Posts Tagged ‘pandemic’

The COVID coup

Posted: May 18, 2021 by chrisharper in politics
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By Christopher Harper

Two crucial statistics jump out at me about the pandemic.

The nation is recording about 50,000 COVID cases a day, roughly the same as before the election. 

The daily average of deaths stood last week at 610, which compares with 817 in the week before the November election.

Despite all the mask-wearing, lockdowns, and vaccinations, the numbers are roughly the same after Joe Biden took over.

Sure, the numbers are better than January and February. Still, the country is roughly at the same place after the Democrats repeatedly attacked Donald Trump for his incompetence in handling the pandemic.

That then leads me to the rather obvious question: Wasn’t the pandemic more about politics than science?

The COVID coup was successful in getting rid of Donald Trump. Now it’s time to return to the mask-less, feckless, and reckless job of ruining the country. 

I’m more than happy to rid myself of the rather useless mask and return to the restaurants and shops without a face covering.

But isn’t it somewhat disingenuous of the Democrats to declare victory? 

The Democrats, combined with their friends in the media, used the pandemic to get Trump out of office. Although the talking points convinced many to vote for Biden, the reality is that Trump did a pretty good job of dealing with a crisis no one had faced for a century.

The Democrats and the media scared people almost to death or at least to vote against Trump. Without the pandemic, Trump would have been easily elected based on the country’s economy alone.

I won’t get into the idiocy of wearing masks because of the “science.” We’ve gone from the scientists telling us that masks were ineffective to the need to maybe wear two masks to the CDC announcement that masks weren’t needed anymore for many people. 

The most damaging part of the coup was to lock down almost everyone across the nation. Not only did the lockdowns, which were mainly the decisions of state officials, tank the economy, but the actions also exacerbated the disease for many people. 

For example, the CDC has determined a reason for a higher percentage of Blacks and Hispanics dying during the pandemic. “[P]ersons from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups might be more likely to live in multigenerational and multifamily households.” Therefore, more Blacks and Hispanics died BECAUSE of the lockdowns. See https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6942e1.htm

That findings are even worse for those 65 and older. From May 1 to August 31, 2020, 78.2 percent of those who died were 65 and older. That’s three out of every fourth death was a senior when they represent only 16.5 percent of the population. 

Simply put, the lockdowns made life deadlier for many seniors who died during the pandemic.

Although it’s unlikely, I hope some people realize that they got played by the “scientists,” the media, and the Democrats. The numbers don’t back up the “science.”

Changing how we work

Posted: March 2, 2021 by chrisharper in Uncategorized
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By Christopher Harper

Like more and more Americans, I decided to leave the big city and move to the hinterlands, where I can work via computer and save on taxes and housing costs.

Three years ago, I had proposed to my employer, Temple University, that I teach only online. I have taught online classes since 2005 and was good at it.

Unfortunately, my supervisor fought the plan. I challenged the decision throughout the bureaucracy, including a decision to join the teachers’ union. I finally got to teach one class a semester online after I filed a disability claim because of a bad back.

Fast forward to the pandemic. I was advising my colleagues and my college on how to teach online effectively.

Since I only have a few years left before I retire, my wife and I decided to move from Philadelphia to Muncy, Pennsylvania, a town of about 2,400 people in the north-central part of the state.

That move saves us about $1,000 a month on city taxes. Housing is half the cost for twice the space.

Moreover, research has demonstrated that students learn just as effectively online as they do in person. I’ve found that the discussion is far better online than in person because students don’t feel anxious about talking when they’re outside the classroom setting.

I teach asynchronously, which means there aren’t any silly Zoom meetings. I post prepackaged videos and study materials to a website. Students can work on the material at their own pace and refer back to materials they find challenging.

So far, Temple and other universities have not lowered the price for online classes—a reduction that should happen because virtual learning requires fewer buildings, less maintenance, and only a slightly higher increase in technological assistance.

I’m not alone in my desire to continue working from home. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly a quarter of all Americans worked from home during the pandemic. A new Bucknell University Freeman College of Management survey also found that workers over 40 preferred telework. In contrast, younger workers are more likely to return to in-person work when possible. For more information, see https://www.bucknell.edu/sites/default/files/college_of_management/covid-19_telework_study_report.pdf

The survey of 400 people reported other interesting results:

–67% of those surveyed said telework helped improve the quality of their work. 
 –61% noted a productivity improvement.
 –60% said they performed their jobs better.

