Thursday, May 28, 2020

Economic Relief Programs Will Soon End, and Then Watch Out for the Coming Political Earthquake

This is interesting, and it's almost exactly what I've been thinking since the lockdown started in March.

Even before classes ended and we went to online instruction --- for about a week --- I was starting my sections everyday with the Wall Street Journal on the overhead projector, showing the huge front-page charts of the crash of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It was shocking at the time, and I told my students it was reminiscent of the Great Depression.

While the Crash of '20 is different, it's certainly going to bring about some fundamental changes in politics, and frankly I don't think Trump is a shoo-in for reelection, no matter how bad Biden is. That said, if leftists keep burning down cities all summer long, Trump can run on an aggressive "law and order" platform, highlighting racial issues, as he's did with illegal immigration in 2016 to victorious effect.

At WSJ, "The Covid Political Earthquake":

The political press is preoccupied with the electoral implications of the virus crisis, and pundits insist the 2020 election will be about the Trump daily soap opera. But an emerging cultural and economic time bomb is about to explode. There has never been a wider gap between average Americans’ perception of their own economic situation and the reality of it. America could soon have its most combustible political environment in recent history.

Something that should alarm everyone: Neither the stock market nor the political preferences of those who have been hit hardest by this Covid-induced economic crisis have fundamentally changed since the crisis began. The American economy has shed more than 30 million jobs in the past eight weeks, and poll numbers haven’t moved an inch. According to Gallup, President Trump’s approval rating was 49% on Feb. 16, with 48% disapproving. Three months and the largest job loss in American history later, those numbers are exactly the same: 49% to 48%.

How is that possible? Is the political climate so partisan that the loss of your livelihood can’t change your political perspective? To some extent that could be true. But most of America is living in an illusion that masks the inevitable pain of this pandemic.

To the credit of the president and Congress, the Cares Act was passed before many Americans missed paychecks. The administration distributed the cash quickly enough that Americans had access to expanded unemployment compensation and a direct payment before their financial situation became dire. For the 40% of people making under $40,000 who have lost their jobs since March, according to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, the Cares Act ensured that their financial situation isn’t worse than it was in February. In some cases, it’s better, thanks to the $600-a-week unemployment bonus.

Much of economically vulnerable America has been insulated from economic reality. A recent Washington Post poll shows that 77% of those who lost their jobs believe they will be heading back to the same jobs following the health crisis. Pew Research reports that 68% of Americans who lost their jobs are concerned about reopening the economy too early, rather than too late.

In short, if your family hasn’t lost a loved one to Covid-19, your bank account probably looks basically the same, and you believe your job is awaiting your return, the past 10 weeks have been an extended inconvenience. Your political views are still informed by the same economic inputs that formed them in February.
Still more.

Heather Mac Donald's, The War on Cops

Considering Minneapolis, it's a good time to re-up this.

At Amazon, Heather Mac Donald, The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe.

 photo BC_TheWarOnCops_zpslfj0gilp.jpg

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Randall Jacobs Obituary

Althouse blogged it, "'Uncle Bunky... spoke in a gravelly patois of wisecracks, mangled metaphors, and inspired profanity that reflected the Arizona dive bars, Colorado ski slopes, and various dodgy establishments'..."


Venice Beach Skatepark Reopens

The skaters pulled together to clean out the sand, which the city had dumped there hoping to crush the independent spirit of the locals.


Class Differences in Education

At NYT, "College Made Them Feel Equal. The Virus Exposed How Unequal Their Lives Are":

The political science class was called “Forced Migration and Refugees.” Students read accounts of migrants fleeing broken economies and seeking better futures, of life plans drastically altered and the political forces that made it all seem necessary.

Then suddenly, the subject matter became personal: Haverford College shut down and evicted most students from the dormitories as the coronavirus spread through Pennsylvania.

Like many college courses around the country, the class soldiered on. The syllabus was revised. The students reconvened on a videoconferencing app.

But as each logged in, not everyone’s new reality looked the same.

One student sat at a vacation home on the coast of Maine. Another struggled to keep her mother’s Puerto Rican food truck running while meat vanished from Florida grocery shelves. As one young woman’s father, a private equity executive, urged the family to decamp to a country where infections were falling, another student’s mother in Russia couldn’t afford the plane ticket to bring her daughter home.

