Larry Correia bullshits about anti-infection measures

To be fair to the ÜberPuppy (and I do try to be fair) he’s largely avoided some of the worst nonsense of his erstwhile colleagues. Some of his posts on the topic of covid-19 have even verged on the sensible. He’s not the one we can expect quack cures or the more outlandish conspiracy theories from. However, when his ‘side’ keeps repeatedly making fools of themselves, there’s a point where he can’t just taking it any more and has to find a way to argue that no-no-its-the-left-that-are-the-stupidheads.

Today he is attempting to defend the Hoyt-style anti-lockdown protestors by linking their demands with the potential of pandemic-related famine in third-world nations.

“But don’t worry, if millions of poor people starve in the third world now, the same smug fucks who’ve been yelling at us to shut down everything for the last couple of months will take zero blame for that. I’m willing to bet that when/if this happens, they’ll still be out there, signalling their virtue from their comfy homes, because They Care So Hard.”

https://monsterhunternation.com/2020/04/23/perspective/

Says Larry, busy signalling his virtue from his comfy home. Despite never showing much concern for the food security of third-world nations, now the people of the developing world have a new champion in Larry Correia. Not that he has any solution to the possible food shortages other than vaguely attacking people who are criticising other people who want an end to the US measures (endorsed by a conservative federal government) designed to limit the impact of the pandemic.

“But that’s okay. You guys with the spicy memes, and your work from home jobs, and savings in the bank, just keep on pretending that everything is simple. Right/wrong, good/evil, black/white, your shit don’t stink, and anybody who disagrees with your hot take, well it can only be because they’re a fool. That guy who lost his job, business, and is worried about losing his house, or how he’s gonna feed his kids? He’s dumb. You’re the real champion.”

https://monsterhunternation.com/2020/04/23/perspective/

And so on. Rather like the “comfy home” jibe, the response is remarkably self-descriptive. While trying to avoid overtly supporting the anti-lockdown protests (so he can later say that he never did), his argument absolutely depends on pretending that everything is simple. The simplicity is the same error we see from the anti-lockdown protestors and can be summed up in a set of fallacies:

FALLACY ONE: The anti-lockdown fallacy: There’s no bad economic consequences to ending lockdown/social-distancing measures and all the bad economic outcomes currently (and projected) are due to those measures.

It’s a massive fallacy and once you identify it you can see it everywhere, not just among ideological extremists like Hoyt (for example) but even in more mainstream news. The truth is that an uncontrolled pandemic would 1. have severe economic impacts and 2. those impacts would be harder to mitigate. Fear fuelled by spikes in infections and by waves of overwhelmed health and emergency services would be devastating to the economy more so than measures because business would have no framework around which to plan. This is a point I’ve been talking around on a few occasions when looking at different national strategies: they actually need to be strategies that result in confidence from the population. Capitalist economies absolutely require public confidence to function. Lockdowns or not, a population (or even just a proportion of a population) needs to have confidence in the short-term future to keep spending and to keep the economy going.

The second aspect of the fallacy, is that lockdown measures can be guaranteed to be avoided. That is not the case. A nation or a state might get lucky and with a low starting rate of infection and a top-notch healthcare structure, avoid infection rates soaring to the points were they face an imminent collapse of healthcare provision (thus compounding deaths) but once infection rates do hit extreme levels then absolutely you are going to end up with far more extreme quarantine measures. Avoiding those extremes is why more moderate measures to keep infection rates lower make sense.

But, but what about famine! Firstly let’s go back to the fallacy one. Getting your local bookstore to re-open isn’t going to get wheat to southern Africa*. The pandemic itself is disrupting the economy but also, measures beyond the personal impact that the anti-lockdown protests are moaning about would also need to be lifted (eg movement of seasonal farm workers). That doesn’t mean we should collectivity shrug our shoulders about the impacts of the virus. On the contrary, anti-pandemic measures REQUIRE measures to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic. Such measures include trying to reduce financial insecurity or food insecurity. However, that takes us to the other big fallacy that Larry leaves unspoken:

FALLACY TWO: The libertarian fallacy. The only solution to poor economic outcomes is more free-markets and the government can only make things worse.

It is, of course, bollocks. Aside from the more genuine (and fringe) libertarians, the pseudo-libertarians like Larry carve out a big exemption to this clause for the military and for war. As I’ve discussed before, this is because they are fine with the idea of the state being a punitive body. What they object to is the state ever helping people. Yet here we are in a circumstance that the best thing to do if you want CAPITALISM to keep going is for the government to hand people free money.

Of course that is much easier said than done in a nation where decades of effort has gone into demonising any support from government and making the process of government as ungainly (and as punitive) as possible. Buying into Reagan’s malicious lie (or pandering to it as the Democratic Party has done) for decades means that the US doesn’t have social infrastructure or the healthcare infrastructure to cope with either a pandemic OR to cope with the impact of measures to mitigate a pandemic.

Which takes me to Larry’s third unspoken fallacy — the other unwritten error made visible by the obvious gaps in his thinking:

FALLACY THREE: The nationalist fallacy. International cooperation is not possible.

There is potential famine, there are crops. This is not an unsolvable problem but nor is it a simple problem. In a different timeline, it would be exactly the sort of problem that a nation with a huge food production industry, a strong central executive government structure and huge international influence could do a lot to solve. Unfortunately, America currently is led by somebody incapable**. Yet, while America’s capacity to act is hampered, that doesn’t mean international cooperation is impossible. Physical international trade hasn’t ceased. Working around the impact of a pandemic isn’t impossible but it requires nations acting in concert.

Of course, when we put fallacy two and three together, the ideological implications become a bit clearer.

  • If government could mitigate economic down turns during a pandemic…then they could do so in other kinds of recessions.
  • If government could intervene to help people get the care they need during a pandemic…then they could do so at any time.
  • If government can help reduce world hunger during a pandemic…then they could do so whenever people were going hungry.
  • If governments around the world can act collectively during a pandemic…then they could do so with other global issues such as…

As I pointed out over a month ago, one major advantage Australia has had (aside from being an island obviously) during this pandemic was the 2007 general election. When the global financial crisis hit, the government of the day went full into stimulus measures rather than austerity measures (or half-hearted stimulus). The resulting relatively mild impact of the GFC shifted the conventional economic wisdom in Canberra to ‘in case of emergency spend money’. Consequently the conservative-leaning government here could politically ditch their existing economic policy and start spending. That doesn’t mean the economic impact of the pandemic has been easy in Australia but it does mean it is so much easier to get people on board with the measures. That means, maybe (and we’ve still got winter to go) Australia will be able to get back to a BAU economy quicker.

But let’s return to Larry Correia’s bullshit. It is, frankly, bullshit. He has a fairly obvious tell when he’s bullshitting because most of the time he’s big on how well-off he is and ideologically he’s very much in the rugged-individualist if you are well off it’s because you worked hard and who gives a shit about other countries etc etc. So when he starts chiding people for living in ‘comfy homes’ or starts crocodile tears about ‘guy who lost his job, business, and is worried about losing his house, or how he’s gonna feed his kids’ or third-world hunger, you have to wonder why the guy who lost his job before the pandemic (and was worried about losing his house, his healthcare etc) or the level of food insecurity not just in developing nations but in his own nation never warranted his concern?

I can’t even given him points for originality. The sudden concern for developing nations from people who normally are disparaging about them has been a feature of people arguing against measure to combat global warming for decades. The argument has been that limitations on fossil fuels will hamper developing economies. Of course, this argument is also accompanied by a claim that isn’t fair if more prosperous nations have to have stricter emission reduction targets because fallacy-mongers love nothing more than both having their cake and eating it to.

BUT the other big tell is there utter lack of substance in his post. It is nothing but chiding of imaginary people. There is a vacuum at the centre. No genuine analysis but also zero solutions. He offers no way forward nor does he even have the intestinal fortitude to even side explicitly with the anti-lockdown protestors. It’s no difference to his anti-anti-Trump stance: ever keen to establish that he personally doesn’t like Trump but forever wagging his primary-school-principal fingers at the naughty children who ever dare criticise Trump. It is simply political cowardice.

*[Worth pointing out that he didn’t even read the article he was pointing to which states:

“This hunger crisis, experts say, is global and caused by a multitude of factors linked to the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing interruption of the economic order: the sudden loss in income for countless millions who were already living hand-to-mouth; the collapse in oil prices; widespread shortages of hard currency from tourism drying up; overseas workers not having earnings to send home; and ongoing problems like climate change, violence, population dislocations and humanitarian disasters.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/22/world/africa/coronavirus-hunger-crisis.html

*[ I initially wrote ‘…incapable of’ and was wondering what word to use next and then realised it didn’t need the ‘of’.]

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60 responses to “Larry Correia bullshits about anti-infection measures”

  1. Grrrr…sure enough there’s a comment on Lary’s piece saying: “And I can’t help but wonder if Sweden’s approach would have been far better than the one we have taken. ”
    well if they mean be a country with a strong health service and a strong social safety net than MAYBE yes but you’ll need to get in a time machine to do all that.

    Liked by 5 people

    • And a strong culture of having a trustworthy government structure, which is also very important. If you have that, then the leadership can “request” people respect social distancing and they are far more likely to accede.

      One reason we are in extra crisis mode here in the UK is that we’ve had four years of completely breakdown of trust in government, to the point that the man who was (if not single-handedly then certainly significantly) responsible for not “getting Brexit done” was able to get elected to power on a single platform of “getting Brexit done”.
      And whilst the country is certainly mostly pulling together right now, it’s doing so almost in spite of the messaging coming from the leadership; even the normal loyal Tory press are not happy, and the most prominent government critic right now is, of all people, Piers Morgan…

      Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, that’s one thing that a lot of Americans forget. The Swedish approach wouldn’t work in the US, because the US doesn’t have the same social and healthcare infrastructure as Sweden. And the deficient healthcare and social system, labour laws, structural racism, etc… in the US are part of the reason why the US has been affected by the pandemic so badly and why so many more younger people (many of them black or Hispanic) die in the US than elsewhere. For example, babies and young children can contract COVID-19, but they usually get mild cases and hardly ever die. Except in the US, where several babies and young children have already died of COVID-19, putting fear into parents everywhere.

      Liked by 5 people

    • I’m soon going to explode at Americans using Sweden as an example for this and that in their election war. Both left and right get it continuously wrong.

      First, our most important rule in Sweden is “Stay home if you are sick”. And that goes for even the slightest illness, the one you’d never think about otherwise. That means that to use our approach, people would need to afford to stay home. And for that you need job security, social well-fare and good sick leave.

      Second, lockdowns aren’t a binary. We are not open for business. We are doing exactly what Correia complains about, those who can will work at home in their comfy homes. My company won’t even let people into the office.

