Category Archives: Coronavirus

Dr. Walensky is right, and entitled to having her voice crack a bit

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky’s voice cracked as she described what drove her fears of what she sees as a new wave of infections hitting the United States in the coming weeks.

Dr, Samuel Johnson is right about Rochelle Walensky being right. (Blazing Saddles reference)

“I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom…right now I’m scared,” Dr. Walensky said. “I know what it’s like as a physician to stand in that patient room, gowned, gloved, masked shielded, and to be the last person to touch someone else’s loved one because their loved one couldn’t be there.

“I know what it’s like when you’re the physician, when you’re the healthcare provider, and you’re worried that you don’t have the resources to take care of the patients in front of you. I know that feeling of nausea when you read the crisis standards of care, and you wonder whether there are going to be enough ventilators to go around and who’s going to make that choice. And I know what it’s like to pull up to your hospital every day and see the extra morgue sitting outside.”

After three months of dropping the Covid infection and hospitalization rates have started to increase again, mirroring the start of an increase in Europe a few weeks ago. Dr. Walensky has asked that people continue to follow CDC guidance around masking and social distancing as vaccinations continue.

President Biden has asked that governors restore mask mandates if they took them away–or impose one if they never had one.

To be clear, neither Dr. Walensky or President Biden has called for shutdowns or business closures as a part of their requests. Dr, Walenkey seemed to imply that following the protocols could reduce the need for such actions.

I hate frigging masks. I hate sitting in my damn house every damn day. I hate taking a mask with me when I run in case I might need one. It’s stupid and annoying. And for the moment, it’s necessary.

As many things as Gavin Newsom has screwed up as governor or California, he’s gotten on thing right: openings and lockdowns should be data based. As the numbers go up, restrictions should increase. As they go down, restrictions should decrease. Fear, intuition, or “common sense” about what numbers might do in the future shouldn’t dictate what happens. We will always live in a world where Covid rates might go up, so we have to act when they do go up.

The Gavinator passes the Fezzik test. Sort of. A little.

Governors and state legislatures should also take the opportunity to develop crisis management plans that include a framework of data-based actions, based on something other than a governor’s or set of bureaucrats whims. Now that we’ve been through this, the arbitrary nature of such restrictions, based on executive fiat, is unnecessary.

When you’re told you can play catch with an American mini-football, but not a regular football or that you can go to the store to buy liquor and lottery tickets, but not seeds (which eliminate a need to go to the store down the road when the food grows), you can be excused for thinking there’s no rationale behind the restrictions–and including an established appears process when someone has a reasonable complaint.

No Covid here. Science Some bureaucrat in Sacramento said so.

That said, Dr. Walinsky is correct. She wasn’t a jerk about it. She was effectively begging people to wear masks and get vaccinated. If you’re put off by that, maybe you need a supplement for your paper-thin skin.

Finally, to Dr. Walinsky’s demeanor during her statement, read the quote at the top of this post. All of it’s included for a purpose. Most people have no idea what it’s like to live that life. By the end of the year, if not sooner, the mental-health bill will come due for what those people have had to see and do to get us through this.

In a perfect would, she’d have been as stoic as Mr. Spock during her update. If there’s one thing we can all agree on, the world of the last 12-14 months has been anything but perfect.

Using Dr. Walinsky’s demeanor as a reason to disqualify her or what she said is a weak-stream attempt to mute the discussion.

The bottom line remains the same: please wear a mask when you’re out in public. Follow the (recently loosened) CDC guidelines. Please get vaccinated.

None of these things are the mark of the beast. For a country that used to have the draft, but doesn’t, they’re minor things to ask.

Any day with a Sgt. Hulka reference is a good day.

If you have a problem with that, lighten up.

Francis.


After being vaccinated, people will still get the Covid and die. We need to be ready for that.

My Covid parole date is May 3.

That’s two weeks after my second shot and the point at which (at least for now), the CDC says I don’t need to stay home as much as possible. It’s the day I can enjoy time with people without sitting outside on the driveway with all the trays and the folding table we got just for that purpose.

It might be before May 3 or after, but there’ll be news, breathlessly reported, that someone–or maybe a group of someones–got vaccinated, waited the appropriate number of days, and still got the Covid. Eventually someone–maybe even me–will get fully vaccinated, wait the appropriate two weeks, and get sick and die.

We need to expect that. That’s what it means when a vaccine is less than 100 percent effective.

The Atlantic posted a great article about this, and pointed out that of the people who’ve been vaccinated so far and who got the disease anyway, the cases were “mostly mild.” The article says, “The goal of vaccination isn’t eradication, but a détente in which humans and viruses coexist, with the risk of disease at a tolerable low.”

The article also illuminates why it’s still a good idea to wear a mask and take some precautions after being fully vaccinated.

On the plus side, you still won’t have to worry about those laugh lines.

“If vaccinated people are spending time with groups of unvaccinated people in places where the virus is running rampant, that still raises their chance of getting sick. Large doses of the virus can overwhelm the sturdiest of immune defenses, if given the chance.”

So the Roman orgy you may have been planning is probably still a bad idea, at least for the moment.

But getting together with friends? Going to a ballgame? That’s probably something to do–especially in Tropicana Field, where there aren’t many people ot begin with.

Tropicana Field, where social distancing has been a thing since 1998

The road back won’t be instant. There will still be cases and surges. We’ll probably have some additional bumps as we head back into fall and the holidays this year. We need to expect that and accommodate that in our thought patterns.

A Covid death toll of zero is desirable, but not realistic. In that regard, Covid is like the flu. We have to accept the new reality that people will continue to get sick from this, and some will die.

It doesn’t mean we become callous to it. Losing someone is hard, whether it’s from the Covid or any other disease. But we have to expect that and be determined to go on anyway.

That’s not greed or hatred. It’s what we already do.


Instead of reacting to what could happen with Covid, we should react to what *does* happen.

As of yesterday, the 7-day rolling average for deaths in the United States was 1,303–the lowest since November 18. The 7-day average for infections wis the lowest since mid-October. Infection rates are going up. The New York State quarantine rules for people entering the state from a non-contiguous state ends April 1. California is moving down its color-coded shutdown code from purple to red, with a step down to orange likely in the near future. The lowest of the four tiers is yellow. And though Gavin Newsom once said, “We don’t believe in the pre-pandemic mentality” in defending his elimination of a green tier (back to normal), he’s started to hint at a change to that thought process.

After originally saying not much changes if you get vaccinated, the CDC has modified that guidance and said some small gathering are possible–you can go see the grandkids, even if your kids aren’t vaccinated. And many baseball teams will start the season with at least some fans at the games.

Though it doesn’t officially come until this weekend, it’s springtime in the US when it comes to the Covid.

Springtime means it’s time to break out the floral print face masks

Except…

Italy’s infection rate is mirroring ours, as it skyrocketed in November and December. Brazil’s rate has been rising since October and is at an all-time high. Much of Italy is locked down again and Germany extended its lockdown until March 28.

And the CDC is warning of rising numbers here in the future–perhaps a third wave that will push us back to wintertime infection and death rates. The warnings are that this isn’t the time to reduce Covid precautions both personally and institutionally–because the rates here could rise.

And there’s that word–could. In January, there were warnings that the rates could in the Tampa area and Florida overall (and maybe the southeast) because of the Super Bowl. They didn’t. There were similar warnings that the infection rate could rise after the holidays because of travel at Thanksgiving and Christmas. They did.

Ybor City in Tampa the night before the Super Bowl

But there’s a lot we don’t know. Was the infection rate increase at the holidays because of travel, the fact that more people were inside, climate, or a combination of factors? When Ybor City and its bars were packed around the Super Bowl, why didn’t rates go up? When the World Series was played in front of a partial crowd last October, why didn’t rates go up? Why have there been no mass outbreaks of serious cases and deaths at schools?

