok as long as she has no new symptoms. Paxlovid worked on her too.

    The end.

  2. NR

    Glad you’re doing okay, Che.

    Four people I know got COVID within the last month or so. Three of them had mild symptoms, the worst of which was basically the equivalent of a really bad cold for 3-4 days, the best was only a stuffy nose, and the third was in between those two. However, the fourth person I know got a pretty bad case. Not bad enough to require hospitalization thankfully, but it’s been almost four weeks and he’s still not better, though thankfully he is finally starting to get better. He told me that it was about two weeks out of his life that were just gone–he didn’t have the energy to do pretty much anything beyond just the basic day-to-day things you have to do at home.

    So be careful, people. Seems like it’s still very much a crapshoot what will happen if you get COVID.

  3. Joan

    @Che, I’m glad to hear you and your wife came through it all right!

  4. NL

    Positivity and the symptoms frequently return once the patient off Paxlovid — one example is Dr. Fauci, another is our dear president.

    And of course, any COVID story has to have — ‘well, you know, cause I am vaccinated and boosted, my symptoms were mild and I did not die — hurray’

  5. Synoia

    I am staying with my Daughter in fly over country.

    I have visited friends of hers, and seen nor children with disabilities, mental disabilities that I never experiences before. Both mo my adult children have developed lang term endocrine conditions which I have never experienced in living in many countries, mostly in developing countries in Africa.

    Is this coincidence or is this a commonplace?

  6. StewartM


    I’ve had Covid at least twice, maybe three times (the first being before there was any test for it). The last time was January of this year.

    My cases were ‘mild’, and indeed very mild for the second two (mostly fatigue, no fever, no loss of taste or smell, mild sinus drainage and occasional cough). But I may be suffering the effects of long Covid. I’ve been repeatedly mildly sick off-and-on-again for the past two months (not Covid). I go to the clinic, get antibiotics, it clears it up, I go back to work and am fine for like 2-3 weeks and then I get a similar case of crud again.

    I had wanted to work another two years or so (though I’m Medicare-eligible later this year) but this condition is making me think I maybe should retire earlier. The money metrics aren’t as good, of course, if I retire earlier but I’d probably be ok and I am far luckier than most.

    So to me, Ian’s warnings about long Covid crippling our workforce are quite real. And if this is long covid, my case isn’t that bad as these things can go. I could probably continue working several years longer if they just let me work from home most of the time, but I don’t know how favorably my company would look upon that.

  7. StewartM

    Capitalism is not just an economic system, but an entire social order Michael Parenti

    As someone nearing retirement age, I see the truth of this. Like many Americans, I’m largely dependent on my retirement savings (though I do have a modest pension, though it’s not inflation-adjusted, which puts me in better shape than most). That means I have a financial interest with stock prices going up, driven up by hook or by crook, and when the Fed bails out the rich when the bubbles burst, I am helped by that too. I think this ploy to tie the retirement of millions of ordinary people to becoming reliant on the markets was quite deliberate, as to create the necessary public support for keeping the asset prices of the capitalist class high.

    I recognize this. I wish it wasn’t so. I would have been better off with a good, inflation-adjusted pension and full SS, dependable sources of income that allow me to plan precisely my retirement future, just like people in the old days could do. With the current system relying on market savings, given the market volatility, you feel you can never “have enough”. I know of employees at my company who retired before the 2008 crash who thought they were secure but had to come back to work after their savings nosedived.

    There’s a place for 401ks and IRAs (having a savings fund for emergencies is always good), but they should not be the primary means of retirement income. Right now, the “kids” who don’t have pensions at my company are being told they must have a minimum of $2 million in today’s money to retire comfortably. What kind of crazy system requires everyone to be millionaires to retire? If that represents real wealth in any fashion, how many earths do we need to pull that off? Seems to me pensions are far less expensive to the nation as a whole.

    Also–as I told a coworker–when I take a look at my retirement funds, I need them to always go up. But I know they are being driven up by the same short-term thinking that is crippling my company and other US companies’ futures. A mid-level manager came to talk to us, and was asked about the continual push for cost savings, and he responded with a history of the past 25 years of the company and each of its CEOs, remarking that only one of them had been “successful” (because he had doubled the stock price).

