SocraticGadfly: 3/22/20 - 3/29/20

March 28, 2020

New York is ground zero on coronavirus; who's next
and how will this affect lower-income Americans?

The general answer to the second line of the header is: Worse than the rest of us.

How could it not? Lower income people are generally likely to have worse levels of health and less physical resilience. That's true outside of America as well as inside it.

And, it ties to the first question.

North Dakota dirt farmers and non-incorporated cow-calf ranchers, among others, represent rural poverty. But, because the novel coronavirus doesn't have an R0, or virulence rate, that much higher than the common flu, from what we know, rural America in general isn't a big vector for COVID's spread.

The overall question was posed by a Twitter friend after seeing coronavirus cases spiking in metro Detroit. Per the story, it's not surprising that NOLA is second on the list.

So, we're looking for metropolitan areas, likely more densely populated ones, where it can spread more readily. Along with that, we're looking for two other things.

One would be absolute poverty rates.

The other, IMO, would be Gini coefficient rating.

Why on that?

My thought is that with a bigger Gini coefficient, you're more likely to have rich (and middle class) have different social interactions than poor and lower middle class, other than direct interactions with each other.

Example? Higher Gini plus higher overall poverty? Means more white collar downtown office workers directly face more homeless people, and those close to it. By close to it, that would be people not homeless in either a narrow or broader sense, but living at the margins, and often doing so in overcrowded living conditions. These people might work at poorer downtown bodegas, crammed-in C-stores, food trucks, etc.

Looking beyond these things above?

States or metro areas that, like northern Italy, tilt elderly and also meet all the above issues are likely to be problematic, too.

So, let's take a look.

I couldn't easily find Gini or absolute poverty by metro area, but Wiki has state-level information for both Gini coefficients and absolute poverty rate.

If you're in the lowest 20, the lowest two-fifths, on both, that's probably not good. (Well, it's not good in general, of course, beyond the current situation.)

States that hit that?
New York
North Carolina
West Virginia
New Mexico

So, potential problems there. Let's narrow a bit more to No. 34 or lower, the lowest one-third.

Not much improvement. Only Arizona, Arkansas and West Virginia drop out; New Mexico is at No. 34 on Gini, so I'll scratch it too.

So, more problematic states?
New York
North Carolina

Now, let's pull in population density, at least at the state level. And let's split this in half.

More densely populated is worse.

New York is fairly rural way upstate, but even outside of New York City, it's not that rural along the Hudson and the old Erie Canal. Florida is as densely populated as New York State as a whole. Georgia, North Carolina and Louisiana are also in the top half.

Given that Louisiana is in the bottom 10 on poverty and Gini, and the Crescent City never fully recovered from Katrina? I suspect it will get worse before it gets better. The rest of the state might not be too bad, but I wouldn't want to be in NOLA for some time.

Wiki also has all US incorporated burgs with more than 10K people per square mile. Hialeah and other Miami burbs are on the list. New York City is 70 percent more densely populated than Hong Kong, giving the lie, to some degree, to people talking about an Asian miracle on coronavirus. (Also note that Hong Kong, under the thumb of Beijing, could be lying or fudging.)

Florida has the additional twist of the number and percentage of senior citizens there. It's far and away the oldest state on the lists above. It's not as old as Italy, but it is almost as old as Spain, per world rankings.

Many of these Florida seniors are richer, rich enough to have retired from somewhere else in the U.S., and thus likely to be more healthy than the average senior citizen. Nonetheless, they're dependent on lower-income people for services, to some degree more than non-seniors are.

This isn't perfect, as some metro areas cross state boundaries, for example. New Jersey overall has a high Gini, mainly because of the southern half of the state vs. New Jersey's portion of New York metro, but also Camden and other Philly burbs.

March 27, 2020

Further perplexed by a former state Green leader

Why is a former Green Party state leader calling for #DemExit2020? Does that mean that you were actually a Dem first, not a Green, and that even if Howie's negative income tax wasn't (in your opinion) quite as good as #BasicIncome you thought it was so far off you were Dem first?

Here's what I'm talking about, this Tweet about Tulsi Gabbard dropping out, then endorsing Biden:
I simply do not get this.

And, Palmer is former co-chair of the Texas Green Party, and referenced in this blog post by me a month ago about YangGanging as a Green, followed by this, my latest piece on basic income. Actually, she's not "former," as she was just re-elected.

Now, she didn't have a fiefdom in the state party, unlike a Bob Fitrakis in Ohio. But, given that David Cobb was also from the Helltown area, it makes me wonder just how many AccommoGreens are down in Houston. That's the only thing I can figure her as being right now.

March 26, 2020

Could the government force bible-rejecting churches
to close during the pandemic?

I find it "interesting" to see the number of Protestant churches, largely non-denominational, independent churches in a generally Baptist, or more broadly, Anabaptist conservative evangelical background, rebelling against the government on coronavirus issues.

I'm not talking about general minimalizing of the severity of the virus or anything like that.

Rather, I'm talking about the ministers of such churches continuing to hold services, and in many cases, without multiple smaller-size services, in direct defiance of government proclamations.

(I have further explicated what I see as the likely main motives of these ministers in this new post.)

The big civil-government question? Could the government force churches to close "for the duration" if deemed necessary.

Short answer?

Hellz yes.

And, folks, that link goes to a story in the Deseret News, officially owned by The Morons, I mean the LSD Church, I mean the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (Yes, wingnuts, I laugh at them, but it's a church denomination that tilts VERY conservative among political preference of its members; that's why I jumped on this.)

Here's the nut grafs:
Legal experts said the answer is almost certainly yes, as long as regulations are reasonable and applied equally across all religious groups and other types of organizations. 
Policies don’t violate religious freedom laws if they’re created in order to save people’s lives, said Michael Moreland, director of the Ellen H. McCullen Center for Law, Religion and Public Policy at Villanova University. 
“So long as those restrictions are neutral and applicable to everybody, religious institutions have to abide by them,” he said.
There you go. I encourage reading that whole linked story in the first paragraph of the pull quote.

But these independent Protestants, whether truly wingnut rebels, or people who started independent churches because they thought either some worshipers, or their own wallets, couldn't survive without exactly their church? Don't want to accept that.

It's halfway tempting to compare many of them to Paul's man of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians:
2 Thessalonians 2:3-10 (selected) New International Version (NIV) 
3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness[a] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
...  9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
Actually, "Paul" should probably be in scare quotes; the majority of modern scholarship considers this pseudepigraphal, albeit with lack of consensus on when it actually was written.

Note that I said "halfway" tempting. I don't think this idea is all wet.

Certainly, the actual Paul, in one of his legitimate letters, would be highly concerned.

I am thinking of his famous "submit to the governing authorities in Romans 13.
13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 
That nails it.

That said, that passage has been ignored by U.S. Protestants since 1775 or before.

Ordained Presbyterian minister John Witherspoon was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and those a minister in a state of grievous sin. Boston's Old North Church, driven by hotheads such as Sam Adams, was a ground zero of rebelliousness.

And, Romans 13 is crystal clear. No exceptions.

Paul's thought, as well as framework, are derived from the Stoic diatribe. Epictetus, for example, would have no problem agreeing with this.

Let's not forget the background of much American Protestantism.

Congregationalists were Puritans and Separatists who had rebelled against the Church of England and the ruling monarch, to lesser or greater degrees, respectively. Baptists, starting with the likes of Roger Williams, then rebelled against those Puritans and Separatists. Presbyterians had rebelled against their Stuart monarchs in Scotland when, like Mary, they remained Catholic, or when, like the Stuarts from James VI on, when he became James I in London as well, tilted Church of England and pushed for a similar Church of Scotland.

On the flip side, Methodists and Lutherans have generally accepted state authority more readily.

But Romans 13 is still clear. Period.

And, if there are ministers the likes of Jim Bakker peddling magic cures?

2 Thessalonians 2:9 I think has that covered.


Update, July 26: My take on Gov. Gavin Newsom's latest orders and the latest round of sinful rebellion in California.

March 25, 2020

Texas progressives: The usual sterling idiocy

Beyond the lunacy of too many people in Tex-ass and elsewhere, in Merika and beyond, not taking coronavirus seriously, we've got generalized stupidity floating around out there as well.

Don't be a COVIDIOT. Chillax and read the Roundup instead. Give yourself a laugh, if nothing else, over the GOP's Banana Republic.

Texas politics

Why does the Texas GOP oppose voting by mail as an option for all Texans? Why won't Gov. Abbott and Secretary of State Ruth Hughs respond to Texas counties seeking more detailed elections guidance? Could COVID be a weaponized tool for more voter suppression? (State Dems have now sued over the issue.) I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but Rethuglicans are putting themselves in a bigly bad light. As for claims of vote fraud on mail voting? In Texas, they've mainly happened with nursing home residents, any actual cases, or other senior citizen shut-ins, and been done by Rethuglicans as often as anybody.

Also, why hasn't Abbott tapped the Rainy Day Fund? Or called a special session of the Lege, or done much of anything except be a hypocrite on levels of government control?

That's even as Abbott and Comptroller Glenn Hegar put the squeeze on restaurants, like other businesses, to pay monthly sales taxes on normal deadlines. (Unspoken in all of this, besides the restaurant industry's woes, is state revenue's woes over the oil price collapse.)
Off the Kuff looked at expanded vote by mail possibilities, which became the subject of a lawsuit filed by the TDP later in the week.

David Bruce Collins reports on Green Party district convention news. 2018 left-liberal Democratic gov candidate Tom Wakely is running for Congress as a Green, among other things. DBC says some Greensplaining will be forthcoming from him, sorely needed in a state party that's probably on the low end of state GPs in organization and that has a lot of newbies. In another post, he says SoS (either the obvious or Secretary of Shit / Same old Shit, or the actual) Ruth Hughs continues to oppose online conventions for third parties.


Kam Franklin tells the origin story for The Suffers.


Howie Hawkins is going full Jill Stein, even to the point of offering to stand aside for Bernie. First, Bernie won't do it, even without the commitment agreements he's signed. The fact that he wouldn't attack Biden in the Dem primaries would make him a suspect candidate anyway. And, unless he disavows this, even with the caveats he had on it ... might be time to look for other candidates. He's already got the SPUSA nomination, sooooo ....


Denmark is going WELL beyond basic income to "keep most of your current income" even if you lose your job due to COVID.

March 24, 2020

Texas Progressives: Coronavirus, week 2

As with last week, and possibly for a couple more weeks, we'll be separating the COVID portion of the roundup from the rest. Part 2 is here. (This split has continued since this week; the March 30 week of COVID news here. And for April 7 week, here. Week 5 is here. Ditto for Week 6. Here's Week 7, and Week 8.)

As things look grim in Northern Italy, we all need to focus on the new normal.

We also need to look out for new outbreaks of privilege and selfishness.

We need no more COVIDIOTS like Rand Paul.


End of story.

Socratic Gadfly, in a role as "Doc Steve," has some blunt words of advice for people out shopping in today's new world, starting with hang up the cell phone and fucking shop. Period.

Every hospital in the state should be doing what some already have done — delaying elective surgeries. Every patient in the state with an elective surgery scheduled should take the initiative themselves, if their hospital hasn't.

We're still a ways away from a possible vaccine, but antivaxxer wingnuts (mainly on the far right here in Tex-ass, but a few Greenie types too) are ramping up the rhetoric.

Speaking of, vaccine expert Dr. Peter Hotez talks to the Chronic.

Dallas County has adopted a shelter in order place. So do both Travis and Williamson counties. Bexar County. Galveston, but not (yet) Harris; it may be later today. Hunt, Brazos are smaller counties that have adopted them. Per my comments above, observe it. Don't be a COVIDIOT.

IOKIYAR? Remember that old acronym? It includes self-inflicted death panels, I guess, as Danny Goeb wants grannies to bite the bullet for their grandkids, all for the good of the economy.
Reality is that wingnuts would love for grannies to die so they can raid Social Security. And beyond that, the realities of capitalism? Dan Patrick, in addition to being a grandparent, IS working from home as much as possible. Read his comments. He wants OTHER GRANDPARENTS to off THEMselves.

At The Rivard Report, Alex Bernel discusses COVID and paid sick leave.

Space City Weather has thoughts on coronavirus, social distancing, and flattening the curve.

Juanita sees Las Vegas at the forefront of social distancing. At the same time, she overlooks that an industry that is entirely based on selling people on the idea that good luck is real doesn't actually believe that.  (Beyond that, "respectable" Vegas is probably gagging at the idea of drive-through strip shows.)

The Bloggess personalizes social distancing.

Finally, per American Indians with research science degrees, stop peddling your fucking "ancient Indian cures."

March 23, 2020

Socialist Alternative is a fraud and Kshama Sawant a hypocrite

Or the other way around. Or they're both both.

That's per this piece by the Seattle city councilwoman at SA's website calling for a "Dem Exit" and a third party.

Starting with the header photo:

Then the game totally given up by the header:

#DemExit: Time to Launch a New Party Of, By, and For Working People

Followed by calling for a protest at the Democratic National Convention with, per the old joke on Ted Kennedy's speeches, "a noun, a verb, and more 'Bernie.'"

If Sawant is either a real Socialist or a real eco-green, she knows that third parties exist.

More and more Greens are becoming eco-socialist. The Socialist Party USA is actual socialism.

Sawant? Clearly  a DSA Rosey, aka a Democratic Socialist of America Democrat.

Fuck you, fuck Socialist Alternative, and fuck the Bernie Party horse you want to ride in on. And, actually, do NOT join Greens; you all would be instant AccommoGreens wanting to make the Green Party into a new DSA.