In short, there are things we know: wear a mask, socially distance, vaccines are good. There are things we think we know: travel caused the winter spike. (It’s actually an educated guess, not something we know for sure. Some of it could be seasonal.) And there are things we don’t know at all: why wasn’t there a spike at the Super Bowl.

In the meantime, caution is appropriate. But that caution has to allow for some level of risk. Zero is not a reasonable death toll at this time–and it may not be for years, if ever. (That doesn’t mean we chuck the masks and hold enormous cuddle parties.)

In the meantime, we’ll never know what we can do with manageable risk until we do it. So we should try–because we can’t operate as if it were last March until this goes away.

If we do this again, it should be because of what is happening, not what could happen.

If we try and the numbers stay relatively level or go down, good for us. We need to try some additional things. If we try and rates go up, maybe it’s time to back off a little. That gives us the ability to create as much relief as possible, while stopping short of following Italy and Brazil.

If we stop trying because of what could happen, we’ll never know what can happen.


We don’t need to fat shame, but we need a respectful national discussion about obesity

Quite a few years ago, I was in WeightWatchers (now WW) with a group primarily made up of women. In the first meeting we did the basic why are you here? and what do you hope to acheive? introduction questions. My answers:

I’m here because I’m fat and I want to be less fat.

I’m not joking when I say there were gasps at my choice of answers. I was a wise ass, but that’s why I was there. To me, saying the word demystified it. It took away its power. Clearly, I see the world differently than a lot of people.

According to the CDC, 78% of the Covid patients requiring hospitalization, a ventilator, or who died were overweight (a body mass index [BMI] of 25 or higher) or obese (a BMI of 30 or higher). Those values compare to findings that 69% of Americans are either overweight or obese. In other words, people high BMIs were overrepresented in severe covid cases by nine percent.

While that difference isn’t enormous, it’s significant. As my primary-care physician is fond of telling me, being overweight is the trigger for a number of health complications. And even though none of my numbers are awful, if I dropped some weight, they’d be ideal. (A few years back, I weighed a little more than 30 pounds less than I do now and my numbers were outstanding. I also looked awesome in a shirt. And I looked decent out of it, if you know what I’m saying.

Me in 2014, when I looked good in a shirt.

Obesity places an enormous burden on the health system and degrades the quality of life for a lot of people in that category. When a pandemic occurs, obesity multiplies that burden because of the underlying health problems that come with it. Beyond health and financial systems, that extra sickness places a burden on our family and friends, too.

Which brings me back to my original point. I could stand to be healthier in my eating habits. I could stand to drop a shirt size or two. And to wear thinner pants.

It’s not a moral failing on my part that I got this way. It’s the result of decisions I made. I can refine those decisions to create a better life style. I’ve been working on since my life changed about a month ago, and I need to take the next step.

I see a place I want to change because I can make my life better. And I’m slowing evolving to a lifestyle that’ll help.

The problem is, we haven’t figured out an acceptable way to have that conversation. In the late 60s and early 70s, we figured out how to talk about smoking. Since the early 80s, we’ve figured out how to talk about impaired driving.

But with obesity, the best we can is affirm that every weight is ideal and you’re perfect even if your weight causes enormous potential for health problems. Even hinting that healthier habits are better and that every weight isn’t ideal is bullying and fat shaming.

It’s even fashionable in some circles to shame people who aren’t overweight. In 2014, Meghan Trainor made a mint with All About That Bass, which included the lyric “Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that.” With all respect, some of those skinny bitches are up at 4:45 every morning running to stay that way.

Meghan Trainor, who sang All About that Base. Base is great, but treble doesn’t mean you’re a bitch.

This isn’t to support fat shaming. There’s no reason to be a schmuck about weight. But there’s a plethora of reasons to talk honestly and respectfully about the health dangers of obesity.

My first discussion needs to be with the guy I watch shaving every morning. He’s not currently at significant risk for Covid or diabeetus, but he has a chronic condition which can be significantly controlled by diet. And he still wants to look really good in a shirt some day.

