Friday, March 27, 2020

Could that malaria drug be something similar to drugs that treat AIDS in lieu of a vaccine? Maybe, maybe not.

I can sort of see why Trump holds out some hope for treatment of corona virus with a drug for malaria. I certainly didn't vote for him, tho.

The malaria drug hasn't been certified for this and may not be that good an answer, but I hope we can figure something out until, or if, a vaccine can be found.

When I think about the AIDS epidemic, it's other drugs, besides a vaccine, that has significantly reduced the death rate there. It did take a lot of time for those drugs to be demonstrated as safe and effective.

It seems odd that there is still no vaccine for AIDS. I hope corona virus is different in that way so a vaccine can be found before too long.

See my new label on Flickr somewhat related to this corona virus topic.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

We'll need to figure out how to survive putting large parts of the economy on hold to get through this corona virus pandemic

Like summer fallow fields. The ability to let things rest.

They've paid farmers for not growing crops. Looks like they will have to pay workers for not working and maybe businesses; like small businesses for not being open.

In the Palouse, there is the practice of summer fallow anyway, but not necessarily because of farm subsidies.

Farmers around Pullman, where I grew up, have a practice called Summer Fallow for their fields. Without even subsidy, this was a normal practice. I think still in use. A crop rotation. Wheat one year, then peas the next year. Then summer fallow where the field and the soil would be allowed to REST. The field being empty.

The pea crop would fertilize the soil, naturally, using legume nitrogen fixing bacteria that is naturally in the roots of peas and other legumes. The bacteria take nitrogen out of the air and turn it into nitrate fertilizer; naturally. After the pea crop is harvested, the soil is allowed to rest as the pea vines compost. I think a 3 year cycle.

I think the empty fields on steep hillsides of the Palouse area around Pullman did have an erosion problem, but they could use special plowing techniques to address this problem.

Maybe the Federal Reserve can just print the money so we can afford to go into almost suspended animation. Put parts of the economy on hold for a while to help us become more resilient to this virus.

I've been biking around remaining at least 6 feet from people. Past a large construction site for apartments to deal with Bellingham's housing shortage. At least those people are still working.

I got to thinking that a lot of developers could go bankrupt due to boom and bust. As they finally stared building, now just about everyone laid off. This is where a great expansion of things like HUD Section 8 Vouchers would help society get through this.

Trump and his team like a dear in the headlights dealing with this pandemic crisis

Trump said he had no idea his pandemic response team was disbanded.

Republican philosophy does call for trimming extra government agencies; such as pandemic response commissions. I'm not surprised this is happening at all. Reminds me of a situation, many years ago, here in Bellingham, where they thought they could save money by selling off the snow plow fleet that is rarely needed. They thought it would be cheaper to contract to the private sector on rare occasions when there is heavy snow. Soon after that decision, a big snow hit and all chaos broke out.

Trump does seem to be stumbling along. I can imagine that it would be difficult to keep track of all the things going on in such a large bureaucracy as the White House and the government. It's believable that he doesn't remember all the details. This epidemic situation seems to be blindsiding people in power. Trump's responses to the questions are telling. One can imagine themselves in this situation. Of course he did ask for it in wanting that job.

So many people put up a facade that they are in control. As Trump stumbles along asking, "did that commission get eliminated?" the facade is paper thin, if existing at all. That may be a form of transparency. Some folks are comforted by Trump's ordinary person, folksy style. I'm less critical of that then I am of the policies; such as cutting things we need like Medicaid. Then spending more on bombers. That's Republican orthodoxy.

Whenever I see pictures of Mike Pence near Trump, he almost always has a worried look on his face. This picture is case in point. Pence, quite a bit smoother than Trump. He's like a stuffed shirt executive in the establishment looking like he's hoping it all doesn't go off the rails.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Our rat race economy has pushed people to the breaking point and now Coronavirus is exposing these vulnerabilities. Health is more important than money.

Given the news, I now think we are very likely to be headed into a major recession. The virus emergency is a shock to the economy. One big worry is when will this situation end? Social distancing can slow the spread, but until a vaccine is available, one wonders if spread of the virus may just keep picking up as soon as we let our "social distancing" guard down.

There may be better science about curbing the spread of epidemics than my speculation here, but this could be a long term problem. Let's hope warmer weather can help slow the disease season; so to speak.

Health is a real important thing. Without a cure or vaccine we are reliant on our immune systems. This brings up deep questions about our economy, politics and culture. The high stress world has made us more susceptible.

I think our economy has pushed humans to the breaking point. Not only do we have things like global warming stressing the environment, but we, humans are also at the breaking point. Have folks been getting enough sleep or is working more than one job and facing long commutes getting in the way?

Income inequality, along with the constant push for increased prosperity, is taking it's toll. Do people have sick leave, for instance?

