Thursday, April 23, 2020


As someone who covered the first Tea Party wave in early Obama days, I wonder how many people are fooled by the Tea Party II protests demanding the right to spread coronavirus. Republicans are certainly trying hard to bamboozle them. Trump is, in his usual incoherent way, playing both ends against the middle, yelling to LIBERATE states from social distancing while formally supporting social distancing (he even mildly chided Brian Kemp -- well, it's Georgia, what's he got to worry).

In this Atlantic article you can see Congressman Bill Huizenga (R.-Mich.) doing Trump's shtick more smoothly (helped considerably by reporter Russell Berman, who refers to him as a "mainstream conservative" pursuing a "middle ground" and "common sense"):
The Washington Post has reported that the organizers of the Michigan protests included a conservative state lawmaker and a longtime political adviser to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. A family of gun-rights activists with ties to the libertarian former representative Ron Paul is behind similar demonstrations in other states. 
Yet Huizenga, who first won election to Congress in the Tea Party wave of 2010, dismissed the suggestion that the demonstrations were mere Astroturf and unreflective of public opinion. “I’ve seen Astroturf and I’ve seen organic,” he told me. “Everything I saw was organic. Once it started happening, then certainly people started throwing some fuel on the fire, but I believe the origins of this were just pent-up, frustrated Michiganders going, ‘Wait a minute, this doesn’t make sense with what we are experiencing and living with.’”
How bothsidesy -- with a strong emphasis on one's own side, as it usually is! He's just helping out gosh-darned fed-up friends of Betsy DeVos.

Missing from most of these discussions is the stark fact that opening massage parlors and hair salons during a deadly epidemic is LIBERATION for impatient well-off Republican constituents and the campaign operatives who exploit them, but the literal tens of millions of people unemployed by coronavirus measures need to be LIBERATED from poverty, and that $1200 stimulus check and (barely)-enhanced unemployment insurance that's absurdly hard to get isn't going to do it for most of them. And putting them back in harm's way is not the preferred alternative.

Don't worry, though -- some rightwing conmen are thinking about those meager benefits. And what some like Noah Rothman of Commentary think is, the peons are getting too much of them and won't want to come back to work in the virus hotbeds! Behold his analysis in "Republicans Were Right about Unemployment’s Perverse Incentives":
“If the intention was to get people back to work, they’re not doing it,” restaurant owner and celebrity chef Tom Colicchio said of the expanded unemployment-insurance benefits in the CARES Act. “They’re not going to come back to work because unemployment is too attractive.” Colicchio is not the only restauranteur mourning the likelihood that, when furloughed service industry workers are called back to their places of employment, a simple cost/benefit analysis may lead their former employees to stay home. “They’re getting paid more on unemployment than they would if they were actually working,” Minneapolis-based coffee-chain proprietor Christian Ochsendorf told Politico. “Heck, if they’re making more money sitting at home,” Ohio bar owner Adam Rammel speculated, “I’m fearful that some may not want to come back.”
Who could have possibly foreseen this perverse incentive associated with expanded unemployment benefits? Well, as it happens, a lot of Republicans.
Republicans tried to warn us:  They knew if you gave peons enough money to live on, they wouldn't want to return to their shitty jobs!
“You’re literally incentivizing taking people out of the workforce at a time when we need critical infrastructure supplied with workers,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham of the provision that allotted an extra $600 per week beyond state-level unemployment benefits for four months. Sen. Ben Sasse expressed similar dissatisfaction with this measure and its potential to sever employees’ relationships with their current employers. “It’s perverse,” he declared. “It’s against the purposes of the legislation, and it could exacerbate life-threatening shortages in a number of critical sectors.” Sen. Tim Scott outlined a scenario in which someone who makes $30,000 annually in the service sector collects the equivalent of $50,000 per year on unemployment. “So, if you’re on unemployment for 16 weeks,” he noted, “we would give a 50 percent raise under that scenario.” 
Yet instead of being hailed as heroes, these Senators "were caricatured as irredeemable villains, and their objections were pilloried," weeps Rothman. Now people making 30 grand -- which, if they pay the average U.S. rental of $1,405 a month, leaves them the princely sum of $1,095 a month to pay for food, utilities, student loans, etc. -- will get used to a better way of life. True, we were going to kick them off it as fast as possible, but now they'll be discontented!

Rothman's touching concern for the bosses, though, pales in comparison to that of Dan "Baseball Crank" McLaughlin at National Review who not only wants the slackers sent back to work ASAP, but wants their employers held harmless for any contagion that may ensue.
What will it take to reopen the U.S. economy and civil society? One obstacle that may stand in the way is the fear of lawsuits. State legislatures and Congress should act now to limit the threat of lawsuits so as to encourage economically and socially necessary activities that are bound to carry some risks. 
You know, economically and socially necessary activities like serving food from crowded kitchens and waitstations, or handling packages, or looking after children in a day care, or cutting up beef carcasses -- stuff National Review authors don't have to do. McLaughlin wants employers LIBERATED from the prospect of lawsuits if they force their currently-idle drones back to work and they get sick. Like Bill Huizenga, McLaughlin just wants to be reasonable and common-sensible:
For factories, plants, or shipping hubs, it is not unreasonable for the state to require some enhanced safety procedures during a pandemic. But social distancing will be impossible for a lot of factories without huge, expensive renovations or For factories, plants, or shipping hubs, it is not unreasonable for the state to require some enhanced safety procedures during a pandemic. But social distancing will be impossible for a lot of factories without huge, expensive renovations or massive reductions in the workforce on duty.
You can tell "massive reductions in the workforce on duty" is just a way of repeating "huge, expensive renovations" that makes it sound as if McLaughlin is looking out for the workers rather than the business owners who would profit from their return:  He then names a lot of lawsuits of the sort he'd like to squelch and, surprise! None of them are against workers:
Cruise ships have faced suits for failing to adequately disclose whether previous passengers got sick, or for claims that they contributed to outbreaks by sailing. Nurses have sued hospitals for not providing adequate gear. A wrongful-death suit brought against Walmart by the family of an overnight stock and warehouse employee alleges that the company “failed to clean and sterilize the store [where the employee worked] properly..."
While admitting "some of these types of suits may be justified," McLaghlin's heart clearly is with the moneymen, and he has several plans to protect them, including this beaut:
The strongest protection would be an absolute bar of the sort given to vaccine makers, possibly coupled (as in that case) with a public fund for compensating those who get sick as a result. 
Princess Cruises, vaccine makers -- same diff, really. Oh, and here's lagniappe for law students:
Some would object that this is government interference, but any lawsuit is government action; the only question is whether the rule of law being applied is made by a legislature or by a court.
Why not tease that out and instead propose nationalizing these industries that are so frail they must be protected from simple justice?  Some would object that this is government interference etc.

These people are mad and must be stopped.

UPDATE. We got a million of them:

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