Category Archives: Labor

By The Numbers: The Biggest Losers From Covid-19

COVID-19, Economy, Healthcare, Labor, Populism

The Economist on “The biggest losers from covid-19,” by the numbers:

… death rate from covid-19 in the neighbourhood with the most essential workers was more than twice as high as in the one with the fewest. A study in California found that people of working age saw a 22% increase in mortality from March to October 2020. But bakers saw mortality rise by 50%, and line cooks by 60%. One class of people stayed home in their pyjamas; others went into workplaces that probably killed them.

“DURING THE pandemic one part of the workforce did not get to wear pyjamas during the day or join in marathon sessions of ‘Tiger King’. The people known as ‘key’, ‘frontline’ or ‘essential’ workers had to be in public spaces and often in close proximity with their colleagues. Many died. …”

“…Describing a worker as ‘key’ is an arbitrary exercise (the label covers most journalists, for example). It usually includes occupations necessary to meet everyone’s basic needs—food, heating and transport, not to mention health care. Most such jobs cannot be done from home….”

“…The pandemic has reminded key workers that without them society would grind to a halt. …”

“…A study in Toronto found that the death rate from covid-19 in the neighbourhood with the most essential workers was more than twice as high as in the one with the fewest. A study in California found that people of working age saw a 22% increase in mortality from March to October 2020. But bakers saw mortality rise by 50%, and line cooks by 60%. One class of people stayed home in their pyjamas; others went into workplaces that probably killed them.”

MORE…

*Image courtesy The Economist

Manufacturing Was Outsourced And The Working-Class Decimated, All For Cheap Goods And … Corona

Drug War, Economy, Labor, libertarianism, Outsourcing, Populism, Race, Welfare

Denial of white decline is to be found on the Left and Right–and certainly in the reporting of Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

Likely following in the popular footsteps of the annoying J.D. Vance of Hillbilly Elegy fame—Kristof returns to his hometown, Yamhill, Ore., to find, I wager, exactly what he expected to find, or else he’d never have embarked on this “journey” (he follows the news and the money):

Dying white people (hush).

the kids who were on my old school bus, Bus No. 6,” recounts Kristof … “About a quarter of the kids on the No. 6 Bus have died from drugs, alcohol and suicide

Come on, Nicholas, say it: Whites. (“American White Male Misery Is Real.”)

He also won’t own up to the part his ideological ilk played in the demise of the American working class.

The exchange the likes of Kristof have plumped for: Outsourcing America’s manufacturing base, thus consigning the working class to social oblivion, all in exchange for the wonders of cheap shit and … Corona Virus.

I recall how I was mocked in 2003 for decrying outsourcing, and promoting localism while libertarian, namely daring to question (not sanction) the sacred allocation of resources by business.

MORE: “Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn shine a light on sweeping economic and social struggles across the United States in an important new book.”

COVID-19 Has Left Some Corporations With Lots Of … CASH

Business, COVID-19, Economy, Labor

Short term mañana thinking is endemic in business, too.

Were companies prepared for these “black swans,” these “highly improbable events” like corona virus? It turns out, as The Economist observes, that,

It might be possible, in principle, to self-insure against a disastrous drop in overall demand by sacrificing margins in order to build up buffers and to keep open strategic options the company will probably never willingly choose to use. But good luck convincing investors of that approach. Strategies which pay off handsomely in the event of even the worst case are terribly expensive.

Given the wealth transfer initiated from small to big business, due to the structure of the state’s stimulus, it is no surprise to learn that gargantuan business has endured quite well:

… many companies are already sitting on stacks of cash. Few boast sofas as plumply padded as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook, which have $270bn in net cash between them, enough to finance many countries’ covid-related fiscal stimulus. But the total cash holdings of the world’s 2,000 biggest listed non-financial corporations increased from $6.6trn in 2010 to $14.2trn today.

UPDATED (8/5/020): “The pandemic led to ‘one of the greatest wealth transfers in history’: The stock market is rising as big business rebounds from state-ordered stoppage of nonessential activity, while small businesses drop like flies.”

Trust Republicans To Sabotage A Safe Return To Work

Business, COVID-19, Free Markets, Labor, Law, libertarianism, Private Property, Regulation, Republicans

“In the absence of clinical therapies or a vaccine for coronavirus, the successful return to work rests, very plainly, on the willingness of the citizenry to cover up, keep clean and keep a distance.” (“The Ethics of Social Distancing: A Libertarian Perspective.”)

If businesses want customers to resume consumption and workers to stay safe and productive on the job—they must, within reason, provide a safe working and shopping environment.

The market incentivizes business to protect customers and employees and thus to also reduce the spread of COVID. If business acts recklessly, customers will stay away. And if companies place workers in a precarious position, then the worker who gets sick on the job generally has recourse through litigation.

The free-market and the law—more so than government regulation—provide corrective mechanisms to ensure workers and customers are safe. Government regulations are generally agreements between industrial special interests and the state. Duly, they mostly benefit those interests alone.

By removing the incentives aforementioned,  so necessary in a society based on ordered liberty, the government sabotages a safe return to work, as it fails to allow corrective mechanisms to work.

Trust the Republicans, then, to strive to remove the incentives for business to fit the workplace for success in the age of coronavirus.

To hell with the desperate young worker, who toils in a crowded, unclean, meatpacking facility, currently a “serious vector for the pandemic.”

Or, the flight attendant who was told by the airline she’d be fired if she wore a mask. If they get sick on the job because their employers refused to set up and suit up for COVID—the worker will have no recourse, courtesy of the Republicans’ liability protection guarantees.

With half of all U.S. states forging ahead with strategies for easing restrictions on restaurants, retail and other businesses shuttered by the coronavirus crisis, business groups have been pushing for protection against COVID-19-related lawsuits …The Trump administration is also pushing for liability safeguards … [Reuters]

GOP lawmakers have warned that without additional protections they believe business owners will be too fearful of litigation to reopen.

McConnell, during an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, called the extra protections his “red line.”

“Let me make it perfectly clear, the Senate is not interested in passing a bill that does not have liability protection. … What I’m saying is we have a red line on liability. It won’t pass the Senate without it,” he added.

Stripped of baffle-gab, this means that Republicans wish to shield business from the consequences of reckless disregards for the safety of shoppers and workers. For the courts will examine cases on their merit, and throw them out if they are frivolous.

Fail to allow corrective mechanisms like litigation to work—and you’ll increase illness, death and poverty and spread more devastation.

* Thanks, Scott Olson | Getty Images, for fair use.

@ Unz Review.