Coupled with the savings I and others made, I am more than happy to stay at home and continue teaching online. 

Obviously, some industries cannot be restructured for online-only work. But rethinking how we work has been at least one good effect of the pandemic.

Most Americans are going to get a small influx of money in the next 60 days, due to two separate events. First, the 1.9 trillion dollar COVID-19 bill that is 90% about bailing out Democrat-supporting regions of the country will include some sort of stimulus checks, likely the $1400 per individual. Also, most people are filing their taxes between now and April, and most Americans will get some sort of refund on their taxes.

The thing is, most of this money gets spent without thinking about future consequences. The local used car dealerships always run “sales” this time of year that mention tax returns, and I’m seeing “stimulus check” sales advertisements popping up now. Yet we’re not going into happy times anytime soon. If you watch the stock market and references by the Fed that indicate inflation is going to come roaring back should give us pause.

If you’re not one to care about the Fed, then look more locally. Wood prices at Lowes and Home Depot are well double what they were a year ago, between the boom in home building due to low interest rates and COVID-19 shutting down the lumber mills for a time. Gas is more expensive now. I’ve had more Amazon packages getting delivered late than ever before. Stores are still running out of basic items, and while this is infrequent now, remember that is essentially never happened in the past.

All this indicates we’re in for a bumpy ride for at least two years, if not four. I’m not going to get caught unprepared for this, and you shouldn’t either. I suggest you prioritize spending this way:

  1. Debt. Get rid of any debt you can. Car almost paid off? Pay it off now. Credit card debts? Pay them off or work a forgiveness plan, an especially good idea now since card companies are also taking advantage of low interest rates.
    I would also refinance your house if you haven’t done so. Most people can’t simply pay off their mortgage, but you can make a principle payment to pay it off earlier, and shifting to bi-weekly payments (if your company allows you to) will cut years off the back end.
  2. Build up supplies. COVID-19 taught us that everything from toilet paper to sweet potatoes will be in short supply. It’s going to happen again. Rather than fight lines at a store, build up a 1-3 month supply of basics that don’t really ever go bad: bottled water, paper products, disposable eating utensils, soap and cleaning supplies. You should also keep about 2 weeks of meals in reserve. I have things like spaghetti and frozen foods that can keep for a long time just hanging out. They occasionally save me when dinner decides to catch on fire, and when the stores were swamped in the initial stages of pandemic, this food let me stretch our groceries further.
  3. Fix what you can. Americans are pretty handy people, but we also can be lazy. Plenty of homes and vehicles have little things that need repair. Get those done now. Don’t wait forever on car maintenance. The pandemic backed our local dealership up by a month for appointments. Same goes for home maintenance, even if you do it yourself, you may not get the supplies when people buy out the stores.
  4. Set your investing on automatic. Unless you’re smart on the stock market, you’re best off making long term investments on mutual funds. Whatever your investing strategy, put it on automatic through automatic funds transfers and investments. Too many people get scared when the market comes down and sell, which is the worst time to do that. Putting it on cruise control helps you take advantage of the down market over time.
  5. Build up your local network. This may not cost much money, but its critical. Do you know your neighbors? Do you know a local electrician, plumber, car mechanic and veterinarian? Remember how even routine house calls for minor issues became a major problem in the pandemic? You avoid this by knowing local people. Now is the time to get to know them and be on good terms, so when you need their help in a pinch, you can get it.

Don’t throw your stimulus to the wind! Set yourself up now to get through the trying times ahead.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Outside a store in Wisconsin earlier this month

By John Ruberry

Who else besides me is fed up wearing a mask when shopping at a supermarket?

Or at work?

Or a restaurant? 

I haven’t eaten inside an Illinois restaurant–or in a tent–since Governor JB Pritzker instituted his first lockdown in March. I’ve picked up take-out meals only.

Who has had enough of lockdowns?

As a person with a strong libertarian bent I don’t like being bossed around, pestered, or nagged. 

But I’ve been coping with all of that for months. 

I know ten people who’ve contracted COVID-19. Only two of them told me they were very ill. Two were asymptomatic. All of them are still with us–in fact, they’ve all returned to their jobs as if nothing happened. 

Last month the Centers for Disease Control released the survival rates for those who have contracted COVID-19.

  • Age 0-19 — 99.997%
  • Age 20-49 — 99.98%
  • Age 50-69 — 99.5%
  • Age 70+ — 94.6%

So if you are over 70, and most people already know that seniors are more prone to death from COVID-19 than everyone else, you have a 94.6 percent of surviving. President Trump is one of those septuagenarians who has recovered. Yes, COVID-19 is serious, because those stats also say those 70 and over have a slightly higher than 5 percent chance of dying from it. 

Here’s another situation where that percentage, 94 percent, comes in to play. Nearly two months ago the CDC said of those deaths from the novel coronavirus, 94 percent had “multiple chronic conditions.” In other words, they were already unhealthy. Every death is tragic. But part of life is getting sick, getting injured, getting old, and yes, passing away. You can fool, perhaps, your neighbors or co-workers about your true age with hair dye and plastic surgery, but never can you hoodwink Father Time. 

Humans are intensely social animals, as are all primates. It’s in our genetic makeup. The most watched television shows and movies are centered on personal interactions. One of the most popular TV programs ever aired is “Friends.” There is not a show entitled “Hermits,” there is no interest in producing such a program because few people would want to watch it. 

The death rate from COVID-19 is very low for the very young. Yet many of our schools are closed except for cold and impersonal Zoom sessions.

Usually our first and most lasting impressions with others of our species is by way of their faces. But the mask requirements in many states, especially blue ones like mine, take those connections away from us.

The lockdowns have led to an increase in drug overdoses and possibly suicides. Among young people, the CDC says, the death rate for young people is higher for overdoses and suicides than for COVID 19.

That wave just might be beginning. For instance, Chicago, which is just south of where I live, just instated another curfew because of an uptick in COVID cases. All businesses deemed non-essential for the next two weeks must close between 10pm and 6am. Bars and restaurants, already reeling from being closed down this spring, will be hit especially hard. Some of these businesses, especially those struck by looting this summer, will never re-open. Which means of course more people will be prone to suicide and drug and alcohol abuse. The workforce in the food and beverage industry is disproportionately young.

Mrs. Marathon Pundit was an early victim of the COVID-19 lockout layoffs. She’s fine–she has a new job in a different field. But her former boss was forced to downsize his business, which I believe his home mortgage was tied into. He sold his home this summer and moved into a much smaller residence.

There are millions of former business owners facing similar situations across America. And not all workers, such as Mrs. Marathon Pundit, will be able to land on their feet. 

One “fix” to the drop in revenue for brick-and-mortar restaurants is to set up plastic tents next to them. Diners instead of eating indoors will be eating, sort of, outdoors in these tents, but still breathing each other’s air. Alongside them in cold weather climates, in the winter, will be space heaters, which are a well-known fire hazard. 

Follow the science. 

Take a deep breath before reading this next paragraph.

Based on my current age, overall health, and family history, I’ll probably live another 25-years. I do not want to spend those years wearing a mask. I don’t want to go running outdoors–and this really happened–as I run 50 yards past a couple who, in horror, hurriedly put their masks over their faces as I move, maskless, down the street that I live on as if I am Typhoid Mary. According to federal government data, there have been 624 positive cases of COVID-19 in the town I live in, Morton Grove, which has a population of 23,000.

Who frightened that Morton Grove couple? Not me, well not initially that is.

Will the mask mandates return–if they ever go away–when a more virulent than usual strain of the flu strikes?

Follow the science. 

This is not a distress from me call but instead a call for action. For the sake of our overall health–while maintaining strict safety controls in places such as senior homes and hospitals–these lockdowns must end. But I suspect many politicians–such as Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago–don’t want the lockdowns to end. They are too in love with power. Lightfoot and Gov. Pritzker told us we needed the lockdowns to “flatten the curve” in the spring so hospitals wouldn’t be overwhelmed. Now they want to prevent all of us getting sick, which as we know is not possible.

The goalposts keep moving.

Years ago I read in a book about marathon training that stated that distance running, all things being equal, does indeed lead to a longer life expectancy. But more importantly, those extra years on this planet for runners usually mean they are enjoyable years. Who is going to sign up for an additional ten years of life if those years will consist of living in a nursing home in need of 24-hour care?

The quality of life for myself and millions of others is diminished because we are ordered to wear masks and to avoid each other.

End the lockdowns.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.