scharrison's blog

Census flash: College students should be counted on campus

Even if they are at home due to COVID 19:

“Per the Census Bureau’s residence criteria, in most cases students living away from home at school should be counted at school, even if they are temporarily elsewhere due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said a Sunday afternoon news release from the Census Bureau.

In other words, even if students are home on the official census day, which is April 1, they should be counted based on where they live and sleep most of the time. The Census Bureau says it is asking institutions to contact students with reminders about responding.

I just did my Census online today, and it took less than ten minutes. I encourage everybody to go ahead and do this, especially any college students reading this. And if you are a student, call your parents (on the phone or down the hall) and tell them *not* to count you in the household.

It's time to fix NC's cruel unemployment system

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Hat-tip to Rick Glazier and MaryBe McMillan:

In 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly and then-Gov. Pat McCrory approved House Bill 4 with the stated objective of bringing solvency to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which is funded by taxes on employers and pays unemployment benefits to laid-off workers.

Ultimately, the bill achieved solvency for the trust fund, but only by permanently cutting the amount, duration, and eligibility for benefits for all unemployed workers. All told, the changes enacted in North Carolina amounted to the most severe cuts ever enacted by any state during the 80-plus-year history of American unemployment insurance. At the time, legislators claimed that when the trust fund was solvent, these draconian cuts would be revisited. That time has clearly arrived.

How many North Carolinians have lost their homes since this draconian policy was enacted? How many families have been ripped apart? How many suicides? Republicans in the General Assembly won't be asking those questions, but somebody needs to. We rate our education system by how well it stacks up against other states, and elected officials (from both parties) love to brag about our business climate rankings. But what about workers? Unemployment is not driven by worker behavior; it is driven by business trends, mergers and acquisitions, decisions made in corporate boardrooms often in other states or countries. Those workers produced the profits (and state revenues) diligently, and they deserve better compensation than $264 a week for 8 weeks:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

This deserves serious consideration:

My sister just moved back to Florida from Washington (state), where they have been doing vote-by-mail for several years now. In 2016, 79% of registered voters mailed in their ballots.

Grifter-In-Chief: Trump's efforts to gain control of COVID 19 vaccine

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Because blackmailing the rest of the world is apparently good business:

According to the German newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag, which first reported the story on Sunday, