Let’s go back to work, carefully; I need a haircut

May 14, 2020

In my hometown supposedly some eating establishments have been given permission to open back up, albeit under Covid-19 guidelines, I guess.

Well that’s fine, but I need a haircut. I mean I can cook at home and fast food is available. But from what I read, haircutters are not back in business.

I’ve had to resort to cutting my own hair. I don’t really give myself a full-blown haircut. I just trim. The back is especially hard to do. I kind of adjust myself toward the medicine cabinet mirror to my right and then try to see the back of my head by looking in that mirror which reflects the mirror above the wash basin. I have also tried to use the camerea on my phone as a mirror, standing with my back to the basin and holding the camera in a position where it sees the reflection of the back of my head. I think once I even held electric clippers in the other hand. I use both the electric barber clippers and scissors.

We bought the barber clipper set when my wife was still alive. She cut my hair a few times. I think I quit using her as the barber when one time she said: “whoops”. I asked her what was wrong. She said: “oh nothing”.

I think my regular barber spotted the bald spot in the back of my head. I fessed up, with a little guilt, to straying away from his services for a time.

But the barber I used was one town away. Went there for years. However, I began going to one of those haircutting salons closer by. Found one woman operator who does a heck of a good job. I began making appointments with her. But that place has been closed for the last couple months or however long this pandemic shut-down has been on.

And as I have written in this space several times now, while so many have to stay at home and away from their jobs (some are able to work from home), my work as an over-the-road truck driver has continued the same. Yeah I wear a face covering sometimes and the sit-down eating places (which were already fast disappearing) are not open and there are some other restrictions, but the work out here goes on, almost as if nothing happened (traffic is lighter).

Now, unlike the president, I have respect for doctors and scientists (he sometimes says he does but he does not respect anyone), but like the president I think America has to get back to work.

It seems to me the key must be to take the necessary precautions — social distancing, face masks, stepped-up hygiene, retrofitting some things in workplaces to help in all of this — and at the same time go back to work.

I think there has to be strong guidance in this on the federal level. I am not convinced that this can or should be simply done on a state-by-state basis, although I am for individual states having some leeway. But even states have problems when some of their own counties or other sub jurisdictions want to desregard regulations from higher up.

This is a matter of national and world health. The Corona virus knows no local or national or world boundaries or geography. Our modern world is so interconnected, thanks primarily to jet travel, that there has to be strong cooperation in fighting the virus.

And the world economies are inter-tied, and despite talk or any movements to go back to more of a nationalistic approach to economies, that world economic connection is something that is so established it would be hard to impossible to break. And the last time we all tried to go nationalistic we had the Great Depression, followed by a world war.

I’m not going to blame President Trump for the predicament we are in, at least not altogether, but he does a great disservice to us all when he undercuts medical professionals by questoning their judgment in public. He has every right to disagree and should question them (at least where there are rational disagreements) but it would be better to work all that out in private. Instead Trump is breeding disrespect for anyone who disagrees with him.

In turn there are folks out there who seem to take his lead and think that if a law or regulation is not convenient for them then they have the right to disregard it.

I do blame Trump for fostering an atmosphere in which people shoot and kill or injure poor store employees only trying to do their job, and protect others and themselve, by asking people to wear face masks or social distance. Anyone who engages in such outrageous behavior as those who hurt people trying to do their job is nothing more than a thug. People who holler about constitutional rights probably can’t cite anything in the real document or they might mis-cite it. We all do have individual rights, but as the old addage and court rulings hold, you have a right to free speech but not to holler fire in a crowded theater (well at least when there is no fire). In other words we all have rights but they can be restricted when they interfere with the rights of others — such as keeping healthy.

But we do need to get back to work as a nation.

And I need a haircut.

p.s.

Some other nations have not completely shut down their economies and have done rather well. And why does no one talk about the Taiwan example? They began taking precautions early and did not shut down their economy and have managed to pull through rather well I am informed. Don’t know the full story on that, though. But for some reason the U.S. backed away from even recognizing our once ally because of pressure from China, which claims it, but has not taken it over.


