The Government Wants To Handle Covid Like The Flu

Bad flu seasons put a heavy burden on emergency rooms prior to COVID, but because it is seasonal, the strains are variable and the vaccination efficacy is variable a break always occurred in between the bad seasons. People just put up with it. With COVID, we’re in a never ending bad flu season.

We Don’t Learn From History

During the 2017-2018 flu season an estimated 52,000 people died in the USA according to the CDC. Time reported that hospitals overwhelmed by flu patients were treating them in tents.

“We are pretty much at capacity, and the volume is certainly different from previous flu seasons,” says Dr. Alfred Tallia, professor and chair of family medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center in New Brunswick, New Jersey. “I’ve been in practice for 30 years, and it’s been a good 15 or 20 years since I’ve seen a flu-related illness scenario like we’ve had this year.”

Tallia says his hospital is “managing, but just barely,” at keeping up with the increased number of sick patients in the last three weeks. The hospital’s urgent-care centers have also been inundated, and its outpatient clinics have no appointments available.

The public accepts that situation. People go to work sick, bring their kids to school sick and people due. Billionaires and corporations line their pockets because they insist that people cannot stay home with pay if they are sick.

Nothing has changed with public policy since that 2017-2018 flu season to ameliorate the issue. The expectation is that the public will accept that tens or even hundreds of thousands will die each year either from the flu or COVID and that’s just how it goes.

The CDC recently revised rules on how long people can stay out of work for COVID.

People with COVID-19 should isolate for 5 days and if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), follow that by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others to minimize the risk of infecting people they encounter.

They’re saying you could be infectious for those 5 days you’re wearing a mask, but go to work anyway.

Vaccination Is A Stopgap

Vaccination stems some of the rising tide of COVID related hospitalizations, but we know at this point that we will never get everyone vaccinated. If people avoid getting vaccinated for polio and measles they aren’t going to take this vaccine. Even after COVID we managed to get only 52.1% of the population to take the flu vaccine.

Regardless of how many people take the vaccine, the spread is not going to stop via vaccination. Vaccination for COVID is partly to defend against infection, but mostly to ameliorate the symptoms if you do get sick and keep you out of the hospital. The flu vaccine serves essentially the same purpose. With either one, when you get sick, even while vaccinated, you still transmit the disease just as much as an unvaccinated person.

We can’t fix the core problem without changing the system and eliminating the for profit motive behind basic healthcare and giving people mandatory paid sick leave. Right now the vaccination blame game is being used as the excuse for not making those changes.

The Vaccination Blame Game

The claim is that the real problem are the people not getting vaccinated. This is certainly in some sense true. If we were able to get everyone vaccinated, possibly this could be just another horrible flu season, but since we’ve never been able to get everyone vaccinated that’s a pipe dream. Corporations have always been content to let people die in the tens of thousands as long as the wheels of the machine kept turning and only now that the wheels are coming off do they start to point fingers at individuals for their behavior with regard to vaccination.

The system was broken before this pandemic started. We never were able to vaccinate everyone effectively. We’ve never stemmed a pandemic via vaccination and we’re never going to with an imperfect vaccine and a virus that mutates as quickly as COVID-19.

That the unvaccinated are to blame and not our terrible system is becoming accepted by many circles. The CDC can tell infectious people to go back to work and wear a mask and most people don’t blink an eye, because that’s always been the status quo.

We need to change the status quo. People should not go to work sick, people should be able to see the doctor without bankrupting themselves. The real sickness is our healthcare system and the diagnosis is terminal.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Won’t End Via The Current Vaccines

The COVID pandemic continues. It ebbs and flows as cases rise and fall with the seasons and the changing behavior of carriers.

One thing is constant though, the shouting for people to get vaccinated and the invective directed against those that won’t. The claim is that if everyone got vaccinated we could go back to normal. Normal is not an end to the pandemic though. There are certainly positives to getting the vaccine, but it’s not going to end this pandemic.

An Imperfect Vaccine

The current FDA approved Pfizer vaccine was touted as 95% effective in preventing transmission of COVID during phase 3 clinical trials. New studies show that the vaccine is much less effective against preventing transmission of the delta variant and other variants as time passes. While protection starts off at 93%, after four months that drops to 53%. Other non-delta variants start off at 97% and then drop to 67% after four months.

There can be no end to the transmission of COVID without a vaccine that is at or near to 100% effective in preventing transmission over a relatively long period of time. A polio vaccination confers 99-100% protection against polio for years according to the CDC. The current crop of COVID vaccines don’t even reach that level of protection immediately after vaccination.

You’re Healthy Enough To Get Sick At Work

The vaccine’s effectiveness at preventing serious hospitalizations is noted at 93% throughout the four month observed time period. This is a key point given by people that are in favor of a vaccine mandate, that the vaccine prevents hospitalization, but what does that mean for the people that are being pushed back into public facing jobs? It means they are expected to spread illness at work and deal with it.

No politician or corporation is expecting these vaccines to prevent large scale transmission of COVID-19 and they certainly aren’t concerned about workers that are being put into contact with the disease. They want to mitigate the amount of people being hospitalized only because the USA’s costly and poorly prepared healthcare system cannot bear the burden of people with these illnesses and it is breaking down. Corporations and their political lackeys can’t extract maximum value from an oppressive system if it is broken. This is why state governments don’t care if they have to fire healthcare workers and replace them with the National Guard. It’s not about quality of care, it’s about extracting capital and passing it up the line.

Too Big To Provide Coverage

The USA spends more per capita on healthcare than any other country on the planet while at the same time 32.8 million of its population remain uninsured. The USA is rated the worst among major high income countries for various healthcare outcomes, including life expectancy, chronic illness and obesity. In 2019 the USA ranked below every other high income country and many low income countries, including Cuba and Lebanon, in overall life expectancy by country.

In the 2017-2018 flu season the USA experienced 710,572 hospitalizations and 51,646 deaths from influenza. In the 2018-2019 season, a relatively light year, the USA experienced 380,000 hospitalizations and 28,000 deaths from influenza. In the 2020-2021 season there were 700 deaths from the flu. There was no miracle vaccine for the flu that emerged, people just were not transmitting it due to lockdowns and other precautions such as masking. With mandatory sick leave and actual healthcare coverage 2020-2021 could be closer to the norm rather than the outlier.

Enjoy Normality

What politicians are counting on is that there are an acceptable number of deaths that the country will suffer without complaint. They have no interest in fixing this system if they can get back to that acceptable number. They would rather people get used to a certain rate of deaths per year from illness like they did with influenza so they can put everyone back on the same hamster wheel toiling away for low wages, no sick days and abysmal healthcare service or as they would have it, “normal.”

The Normalization of Cruelty

Matt Taibbi recently posted a story about a man named Chris (a pseudonym) who took out student loans starting in 1981 that left him in $79,000 of debt at an interest rate of 9% by the time he graduated from law school. Through a series of misfortunes and admitted mistakes on his part Chris got behind on his loan payments. Once he began making good on his debt he was already in the hole for penalty fees that are required to be paid before any money is put against the principal balance.

Chris as of 2020 is 59 years old and has paid $190,000 on his original $79,000 debt. He still currently owes $236,000.

That this is seen as anything other than usury at this point is astonishing, but in the comments of the story the response to this situation is an equal balance of agreement and dissent. There are many that see this as a game that Chris has played badly and lost, but they fail to see that the game is rigged in favor of the corporations and institutions generating these loans. They also point and laugh at Chris for his misfortune and proclaim that Chris is stupid and lazy for getting into his current situation and deserves what he gets.

I find the entire situation to be laughable. Why? Because all of these whiners borrowed money to get a college and advanced degrees. One would think they’d be smart enough to read the papers they were signing so that they’d understand what they were committing to.


You wrote an entire article about someone that admittedly created his own problems. The day I pay for someone else’s student loans is the day I stop paying taxes.


Pay your damned bill, Chris. When you can employ 10s of 1,000s like Ford and GM, maybe we can talk, otherwise, you’re a slacker – knowing it’s half the battle.


The abject subservience to corporations in these comments and the complete lack of empathy for the individual is appalling. For all they give back, corporations enact a huge toll on society. The environmental destruction created by corporations and the costs to clean up toxic waste and the human lives affected by it alone are staggering. The individuals concealed behind the legal fiction of a corporation never bear responsibility for their actions and yet Chris is expected to bear the full brunt of his mistakes without any recourse.

Chris isn’t even trying to shirk responsibility for his mistakes. He admits to them fully and yet these people look at him with his hand out asking for assistance and not only refuse to help, they kick him when he is down. They deride him and call him names. All this because of laws made up by politicians to favor the corporations that get them elected.

These commenters consider Chris a loser in this game and they don’t even care that the game is rigged as long as they aren’t being affected. They speak about fairness to themselves and to corporations, but when considering the fairness of Chris’ situation they are completely unwilling to see any compromise. This is the definition of hypocrisy.

Chris has paid more than double his original principal back to the lender in this case and yet these people would have the lender continue to extract funds from Chris until the day he dies. This is capitalism.

Abolish The Police – It’s more realistic than you think

Many people are conflicted regarding the issue of defunding the police, some conservatives see it as a call to abolition, and anarchy. Many liberals think it is a call for reform and this makes sense to a lot of people, because most have never known any other way of doing things. This is entirely understandable given the inertia of the system, but police violence has been going on for decades with promises of reform yet the same things keep happening.

Some liberals see defund the police as a call for abolition without the ensuing anarchy claimed by conservatives. On a recent Intercepted podcast with Ruth Wilson Gilmore the case is made for abolition. Ruth Wilson Gilmore is a scholar, prison abolitionist and author of Golden Gulag, a comprehensive analysis of prison expansion in California that hits from all sides, sociological, economic and political. It’s not an easy read, more like a textbook, but it is incredibly well researched and detailed. I’ve attempted to summarize and paraphrase details from the podcast in this post as they illuminate some cogent points about the need or lack thereof for police.

What Jobs Do Police Really Need To Do?

The point that always comes up when people mention defunding the police is who will save us from criminals? Dr. Gilmore is not naive. She realizes that not all problems can be solved without force, but the podcast makes a good point about how necessary force is to do the majority of the jobs we have assigned, somewhat arbitrarily, to heavily armed police.

  • Direct traffic or organize parade routes
  • Issue civil citations.
  • Assist people in mental or physical health emergencies.
  • Defuse a violent situation or deal with those that intend to hurt people.
  • Investigate sexual assault and domestic violence issues and support survivors.
  • Deal with substance abuse issues.

Take away all these jobs that can be done better or at least as well by someone other than a heavily armed policeman and you are left only with what Micol Seigel terms violence work. If it’s not clear from the past few weeks, police are hired to produce violence and “spectacular dominance that forces us to submit to an uneven status quo.” They do that with the full support of the law.

Police Combine Warfare Against Communities with “Lawfare” That Protects Them

In Graham vs Connor (1989) the Supreme Court lowered the bar substantially for an officer to excuse any use of excessive force. The court decided that if an officer acted reasonably, given the circumstances of the situation, then they could not be prosecuted. They specifically indicated that “the ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.”

The result is that if an officer says that at the time he killed someone he feared for his life, he walks. It doesn’t matter if the other person had no weapon at all, it’s all determined by the cop’s point of view at the moment the incident occurred. This test is not difficult to pass legally, even without the additional protection of the blue wall of silence. Now, consider that the person we are talking about who feared for his life is the one that is heavily armed and in almost all cases more heavily armed than the people they are dealing with.

The Politicians That Are Supposed To Reform Police Are Using The Same “Lawfare” To Protect Corporations

Bipartisan criminal justice reform does not work. It purports to be able to separate the people that should be punished from the people that should not be punished while also identifying “the people we are afraid of” within the former group. This sets them up for perpetual punishment, while the low hanging fruit are given some sort of relief such as decriminalization, house arrest or e-carceration.

At the same time, the politicians that are participating in these bipartisan reforms are constantly trying to remove responsibility from corporations for their harmful practices if it can’t be proved that they engaged in these practices knowing and intending to harm people. When a corporate entity in Flint poisons the water that the people drink, they can’t be held responsible if they didn’t intend to poison the water with the knowledge that people would die.

Essentially, this lack of accountability is endemic to the system and we are expecting the same people that continually perpetuate it to fix it.


Once we give all of those jobs listed above away to other professions (or create new ones to do them without being heavily armed) what do we need police to do? In reality, almost nothing. Having more police doesn’t reduce crime and they kill three people a day on average here in the USA. The only thing left is violence work. If we do need a direct violent response to a situation then it would be much safer to create a very specific profession that just does that and make their use highly restricted and accountable.

This article has been edited to change the title and clarify the intent as advocating abolition while clarifying some of the terms used.

Defund the police – The ambiguous messaging has multiple possible outcomes

Ambiguous messaging seems to be the complaint around the Black Lives Matter movement. We’ve arrived at the question of what does “Defund The Police” mean?

Take away what money?

Defund implies taking away money, but then the question becomes how much money? All of it? Some of it? Also, when one refers to “the police” this is not the same as saying “the FBI” or “the CIA.” There is no overarching organization across the country that is responsible for police. Each state, city, county or town has its own police force. There could be areas where everyone is happy with how their police department works, but there could also be areas where the police department has totally failed such as it did in Camden, NJ.

In that example the city defunded their entire police force and replaced them. The police department was part of the crime problem, with rampant corruption and a lack of oversight. Defunding them was the only way to fix the problem. The key point is that money flowing into departments from government is what keeps them going. Governments can cut that off in part or in whole to either influence them or remove them.

Police should not police themselves

The core problem with policing as it applies to Black Lives Matter is a lack of civilian oversight. Police departments that do not agree to make their policies and personnel records subject to civilian oversight and give those civilians the power to remove problem officers should be defunded and disbanded. Put another force put in place that will be subject to that oversight.

Oversight allows revision of tactics. Defund racially biased and ineffective policies like stop and frisk and broken windows. Remove military hardware and unnecessary SWAT teams from police departments.

Despite all of those options, there are still some that will say that we should defund police entirely, across the board. Dealing with crime is obviously the main concern when anyone mentions defunding the police and while there are models for community policing it’s unlikely that major cities will be able to completely rid themselves of police.

The system fuels distrust

It’s important to understand that defunding the police is a solution to police criminality. It doesn’t address the systemic issues responsible for crime, which in general are poverty, income inequality, lack of healthcare, lack of education, crumbling infrastructure and the drug war. Changing how police operate does not fix these problems. Only changing the laws to make things more fair and equitable will do that.

The rich and corporations influence politicians to make laws that keep taxes low for them while at the same time taking full advantage of government infrastructure and services. Many governments that do not have enough revenue use civil statutes as a regressive way to support infrastructure and services without raising taxes. The police enforce these statutes as part of broken windows policing. The financial burden of these policies falls disproportionately on the over-policed poor. Unable to pay the fines that fall on them the poor are subject to modern day debtors prisons. There can be no public trust with the police if they or those in power over them derive their revenue either directly or indirectly from citations the police give out. For this same reason, the abolition of civil forfeiture must take place.

A failed policy

When no one can pay the civil penalties, these policies fail. Infrastructure crumbles due to lack of upkeep and services cannot be funded. This results in poverty spreading which creates more crime. The solution to crime in this model is policing. Tough on crime laws come into play at this point. The prison industrial complex is fed with the lives of the poor.

This is where we are today. The 80s and 90s saw prisons sprout up in towns across the USA touting the virtues of secure jobs to places divested of manufacturing and farming income. Laws to fill those prisons proliferated. Now, the USA houses 25% of the world’s prison population while having only 5% of the world’s population.

Lyndon Johnson declared unconditional war on poverty in 1964. His vision did not include the USA leading the world in imprisonment of the poor.

Retail and Service Workers Need to Unionize

Grocery store and retail employees are dying from Covid-19. None of them are getting paid enough for this sort of risk or have the benefits to cover them if they get sick. Even if they are given those benefits right now it won’t make up for a lifetime of not having them. The reason these workers have no voice is that they have consistently voted against unionizing in these industries across the country.

People lament the exit of good paying manufacturing jobs from the USA, but they fail to realize that the only reason those jobs paid well and had good benefits was because of unions. Before unions those jobs were worse than what are available now in retail and service. Manufacturing workers were often subject to extremely dangerous working conditions and long hours for low pay and no benefits at all. No retirement plan, no health insurance. Until 1938 their kids probably worked those jobs as well.

When people organized during the late 1800s the corporations called on armed goon squads to beat down union members, organizers and strikers. These people weren’t just risking a job to organize, they were risking their lives.

Yet today unions get a bad rap all around. Corporations and their political mouthpieces in the government have made unions out to be full of swindlers and con men with links to organized crime that are out to cheat laborers. When Reagan busted PATCO back in 1981 that opened the floodgates for corporations to throw labor under the bus. Reagan’s action cost the government billions of dollars, far more than PATCO had asked for in their negotiations, but he got away with it because corporations loved it.

As union membership waned in the 1980s, those decent paying jobs were shipped off to other countries. Why is this the case? Dean Baker in his book Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer explains how the game is set up.

The conventional story is that we lose manufacturing jobs to developing countries because they have hundreds of millions of people willing to do factory work at a fraction of the pay of manufacturing workers in the United States. This is true, but developing countries also have tens of millions of smart and ambitious people willing to work as doctors and lawyers in the United States at a fraction of the pay of the ones we have now.

Gains from trade work the same with doctors and lawyers as they do with textiles and steel. Our consumers would save hundreds of billions a year if we could hire professionals from developing countries and pay them salaries that are substantially less than what we pay our professionals now. The reason we import manufactured goods and not doctors is that we have designed the rules of trade that way. We deliberately write trade pacts to make it as easy as possible for U.S. companies to set up manufacturing operations abroad and ship the products back to the United States, but we have done little or nothing to remove the obstacles that professionals from other countries face in trying to work in the United States. The reason is simple: doctors and lawyers have more political power than autoworkers.

…The loss of manufacturing jobs also reduced the wages of less-educated workers (those without college degrees) more generally. The displaced manufacturing workers crowded into retail and other service sectors, putting downward pressure on wages there.

Having worked in retail both as a grunt and as a manager I can tell you from personal experience, major retailers are deathly afraid of unionization. Walmart has closed stores that have unionized. They eliminated butchers from 180 stores when one store’s meat department unionized. They settled for up to $640 million in 2008 for failing to pay workers overtime. They will literally lose billions just to avoid paying labor fair wages. They are not alone.

Corporations overall dedicate billions of dollars each year both towards lobbying for laws that weaken labor as well as paying for the services of companies that actively work at discouraging organized labor.

The only way to get labor back in a position where it can be effective is to have the majority of workers in these industries in a union, because that is the only way labor will have a voice in politics. There is no hope of electing someone that is sympathetic to labor and having them act on those promises without the political firepower to back them up.

You can’t fight a war without weapons.

The projected outcome of the coronavirus outbreak continues to get more grim. All countries are preparing as best they can for the inevitable influx of critically ill patients.

In the USA the social experiment we have engaged in since the mid 20th century, of primarily giving healthcare only to those that are working, is about to be put to the test. We’re about to find out that this public health crisis can’t be handled by the for-profit healthcare system that has long been touted as the most efficient and the best in the world.

In a recent public address the President declared that this is a war. If this is a war, the truth is that we have no ability to fight this war. We’re fighting a nuclear weapon with stone knives. We’ve cut funding for weapons research, we’ve severely limited the amount of soldiers we can put in the fight and those we do have are ill-equipped to fight. We knew this threat was out there, but we’ve ignored the problem almost completely. Even doctors in the UK where they have an actual public health system are lamenting the lack of resources they have to fight the virus. Where does the USA stand in that regard?

The USA has around 28 million uninsured. If and when those people flood emergency rooms the costs of a private system will come due and they will be apocalyptic.

USA healthcare coverage is tied to employment. As of now, even before the peak of the virus, there are mass layoffs from industries that have been forced to close or those that have experienced severe drops in demand. People in the USA without jobs in most cases have no access to healthcare. Even those with access often face massive financial burdens due to the arcane nature of how coverage works.

We must face the fact that in a war for the health of the USA we’ve budgeted only to defend the richest people in the country.


If you interact with the public you probably have no sick leave.

Why the coronavirus should have everyone rethinking paid sick leave.

The coronavirus issue has me thinking about paid sick leave from new perspectives. I never approved of people not getting paid sick days, but now I’m honestly wondering how and why the hell we ever let it get like this.
It’s been well documented at this point that anything less than an N95 mask doesn’t really do much to contain the spread of a virus and I’ve yet to see anyone at any restaurant wearing one. Sometimes you see food preparation done by people with surgical style masks on, but that’s just a bunch of smoke and mirrors. They might not cough or sneeze directly onto the food, but it’s not preventing them from spreading virus around or preventing them from contracting it.

Essentially, every time I go to a public restaurant I’m now going to be thinking about all the sick people that are probably working their shift because they can’t afford not to and how I’m probably getting virus laden food all the time. Why would anyone ever want to go out to eat knowing this fact? How did we get brainwashed into thinking this was a great idea? I’ll pay another 50 cents or $1 for a value meal if it gets people paid sick leave, but profit is really not the issue since McDs had
net income of $6.025B in 2019 and bought back $30 billion in stock from 2013-2016.
Companies like Walmart and Apple are also making stock buybacks in the tens of billions and hundreds of billions rather than pay people sick leave.
And yet you can still find in first page search results for “walmart stock buyback” a media outlet rising to the defense of Walmart and Apple for their stock buybacks. The defense being that the companies that do the most buybacks also have the biggest capital investments as well.
Walmart, for its part, said last year it would buy back $20 billion in stock. Yet the company has invested at least $10 billion annually for the past three years in an effort to meet head-on competition from Amazon
Did they invest $10 billion in making sure their employees aren’t coming into work sick all the time?!
No. They didn’t. Because now they, among others, are all scrambling to give people temporary paid sick time just for this outbreak.
Great, this time, during a massive pandemic, people can stay out sick, but how about when flu season rolls around again? Why do people have to endure sick employees spreading disease everywhere because the company is too cheap to pay people for when they inevitably get sick?
How is this logical for a business looking to be efficient anyway? Sick employee comes in, doesn’t work as hard because they feel like crap, they end up infecting other employees they are working with and customers as well. Now you have a group of workers that are feeling like crap and coming in to work and not working as hard and you have customers that won’t be coming in to shop at your store or eat at your restaurant because they are sick.
Then keep going down the line, the people that get sick that have secondary health issues, those people end up at the hospital and since they are shopping and eating at these low cost establishments they probably are some of the 27.5 million people that still have no health insurance and then does anyone have to wonder why the fuck we pay more than any other country on this planet per capita for health insurance?!
So, not only are we getting harmful diseases because of corporate greed, not only is our food being contaminated by corporate greed, we’re paying more to solve any issues resulting from those situations, because of corporate greed!