“Now Russia is about to close its borders,” Sophie Chochaeva told her classmates, in the days before the country did. She was one of 135 students still on campus, in a dorm room she called “the cozy foxhole,” as the world outside became a ghost town. “This crisis is exposing that a lot of people don’t have anywhere to go.”

The outbreak of the coronavirus — and the accompanying economic devastation that has left 10 million people almost instantly unemployed — has put America’s class divide on full display. Gig employees were the first to suffer, with many of their jobs vanishing without unemployment benefits. Office employees retreated to work-from-home arrangements while janitors cleaned the buildings they fled and delivery workers brought packages to their doorsteps.

But college was meant to be different. For decades, small liberal arts schools like Haverford, a short ride from Philadelphia, prided themselves on being the “great equalizer,” offering pedigrees not just to the scions of East Coast elites but also to the children of first-generation immigrants. Scholarships filled in for family money. Students ate the same cafeteria food in the morning and bunked in the same creaky beds at night.

No longer — at least not while the virus spreads through the country.

“It’s as though you had a front-row view on American inequality and the ways in which it was disguised and papered over,” said Anita Isaacs, the course’s professor who has taught political science at Haverford since 1988. The first gulf war, the Sept. 11 attacks, the Great Recession — she had seen them all through the eyes of her students.

“There’s been nothing like this before,” she said.

Several nights before the class was to reconvene online in late March, Professor Isaacs received an email from one of her teaching assistants, Tatiana Lathion, a college senior whose parents own the food truck. Their source of income was on the verge of liquidation as stay-at-home orders loomed in Jacksonville, Fla., where they lived.

“I’m not sure my savings will allow them both to survive this quarantine and still keep the business,” she wrote. She said she was thinking of getting a part-time job at a grocery store.

Wasn’t college supposed to get her away from all that?

“I have this panic moment that it’s literally for nothing now,” Ms. Lathion wrote to her professor.

Ms. Lathion had not thought she would attend college...
Still more.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Memorial Day Weekend at Lake of the Ozarks

This is just wild.

At NYT, "After Crowding at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri Officials Urge Quarantine":

After large crowds gathered at the Lake of the Ozarks over the Memorial Day weekend in defiance of Missouri’s social distancing guidelines, officials in two states urged those visitors to quarantine for two weeks, or until they tested negative for the coronavirus.

The visitors “showed no efforts to follow social distancing practices,” the St. Louis County Department of Health said in a statement on Monday, issuing a travel advisory for people who had been to the popular destination spot.

Video footage from one gathering showed a large crowd of people, most of them in bathing suits and without face masks, at a pool with music blaring overhead and yachts docked at a marina behind them. The videos spread widely on social media over the weekend.

“It’s irresponsible and dangerous to engage in such high risk behavior just to have some fun over the extended holiday weekend,” Lyda Krewson, the mayor of St. Louis, said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Now, these folks will be going home to St. Louis and counties across Missouri and the Midwest, raising concerns about the potential of more positive cases, hospitalizations, and tragically, deaths,” she said. “It’s just deeply disturbing and threatens the progress we’ve all made together to flatten the curve.”

The Kansas department of health on Tuesday echoed that statement and urged state residents who had been there and did not observe social distancing practices to voluntarily self-quarantine for two weeks.

“The reckless behavior displayed during this weekend risks setting our community back substantially for the progress we’ve already made in slowing the spread of Covid-19,” Dr. Lee A. Norman, the agency’s secretary, said in a statement. “If you traveled to Lake of the Ozarks over the weekend, we urge you to act responsibly and self-quarantine to protect your neighbors, co-workers and family.”

On Tuesday, Gov. Mike Parson of Missouri said on Twitter that “there were some poor decisions that were made.”

“When social distancing is not followed, it is potentially dangerous for EVERYONE,” he said. “That said, the Lake of the Ozarks is a small sample of Missouri. While poor choices were made by some at the lake, there were many other Missourians across the state who did make safe and responsible choices over the holiday weekend.”

There have been at least 12,296 known cases of the coronavirus in Missouri, according to a New York Times database. As of Tuesday morning, at least 694 people had died...
Still more.