Half of workers on Covid-19 unemployment make more than at their jobs, maybe those jobs offered too-low wages…

May 9, 2020

I’ve been reading that some employers are lamenting that it is hard to get their laid-off employees back to work because they are reluctant to return because they are making more money on the increased unemployment benefits offered under Covid-19 legislation than on their jobs.

A study shows that 50 percent of those receiving benefits are making more than on their jobs they had to leave.

On first reading that I thought it might speak more to the fact that so many employers pay such paltry wages than the fact that workers are taking advantage of the government dole. I mean the real culprit here might be that employers were not paying adequate wages in the first place. And that of course is a generalization. And what is “enough”?

But anyway I just read in a Wall Street Journal story that at least one employer is paying a bonus for employees who return, and he is giving those who were kept on a bonus too, just to be fair and to recognize their risk in staying on in the Covid-19 environment. Good for him, I say.

And I could see how it would be terribly unfair to those workers who are still on the job to make less than those who are not.

As for those wanting to ride the unemployment wagon, surely they have to realize that the $600-per week bonus on top of regular benefits is temporary. And one cannot make a career out of collecting unemployment anyway.

But then there is the point: is it safe to return to work? I don’t think anyone knows the answer to that. Depends on the work and the environment.

Also read that some German manufacturers jumped on the case as soon as the word on Covid-19 got out and took major safety precautions and kept a lot of their employees on the job in the process. Germany has the pandemic like everyone else, but sounds like they did something about it, rather than trying to ignore it, hoping it would just go away.

I never did quite understand that bonus anyway. I mean in regular times one was expected to get by with the benefits as they stood, typically far below the worker’s regular wage. Of course unemployment insurance is just that, insurance. It was not meant to totally replace the loss of a job. It’s like insurance with a deductible.

Another thing so many workers do not seem to realize is that their employer pays the premiums for unemployment, not the workers themselves. I wonder if there could not be an added benefit offered in which the employee chooses to pay a premium. He or she would have to decide if it is worth it. I was buying a house when I was put out of commission for awhile by cancer. I had been offered loss of job protection upon buying the house, but did not think it was worth the bet. Lost out on that one. Lost the house too. Insurance is always a tough choice.

Another real dilemma for workers returning to work in this Covid-19 environment is the lack of day care (with most day care facilites shut down) and schools closed. Don’t have an answer for that one. Maybe, though, employers should offer extra money for that, and workers could find day care, maybe within the family, which I assume so many already do.

I know that there is a problem of profit and loss and employers do not have unlimited resources. They of course cannot afford to go beyond or not much beyond the going rate for any type of work. Figuring out what that going rate is, is not so easy, though, for many jobs because they do not necessarily directly match others in different places, and there is the wide difference in living costs from region to region, state to state, small town to city.

And when it comes to executive wages, especially CEOs, it seems the sky is the limit. Yes, I am getting into a slightly different subject. But it seems strange to me that big-time executives get so much money — often astronomical salaries and bonuses — even when their enterprises are going down the drain, and in the end they often even get golden parachutes.

I was pleased to read (that is I tended to agree) in a recent article (and in the WSJ I think) where a writer said some corporations should not get a government bail-out when they did not save money back for contingencies and over paid their executives with bonuses.

But back to my original point. Yes, an ironic and strange situation when workers get more money on unemployment benefits that on their job. But those benefits are temporary. And in cases where they are getting away like a fat rat on unemployment, I still wonder if it does not speak more to low wages than the desire of folks to get money without working.

p.s.

In normal times those receiving unemployment benefits are disqualified if they refuse reasonable work, especially the job they lost or were laid off from. I read that some states plan to enforce that provision, but I don’t know how all that plays out in this current situation when workers may well have a legitimate excuse and concern about returning to the work environment with the danger of Covid-19.


We need to social distance and increase economic activity simultaneously; Uncle Sam cannot sustain us for long…

May 6, 2020

So far Covid-19 has had little effect on me as an over-the-road truck driver. There was that one shipper that would not let me use the restroom. That’s like telling a guest he or she cannot use your bathroom.

