The Real Polarization

The people who suffer economically in the lockdown – the waiters, the store assistants, the cleaners, the Uber drivers, everybody, that is, who can’t work online – are the same people who can’t get themselves heard in the digital economy.

And the ones who can get themselves heard don’t see any economic damage from the lockdown. The 10 million (not counting the gig workers) who have lost their jobs in the lockdown don’t shape the narrative and live in a different reality than people who use expressions like “shape the narrative.”

This is the only real polarization in this country.

Has anybody you are listening to about the usefulness of the lockdown lost their job? Or is about to lose their job? Wouldn’t that skew their perspective a bit?

18 thoughts on “The Real Polarization”

  1. Reply to: The Real Polarization

    I have a friend who owns and operates a small independent bookstore. He is in financial difficulty, but he recognizes the importance of the lockdown. We both know people who have been very sick from COVID 19. Fortunately all have recovered, but required intensive care.


  2. Almost everyone I know is someone whose job is at risk or who has lost their job. Most of them are supportive of the lockdown, even though they don’t like how it’s affected them.


  3. No lockdown means we simply will not be able to get back to a semi-normal state of things. Nobody is helped by hospitals completely collapsing and people just dying left and right because we decided to choose to save the economy first. Who wants to continue going to work in that climate? Knowing that if you get it and are unlucky, you might just die because hospitals are full.

    They tried to just leave things open in England and not implement a lockdown. They had to back down when they realized that would mean over 200,000 deaths according to Imperial College London:

    Click to access Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf

    Italy and Spain are also showing how their lockdowns are helping bring numbers back under control. So, there simply is no question as to whether lockdowns help.

    The sooner we all shut down, the sooner we can start getting back to work. It’s also time we listen to the scientists and experts, and they almost unanimously are saying lockdown and social distancing are working.


    1. For me, the main takeaway from that paper is the graph on page 8, which seems to be the projection for the strategy currently being employed. And there’s no “under control” there – being under control would mean for the mitigated, time-extended curve to be mostly under critical care bed capacity.

      Similarly, the lives these measures are saving aren’t the difference in area between the mitigated and unmitigated curves as you are supposed to intuit from the “flatten the curve” ads, it’s the difference between those curve areas that are also under critical care bed capacity. Graphs can be deceptive to interpret, and I don’t know specifically how time and critical care beds occupied actually translate into lives saved, but the relative impact doesn’t seem all that major. Assuming the analysis here is broadly correct (and it would be really nice if it was wrong in the right direction), this relative lack of actual impact would be a reasonably good argument for the “lets just get it over it to unfuck the economy” side.

      Also note, that far as I can tell (which isn’t very far – I don’t have specialist knowledge and am not terribly informed about the specifics of Covid, I’m mostly extrapolating from what I know about graphs from highly unnecessary game analysis), none of the measures employed in any country so far have reduced transmission rates below 1 – I don’t follow the news much, but I’m sure I’d have heard the triumphant trumpets if that were the case. Meaning, we’re still in the game where the infected population grows, just at a pace retarded by the current measures.

      If the paper above is right, nothing is particularly under control despite the scale of the measures being implemented. We’re buying time, which hopefully is useful but isn’t guaranteed to be, and we’re doing a measure of damage control virus-side. ’bout it.

      (Also, if the paper above is right, you’d be right to assume that becoming infected is near inevitable and it would be reasonable to opt to take it either at the start or tail end of the infection, when chances of getting into a semi-functional intensive care unit were not astronomically low. Broad public knowledge of this would create one hell of a perverse incentive, though, which is probably one of the reasons this reasonably easy to intuit feature of the graph isn’t talked about much. Not something I would consciously do, but then it’s likely I’ve already been infected at work anyway.)


    2. This is what I wonder. Why couldn’t we have started by asking the elderly and people with emphesema to stay home? Maybe banned large concerts and sporting events. Asked everybody to cover their mouths with something mask-like. And then just see what happens. Instead we went from 0 to 100 without knowing anything about this disease. And now Fauci says we will have to stay locked up until there are no more cases. This sounds very crazy. I can’t listen to him seriously after that.

      These collapsing hospitals and people dropping dead like flies – it’s all a fantasy. A scenario. It isn’t happening. Even in Wuhan it didn’t happen.

      Maybe something in Italy,.a country that is a complete mess with a pathetic healthcare system. And their own Health Minister says they have a weird system of counting deaths.


    3. And by the way, that Imperial College paper is one of many models, all of which are just models. They don’t mean anything other than somebody chose to model it this way.


        1. Great article. Imperial is modeling on the basis of some knowledge and a lot of assumptions. The model will change, possibly dramatically, as more information comes in. One new piece of data can come in tomorrow and turn the model in any direction.


          1. And again, not for a second do I say the virus isn’t dangerous. It’s extremely dangerous. People are dying, others are getting extremely sick and suffering damage that might last a lifetime. Fuck China for all this. The authorities in the US are making gigantic efforts to deal with a horrible situation. Everybody is doing the best they can.

            At the same time, it can also be true that a developing situation needs great mental agility. We must be ready to let go of every opinion we formed early in the situation and let new information come in.


          2. I find astonishing that these models do not seem to incorporate surveys to see what proportion of their populations already have developed antibodies to the virus due to exposure. Without this data, aren’t they blind – pretty much tapping with a cane down an unknown street in an unknown city? Yesterday, the Chief Medical Officer of Ontario solemnly projected between 3,000-15,000 deaths based on a “model” built on assumptions counting local severe cases and “what is known from other countries.” If I understood his press conference answers, the province doesn’t have the testing capacity to keep up with suspected cases much less testing the population for antibodies.



  4. Weirdly, no. Retail and food service have taken the biggest hit so far. Turns out nearly everyone I know is either retired or absolutely essential: plumbers, tree-cutters, repairmen, pharmacy techs, security guards, shipyard employees, nurses, truck drivers, librarians… all still working. For about 24 hours my brother worried he might take a big hit, with people not wanting workmen in their houses. But no… people do not care about germs if they’re in lockdown with a broken fridge. It’s gotta be fixed!

    The shipyard crew is anxious that their workplace might get shut down if anyone there gets sick… but so far they’re still plugging along. They are not quite sure how essential they are, and they’re throwing around the term “transportation sector” like a magic charm to ward off bad luck. My sister, who works there, renewed her security license and picked up a weekend gig, just in case…

    Our local librarians have had to close the building to patrons, but they’ve never been busier. They now do curbside pickup for books 🙂 and the county has commandeered a bunch of them to run the local COVID-19 info/helpdesk phone line.


    1. I should add: the shipyard guys are actually the most nervous about BOTH losing their jobs AND getting the virus. The yard hires a lot of guys out of Louisiana, which is a hotspot right now. Some of them commute. Many of them have compromised lungs (welders, painters…) and are vulnerable. On the balance, they seem slightly more worried about their jobs. The pay is good, but the work is hazardous– with or without an epidemic.


  5. From twitter: “The ‘virus’ is not the weapon. The attack on the economy is the weapon. It’s not a coincidence this comes in Q2 of an election year of the first US President to initiate a trade war with the country where this virus originated. This is 21st century warfare.”

    Also from twitter:


    1. Life is weird so maybe it all was a complete accident. It would still be an accident that’s a huge gift to China and China will milk it for all it’s got.


  6. Isolating the vulnerable but continuing as close as possible to normal while encouraging social distancing, working from home and banning crowds over 50 (and closing universities and senior high schools) is the Swedish strategy, and only time will tell if it worked. It certainly failed at aged care facilities.

    I’m still going to work, but avoid public transport. Still haven’t seen anyone with a mask, but people are asked to keep 2m away from each other in queues.

    Most restaurants have moved to take-away only, and many workerd have been laid off already, but last Saturday morning we bought looseleaf tea at the tea shop, a bar of Aleppo soap at the small eco shop (my hands need something better at home after much more precautionary washing at work), Japanese soy from the East Asian shop and some bulbs at the open market. These are all shops that won’t survive lockdown long. There weren’t many people out, but it’s definitely not deserted.

    But healthcare is overwhelmed and I don’t really know that a good outcome is possible.


  7. I know people on both poles – those in politics making the decisions, and those in the gig economy losing it all. To answer your question, yes, the ones making the decisions are insulated from their own decisions by dint of a guaranteed income, which is skewing their perception.

    I also suspect that at some point, some people will become extremely violent because of it, since in my observation, the ones making decisions get very angry quite easily, yet aren’t very good at effecting violence, while those who are subjected to those decisions are slower to anger, but are the kinds of people with the kinds of skills that make them more lethal.


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