    I didn’t think to ask (and I did ask a lot of questions, having the ‘bravery of the employee near retirement’ (haha!!) and having the relative freedom to ask questions I knew others were too afraid to ask) “how much of this ‘success’ was driven by stock buybacks?’. Well, it turns out, a LOT of it was! This fits with what my fellow employees and I are seeing–we see we have fewer people, older equipment, are asked to scrimp on services and infrastructure, and that in no way is the real value of our company is double that of the past. Numbers on a sheet of paper are allowed to trump reality.

    This is why the Asians will continue to eat our lunch. When Asians think of ‘what constitutes a successful company’, they can point to the Consumer Reports reliability ratings of automobiles–which are seas of red (red being ‘better than average’ and/or ‘much better than average’ reliability). They achieved this even though the Japanese stock market has been flat over the past 30 years.

    Meanwhile, to Americans and often with Europeans, a ‘successful company’ is one that makes money hand-over-fist for the stockholders in the short term, even if unsustainable, and it it achieves that goal by screwing customers, employees, and communities alike (the same Consumer Reports reliability charts for US cars are usually seas of black, ‘worse than average’ or ‘much worse than average reliability).

    Which approach wins out in the long run? There’s a reason why Toyota is now the biggest car company by a number of metrics.

  8. someofparts

    Stewart M –

    Being retired is a big blessing with covid rampaging everywhere. I have yet to have it and hope I can keep it that way.

    Also, you may be surprised at how much cheaper life is when you retire. Working costs more than any of us realized before we stopped having to do it. Everyone I know who has retired has remarked on this.

    You are going to love being able to do all of your errands when everyone else is at work and you have the roadways and the markets to yourself. This makes it easier to avoid getting covid and makes driving less risky.

    You can also do side work if you choose, but you can pick jobs that keep you away from covid risks. In your case, maybe you could freelance but only accept jobs that let you work from home.

  9. different clue

    @Stewart M,

    If you have one share of something, and Richie Rich has a million shares of something, and the share price goes up by $1.00 per share; then you have gained One Dollar and Richie Rich has gained a Million Dollars.

    If the Million Dollars removed from society and given to Richie Rich by raising the price of each of his shares of something by one dollar apiece destroys more than one dollar’s worth of “health and welfare” per person, including you, then you have lost more money-equivalent in your share of the destroyed health and welfare than you gained in your one share going up one dollar.

    But saying that and seeing it requires slow ponderous plodding mental effort and excercise. The shareprice privilege hasbarists hope to divert you from seeing that by keeping you focused on bright shiny squirrel objects in the form of rising share prices.

    My modest workplace pension has some investments in coal, gas and oil. If we can exterminate those industries from existence and wipe them off the face of the earth, my pension will lose the monetized share-price value of those fossil fuel industries which have gone extinct. But if the world around me gains some more survival lifespan and greater survival chances, that is worth more to me than the money I will have lost in my pension through a successful extermination of the fossil fuel industry.

    Is there a flaw in my ponderous line of linear thought here that I have missed? If there isn’t, is it worth inviting a hundred million other Americans who have one share apiece of Cancer Juice Incorporated to think about what they gain in return for their shared of Cancer Juice Incorporate going to zero if we can exterminate Cancer Juice Incorporate from existence and wipe Cancer Juice Incorporated from the face of the earth?

  10. Ché Pasa

    Thanks for the good wishes and insights on this Covid Thing. It’s not like anything I’ve ever had, quite distinctive and distinctively nasty. The Paxlovid treatment quashed the symptoms –which was good — but who knows what comes next?

    I’d recommend that everyone stay out of the hospital if you can possibly avoid it. Stay out of doctors’ offices. Stay as far away from the physical infrastructure of health care as you can. It won’t protect you completely, and sometimes you may have no choice, but as long as you do, take care.

    As NR said, it’s a crapshoot.