But for me — and I can only speak for my world, which is basically or usually only California and Oregon and Washington and sometimes Nevada and Arizona — little has changed and my loads have not dropped off. I’m a company driver, so I do not deal with rates, although I read that overall rates have dropped after first spiking in the initial stages of the pandemic and economic shut down and stay-at-home orders or policies.

What I have seen, ironically perhaps, is a move toward some efficiency. While the trend was already in progress, more and more shippers and receivers are not only not requiring truckers to stand around in their warehouses or cold storage rooms (I haul a lot of produce) while loading or delivering, they are forbidding them to do so. Hey, that’s ok with me. Now I can rest between long drives and don’t have to claim to be off duty while I am on (so as to save my allotment of legal hours). There was never a good reason for me to be in there anyway.

Well, there is a downside too, though. The sit-down restaurants, which were already declining, are closed. Some that had resorted to take-out orders, trying to play the fast food game, have given up. They were not set up for that and neither were their waitresses and other staff. But you know sometimes it is nice to be able to actually sit down and have a good and balanced meal and gab with the waitresses and not be confined to your truck. Even the fast food places can’t let you sit down anymore due to Covid-19 regulations.

So far the use of masks has been spotty but I am starting to see a lot more. At the truck stop where I am now they are required of everyone when inside the building. That is the first time I have seen that, which may sound strange to some who are in areas or places where they are not just suggested but are mandatory.

And as I have written before in this spot, the traffic is so much lighter, especially notable in the big cities, such as LA or in the San Francisco Bay Area or going through the state capital of Sacramento at the usual rush hours of morning and evening. A truck driver could get spoiled over that.

But the main thing is that I have a job while so many have lost theirs or are being kept away from them.

Even so I wonder how long there will be loads to haul with the economy in the most unbelievable free fall there could ever be. One day on top, and then virtually rock bottom almost overnight.

I have read and my folks, who lived through the Great Depresssion as young marrieds have told me, that even when much of the nation was idle during that Great Depression, there were of course those who were able to keep their employment. Even a modest wage job was like being on Easy Street when compared to those in Hoovervilles (tent cities) scrounging for food and anything to do to make some change.

Today we have the homeless, who were homeless before the pandemic, but so far what with stimulus money checks plus an added sum to regular unemployment, vast numbers of working people have not been thrown out onto the street — yet. And I believe here in California there is a law that forbids people from being evicted due to not being able to pay rent as the result of Covid-19 (how long that is in effect I do not know).

I once saw a documentary on the Great Depression that said we were the first nation to drive to the poor house in a Model T. I think we might be the first nation to go to the poor house (figuratively) while lying on the couch watching Netflix.

Despite the fact we are being attacked by an uncontrolled virus this near economic standstill cannot last forever. I am no economist, but if the economy stays in shutdown we will all end up with nothing no matter how many dollars the treasury prints and the government doles out for doing nothing but washing our hands and standing six feet apart.

President Donald Trump and his administration misjudged how serious Covid-19 was or is and now can’t stand to admit it. But it should have been treated like the Pearl Harbor attack and our entry into World War II. Then we committed virtually the whole economy to war production and instituted the Manhattan Project to produce the A bomb to ensure our defeat of the enemy. It was do or die.

It is do or die now too. We have been late, but scientists and medical researchers and doctors and other medical professionals and staff worldwide are working on a cure and/or vaccine for Covid-19. And it is time Trump just admitted he was wrong — a person can be wrong you know — and order a full court press instead of just lying and praising himself and calling names at those who criticize him, as a school boy might.

I imagine we will survive but Trump just makes it harder.

As for herd immunity, I won’t get into that much, except I think that probably is the reality in a way — but we can’t just sit around waiting for all that to play out or do nothing while it plays out. Too many will die and the economy with them. There is no one answer. We need to do a lot of things at the same time, such as continuing to social distance where needed, but resume economic activity where we can and where we indeed must just to survive.

People always look for the easy answer. There is no easy answer I think.


If Biden is for opening records and an accuser is too, then what is the problem?

May 5, 2020

OK, the ball is now in Tara Reade’s court. She’s the one who has charged that former vice president and current Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden sexually assaulted her 27 years ago when she worked as a U.S. Senate staffer for him. Biden has asked that any records that might pertain to the alleged incident, which he denies ever happened, by the way, be released.

