Archive | June 2020

Nowhere to Go

I saw on the news today that VP Pence is cancelling two speaking engagements, one to Florida and the other to Arizona (I think) because of the coronavirus outbreaks there. This is just the beginning of non-existent rallies.The one in Tulsa was less than impressive. I believe that is because even though Trump doesn’t take the virus seriously, many of his 65+ followers do. If you are a Trumper, the last thing you want is to die before you can vote for him in November. The virus is causing these fire-engine red states to hit pause on their re-openings. I saw a map of these states. I think it included Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Utah,and Idaho. So…….let me get this straight: the blue states don’t want Trump or Pence visiting them and the red states are not safe for them to visit. How hilarious is that?

Last week, the husband of one of my friends died. He tested negative for the virus, but the tests give 30% to 70% false negatives. I don’t give much credence to such tests. Here are the limited facts, as I know them. He had had eye surgery a few months ago and was improving. Suddenly, he had a pain in his left leg, then it moved up his left side. He died of two blood clots to his lungs like a day or two later. The point: he was not sick. Part of the coronavirus’s effects is blood clots. He was 56 years old. Not 76. Another Trumper bites the dust. His condition was serious enough to warrant getting tested. That says something.

And now Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey want tourists from these infectious states to self-quarantine if they visit. Governor Cuomo has shown massive leadership and has no interest in a bunch of red-state tourists undoing all the state’s progress. And the European Union is banning American tourists. They have their pandemic under control. Turn-about is fair play, like when Trump forbade EU tourists from coming here. The US is now in the same category as Brazil because of the same lack of leadership.

The polls have Biden leading Trump in all the battle ground states. One poll even showed Biden ahead in Texas by a point. It’s a statistical tie (within the margin of error), but Texas should not be a battle ground state at all.

The red states may not stay red and the battle ground states are looking bluer and bluer. Playing racially-divisive political games is risky at best in a country that is becoming less white by the minute. Trump needs a new playbook if he wants to hold rallies anywhere at this point.

Capitalism is not Surviving

I’ve been watching the protests. I don’t really care about them. They just provide an alternative to Trump on the TV. I think the protests will go on all summer. Why? Because the protesters have nothing else to do. I have heard that 38 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the pandemic began. Some of them haven’t received a dime yet. No job and all the time in the world on their hands. Nothing to lose. This is a set-up from hell. It is always bad to create an entire underclass with nothing to lose.

Capitalism’s foundation is consumer demand. With millions of Americans without a penny to their name, this cannot end well for capitalists. Zero disposable income. Who thinks this can have a positive outcome?

I’ve been nervous for the past several years. I know many people who have been working two or three jobs and barely scraping by. I knew that if the economy so much as hiccuped, the entire system might implode. Trump kept touting how great the economy was. For whom, exactly? Wealth has been moving upward for a while now.

This is karma writ large. Conservative Christians are staunch defenders of the capitalist system, which shows how unintelligent they truly are. The Bible is clear: to whom much is given, much is required. (Luke 12:48) Capitalists say that it has to be voluntary. Uh, no. Whether or not it is given voluntarily is irrelevant. It is called “justice.” Rich people say, “I earned that money.” My friends working two and three jobs worked way harder than you and have nothing. Taxing the rich is righteousness. Taxing the poor is a good way to create a coup. Now the whole system is in jeopardy. Welcome to the new American banana republic.

Some Know the Coronavirus is Real

I am seeing chaos.

My parents came to my apartment last week. My dad was downright flippant. He said, “I am not contagious and neither are you.” I stated flatly, “You can’t know that. I haven’t been tested.” My dad’s grasp on reality is tenuous at best. This is proof.

At work, we are relaxing the standards more by the hour. I think we are being careless and greedy. We are reducing the quarantine time for items. Customers are not wearing masks. And now customers can once again shop from the z-racks when they are dragged out onto the floor.  This is frightening.

And then there’s Trump. He wants a shoulder-to-shoulder rally in Arizona. You might think he doesn’t take it seriously. You would be wrong. He is forcing would-be attendees to sign a waiver that they will not sue him when they get the coronavirus. Once again, he takes zero responsibility for anything whatsoever. He knows the risk is real. He knows the health of his base is in jeopardy. And he does not care. Let that sink in. Anyone stupid enough to sign the waiver and attend a rally deserves whatever they get. I am not kidding.

One of my brothers lives in Florida and has COPD (and cirrhosis and heart disease). His COPD seems to be getting a lot worse, or so says my mother. After we talk, it hits me: he might have the coronavirus. No one will ever know. He already has so many health problems that it will occur to nobody that the virus played any role at all. Why would anyone test him?

What I think is different now is the spread of the virus. When it landed in the U.S., it came to Washington state from China and to New York and New Jersey from Italy. It was an urban thing. Now, especially with the protests, it is making its way into every nook and cranny of this country. Churches are opening. States are opening. Some cities, like Miami, are seeing such spikes that they are contemplating re-closing.

This thing is not going away. At some point, every single American is going to know someone who has had it and/or died from it. And people seem unconcerned. Wow.

I So Hope I am Wrong

The protests continue.

They go on night after night. But they do seem to be less violent.

There are multiple levels of concern here. First, violent protests only prove to the oppressors that they have been correct all along. Blacks really can’t self-govern because they lack the basic self-discipline to function in a democratic society, any white nationalist will tell you. Torching the police precinct in one’s own neighborhood makes the white nationalists look intelligent and on-point.

Second, the protesters look like covidiots. They are not all wearing masks and we are talking about zero social distancing. When there are spikes in cases and deaths from the coronavirus, trust me, there will be little sympathy from conservatives. The protesters are trying to make a  point about police brutality and racism. That’s kind of tough to do when you are dead or in a hospital vainly hoping for access to a ventilator. People six feet under make poor advocates for anything.

Third, the new school year begins in a few months. I am waiting to see if white Minneapolis parents yank their kids out of the public schools and move elsewhere for their children’s safety. I really, really don’t want the Twin Cities to be the next Detroit. It is 52 years after the Detroit riots and neither Detroit nor Michigan as a whole has ever recovered. I am now 52 years old and would not live to see the rebirth of Minneapolis.

I did see an article that offered a small amount of hope. It compared Trump to Lyndon Johnson, not Richard Nixon, in reference to the riots. The protesters in 1968 were fighting against Vietnam and the racial situation that Johnson and the Democrats were presiding over. Today’s protesters are fighting against a militarized police force and racial insanity that Trump has stoked. Trump is the incumbent, not the “law and order” fixer come to save the day. He has tried to present himself as the law-and-order guy, but he has used the military in a very banana-republic, Moammar Qaddafi, kind of way. Military leaders are rebuking Trump up one side and down the other for being used in such a dictatorial manner.

One of the things Trump is doing is using armed people to control protesters. I say “armed people” because these folks have no insignia, no badges, no names. This is seriously creepy and will backfire on Trump massively. Real law enforcement and military have unit insignia, names, badge numbers, etc. The reason this will blow up in Trump’s face is that we don’t live in the 1950s anymore. Everyone has a cell phone that is also a camera. The faces of these anonymous people will be plastered all over the Internet and they will be recognized. Anonymity, like privacy, does not exist today. If you think no one will recognize you, you are delusional. Trump has not thought this one through.

I see similarities between now and 1968, but now I see some differences. Are they enough not to send Minnesota down Michigan’s path? I sure hope so.

Back to Work

I am back to my regular work schedule. Some things are exactly the same and others have radically changed.

What’s the same? Items still need to be pulled. They still appreciate how hard I work and how I have the big picture in mind.

What has changed? Lots of things. Social distancing is enforced. If a customer keeps violating the six-foot rule, we can call the cops. Also, we are taking appointments, ten per hour. No more than 12 customers in the store at a time. Lots and lots of cleaning. Employees all have to wear masks, but customers don’t, which I think is a huge mistake. We don’t want to be “confrontational” and require customers to wear masks, but lives are at stake. Our clientele tends to be elderly and scraping the bottom of the socio-economic barrel. These customers are vulnerable.

I take the coronavirus seriously. My parents don’t. They live near Mason. They have been home from Florida for about a month. They have gone to Meijer to buy groceries repeatedly. They have not gotten sick. Now the new Mason Goodwill is open,  by appointment. If my mom gets the virus, brings it home to my dad, and he gets sick (he already has COPD), I am going to be so pissed. I really hope the employees there are adhering to corporate cleanliness guidelines. This is personal.  Also, if there is an outbreak in Ingham and Eaton counties and some of the cases get tracked to our store, they will shut it down so fast, it will make your head spin. I would like to keep my job.

I look at every customer as someone’s mom, dad, aunt, uncle, brother, or sister. Nobody wants to get the call at three in the morning saying, “Dad’s in the hospital. We can’t visit. The hospital is out of ventilators. Pray for Dad.” Not all customers are understanding the point of all the new rules. We tell them the rules are for their protection, not so much ours. Some customers think the rules are BS and hate them. We can only hope it is a long and healthy hate.