      Third, we do have regulations. They are recommendations for individuals, but hard regulations for all commercial vendors. Those are maximum 50 persons in one location, there must be measures to keep people separated to limit spread. That means that restaurants and shops will need to separate tables, make floor markings, count their visitors. Or be closed down. And a recommendation in Sweden means “if enough people won’t follow this, we’ll come down hard with a law and then goodbye all flexibility and personal responsibility”. It is not a small thing.

      Fourth, even with this we are starting to reach our limit in Stockholm with regards to ICU units and government officials are constantly reminding everyone to not travel, do social distansing, work from home, avoid visiting others, not relax. Last study said that 25% of Stockholm’s population is or has been infected, that’s still 75% that can be infected – and quick – if we relax.

      Fifth, the Swedish way of counting our dead os wrongly represented on almost all foreign websites, which makes is easy for both left and right to scream about apocalypse or winning the war. In fact, we have reached a plateau and no more. If people follow our recommendations, there will be a decline at some time. If not, there will be an increase.

      Second fifth, I did a twitter thread about our way of doing statistics here.

      I’m a bit tired of foreign medias bad takes about Sweden. We have a bit different ways of doing things because of how our constitution and laws are written and because of culture grown from that. But it is not that different in effect.

      Liked by 8 people

      • You’re not fooling us, Hampus. The dirty secret is that the virus was actually minted in Sweden, where the Korona is the national currency. That’s why most Swedes were already immune to it. 🙂

        On a serious note, are you feeling better now? My brothers (in Tennessee) got got it a week or two ago, and they’re on the mend except for still not being able to taste anything.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah, I’m ok now. More tired than usual and my constitution has gone down two points, but otherwise up and about.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Hampus, I sternly lectured another American on FB using your excellent points about the massive differences. I’ve no idea what political position they hold, but I wanted to get in early with something resembling facts.

        Like

  2. It’s not just global warming. I’ve seen the same argument against proposing any sort of health or safety standards for US businesses hiring workers in the third world — working in shit conditions is why those people have jobs! Do you want them to starve?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve even heard the same argument used against banning or at least stigmatising the import of products produced by child labour. “But those poor children will starve if they cannot work. Or they will be forced into prostitution.” It never seems to occur to those folks that paying adults higher wages, so they can support their children and send them to school rather than work, would be a much better solution for everybody. But then maybe, their clothes/furniture/carpets would cost more, what horror!

      Liked by 2 people

      • This argument is brought up against everything. Just read a book about food adulteration and the US didnt ban toxic salts ad food colorung until the 1920s because candymakers wouldnt be able to compete and had to shut down and the poor people would loose their job.
        Same for pasteurisation of mill, which the US made mandatory far, far later than Europe.

        Its literarally a hundred-year old argument.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Pot, kettle, black.

    A rich guy who works at home and spends a lot of time online is hectoring … rich people who work at home and spend a lot of time online?

    I don’t see Larry coming off his personal mountain fief Fortress of Gun-itude and Fast Internet and donating money or time to the poor in America, let alone other countries. How many small businesses is he supporting (that aren’t gun-related)?

    Is the Right incapable of anything but projection?

    Liked by 8 people

  4. Up there at the top (writing this now so I don’t forget it when I get to this box), Larry is using what I call The Toilet Paper Strategy (named after the Flypaper Strategy), where a conservative commentator or politician affects to give a warm one for the poor/ disadvantaged/ minorities/ women “over there” because whatabouting is such a convenient club to bash those darned Libs with. Look as you may, I’ll wager you won’t find any concern in the past about any of these folks, and you are perishingly unlikely to find any in the future.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. What they object to is the state ever helping people.
    And yet, we never,/i> see them protesting when the state helps billionaires stuff more money into their pockets at the expense of the Trumpists.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes, but billionaires are “deserving”, as well as their paymasters, and who doesn’t like doing the boss a favor? The poor are “undeserving” because they are poor. Prosperity gospel at work.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Rather like the “comfy home” jibe, the response is remarkably self-descriptive.
    Correia’s truly astonishing lack of self-awareness is at one with the rest of the Puppies; it’s one of their defining traits. I’m reminded of Torgersen screaming about free speech and censorship while literally editing the comments of everyone who dared disagree with him on his blog.

    Liked by 5 people

    • All the members of the various factions of the Right define Freedom of Speech to mean “I am free to say whatever I want, and all the rest of you are free to listen to it.”

      Liked by 4 people

    • @PhilRM I think a lot of people have a really hard time thinking in terms of principles. Principles sometimes mean taking a position that’s painful for one reason or another. They just can’t seem to see the virtue in that.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It never fails that we get the people who claim they are the sensible rural backbone of the country — the food “makers” — who either don’t know or pretend not to know how the U.S. agriculture and distribution system works. Especially those 2.5 million migrant workers who are picking, processing, packing and trucking the food supply chain and who don’t get decent safety equipment, live and work in packed facilities, have the White House cutting their wages, don’t get access to paid sick leave or healthcare and who have become hotbeds of the virus infection because of it. Everything that the government needs to be doing to manage and shorten the shutdown, the Republicans controlling the Fed and some of the states have refused to do. That includes dealing with the snarls in the food supply chain caused by the shifts in demand from the pandemic between industrial and consumer markets. Instead, we’ve got inaction, privateering and crony corruption while Dementia Donald babbles about injecting bleach.

    And we have these small protests aimed to attract media attention and openly organized by the top Republican donors, which they openly admit is a political dodge to help Republican elections. These donors want to further mismanage the pandemic — spreading the virus at greater rates without mass testing and containment, increased PPE for essential and healthcare workers, increased government funding for sick workers, trying to make it impossible for workers laid off from the pandemic to be able to apply for unemployment aid, etc. I’m not surprised that they are whining about famines and apocalypses when they are actively trying to cause those things. The right wing always seeks short term profits and looting scams for a minority top group over long term stability and economic development, always wants desperate and starving workers over safe and stable ones whose resulting prosperity grows the economy across the board. The long term effects from this pandemic on the workforce are large and they get larger the more patients who survive the disease exist — stroke aftereffects, lung and heart damage, joint pain, and stuff that they’re still gathering data on. Not to mention that business is about to become a lot more regional and change in ways we haven’t even figure out yet.

    If they wanted to help small businesses, then they would have enthusiastically supported the Democrats trying to get aid for small businesses with oversight committees which the Republicans opposed, and they would have worked to make sure the aid got to small businesses instead of banks and big corporate chains. Same with bailouts that were supposed to go to payroll and of course aren’t — they would have worked to oversight those and make sure the companies used them for payroll. But they think it’s fine if companies let their workers be furloughed or laid off and starve instead. If they cared about workers starving and trying to feed their families, they’d have encouraged government aid to feed them — to transport food from stuck farms to food banks and distribution schemes through the attempts to slowdown the virus. Instead, they actively work against any of those things because they involve a working government giving aid and helping people who aren’t rich (and may not be white.) They are happy to let healthcare systems in rural areas collapse — they kept supporting Republicans who closed hospitals and healthcare access in those area for years.

    Right now, California, run by Democrats, is paying restaurants and helping employ people to make and deliver food to high risk seniors who can’t go out and may have the virus. Not only does this help a lot of vulnerable seniors and keep restaurants going, but it takes pressure off of food banks who are dealing with increased need from families. All of this sort of stuff can also be done on a federal scale. But you have to have the political will for it and the right wing is always dead set against it, from school lunches to Meals on Wheels for Seniors — programs they’ve decimated. The notion that right wingers give a crap about people trying to feed their families when they’ve actively worked to make those families food insecure for the last forty years is truly something.

    But it’s part of the piety of the myths, isn’t it?

    Liked by 5 people

    • I’d thought that Trump had just discovered that bleach killed viruses (that would be stunningly ignorant, but … Trump) and, having no filter, blurted out the first thing that came into his head. (A press conference is not the place for brainstorming.)

      But there are press reports that he was got at by a snake-oil salesman a few days beforehand.

      https://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2020/04/report-trump-suggested-injecting-disinfectant-after-hearing-from-church-of-bleach-founder/

      Was his comment premeditated, or was he just primed to blurt out this nonsense when exposed to statements about the use of bleach to sterilise surfaces? (He now claims he was being sarcastic – but wouldn’t the context then imply he was rejected the science of hygiene. But perhaps by sarcastic he means trolling the press, in which case he’s guilty of reckless endangerment – a meme in Iran that alcohol cures/prevents COVID-19, allegedly traceable to a British tabloid, is reported to have resulted in 500 deaths from methanol poisoning.)

      Like

      • Sarcasm is the easiest, cheapest form of humor–easier than puns. It only requires you to mock, to add an inflection, to lean on words. And DFT can’t even manage that. It’s like a pre-schooler failing Sandbox.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Camestros wrote a post back in February about the right wing putting bleach (and other substances) into themselves… you really don’t need to be left-wing, surely, to realise this is a bad idea?

        Dear right-wing people: I know you want there to be only white people in the world, but injecting bleach is not the way.

        Liked by 4 people

      • I think with Trump it is usually both – he has a semi-grasp on ideas and follows thematic chains in his speech (hence the repeated tangents) but some of it is rehearsed

        Like

      • He’s got FTL dementia that is progressing. So his aids gave him the material from the snakeoil scammer pastor, which he may have vaguely remembered. They are also using UV light to help treat dementia patients as an experiment and guess who may have gotten some of that? But mainly it’s because the illness impairs his ability to comprehend and configure what he’s reading or often being told, especially on the fly. So he’s looking at a graphic that has medical treatment info and disinfecting cleaning info and he’s like, why not just combine them? Because he’s impaired functionally.

        Which is why they did a short, no questions press conference the next day and announced that Trump might not be having many pressers in the future at all. Because he cannot mentally cope with trying to deal with reporters’ questions, even about basic info. (That’s why he used to rarely have press conferences and mainly only in front of a loud whirring helicopter.) He was forgetting who reporters he knew for a long time are, he shouts at them instead of answering their questions, he repeats old grievances because that’s familiar ground he can still remember as opposed to forming coherent, spontaneous responses. He forgot the word brain when trying to talk about his own brain this week, basically just pointing at his head. He is not well — slurring and mispronouncing words,forgetting words and people and dates (which is why he still keeps calling it the 1917 flue epidemic,) foot dragging and unsteadiness when he walks, swaying when he stands, exacerbated temper outbursts, paranoia, involuntary shoulder jerking, tongue protusion, visible fatigue during the long pressers and rallies (sun-downing,) difficulties reading text and increasingly incomprehensible rambling that he claims he can’t remember saying. At his New Year’s Eve party a few months ago at Mar-a-Lago — where they used to go hide him for periods of schmoozing with his cronies — during the playing of the national anthem, he pretended to be conducting an imaginary orchestra.

        It’s a workable feat to prop Trump up at a rally with a few thousand screaming cheering anything he says like it’s a sports event. It’s another for him to coherently answer questions from a bunch of reporters risking their lives to try to get concrete information about what the Feds are planning and what is happening with the pandemic monitoring. Either he repeats stock vague covering phrases over and over or he rambles or he insults and rants at the people asking questions that require him to function. And as far as we can tell, their plan is to keep propping him up, hope they can rig a re-election off a narrow electoral college victory like last time and then let Pence take over should he get impossible to put in front of the cameras. It’s pretty scary, to not only have a kleptocracy — which we knew we were getting when he won — but one supposedly run by someone seriously deteriorating.

        Liked by 5 people

      • @Kat:
        regarding the ‘loud whirring helicopter’:

        One of my favorite Doonesbury cartoons, back in the Reagan era, involved that. Reporters had been commenting on the stupidity of trying to shout questions to the president when he’s standing near a helicopter. Cue one of them yelling out his question: “Mister President, what do you think about rumours that you’ve been growing disconnected from the people?” Shouted response: “What? I can’t hear you!”

        Followed by a second reporter saying to the first, “You are a bad, bad man, dude.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, it’s an old tactic, and Reagan used it frequently. But they’ve used it continually with Trump who gave very few real press conferences or briefings during his term. Then he couldn’t have his staged rallies anymore, so they started doing these daily pressers. But that’s way too much for him to be able to actually handle at this point. But he thinks of his presidency as a t.v. show, as spectacle, which is the demagoguery he idolizes, the way he’s made money selling his brand and where he’s at cognitively right now. He obsesses about ratings and whether he’s being praised enough, and dementia just makes that all worse.

        He couldn’t remember what a Category 5 hurricane is. He can’t remember that he was at a rally in early March. He can’t remember what actual prize journalists get. His slurring and stumbling over words is getting more and more pronounced and when he does, he has muscle spasms in his face and shoulders. He does weird things like try to alter a map with a sharpie or ask if we should start looking into injecting people with disinfectant to kill the virus. Which they attempted to write off as a sarcastic joke, except that Trump said it in the monotone he tends to use, especially when he’s reading things — another trait of dementia he has a lot now. He drags his foot when he walks and swings in a very wide stance for balance. He has trouble synthesizing information which makes give and take with reporters very difficult for him and he has a range of deflections he uses, many of which are common tactics of people with dementia.

        I really don’t know what state he will be in by November. He may be in a similar state to what he is now, so they can prop him up, but he’s likely going to get worse. But expect more weird things at press briefings, I guess, not to mention of course Twitter.

        Liked by 1 person

    • The problem is that the Democrats keep saying and doing the right thing–charting a course that takes us closer to safety and security. The Gop brand calls for doing the opposite of whatever the Dems do, so naturally they must ever jerk their knees in the service of unsafety, insecurity, and greasing the palms of the wealthiest, and by their lights, they’re always right when they sneer or blubber (or ‘snubber’) “YOU MADE US DO IT!”

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thing is, those people claiming to be the “sensible rural backbone” aren’t the actual farmers (or at least going by the loudmouths I’m seeing in my local Facebook groups they aren’t–I am in extremely rural NE Oregon). Those people don’t have time for protests right now because it’s like, you know, spring, and the busy season of spring, no less. They’re out there working; most are hay (a significant chunk exported), grain (also significant chunk exported), and beef producers. The loudmouths I’m seeing are coming from the local prepper crew (the biggest voices are, gee whiz, coming from the parts of the area that were selling prime Y2K off-the-grid sites for outrageous prices and gee, they moved there in 1999), construction workers, and truck drivers.

      I know a bunch of rural conservatives who are very worried about COVID-19. But my area has somewhat sane conservatives and back in the 90s financed a local health district to build a hospital that’s an award winner in the top 25 of critical care facilities (not percent–top 25, period). The hospital is the biggest local employer. Yeah, we’re lucky, but we’ve had sane community-concerned local conservatives in charge. I did a cruise through the local Facebook groups to see if I recognized anyone organizing for weird stuff. The local Republicans are focused on the congressional primary and nothing else (well, there’s a rich carpetbagger who is pretending to be a Good Ol’ Boy and the real good ol’ boys aren’t buying it, especially since said candidate barely moved out of the big city in time to file for the office. It’s kinda entertaining to watch since my guess is that he’ll get beaten by everyone including the former Malheur occupier). Even the State of Jefferson crew is not local, except for maybe one person.

      But because we’re also an outdoor recreation destination, there’s also significant resentment of people who don’t live here year-round coming in from outside to hide from COVID-19 and bringing in disease, plus overwhelming our local medical facility that is excellent but small (seriously, ICU needs are usually airlifted out to facilities several hundred miles away, though the hospital also has plans in place to set up an emergency ICU). This resentment does not follow liberal/conservative divisions–I’m seeing it coming from all political perspectives. The normal tolerance for visitors (especially since that’s significant summer income here) has gone right out the window. A local county commissioner has made a call for those who got a stimulus check and don’t need it to contribute some or all of it to a fund to support local small businesses. Since I’m on the board of one of the local nonprofit charity orgs who may end up managing aspects of this fund, it’ll be interesting to see how that unfolds.