There came a twist yesterday (5-4-20) when Biden asked the senate to release any such records if they existed, that is a complaint by Reade. The senate administrative staff declined citing confidentiality rules. Well one would presume if the self-proclaimed victim gave permission to release such records then they ought to be released. Biden in fact asked if that could be done. Have not heard an answer to that one yet. And as of this writing have not heard any reaction from Reade.

However, over the years I have often read stories about public agencies refusing to release information under the guise that it is sensitive personnel information that legally cannot be released. Usually I think the regulations state, though, that they can be opened to the public if the person in question gives his or her permission. I mean that is supposed to be the purpose of keeping personnel records confidential, to save embarrassment of an employee, as well as protect the employee from prejudicial information, such as in cases where the person in question might have been accused of something or might have accused someone else, such as a boss, but the facts have not been sorted out, and may never be. Hmmm, like if Biden really did what he is accused of (so in that instance Biden might have to give his permission, I would presume — well he did). Even so, as a reporter (in my previous life) I found that public agencies seem to love to hide behind the withholding-of-personnel-records shield to protect themselves or elected officials from embarrassment. Yes, they have to follow the law, but like I say, in this instance if both parties agree to the release of the records, if they exist, then that should resolve the problem.

At this point I am thinking the incident of which Reade has spoken of might have happened, kind of, but she may have seriously embellished on it — or, of course, it may have not happened at all.

Another strange twist in all of this is that there seems to be confusion about where such records would be, the senate, the national archives, a college Biden sent records to for posterity. And the last I read, Biden claimed they would not be with the college — but I would say, search there too, since no one seems to know where they would be. But that college is the University of Delaware.  Officials there say they would not release any records, which they are still in the process of curating, till two years after Biden retires from public life. The passing of time does muddy the waters, doesn’t it?

If Ms. Reade is serious and for real about all of this I think she needs a good lawyer. I don’t know if she has one and if so, he or she is a good lawyer. Of course that costs a lot of money. Maybe forget it or let the Republicans pay for it all. They are likely the only ones to gain in all of this. Maybe partisans are funding her directly or indirectly.

In addition, while I realize that in times past women were understandably reluctant to make accusations against powerful men due to our male-dominated culture, our world has changed somewhat on that. Women should make complaints at the time in the interest of themselves and all women (and I am a man saying all this of course). Bringing something up almost three decades later is not practical, the statute of limittions has passed (I think Reade has acknowleged that and is supposedly speaking in the public interest) and unfair to the accused since things are so murky by then that the accused ends up having to defend himself (or herself) against something no one can prove ever happened.

My guess is that this story is dead, well unless an actual record of a complaint surfaces.

What follows is my original post on this:

 

Did Joe Biden sexually assault a woman almost thirty years ago? Apparently only two people really for certain know the answer to that, Biden and his accuser. His accuser is Tara Reade, who worked as a senate staffer for Biden in 1993.

Now President Donald Trump was accused of such, sexually assaulting women, and he actually admitted to such behavior (although he may have been just trying to be macho in front of the boys). Biden has not bragged as Trump did about taking liberties with women. He is known to be touchy feely with both men and women — not necessarily in a sexual way, more like an annoying way.

It seems a bit unfair now that Biden has to confront an accusation out of the blue. It’s kind of like the loaded question of “when did you stop beating your wife” (you know, when there was no accusation or evidence of such in the first place).

But Biden is running for president. It seems to me that it would be a good idea to authorize the release of all records that might or could contain any information on the accusation.

The self-described victim claims that she made a complaint at the time, although I think that her story is that she did not actually include the sexual assault charge at the time, but instead a sexual harassment charge. It was not until recently that she tacked on the actual accusation that Biden used his hand to sexually violate her, and that was after at first just claiming that he sexually harassed her. So, she either more clearly defined what happened or she embellished on what did or did not happen.

If it were any other case, it would simply be or should dismissed as frivolous, with its lack of any evidence, save for an allegation, which anyone could make. Saying something does not make it true. But this is a presidential race. When you run for this high office you have to be willing to face anything, fair or not. That is just the way it is.

While flatly denying the assault, Biden has so far refused to allow the release of some records from his time in the U.S. Senate. He has the flimsy excuse that those records include sensitive information, including private talks with world leaders, or various tidbits that an opposing campaign could use (like taking things out of context). That seems a little too convenient to me. He should release all records.

And, while I think that Biden is probably a good man (the veracity of the charge against him notwithstanding), it is sad to me that he is the best that the Democratic Party could come up with. But I guess you have to blame the primary voters for that. Biden is at least far better than the four-more-years-of-Trump alternative, but that is a low bar.

There must be some way that Biden can authorize the release of all records. I mean searchers would be looking for only personnel records, and only ones with Reade’s name on them, all others could be withheld. A trusted third party could be put in charge of that.

In previous times such an accusation about something purported to have happened so long ago and with no witnesses or corroborating evidence would have been immediately dismissed. But due to the #Me Too movement, a simple accusation is taken seriously. Given the long (like since mankind began) history of the unequal and unfair treatment of women, that has its good and bad aspects — it sure defeats our sacred principle of “innocent until proven guilty”.

So, anyway, unfair or not, Biden should open it all up.

The truth will set you free Joe. It still might not get you into the White House. But it would indicate that you are an honest Joe.


If Biden is for opening records and an accuser is too, then what is the problem?

May 5, 2020

OK, the ball is now in Tara Reade’s court. She’s the one who has charged that former vice president and current Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden sexually assaulted her 27 years ago when she worked as a U.S. Senate staffer for him. Biden has asked that any records that might pertain to the alleged incident, which he denies ever happened, by the way, be released.

There came a twist yesterday (5-4-20) when Biden asked the senate to release any such records if they existed, that is a complaint by Reade. The senate administrative staff declined citing confidentiality rules. Well one would presume if the self-proclaimed victim gave permission to release such records then they ought to be released. Biden in fact asked if that could be done. Have not heard an answer to that one yet. And as of this writing have not heard any reaction from Reade.

However, over the years I have often read stories about public agencies refusing to release information under the guise that it is sensitive personnel information that legally cannot be released. Usually I think the regulations state, though, that they can be opened to the public if the person in question gives his or her permission. I mean that is supposed to be the purpose of keeping personnel records confidential, to save embarrassment of an employee, as well as protect the employee from prejudicial information, such as in cases where the person in question might have been accused of something or might have accused someone else, such as a boss, but the facts have not been sorted out, and may never be. Hmmm, like if Biden really did what he is accused of (so in that instance Biden might have to give his permission, I would presume — well he did). Even so, as a reporter (in my previous life) I found that public agencies seem to love to hide behind the withholding-of-personnel-records shield to protect themselves or elected officials from embarrassment. Yes, they have to follow the law, but like I say, in this instance if both parties agree to the release of the records, if they exist, then that should resolve the problem.

At this point I am thinking the incident of which Reade has spoken of might have happened, kind of, but she may have seriously embellished on it — or, of course, it may have not happened at all.

Another strange twist in all of this is that there seems to be confusion about where such records would be, the senate, the national archives, a college Biden sent records to for posterity. And the last I read, Biden claimed they would not be with the college — but I would say, search there too, since no one seems to know where they would be. But that college is the University of Delaware.  Officials there say they would not release any records, which they are still in the process of curating, till two years after Biden retires from public life. The passing of time does muddy the waters, doesn’t it?

If Ms. Reade is serious and for real about all of this I think she needs a good lawyer. I don’t know if she has one and if so, he or she is a good lawyer. Of course that costs a lot of money. Maybe forget it or let the Republicans pay for it all. They are likely the only ones to gain in all of this. Maybe partisans are funding her directly or indirectly.

In addition, while I realize that in times past women were understandably reluctant to make accusations against powerful men due to our male-dominated culture, our world has changed somewhat on that. Women should make complaints at the time in the interest of themselves and all women (and I am a man saying all this of course). Bringing something up almost three decades later is not practical, the statute of limittions has passed (I think Reade has acknowleged that and is supposedly speaking in the public interest) and unfair to the accused since things are so murky by then that the accused ends up having to defend himself (or herself) against something no one can prove ever happened.

My guess is that this story is dead, well unless an actual record of a complaint surfaces.

What follows is my original post on this:

 

Did Joe Biden sexually assault a woman almost thirty years ago? Apparently only two people really for certain know the answer to that, Biden and his accuser. His accuser is Tara Reade, who worked as a senate staffer for Biden in 1993.

Now President Donald Trump was accused of such, sexually assaulting women, and he actually admitted to such behavior (although he may have been just trying to be macho in front of the boys). Biden has not bragged as Trump did about taking liberties with women. He is known to be touchy feely with both men and women — not necessarily in a sexual way, more like an annoying way.

It seems a bit unfair now that Biden has to confront an accusation out of the blue. It’s kind of like the loaded question of “when did you stop beating your wife” (you know, when there was no accusation or evidence of such in the first place).

But Biden is running for president. It seems to me that it would be a good idea to authorize the release of all records that might or could contain any information on the accusation.

The self-described victim claims that she made a complaint at the time, although I think that her story is that she did not actually include the sexual assault charge at the time, but instead a sexual harassment charge. It was not until recently that she tacked on the actual accusation that Biden used his hand to sexually violate her, and that was after at first just claiming that he sexually harassed her. So, she either more clearly defined what happened or she embellished on what did or did not happen.

If it were any other case, it would simply be or should dismissed as frivolous, with its lack of any evidence, save for an allegation, which anyone could make. Saying something does not make it true. But this is a presidential race. When you run for this high office you have to be willing to face anything, fair or not. That is just the way it is.

While flatly denying the assault, Biden has so far refused to allow the release of some records from his time in the U.S. Senate. He has the flimsy excuse that those records include sensitive information, including private talks with world leaders, or various tidbits that an opposing campaign could use (like taking things out of context). That seems a little too convenient to me. He should release all records.

And, while I think that Biden is probably a good man (the veracity of the charge against him notwithstanding), it is sad to me that he is the best that the Democratic Party could come up with. But I guess you have to blame the primary voters for that. Biden is at least far better than the four-more-years-of-Trump alternative, but that is a low bar.

There must be some way that Biden can authorize the release of all records. I mean searchers would be looking for only personnel records, and only ones with Reade’s name on them, all others could be withheld. A trusted third party could be put in charge of that.

In previous times such an accusation about something purported to have happened so long ago and with no witnesses or corroborating evidence would have been immediately dismissed. But due to the #Me Too movement, a simple accusation is taken seriously. Given the long (like since mankind began) history of the unequal and unfair treatment of women, that has its good and bad aspects — it sure defeats our sacred principle of “innocent until proven guilty”.

So, anyway, unfair or not, Biden should open it all up.

The truth will set you free Joe. It still might not get you into the White House. But it would indicate that you are an honest Joe.


President eggs on mob rule…

May 1, 2020

When the president aids and abets an armed insurrection we are all in trouble, re: Michigan gun toters protesting Covid-19 lock down.

President Trump voiced his support of demonstrators, some armed, who stormed the Michigan State Capitol. He suggested the governor there should give in a little.

Protest is protected in the First Amendment. Private gun ownership is addressed in the Second.

But carrying guns to and during a protest is a threat to legitimate authority that gets its legitimacy from a free people through democratic means, not mob rule.

A president who uses the anger of a mob for his own political purposes is as dangerous as a mob itself.

And what was the purpose of protestors being armed? It could only be to threaten duly-elected officials and in turn law-abiding citizens who put them into office.

Theoretically, if government simply failed to honor the Constitition and ceased to heed the will of the governed, there could come a time to throw off the chains of tyranny, as the American colonists did, or at least as how we are taught they did. But that is the most drastic of all steps.

I for one am not ready to give up my country for a mob in Michigan.

Finally, I did not see the protest in Michigan live and do not know how many of them were actually armed.

But I think a couple of paragraphs from a BBC story may have put it all into context:

Hundreds of demonstrators, a few of them armed, gathered in Lansing and many did not wear masks or socially distance.

Police checked their temperatures before some were allowed into the capitol, where lawmakers were debating.

Yeah. Glad they had their temperatures checked. I think they were overheated.