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Trivia refers to things that are trivial, of no substance. But they are also things that engage our notice and may help us understand our world. So it is trivia, but not trivial to note that the number of deaths from Covid-45 now exceed the best estimates of the number of people who attended the Donald’s inauguration. 

It feels like much more that four years ago when the new president’s first lie, raging at the press, was that his inauguration crowd was the largest ever. The lie stood out clearly when contrasted with photos of the event and data from the Secret Service, National Park Service and the Washington, D.C. Metro Transit Authority. We couldn’t know on that first day of the administration how fast and deep the lies would add up. 

But the rage over numbers showed us the tiny, weak ego that would need constant reinforcing lies through four years. And the same tiny, weak ego, now at the end of the term, needs still to lie about numbers. As he slinks from office, the Donald is now calling the numbers of Covid-45 deaths “overstated.” Just as he could not accept the real numbers at his inauguration, he now can’t accept the real numbers of people killed by the ineptitude and inaction of his response to the pandemic. 

Note that we are on track for Covid-45 deaths to be at or above total U.S. deaths in WW-II by the time the next president is inaugurated.

But the numbers are real, and by some analyses, even understated. Many people analogize efforts to treat and beat the pandemic to war. If such a comparison helps clarify thinking about the pandemic, it is useful to note that we are on track for Covid-45 deaths to be at or above total U.S. deaths in WW-II by the time the next president is inaugurated on January 20 of this year. 

According to Wikipedia, the U.S. suffered 407,300 military and 12,100 civilian deaths during all the years of WW-II. The first Covid-45 deaths in the U.S. occurred on February 26, 2020, less than 11 months before the number reaches the number WW-II deaths. Even if the incoming Biden administration can get a handle on vaccine delivery, and reverse some of the Donald’s adminstration’s bungling disruption of supplies getting where needed, there is a strong likelihood that the Covid-45 pandemic could kill more people in less than two years than the Civil War killed in four. 

Trivia, but informative. Most of the casualties in the Civil War were not combat deaths. For every combat death, there were more than two deaths from other, often related, causes. They were soldiers who died from disease and malnutrition, horrible medical “care” and infections. In WW-II, the combat deaths exceeded the “other” deaths by more than 2 to 1. Improvements in our technical ability to kill also improved our ability to save. When we want to, we can apply knowledge to defeat disease. 

As we hurtle toward 400,000 Covid-45 deaths, already more than 100,000 are residents of nursing homes and other senior care facilities. More than 25%, but that’s an improvement. As recently as July, that group of people accounted for more than 40% of the Covid-45 deaths. 

Senior care facilities are entirely dependent on tax subsidies. The senior care business is predominantly made up of for-profit businesses. Essentially, the government pays businesses to warehouse the elderly, but does not mandate even minimal safety provisions or medical care. Such mandates would be business expenses, and would undercut the profits of these for-profit businesses. 

In the 70s and 80s, we saw massive, well organized corporate campaigns to defund and degrade public education. Our children were not worth the expense of raising them educated or healthy. Classrooms were targeted as captive holding spaces where students could be force fed advertising pretending to be educational. The result was devastation of California’s once world class public education system, and the degradation of scholarship nationally. 

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Now business interests are buying political protection from “over regulation” of already under regulated senior care businesses. Just as children’s education was an “unnecessary” expense, we are now hearing that caring properly for our retired and elderly is an unwanted expense. Short term profit again Trumps all other concerns, including long term survival. 

Progressives looking for a cause to support could do well to harangue their congress people and their local health and safety departments to better regulate senior care facilities, and impose real financial costs, like loss of taxpayer subsidies, or loss of all tax deductions and credits for businesses that allow infections and other risks to spread. 

Underlying the ability of corporations and their lobbyists to buy and control politicians is the odious Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court. The Court decided that the Constitution allows big money, including corporate interests, to buy as much political influence as they can afford. The instant result of the decision was the flood of bribery money to every politician, local, state and national, who would take it. 

Since Citizens Unitied, there has been an organized campaign to pass an Amendment to the Constitution to get bribery money out of politics. Sadly, the Amendment 28 campaign has not been a hit with progressives. Perhaps it’s not sexy enough, trying to enact dry legislative language. But it would do so much to stop the flood of bribes. And that could make it possible for common citizens to get their voices heard by legislators. You can contribute time, money or both to getting it passed. 

It seems like a no-brainer for progressives wanting to reduce the influence of big business in politics. It also seems like a heavy lift against a bribery-saturated Congress. But it is a step that local citizens can use to force their state legislators to act. Getting the bribe money out of Congress could make it possible to have more people-oriented decisions on things like expenditures for schools vs. expenditures for war profiteering manufacturers. Or for more money to regulate and provide for senior care for our aging population. 

It might even drive politicians to renew planning and expenditures for future medical and climate related emergencies. 

tom hall

While the current pandemic is devastating our elderly, it is also crippling our efforts to teach our children. Keeping children out of school buildings may be medically necessary. But it is also devastating to social development and to actual learning. Home schooling is widely practiced and well understood in the U.S. It leads to children who are anti-vaxxers and pro-theocratic authoritarianism. Children who believe the earth is flat, evolution theory is an attack on god, and that the Donald is Jesus reborn. 

Airlines have been able to reconfigure airplane ventilation systems to improve the circulation of clean, filtered air for passengers to breath. They are able to clean planes between flights, to eliminate any residual viruses. And they are able to do this while both lavishing executives with extravagant compensation and delivering profits to shareholders. 

Yet we are told that schools can’t afford to install safe, modern air systems, or to be cleaned thoroughly. Even though schools don’t need to deliver profits to shareholders and have never paid anyone extravagantly. 

Progressives who truly want to make differences for the nation should think more about trivialities and trivial data. In addition to the grand policy proposals and arguments about why the Georgia senate seats were not an easy sweep, progressive activists and candidates could be talking to regular voters, non-progressive voters, about what the trivia shows. About how even small numbers changes could improve schools, public health and eldercare. 

Tom Hall

The 2022 elections are just around the corner. Corporate Republican planners are already at work on them. They remain committed to taking more of our govenrment away from us. There is no reason that those of us who sit, shut in against the plague, shouldn’t be using some of our time to counteract the corporate effort. 

Tom Hall