Nationally, we need to figure out a way to have that discussion without everyone jumping on the fat shaming train. Seventy-eight percent of the people who were severely impacted by the Covid had the same risk factor. We shouldn’t be jerks about that risk factor, but we shouldn’t celebrate it, either.


Taking a stand for freedom by protesting laws you don’t have to follow. I hate that.

I hate wearing masks. I hate the stupid Covid. And I hate the prevailing wisdom that says even if you get your complete vaccine regimen, nothing changes. You still have to wear the stupid masks, stay six feet away, and not congregate with anyone outside your bubble.

I hate the arbitrary rules that either a group of bureaucrats or a tin-plated governor with delusions of godhood put in place.

At one point you could play catch with this American mini-football in California, but not a regular football

You know what else I hate?

I haven’t seen anyone I’ve gone to high school with since the Reagan Administration. There’s been reunions, of course, but we’ve lived way out of state most of that time. And until the last few years, money’s been fairly tight. So this year, finally, I’m considering going.

There’s a guy I used to hang with then, six-nine. Clearly a basketball player. He got a scholarship, played against Hakeem Olajuwon in college (and said he got his ass kicked). I connected up with him on Facebook a few years back, talked to him on the phone once. I was looking forward to connecting with him and with other people I’ve seen on Facebook.

Except he had to have surgery done a couple months ago. He was diabetic. And while he was in the hospital, he got the Covid. I saw a picture of him when he came out of the hospital—he looked awful. I almost left a comment, but decided not to.

A couple days later, he was dead. Needless to say, he won’t be attending the reunion.

So I wear the mask and I distance from people. I’ve had other people cut in line because they viewed my six-foot gap as an invitation. I hated that, too. On that magical far-off day when I’m all vaccinated and good to go, I probably won’t do all the things I do now in terms of distancing, but I probably won’t party like it’s 2019, either. I’m moderately dislike that.

But I really hate the people in Idaho who made a spectacle of burning their masks over the weekend. Idaho doesn’t have a mask mandate. They’re protesting against “oppressive” laws they don’t have to follow. And, of course, making the mandatory political statement by burning a mask that had Biden Sucks on the front.

As a libertarian, even I recognize that responding to a freaking pandemic is a vital and necessary function of government. And when more than a half a million people, like my high school friend, die of something, it’s not all part of a conspiracy to keep your beloved Donald Trump out of office.

You can disagree with me–that’s what this whole freedom of expression thing is all about. But disagreeing is no longer enough. You can’t just say, I disagree with you on the masks, you have to have mask-burning, complete with the political statement.

Being conservative used to mean that people had the option of seeing things differently. Now simple disagreement is an attack on you, your family, and this country and it’s freedoms that you love so, so dearly. Freedom for everyone, as long as they think the way you do.

I hate that, too.


The vaccine pecking order won’t be fair; it’ll take longer than anyone wants; and that needs to be okay.

The start of the LA Times column made the writer look like a schmuck.

In my house, we have a problem. My wife has been vaccinated; I haven’t.

Am I envious? Of course I am. Resentful? Yeah, some of that too. When she came home all cheerful after her second COVID-19 vaccine shot last week, I couldn’t help feel that she had crossed safely to the other side of a giant chasm, while I remained at the edge of the cliff.

It’s getting to that part of the pandemic when some people will get to break free of their Covid-related shackles, and some will still have to wait their turn. As we covered previously, the Philippines could wait as long as five years to achieve herd immunity.

No matter how you dispense the limited vaccine supply, it won’t be fair. Someone who needs the vaccine won’t be able to get it. About an eighth of the US population has received at least one shot of the vaccines currently available. Although Anthony Fauci has said he believes open season for vaccines could come as early as May, everything about this stupid pandemic has taken longer than expected.

In the meantime, who goes first, and second, and third. The elderly? That’s already underway. Teachers? That’s starting to happen, too. What about other front-line workers, like retail employees, wait staff, personal services employees. My wife will probably set an alarm for exactly two weeks after her last shot so she can get her hair cut. Because my wife works with students in schools, she’ll probably be vaccinated before the person who cuts her hair.

Personally, I’m starting to get Covid cabin fever. After a long period of frequently traveling for work, I haven’t set foot on an airplane since New Years Day 2020. Except for a weeklong vacation in northern Georgia, I haven’t been more than an hour away from home since that time, either.

But I’m functionally last in line. I work from home. I’m below sixty-five, and though I could stand to lose a decent amount of weight, I have no co-morbidities.

That means my wife and her parents and maybe some of her friends will be able to go and do human things while I’m still housebound.

I might be a tiny bit envious, but resentful? Not at all.

I may be standing at the edge of the cliff, as the columnist said, but there’s nothing pushing me forward toward the abyss. I can stand her for as long as it takes. I’d prefer it not take five years, but if she can eat in a restaurant or attend church in person and I can’t, she should do that. Anyone who can, should. And the rest of us get to wait.

Being left behind is a temporary thing, and not God casting me out from the elect. It’s doing my part to help us all get back to something like a normal life.

Everyone who doesn’t get vaccinated will vanish–for a few weeks.

I’m okay with that. Anyone legitimately at the end of the line should be.


Let’s pump the brakes on the panic over the California Covid variant…for now

As I write this, the 7-day rolling average for Covid infections is the lowest it’s been since October 23. The death rate is the lowest it’s been since December 3. In Florida, where the Super Bowl was supposed to have been a massive super spreader event, the new casts are the lowest they’ve been since November 15 and the death count has remained steady for a couple weeks after dropping the week after the Super Bowl.

More people are getting vaccinated. And the vaccination rate is expected to pick up over the coming weeks. In short, we’re not out of the woods, but the data’s showing that we’re moving in that direction.

It’s against this backdrop that the LA Times and later Yahoo News published an article with the worrying headline California’s coronavirus strain looks increasingly dangerous (dun-dun-DUN): The Devils is already here.

He’s already here! HE’S ALREADY HERE!!!

The story says that the new California variant spreads more readily than its predecessors, evades antibodies created by vaccines, and “is associated with” severe illness and death. The new variant, which its friends know as B.1.427/B.1.429, will probably account for as much as 90% of the state’s cases by next month. Dr. Charles Chiu, the leader of a multi-disciplinary bunch of scientists at University of California at San Francisco, said the strain should “spur more intensive efforts to drive down infections,” including “both public health measures, such as masking and limits on public activities (emphasis added) and a campaign of rapid vaccinations.”

The article poses the potential for a “nightmare scenario” in which the California and UK variants meet in a single person, fall in love, and create an even more dangerous strain, presumably named Damien.

A little Barry White for the lovers.

Before we start clamoring for shutdowns and making breathless “people before profits” proclamations, though, consider the mitigating factors. For one, this analysis is still under review and hasn’t been formally published, The article is filled with words like “seems to have” and “could make” and “raises the specter of”.

Currently, California’s new case rate is the lowest it’s been since Veteran’s Day and the 7-day average for death is about the same as just after the first of the year. In other words, although the California variant is increasing in percentage of cases, the number of cases is down substantially (though the number of deaths has not decreased at the same rate).

Furthermore, the devil might already be here, but according to the Times article, it’s been here since the middle of last year. In other words, this isn’t a new variant. It’s been around for more than half a year.

In other words, absent data that shows a rate of increase in the US, it’s not time to start imposing new restrictions. (That could change, though, as numbers in Europe may be starting to rise again.)

People should continue to wear masks and practice appropriate distancing. And we absolutely need to step up the rate of vaccinations, making sure to use every dose of the vaccine and target the people needed to reduce the carnage.

It’s not being anti-science to say that the scientists have gotten it wrong sometimes with this virus. That’s what happens when something brand new occurs. Science combined with data should guide us in our efforts to minimize efforts while trying to provide as much freedom as responsibly possible.

In this circumstance, if it saves one life isn’t a remotely reasonable guidelines. At the risk of sounding callous, we can’t prevent death from happening. But we have to reasonably balance risk against the need for people to live their lives.

There are always outliers–people who party like it’s 1999. But the vast majority have done what we’ve been asked to do. To ask more without a sound scientific approach backed with actual data, is unrealisitc.


Conspiracy believers shut down Covid vaccine line, showing they are a threat

Saturday, Covid vaccinations at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles were shut down for an hour because of a protest by anti-vaxxers and Trump supporters. Among the signs they carried were COVID=Scam, Don’t be a lab rat, and Tell Bill Gates to go vaccinate himself. In the last, the implication was that if you got vaccinated, you’re…effed.

Conspiracy theorists defend our freedoms by denying people who chose to be vaccinated.

There were no arrests made and the shutdown was over about an hour after it started.

it’s ironic that pro-Trump protesters are raging against the imminent loss of all our freedoms taking away the freedom of others to protect themselves against a disease that’s killed almost 450,000 of their fellow Americans.

In the grand scheme of things, an hour-long shutdown of a vaccination site might not seem like a big deal. But the shutdown is only a symptom of the problem.

A recent NPR/Ipsos poll (referenced in the same article I linked to) said that 54% either believe or think it’s possible that politics and the media are controlled by Satan-worshiping elites who run a child sex ring. Two in five believe the Covid was created in a lab in China. And they seem to believe their freedoms are only protected if everyone else’s are taken away.

Miroslav Satan who runs US politics and the news media, and also plays hockey.

Given the ties between the pro-Trump groups and allied groups considered threats for homegrown terrorism, you could be forgiven for wondering whether the protest was really a protest, or perhaps an intelligence-gathering mission to build a plan for disruption at that site or a different site at a later time.

Such a notion might seem preposterous, but so did a bunch of Trump supporters succeeding in taking over the Capitol.

These people want to forge a country in which their preference is immutable law–and they’re willing to charge anyone who stands in the way with treason, and discipline them accordingly.

In reality, with ever disruption and every new (and more ridiculous) theory they buy into and act on, they provide more aid and comfort to our enemies and Beijing, Moscow, Teheran, and elsewhere around the world.

If QAnon isn’t the work of a foreign interest, then all those interests are getting a hell of a freebie.

No arrests were made at the protest, and that’s a mistake. While our future depends on our ability to guide as many people as possible back from the lies they’ve been sold, it also depends on maintaining our society against those who would attack it, even if they’re our fellow Americans.


LA county is allowing outdoor dining, but no TV young man!!!

Los Angeles County has allowed restaurants, breweries, and wineries to re-open for outdoor seating again, with the following limits:

  • The outdoor seating area can only run at 50% capacity.
  • Tables must be at least eight feet part, and hold only six people–all from the same residence.
  • Alcohol purchases are only allowed with full meal purchases (and no, a big plate of nachos aren’t a meal). (Now I want a big plate of nachos.)
  • Servers must wear both a face mask and a face shield at all times.
  • And finally, NO TV, YOUNG MAN!

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County Public Health Director, said the ban on television is because LA county hasn’t finished it’s homewor…sorry, because the Super Bowl is coming up and they don’t want large bar parties to become super-spreader events.

So if you want to be around other people and have the game on, rather than doing it in a place where controls are in place, you’ll just have to do it at home, in your house, where no Covid germs could possibly spread. Los Angeles County has taken an aggressive stance against restaurants not following the rules. And businesses really want to stay open. In other words, it’s in their interests to abide by the rules, lest Mom…err, code enforcement comes and shuts them down.

Last time numbers were available, contract tracing put the spread at bars and restaurants at between 1.4 percent (New York) and 4 percent (Los Angeles). Dr. Ferrer estimated that as much as 15 percent came from bars and restaurants, but that didn’t differentiate between indoor and outdoor dining. Overall, less than 10 percent of Covid cases are estimated to come from outdoor transmission.