  11. multitude of poors

    Anyone else wondering: Where the F is the US war on HOMELESSNESS? Homelessness which is ever expanding by leaps and bounds, for one because there are more renters now then there ever were; and rents are increasingly insane due to investors; and way too many landlords punching down on renters due to outrageous prices (that’s Capitalism!), even when they can afford not to punch down?

    Perhaps I’m being Too Sensitive™ (an apparent no no of the times?), after having just noticed that there were a minimum four Silicon Valley CalTrain adult pedestrian deaths (almost always suicides, by those who’ve given up hope and are homeless, or approaching it) possibly five (one went to the hospital), in less than a month, from July 7th through August 4th. And nope, no media commentary as they would feel required to if it were kids to teens, totally MUM.

    Of course there’s Helper Hotlines™ noted in the small articles about trespassers™ each time. At what point will it be admitted those numbers increasingly do not work. Worse, they may further traumatize the victim with added debt collection; forced meds and even further lack of agency (not to mention potential police brutality) which is likely why the attempt was made, or considered in the first place.

    What works is insuring that people can afford to live with basic needs met and that they are treated with the dignity they deserve when they’ve done nothing to warrant such ill, deadly, and debasing treatment. California, and Silicon Valley’s ultimate indifference to the terror of homelessness is terrifying (as is an astounding lack of commentary about it where one might expect it on the internet).

    (Yet another reason why no politician from California should ever be president, the despair amongst well over a third of residents in this state, is tangible—a product of an utter lack of regard for the increasing vulnerable by millionaire politicos, despite their jaw-jacking, and faux regulations they consistently find ways to ignore and break.)

    I guess that particular, rare beneficent war, is never going to happen, though homelessness has increased by leaps and bounds. What has happened to the once commonly heard saying (my personal favorite):

    Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes

    Seems to me, it started disappearing since the explosion of the internet and online commentary, and then vile Social Media.™ Nuance and not knee jerking comments that may be highly toxic to those who don’t deserve it, seem to also be rapidly disappearing in favor of mocking people (e.g. those who buy lottery tickets when they’ve hit rock bottom in their older years with no support system remaining), by those who aren’t even close to being in their shoes.

    Yep, that wise saying has been tossed in the trash in favor of economic Darwinism (even by those who claim to be the 99%) and my least favorite saying of all time, the vile (in my opinion) lie related to:

    Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me

    Of course names can hurt; that’s why people use them, along with making themselves feel superior. Some—increasingly frequently in this tragic environment— even get killed for using them.

    Gotta go my time allotment has totally run out and then some, will check back when I can in case anyone responds.

  12. bruce wilder

    Beyond infectious diseases and cancers, epidemiology is not well-developed. It is almost a truism that endocrine and metabolic disorders are generally much less prevalent in developing countries than in the U.S. This has been observed for a long-time. Some of this may have explanations. It is known that exposure to famine — even a parent’s exposure — increases the risk of developing T2 diabetes when exposed to high-fat, high-sugar foods. There is an epidemic among South Asian immigrants to the U.S. — I saw a doctor say that eating ice cream daily for as little as a week could trigger diabetes in some of his Indian immigrant patients.

    There is evidence for positive health effects from periodic brief fasting and there are advocates for programs of fasting.

    There is a lot of speculation about exposures to plastics pollution, the increased consumption of soy and HFCS in processed food, but nothing truly definitive that I’ve seen (not that I would necessarily see it — not close to even amateur expertise). Obviously I would think something is wrong though, just observing the epidemic of obesity. It is a touchy subject politically, but it is just possible that the dramatic shifts around gender and sexual identity are not purely a cultural revolution. The numbers on male fertility are arguably alarming as well.

  13. Jason

    I think this ploy to tie the retirement of millions of ordinary people to becoming reliant on the markets was quite deliberate, as to create the necessary public support for keeping the asset prices of the capitalist class high.

    Indeed. The ongoing deception has been carried out over a period of decades.

