Whole Lot Happenin’

It’s Saturday morning as I sit down to pen my Sunday article which is usually about the biggest political story of the preceding week. This morning there is a lot going through my mind and, as the title indicates, I thought I’d cover some of it with you. I’ve lived in the American South for just over 20 years now and while I have yet to pick up the expression ya’ll I have caught myself dropping the G’s at the end of a lot of words when I speak. Let’s explore.  

Imperfect storm(s)

I spent about ten wonderful years living in Florida. No place is perfect and one of the challenges of living in the Sunshine State is that you have to deal with hurricanes. Just as a citizen I know how difficult that can be. I can only imagine how challenging they are for the government employees charged with keep the population safe. People who deal with community safety and disaster preparedness/reaction are today at the forefront of dealing with the pandemic.

For months one of my fears has been what happens when they are faced with dealing with both simultaneously? In a pandemic you try to keep people at home as much as possible and socially distant. That presents an inherent conflict in that during a hurricane it is often a matter of life and death that you evacuate people from their homes and standard operating procedure is to have them congregate in temporary shelters where social distancing is next to impossible making the environment a petri dish for the spread of the virus.

As I pen this Tropical Storm Hanna – which has the potential of becoming Hurricane Hanna by the time it makes landfall (the difference is simply one mile per hour of wind speed) – is barreling down on the Gulf Coast of Texas which is currently one of the hardest hit states as the pandemic surges in the Sunbelt.

Atlantic Hurricane season is far from over and it would be unreasonable to assume Hanna will be the lone occurrence.

Growth Chart

Last week we learned that the United States had passed the 4 million mark for confirmed coronavirus cases. (We know that number is understated but I’ve chewed that cabbage before and don’t have time to do it again today so for the sake of this discussion I’ll just accept that number.) That number doubled in the last six weeks. Let’s do a simple mathematical projection.

If that rate of growth is sustained we will be looking at 8 million cases around Labor Day, 16 million by mid-October and about 20 million on Election Day. As if that weren’t bad enough here is the really bad news: I’m making a linear projection when in all likelihood the growth will be exponential.

This trend could be seriously suppressed if only we could get the American public to simultaneously make a concerted effort. Avoid going out when possible. That means no parties, or large social gatherings. When you go out wear a mask, social distance whenever possible and wash your hands. That formula is not foolproof but it increases your odds of not contracting or passing along the virus tremendously.

Where’s the leadership?

Last week Saturday we got the news that several major national retailers were about to require that all their customers wear masks in their stores nationwide. This morning I turned on the news and saw that several were backing down to protect their employees from customers violently protesting that they had a right not to wear a mask rendering the edicts effectively unenforceable. I know I am not alone in finding it interesting that all these “constitutional law experts” are quick to sight their rights while simultaneously disregarding their responsibilities. Hey Bubba, you do not have a right to kill!

President Trump has proven incapable and/or disinterested in providing leadership. In fact he is a major part of the problem. Many governors have willfully suspended thinking to simply be Trump sycophants and in several cases have actually prevented local officials from taking prudent and lifesaving action(s). If you are looking for leadership from elected officials too often you are simply out of luck.

Now corporate leadership has also turned yellow. It might hurt their bottom line to supplement their staffs with enforcement officers and they are simply unwilling to do that. I’m not talking about mom and pop operations that are barely hanging on (and sadly many of them will end up not surviving the pandemic); I’m talking about the largest retailers in history.

It’s the GOP health care plan: You’re On Your Own (YOYO). As an individual all you can do is view this as a giant constrained optimization problem in which it is up to you to optimize and the penalty for failure is death in your family.

Home for the weekend

In several states the $600 federal unemployment benefit supplement is already history. Congress has gone home for the weekend without the Senate even taking up the legislation passed by the House. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is on record saying that it may take weeks to resolve the situation; (in all fairness that may well be some political posturing and could resolve quicker.)

The word is that the Republicans are willing to replace the $600 a week with $100 a week. That is a cut of $2,000 a month in family income for some of the hardest hit American families. If, like most Americans, you have ever lived paycheck to paycheck that is devastating. These are not the main beneficiaries of the Trump Tower Tax Cut who need a passport to visit their money. They don’t have tens of thousands or more in reserve.

Stealing from Mr. Milbank

OK, enough of my complaining (a/k/a telling the truth). Dana Millbank wrote an op-ed in Saturday morning’s Washington Post that should help you do something about these situations. I’m far from the best at high tech things but here is my attempt at a link to it: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/24/stop-fretting-about-trump-do-something-about-it-right-now .

Please read it and follow his advice! Not for the first time here is mine: VOTE!!!!!!

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