Is our economy structured in such a way so we can slow down, at least temporarily, to ride things like this out? I think not. The bills are mounting. This may force us to do some major rethinking of the economy and even our culture. There may be some long term lessons here.

Maintaining one's health is a virtue that has been a bit of a low priority in the past. Maintaining health was not as easy to do while the bills were mounting.

I wonder if life has gotten back to normal, or near normal in places like Singapore that took drastic steps to stop the spread early on? How about China and can we trust information out of China?

The health of our immune systems are (I would think) an important factor in controlling the epidemic. When a vaccine is found, that is basically a boost to our immune systems. Meanwhile we depend on healthy living and things like hand washing. If life does go back to somewhat normal, even without a vaccine, that is encouraging. Otherwise the economy is in for a long slump. A vaccine would cause the stock market to rally, but remember, they still don't have a vaccine for AIDS. This may be different.

This epidemic may push us more toward a cyber, "work from home" economy. Such an economy was predicted during the internet euphoria of the 1990's.

Monday, March 09, 2020

Bernie or Biden. Not an easy slam dunk choice.

In many ways, it's not an easy "slam dunk" decision as to whether Biden or Bernie should be the democratic nominee. One important criterion is who will be more electable in the November general election. That's not really an easy guess either.

Some people think Bernie would be able to pull in more votes from angry lower income folks who are struggling and don't like the elites. They'd vote populist.

On the other hand much of the population of this country is still pretty conservative yet possibly a bit uncomfortable with Trump's wackiness. Crossover voters. Some Republicans and independents who Biden would be better at picking up. There's the Mitt Romney "Never Trumper" people and the constituency of Christianity Today that came out for Trump's removal from office. Still fairly conservative, but not really Trump fans.

The American dream needs to be redefined

I'll vote for whoever the Democratic Party's nominee is for 2020. One problem is pretty much all major candidates, including even Bernie Sanders, are trying to bring back a vision of middle class America that may no longer be viable.

Income inequality is part of the problem, but there is a deeper problem, in my opinion. The old sense of American Dream isn't likely to come back. Growth in population and prosperity has now bumped up against environmental limits. Not just environmental regulation; as some right wingers contend. Lots of changes need to be made in the way we live, transport ourselves and so forth. We need more sustainable lifestyles, neighborhood planning and economics.

Anger against the 1%, or anger in general against anything, can be problematic. This may be an exaggeration, but think Syria. Anger often turns against everyone. Just overturning the 1% isn't going to bring back the so called American Dream for everyone.

I am for raising taxes on the wealthy, but there's a lot of changes that need to be made all up and down the income ladder.

I've been writing that traditional American Dream is, for the most part, no longer viable. In some way, I grew up in that dream, but it was also a bit different than some people's expectations. My family did live in a single family home with a yard and garden, but there were towering college dormitories practically across the street from us. If the wind was blowing a certain direction, during college toilet paper fights, our trees got decorated. My dad often walked to work. It wasn't too far.

View from our driveway 1963. Large college dorm nearby. Photo by my brother William Ashworth.

In many ways it was an idyllic childhood in town next door to a major university. I did have some problems in childhood, but all and all, it was pretty decent.

Some things were less extreme back then. I appreciate that I had my own bedroom back then, but the room was smaller than my small studio apartment today. We had a yard, but we weren't in a rural setting.

I think some of that sense of stability can come back, but circumstances do change. There are more people in the world today. At the same time expectations are higher in many ways.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Low interest rates are kind of a blunt tool for dealing with Coronavirus fears. Target new money toward true needs via government spending.

As stocks continue to slide and economic worries mount, it looks like the Federal Reserve is trying to shore up confidence with lower interest rates. Today on March 3 NPR Marketplace, I hear that lowering interest rates may not be the best tool to deal with this problem, but it's basically the only tool the Fed has.

I got to thinking that low interest rates mostly just cause people to buy property for investment purposes. Not really the solution we need. Just adds to long term property inflation.

What we need, to deal with this epidemic and the fear that goes along with it, are things like a stronger social safety net. Safety nets are what helps folks ride out things. It's better than going to work sick and spreading more disease.

This does bring up the whole question of investing in our people. Do workers have sick leave? Do workers have health insurance? Now that some people are being quarantined, do people have housing? In the news, it says that King County (Seattle area) has set up quite a few portable shelters to bring in homeless people who might be sick. Also they have bought a motel for quarantine use. Government spending. Other needs are things like research for a vaccine. Often it's government spending that comes to the rescue.

Seems like when the Fed prints money, it's needed to run the government. Maybe that's a new economic model, rather than raising taxes, print money and run the government that way. Government does an important job so it does need to be funded somehow. Some economists might be cringing, however.