      I think the Trump support here is thin and getting thinner as he mouths off. It will be interesting to see how things shake out in the fall. A moderate third-party Republican-type could snatch them away.

      Liked by 6 people

      • The utter cluelessness of certain loudmouths about how things work (no, farmers don’t buy their seeds/seedlings at DIY stores and garden centers) suggests that they like to pretend to be the “rural real America”, but really aren’t.

        Liked by 4 people

      • There aren’t a lot of farmers at all. The main ones calling themselves farmers don’t farm — they’re landlords, leasing huge chunks of land to farmers and agribusiness combines. But they get that federal farm welfare for just owning the land. The farmers they rent the land to also often aren’t farmers. They are umbrella contractors who organize crews, including trucking and the migrant workers to do the work for them. Small family farms — which anyone with a small orchard or a cow barn can call themselves — only produce about 27% of the U.S. agriculture.

        And as you note, most of the people calling themselves the rural backbone aren’t involved with farming at all unless you count the occasional chicken coop. Most of the right wingers live in suburbs and exurbs around large cities where there may still be a bit of rural area around and a riding stable for their kids. They’re pretending a Hollywood version of rural life they don’t follow, then claiming that liberals aren’t farmers and hate them and that POC aren’t farmers and rural residents, but instead are disease carriers in the cities. It’s just fake and often vicious.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Eh, please tell that bit about how there aren’t a lot of farmers at all to the farmers and ranchers I know. Please note that I specified region (NE Oregon) and crops–hay, grain, and beef. Not a hella lot of labor contractors involved with these businesses.

          IOW, generalization is not always accurate.

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      • It’s not a generalization. It’s the statistics of where we are with agriculture right now. We have far fewer farms than we used to have and while we have a lot of family farms still, they don’t produce most of the agriculture, nor do they receive most of the farm aid from the government, nor do they own most of the agricultural land. And while many farmers and rural people are right wing, the majority of Trump’s support and often Republicans’ support are white, non-college educated people who live in the suburbs and exurbs around metropolitan areas, not on farms. But they invoke farmers to justify right wing policy and as part of their identities in opposition to the cities they live around that are posed as full of poor, violent POC who suck up all the government aid and resources. Even though the rural population actually takes more of that aid and POC often make up a large part of the rural and farming populations. But even more than the rural population, big agriculture concerns take up the most of the government aid for farming. So even though we do have farming/ranching rural communities, especially in some specific states, in aggregate we don’t have a lot of farmers anymore as part of the overall agricultural industry. We do have a lot of migrant workers, though, both in the farming part and in the processing part.

        Do you follow Dr. Sarah Taber? She’s a font of info and has gone into the landlord aspect often: https://twitter.com/SarahTaber_bww/status/1074882584436461570

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        • Kat dear. From your comments it’s clear that you are dependent on the commentary of people who are not particularly friendly about agriculture, you are not on the ground, and that you don’t live in an agricultural area. Please correct me if I am wrong.

          I do live in an agricultural area, albeit a high mountain ag area focused on, again, grain, hay, and beef with some smaller producers of potatoes (not many because blight is now common here) and truck farmers (the old term for small produce farms). And furthermore, I’m writing science fiction about agriculture. I’m familiar with Sarah Taber’s work, and she is focusing on specific issues. But she is not the end-all, be-all of knowledge about ag and is not a useful source for me in particular (especially since much of her critique addresses the Midwestern US farm systems and I’m not in the Midwest nor am I writing about the Midwest. The Midwest is not California is not the Columbia Basin is not NE Oregon is not the Willamette Valley is not…well, things differ by regions). I’m reading industry newsletters focused on innovative startups and talking to like, you know, actual farmers and ranchers.

          You are generalizing and in your generalization you’re buying into an idyllic vision of agriculture as being the family farm. But guess what? Many of those “big agricultural concerns” are family farms. Threemile Canyon Farms in Boardman, Oregon, often vilified because it’s a 15,000 cow dairy (award-winning for its humane treatment and for its diversification)? Family-owned corporation (Note: most farm ops are family LLCs for liability and tax purposes, as well as passing down through the generations). Milk is sold to the Tillamook Co-op, which is farmer-owned (disclosure, I married into a Tillamook family and at one time we held shares in the co-op). The vegetables (both organic certified and non-organic certified) produced as a means to dispose of the manure are sold on contract to local food processors.

          The issues you describe in your original post are germane to a particular subset of agriculture, i.e. fruit and vegetable production. Right now thanks to Trump those farmers are not certain if they will have workers to harvest their crops. Last fall the combination of an early frost and lack of workers led to significant apple crop losses near the Tri-Cities in Washington. Farmers were begging people to come pick fruit off their trees for free. Locally, a potato producer who was doing the farm-to-table supply to restaurants has an oversupply as a result and is desperate.

          Those big farms you talk about exist. And the farmers who operate those farms are locked into a system as cruel as the old company farm system. They just about literally owe their soul to the big middleman producers they are contracted to.

          The devil is NOT the farmer, no matter what non-agricultural media coverage would have you believe. It is the big middleman companies (cough-cough Cargill, Monsanto/Bayer, and others) between the farmer and the market. Farmers are not getting paid modern rates for their work–prices are close to 1918 rates. But those middlemen have them in a lock not unlike what workers in old mining and timber company towns experienced. The non-agricultural media seems to not understand this dynamic, but yes, there is that degree of control.

          Read AgFunderNews. Read AgDaily. Read The Counter (formerly New Food Economy). Read your local region’s ag newspaper to get a more accurate picture of what is going on. Look at where your frozen vegetables are processed. There are reasons to be concerned (serious reasons, especially about the rise in power of those middleman companies), but you’re not going to see the reporting in The Atlantic, The Guardian, or other non-agriculture-based sources. Look up right-to-repair (which started with John Deere proprietary tractor and equipment software). What is actually happening is not what you are being told.

          Liked by 2 people

      • Scary discussion happening on Farm and Food Dialogues on Facebook right now, in response to a Nature article, “Without food there can be no exit from the pandemic.” Farmers are talking about buyers deferring purchase contracts to 2021 and asking for difficult crops such as barley to be binned for 2020 (apparently barley does not keep well). They’re talking about market issues.

        Another discussion is starting up about just who is responsible for managing the food supply chain in the US, and that one is…worrisome as well.

        FYI, I do recommend this group for anyone wanting to learn more about ag. But it is not the place to post screeds, and is well-moderated.

        Liked by 1 person

      • If you think I was saying that the devil is the farmer, that’s the exact opposite of what I was saying. Farmers are getting shafted, in a variety of directions, especially right now. Aid gets diverted away from them and the collapse of trucking and processing going on right now in the pandemic is partly the result of that system. We’re throwing aid at oil companies — the richest in the world — because they’re having a slow down and trade war — instead of dealing with the messed up supply system for agriculture.

        What I was agreeing with you about is that there are a lot of folk like Hoyt and Correia and the anti-shutdown protesters who aren’t farmers and are co-opting farmers’ identity for their demands about the shutdown and most policies. They’re talking about how we’ll have a famine if we don’t re-open nail salons right this very minute when the big issue is processing plants, their worker situations, trucking, etc. It’s annoying that these protests, whose main goal seems to be keeping workers from being able to go on unemployment, are trying to use farmers as the excuse.

        So I don’t know what type of science fiction you are writing about this, but you will certainly have a lot of material to use.

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      • This may thread funny, just saying.

        I’m focusing primarily on some particular aspects of agtech right now–primarily the creation of monitoring/tracking biobots that can report back on microconditions as far as hydrology, pests, and disease, plus the issue of farmer funding. But it kinda grew a life of its own, except…circling around to deal with fraud in data tracking using blockchain (already happening with regard to some organically certified grains that weren’t), misuse of workers, and organized crime. It’s verging on thrillerdom at this point. Think telenovela levels of drama. It’s my method of coping with the news.

        Many producers are really worried about the impact of Covid on the food supply system, especially with this latest problem with the meatpacking houses, and that’s a dynamic I’m not ready to deal with yet. I’m about ready to unearth a copy of The Jungle (if I still have one) because the meatpacking issues are even bigger these days.

        But. There is a LOT of crazy stuff happening with regard to agriculture and coping with climate change.

        I think I could end up writing a LOT of agritech fiction and agdystopia if I wanted, because there’s a lot going on. Think drones. Think situations where satellite scans are considered to be insufficiently detailed. Think the possibility of very targeted management of water, fertilizer, and chemical treatments, because that’s where things are headed in response to climate change.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. The problem Larry and Trump and a lot of people are having right now is that the virus spreads too quickly for their usual bluster and bullshit to be effective. Yet the virus isn’t going anywhere, and it’s been proving people wrong as we watch.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Businesses were shutting down and people were isolating before the official government restrictions even went out. Businesses were also laying off people right away. It wasn’t the government that cratered the economy. The stock market crashed on March 9th, when not one state had issued a stay at home order, and plunged further on March 12th and March 16th, when only Puerto Rico had issued a stay at home order. Some states still have no stay at home restrictions in place — Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska and North Dakota. Louisiana held Mardi Gras against advice, which turned New Orleans and surrounding areas into a virus hotspot.

      Even if every state lifts stay-at-home restrictions, many businesses won’t reopen or reopen in the same ways and whole industries where people are together in large groups in enclosed spaces are not going to revive because most people don’t want to risk death. Numerous tourism businesses in Florida where the governor just lifted restrictions are refusing to re-open because they don’t want to get sued by customers who then get sick from the virus. (The infected cruise ships were a disaster that clanged the warning bell for many, long before state shutdowns were in place.)

      The right wingers keep thinking that because they’ve been able to rig policy to their alternate reality on social issues and corporate raiding that they can force the virus, people wanting to avoid the virus and our broken healthcare system into the same trajectory. They keep trying to say that government is the tyranical enemy while ignoring how the highly infectious virus without a vaccine is reshaping everything no matter what type of government countries have.

      This article is a nice sobering summary: https://thebulwark.com/we-cannot-reopen-america/?fbclid=IwAR0qykqS4TF0YjqFqhF4a28hD8L5-bPHFyIZvoL3efAa6-ASXZDwwPuikYo

      Liked by 1 person

  9. @Kat (wrt dementia):

    Scuttlebutt has it that Drumpf was on prescription amphetamines for many years. Just picture his doctor and you’ll believe that. That isn’t going to help his mental processes any.

    @Greg: But bleach would remove those shades of orange he’s so fond of turning himself!

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    • @Stewart

      About the pollution making it worse — pollution disproportionately affects poor and PoC, who of course are suffering the worst outcomes of COVID.

      Like

  10. coronaspam:

    In my spam report this morning – “Discover how COVID19 and obesity are linked”. From the email address I’m guessing that it’s herbal snake oil (but one could describe bleach as natural). The question is whether they’re touting something as a coronavirus cure, or whether it’s just a bait and switch for a “weight loss” product.

    Like

    • I don’t doubt that what you got was spam, but sources on the ground are seeing that — all else equal — obese people are having worse outcomes if they get COVID. It’s particularly bad in younger people. While they usually have more resilience to it, obese children and young-ish adults are having a much worse time of it. Sicker and more likely to die

      Like

      • Another report has it that mortality is exacerbated by preexisting lung inflammation due to exposure to atmospheric nitrogen oxide pollution.

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  11. Not too long ago there were noises about how the US might get away with as few as 60,000 deaths (from this wave), rather than 100,000-200,000. On the current trajectory the official figures will hit that number in 3 or 4 days; the real death toll including overlooked community deaths may already be over that.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yep, they went from there are only 19 cases and soon there will be zero to if we get under 100,000 deaths, it will be a victory to who cares that the number of cases and deaths is radically escalating, everybody has to die sometime so lets open everything up and have even more people die and it will be fine. And no, you can’t have tests to try to contain carriers so that we could ease up on the self-isolation stuff. Who cares if your doctors in the hospital have to decide if you’re worth giving one of their few ventilators over the other patients. Ranting about death panels was only to stop wider healthcare through the ACA.

      The Florida governor just referred to his state as “God’s waiting room” for seniors. I’ve got to go along with all the folk saying it, it is a death cult.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Again, what all the fake shutdown protests were really about:

    1. Provide media pressure on Democrat governors and cover for Republican governors to force businesses to reopen and get to kick workers off unemployment, even if they’ve lost benefits including health insurance and had their wages and hours slashed. In particular, they’re forcing reopening low wage businesses that have mainly POC and POC immigrant workers.

    2. Kick small businesses out of any hopes of grants or PPP relief by forcing them to open with nearly no customer base and social distancing problems, taking away their leverage under the shutdown to get delays or freezes of rent and utilities to stay afloat and temporarily closed till it’s safer. Meanwhile, the cash rich large chains and corporations have billions from the government corporate slush fund with no oversight thanks to Trump’s crew. It’s money that’s supposed to go to payroll, but it hasn’t been. So all the mom and pop businesses protesters claim to be saving they’re actually helping to go under, strengthening the monopolies of large corporations, as usual, and not preventing those corporations from doing massive layoffs whenever they want.

    3. The final nail is Trump finally enacting the Defense Production order, but instead of using it to make masks and PPE for the beleagured healthcare workers, he’s using it to keep meat packing plants open without better protocols to prevent virus outbursts and using that as the springboard for saying that workers can’t sue their corporate bosses for getting the virus because they didn’t get PPE.

    Every single time Republicans and right wingers screw over workers, small businesses and non-giant farmers. Every single time, even in the middle of a deadly pandemic — anti-democracy all down the line.

    https://mavenroundtable.io/theintellectualist/news/states-warn-that-workers-will-lose-unemployment-if-they-refuse-to-return-to-jobs-vbq1clsQ6USCAmgeoeym4w

    Liked by 2 people

    • Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, the judge who lost the recent election (forced by the Republicans to be in-person rather than remote), has un-recused himself in a blatant effort to suppress voters by fraudulanetly purging them from the rolls.
      https://www.wpr.org/justice-daniel-kelly-will-lift-recusal-voter-purge-case
      The corruption is right out in the open now. The Republicans know that the only way they can win is by cheating, and if they can’t do it out of sight, they’ll do it in public.

      Like

      • Well that’s why they wanted him to win reelection, to purge Democrat-leaning voters off the rolls. So now that he’s got a time limit, they’re doing it as quick as possible. Meanwhile the DeVos crew sent in their white supremacy militia buddies with guns to storm the Michigan state house, pretending to be a protest when it’s really a shakedown to see how far they can normalize domestic terrorism violence instead of just rhetoric. The DeVos/Prince clan run the Michigan Republicans and have for awhile, but the state is leaning more and more away from them and is a swing state in the elections.

        The history of the U.S. says they can normalize white supremacy violence pretty far, as long as they have enough politicians to sanction it, so that any action against them creates more martyr recruitment and justification of engineered riots. This was one of Trump’s jobs, one of the reasons he was elected, so that white supremacy violence/rule of force would be able to terrorize government officials without much police pushback if voter purges and suppression efforts, like in Ohio and Wisconsin, aren’t enough to hold the Republican grip on statehouses. It’s a combination of astroturfed spectacle propaganda and again normalizing violent militias. With Trump and Barr sidelining intelligence agencies that crack down on militias and Republican politicians and officials saying old people should be sacrificed to the disease for the sake of rich people — that violence against the “weak” in society is justified.

        So basically, the Klan is back in new forms and it’s targeting swing states. The “movement” is using the virus to rile up hatred for Asian Americans and immigrants (the blame China portion,) push anti-Semitism, and talk about sending Covid infected people into black communities to make black people ill. This is the racial game that the U.S. has always built everything around, why the militia movement suddenly exploded when we had our first black president and why Trump was elected. We have millions of white people who have been waiting for a societal collapsing “race war” for decades, the shared violence fantasy, and inventing pretexts for trying to get it going with violence, harassment and conspiracy theories.

        Liked by 1 person

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