    There was a commenter over at NC named “lance rinquist” or something similar who would write a bunch of comments about “nafta billy clinton” and then go into detail about all the Clinton administration shenanigans. He never went into detail about who was surrounding and advising the Clintons, let alone who was funding them – the way Z might – but most of what he wrote was essentially spot-on regarding the administration’s chicanery.

    But everyone on the well-informed left knows that the Clintons were simply continuing what Reagan-Bush started, and would have finished if they could have. Right?

    I was listening to Billy Joel’s “Allentown” recently. The song begins,

    “Well, we’re living here in Allentown
    And they’re closing all the factories down.”

    Joel released the song in 1982, but actually came up with the idea for it in the late 70’s, a full decade-and-a-half before “nafta billy clinton.”

    And so it goes…*

    If you have one share of something, and Richie Rich has a million shares of something, and the share price goes up by $1.00 per share; then you have gained One Dollar and Richie Rich has gained a Million Dollars.

    Indeed again. Was it Abbott and Costello or Woody Woodpecker where the gangsters divvy up the proceeds as such: “One for you; One for me, Two for you; One, Two for me. Three for you; One, Two, Three for me.”

    So we’re not getting nearly our share. And the loot’s all stolen anyway. From us!

    *though the process seemed to go on steroids with the Clintons and then TPTB used 9/11 to just ramp everything up into surreal territory (speed-steroids, if you will). And now with covid – however it may have developed – there are simply no words left.

  14. StewartM


    Yes, my friends are all telling “retire now!” or (as my friend who married a Jewish girl said) “don’t you work too long!”.

    Still, one of the things that has happened with the Economy that Reagan Built is that those of us with “good jobs” end up being the support of last resort for many of our friends and/or relatives. It’s one of the reasons why I–even though I’m like in the 71st percentile in income, realize that it’s in my benefit as well to have a better situation for those below me. Moreover, if EPI’s charts are accurate, if we were still in the economy that FDR built instead of Reagan’s, I’d be making 10-20 % more myself in real dollars (!!) plus everyone beneath me would be in better shape.

    So I am expecting that I will still be called upon to “fix” things for others on last resort, and try to budget for it. There are some other considerations to want to continuing working a couple of more years. I do plan to leave the US after that. Most things I read seem to indicate you should plan to spend more during the first years in retirement, because as you age you’ll lose some function and won’t be as active, so your spending will drop.

  15. StewartM


    I think you summed it up well. Having your retirement depend on the market means that you make a lot rich people richer for whatever precarious existence you will get in return. Moreover, the fact that companies are being run solely for Wall Street now, their stock prices are being driven up by cannibalizing their future productive capacity for a temporary ‘bump’ in stock price (Oh Jack Welch and GE, where art thou now?). Only companies that are in gamed markets can escape the latter trap.

    This is an economy that isn’t going to end well, folks.

  16. different clue

    @Stewart M,

    If you are in fact a partial source of “support of last resort” for a number of family members and friends/aquaintances around you, and if most of them are younger than you are; you may well be the equivalent of a local Clan Chieftain if you are prepared to see it that way.

    If that is functionally correct, then the people who are getting a part of their support and security from you may very well look up to you as a leader and model of success, and may well like and respect you personally apart from the partial support you give them.

    And if that is so, they might be emotionally primed to protect you from social danger so that you will remain alive as a functional support-giving “Clan Chieftain”.

    And if THAT is so, you might want to encourage them to become as heavily armed and trained in the use of arms as they can become in the years remaining, so that they can become a ring of “tribal clan armed security” around you protecting you from threats to your security-and-support-providing wealth coming from outside your own family-and-friends clan circle.

    You might even want to upgrade your house into a short-term violent-siege-standoff personal friends-and-family fortress if you can. Sort of turning your whole house into a house-sized safe-room where some of your support-recieving friends and family can retreat to in the face of temporary upsurges of danger.

    One such danger could be your local police. Police are conducting violent home-invasions more and more, randomly here and there. Is your house physically strong enough to keep the police out given the current state of their technology?

    You might even inspire those of them who can do so . . . to up-fortress their own houses, if they have houses.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén