Deciding Argument

So Biden is promising to shut the country down again if elected. “If scientists recommend,” he says but finding a scientist to support whatever you want is no problem.

“I would shut it down. I would listen to the scientists.”

Joe Biden tells @DavidMuir in an exclusive interview that as president, he would shut the country down to stop the spread of COVID-19 if the move was recommended by scientists.

If I had any doubt whether to vote for him or not, I’d have my answer.

27 thoughts on “Deciding Argument”

  1. At my small university, it’s the humanities and some social sciences faculty who want to close the university and go to online classes, and it’s the science faculty who want to teach face-to-face. A science department chair dared to cite actual date (e.g., dropping transmission rates of the virus in our area) as part of this discussion. Also, many of the humanities faculty (a majority of whom are already teaching exclusively online) want to shut down the entire university regardless of any other faculty member’s preference.

    Also of interest: members of the faculty senate at my school were absolutely thrilled with the anti-racist statement drafted by several faculty members, and most everyone was enthusiastic about the opportunity to be able to vote in favor of it. The statement was approved, and we’re now committed to be anti-racist in our pedagogy and research. I’m not really opposed to these types of statements, but they do make me want to gag because they’re all full of empty rhetoric. So now that we’re committed to anti-racism (just like Amazon and Google and every major corporation paying its employees as little as they can), what’s the next step forward? What is the action plan? Oh, there is none. They claim that this is just a starting point, but we’ll see what happens. And I wouldn’t mind any of this if someone could point to a concrete problem and propose a concrete, potential solution to that problem. (Oh, and the anti-racist statement made sure to remind all of to be vigilant about the vestiges of racism in the disciplines that we teach…)


  2. So should I sign someone else’s petition for their campus to go all online? I’m sure they have their reasons, and it’s a campus which right now is all face to face and it is dripping with mold, and so on.

    Honestly, I’m not dissatisfied with the plan on my campus, which is that everyone does as they see fit. I’m giving classes in person unless there are people who need them not to be, and those classes have gone remote. So you go to campus and it’s not deserted or ghostly, there are people there, although not the usual crowds. And then some classes you can sit home and Zoom. Everyone is wearing their mask and social distancing. It’s very unproblematic, or feels that way to me, a nice compromise and all.

    Am I being too uncritical? And: should I jump on our neighbors’ bandwagon, sign for them all to go all online (I feel I don’t know enough to say, and it’s not my campus, yet people who are smart claim that having all these little local policies just pulls us down to the infection level of the least careful).


    1. “which is that everyone does as they see fit”

      Well, as you’ve described it, not everyone.

      From your description, students seem to be subject to the whims of their instructors.

      All the global data indicates that only a very tiny, tiny fraction of students in this age group are vulnerable to any serious health complications with COVID. Obviously, the institution could find reasonable accommodations for this group as they routinely do in other special circumstances. Similarly, the small number of faculty who have genuine preconditions that make them COVID-vulnerable should also be accommodated.

      But who, after all, cares about the interests of students? By all means, let’s bend over backwards to indulge the self-obsessed poseurs with Ph.Ds that, without a care for anyone but their precious selves, take student tuition dollars but then turn around and cheat these young adults out a once in a lifetime formative social experience – all the while trumpeting their own extremely virtuous moral virtue?

      At some point people will have to shake themselves awake and stop pretending that we’re all living in the first season of The Walking Dead. Actually, we’re not.


      1. I care. I think it’s definitely a shame that students should be robbed of a real chance at education. Which they are paying for!!

        But it’s so hard to stand completely alone in the face of the madness. So hard. I’ve started doubting everything I know, reading death counts (zero, zero, zero) obsessively. I’m trying to understand what motivates this level of panic.

        I’m grateful to the people here for helping me preserve my sanity.


        1. “There isn’t unity of opinion”

          I suppose that’s as good of an excuse as any for adults to shirk their professional responsibilities.


          1. We have no idea at my school what students want. Nobody asked.

            I was surprised that nobody tried a little survey to ask them at least what they preferred. But I guess nobody wants to know.


            1. “Nobody asked”

              Because they were afraid of the answer? Because nobody cared what the people who were paying their salaries wanted? Because Orange Chloroquine Man (the plague-spreader) Bad?

              Let’s be honest, that whole leadership thing is greatly overrated and so is demonstrating the value of courage and hard work through adversity. And, can we please agree that Churchill guy was such a ninny – “you have nothing to fear but fear itself” – just imagine where that kind of white-privileged thinking would get us?


              1. I think nobody wants to know. What of students want to come back on campus? 75% of faculty are terrified and are refusing to come back. So it’s easier not to know.


              2. Honestly, I feel very sorry about your work situation. As you describe them, your colleagues have no idea of what facing real adversity actually means. If the barbarians were to descend, the terminally soft west would be very easy pickings.


          2. People say I’ve shirked mine by not agitating more for going all online. They are very angry at me for this, and for meeting one of my classes on campus (it’s allowed, and it’s what those students voted for, but we’re being told we’re irresponsible quasi-murderers)


    2. That’s my campus, too. Everybody chose freely what they are comfortable with. And still, a bunch of drama queens wants to spoil it all for us. Why can’t they stay home, teach online and let us all be?


        1. “to show what ninnies they’ve been”

          Yes, exactly and, yes exactly!

          And then there’s the partisan politics of creating pre-election chaos to undermine Orange Man Bad.

          And don’t forget the IQ challenged sheeples with Ph.Ds – baaaa.

          “a bunch of drama queens wants to spoil it all for us”

          To my point above, including (and especially) students. Faculty get their money whatever the teaching format, it’s students who are the real victims of these preening nincompoops.

          “But it’s so hard to stand completely alone in the face of the madness.”

          Understood and sympathize. But for now, take some comfort in the fact that you at least haven’t taken, like weaker personalities, to fawning at the feet of the emperor without clothes. This can’t go on forever – a correction is inevitable, in the meantime ‘keep your powder dry.’


  3. That is my deciding argument as well. I have been a liberal for 20 years, and I never imagined I would vote Republican — let alone for Trump. But even I cannot stomach this any more. My vote is for Trump, and I hope he wins by a landslide even in the bluest of states.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m with ABC. I was already leaning Trump (I know I made a comment indicating otherwise just days ago, but I just waffle on this constantly), but this seals the deal. We cannot do lockdown again. No.

    I still dislike Trump and and find him to be a totally disappointing and useless president. If the Democratic ticket was just marginally less shitty, I’d probably just vote third party or something. I’m open to voting Dem again in the future. But it ain’t happening this time. Even before this it wasn’t happening; I’m not going to set up Harris to run in 2024. It would be a pleasure to see her national political aspirations end here. Although in 2024 we’ll probably see Newsom or Buttigieg or Cuomo or someone else equally ghastly. It’s like whack-a-mole with these Big Tech lackeys.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I voted a write-in last time, but… Trump this time. I don’t think the Unity2020 people will get anywhere, but I think their hearts are in the right place, I wish them the best of luck… and if by some miracle they pull off something like a campaign and get on ballots, with, say, Tulsi Gabbard and Jocko Willinck… I’m all in. I’d vote for those guys in a heartbeat.


      1. I like Tulsi Gabbard too. Though her stance ‘against’ nuclear power is incomprehensible*, in my view she is still the most level-headed of all other choices (Like why non-intervention should be the core pillar of US foreign policy, why antitrust laws should be strengthened against big techs, police demilitarization etc).

        But I don’t see her getting any support from democrats for exactly these reasons.

        I like Andrew Yang much better for supporting this. In fact, Trump has displayed an unexpected level of insight by his steps to bolster nuclear energy sector during his term — any averagely competent physicist can tell you, that it is impossible to meet global energy needs by building windmills and putting solar panels on every inch of land in sight (the numbers just don’t add up).


        1. I thought of Andrew Yang less as a real candidate, more as a lobbyist for the interests of the tech industry. The differences between him, Buttigieg, and AOC are mostly cosmetic. They all think automation “should be exciting” (and that it is the definitive cause of people losing jobs, outsourcing and H1B visas play no role and saying that they do is racist), UBI is awesome and the solution to lost jobs. They all seem to want to see an economy centered around the tech industry and a monthly welfare check for those left behind, which is the opposite of what I want.

          Of course, this is not to deny that Yang was unique. I don’t recall any other candidate or politician proposing a “digital social credit” system (thank G-d.)


          1. // an economy centered around the tech industry and a monthly welfare check for those left behind, which is the opposite of what I want.

            UBI doesn’t look to me as the best solution either, but what is Trump proposing instead? Lies of ‘I’ll bring manufacturing jobs back’?

            Seems to me Rebuplicans have even less ideas than Democrats on this subject, unless you count ‘sink or swim’ as a solution. And it may be a ‘solution’ , a way to get rid of the ‘superfluous people’ as fast as possible.

            Also, why must one take a black and white approach, as if it’s either UBI or helping people have a job? Why not combine job programs with UBI to a certain group which will be left behind anyway, no matter which approach we take?

            Imagine how many jobs will be soon automated. Cashier jobs are disappearing right now, in front of my eyes in the supermarkets I frequent.

            Another example is driving. What will happen to around 9 million US citizens when self-driving cars exchange human drivers? What kind of jobs will middle-aged former drivers be capable of finding, when more and more simple jobs will be automated at the same time?

            “There are approximately 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the United States, according to estimates by the American Trucking Association. The total number of people employed in the industry, including those in positions that do not entail driving, exceeds 8.7 million.”

            Germany is famously strong in manufacturing and American commentors mention it sometimes as an example in contrast to American outsourcing, yet it is trying the effects of UBI now:

            “Germany is about to become the latest country to trial a universal basic income

            As part of the study, 120 people will receive €1,200, or about $1,430, each month for three years — an amount just above Germany’s poverty line — and researchers will compare their experiences with another group of 1,380 people who will not receive the payments.

            The study, conducted by the German Institute for Economic Research, has been funded by 140,000 private donations.”


            1. “What about Trump?” isn’t really a counterargument. I don’t think Trump has good ideas, but I wouldn’t say actively evil ideas are better than “I have no real solution.” And he is at least somewhat trying to slow the inevitable rather than speeding it up. Buttigieg I know has explicitly said we should ramp up automation; these people are not just proposing solutions, they’re proposing we worsen the problem. Yang has proposed we greatly expand the H1B visa program, for example (another thing; they harp on about automation as a way of distracting from the fact that automation is far from the only major cause of job losses in America.)

              I do think bringing manufacturing back to America is important, even if it doesn’t magically give everyone a job; COVID made clear the negative consequences of being dependent on China for medical supplies. I’m not against trade, but we need to have a strong enough manufacturing base to make essential items here. Jobs are just one concern here.

              We also shouldn’t pretend this is just about manufacturing. Automation and outsourcing are coming for white collar jobs too.


              1. Absolutely, 100% true that automation and outsourcing are coming for white-collar jobs.

                I’m very wary of the kind of economy that the digital oligarchy is building. I’ve been talking about this for years. And I’m seeing that the DO hates Trump with a great passion. It doesn’t mean he’s wonderful. We all know what he is and see his limitations. There are many of those. But it’s an undeniable fact that he’s detested by the digital oligarchy.


              2. // Automation and outsourcing are coming for white collar jobs too.

                Agree. And it frightens me in Israel too.

                // I do think bringing manufacturing back to America is important, even if it doesn’t magically give everyone a job

                Agree. That’s why Israel is careful to grow our food, for instance. We are surrounded only by enemies, and may be cut off the rest of the world any second.

                // he is at least somewhat trying to slow the inevitable rather than speeding it up.

                That’s the problem. Playing Luddite strategy will be as successful as the original Luddites had been. Or even less with today’s international competition. It will not slow automation one second the moment the technology is created. What then? Is there simply no solution?

                Trump’s promises may give some people a false sense of security, act like a drug nulling the senses


            2. “Cashier jobs are disappearing right now”

              I was a lot more worried about this last year. Then, my local walmart started conducting experiments in automation. The self-check-out lanes multiplied. The regular checkouts had less and less staff allocated. There’s always a line, now, to have an actual cashier.

              You can’t get out of the store with ice cream if you have to wait for an elderly cashier to check out three elderly women with fourteen coupons each, paying by check, and buying cigarettes. Every. Dang. Time.

              So I used the self-check-outs. They worked… for about a year. And now, they are all glitchy and take just as long as going through any other lane (but more annoying), because every third item triggers some kind of security alert and requires the checkout minder to come and key in her employee code. And since there’s one minder for the whole corral, this takes a couple of minutes each time. Last time I used the self-check, we did this little waltz FOUR times. And it wasn’t that many groceries! I pried the minder for tips on how to avoid this, and she said that if I am holding my wallet and keys in my left hand (as I do) while I scan things, the anti-theft software thinks I am trying to sneak something by without scanning it. So I put away my wallet. And two items later, the system froze up again…

              So… the automation seems OK at first. I had no problems with it initially, except when I’d forget that I had booze in the cart. And it has gotten noticeably worse over time. I don’t know if this is a maintenance problem, software issues, something else, or all of the above, but I don’t see the automation being a permanent solution. I’ve stopped trying to buy frozen things there, and am now in the process of figuring out how much of my grocery purchases I can reasonably transfer to the ghetto Piggly Wiggly across town: it’s a longer drive, and they don’t always have the brand I want, but there’s a real live cashier in every lane, and the prices are comparable.

              And shopping there isn’t torture. Which is nice.


              1. Absolutely true about Walmart checkout. It took me three trips to the store to manage to buy a pack of washcloths for $4,99. Every time something wasn’t working. It wasn’t in the system, it wasn’t correct in the system, something was glitching, then the store assistant solemnly declared that they weren’t selling anything of the kind and where did I even get them.

                I did finally manage to buy the washcloths but I’m thinking it can’t possibly be worth it to keep doing this.


        2. I like some things about Yang, but his slapstick routine at the DNC really turned me off. And he IS big tech right now, when I think Big Tech is the enemy of civilization, so… no.


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