In other words, the data and science aren’t there to stop outdoor dining, and there’s absolutely nothing to indicate that turning on televisions at outdoor dining facilities running at 50% capacity, with eight feet between tables that can hold no more than six people who all have to live together would result in an increase in Covid cases.

And if your concern is the Super Bowl, then make a one-day exception to the television rule for that day. The current regulations say the televisions must be off until further notice. Because you might also get the Covid by watching the Family Guy reruns every night on TBS. Or something.

To clarify, nothing in this post should be read as an endorsement for running around the world licking all the doorknobs and tongue-kissing everyone in sight. But science is supposed to be the guiding force in our response to Covid, and it is, until someone’s intuition or need for security takes over.

This is a classic case of bureaucratic overreach, where someone who sits in a government building somewhere applying arbitrary rules because they know better than the people who have to live by those rules.

The if one life is saved model–foolish in most cases anyway–can’t apply here. At this point, short of confining everyone to their home for the next month, it’s simply not possible.

Given the variants and the pace at which we’re vaccinating, Covid may be around for the better part of this year. In tort law, a company is responsible both for the correct use of their product and for reasonably foreseen misuse.

It’s reasonable to assume that if Covid restrictions continue to be arbitrary and lacking any scientific or statistical basis (and if the guy making the rules eats indoors at The French Laundry), that people will ignore the restrictions and do as they please.

And yeah, that’s intuition because you can’t prove a negative. But the reasoning that more is better even if the data isn’t there to back it might be part of why we’re in this fix in the first place.


Economic inequality is increasing. What should be done? I don’t know.

According to a report from Oxfam, a confederation of 20 independent charitable organizations that focuses on poverty reduction, in the ten months since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, the net worth of the ten richest people in the world has increased by $540 billion. Meanwhile, they project that it could take more than a decade to reduce the number of people living poverty to pre-pandemic levels.

The report indicates that unless rising inequality is address, half a billion more people could be living on less than $5.50 a day or less in 2030, ten years after the start off the pandemic.

The report recommends a temporary wealth tax on profits made by the 32 most corporations and other super-rich entities and people. Oxfam says the half-trillion dollars the ten richest have made would, if taken from them, pay for Covid vaccination for everyone on the planet and reverse the rise in poverty cause by the pandemic.

You don’t have to be Karl Marx to shake your head at those statistics. The fact is, you’re in much better position to weather or thrive during a crisis like this than you are if you’re already financially stressed.

If you’re talking about people living on $5.50 per day, you’re not talking about welfare queens or that guy who used to use food stamps to buy food you couldn’t afford in spite of working a couple jobs. These are severely poor people who struggled to survive to begin with.

The Oxfam recommendations extend beyond any national boundaries and would require an international organization with the ability to override national taxation rules. It wouldn’t be a matter of a one-time levy. Power tends to perpetuate itself. And if we could make things a little better by unilaterally taking from billionaires, just think of how much we good we could do if we did the same to millionaires, or even to the 25% most wealthy in the world (which includes you).To set something like that up in an equitable manner that protects national sovereignty and includes checks and balances would take forever. Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the other eight aren’t likely to voluntarily give up everything they’ve made in the past year and more. And no country with wealth is likely to unilaterally cede tax policy to a worldwide body that hasn’t been created and has no rules. (Yes, I know there’s the UN, but it doesn’t have the right to tax and has structural problems of its own.)

YOU are probably in the top 25% of wealthy people worldwide. Don’t argue with Cannon.

There’s more to this than just saying it has to be done and done now. How do you do it? Who has the authority, and how do you stop them from seizing vast tracts of private property or businesses?

I realize people are dying, but if you don’t answer those questions, even more people are likely to die.

In short, I don’t have the answers, beyond “this isn’t working and how do we change it?” It starts with stepping away from the normal accusations we heave at each other and a realization that to solve the problem we have to find a workable way to fund the necessary work, add controls to reduce corruption, and protect the interests of the people who’d otherwise be seen as an infinite checkbook.

If we don’t get past competing shouting about communism and murderous greed, nothing will be done. (But everyone will feel good about defending their version of mortal certainty.)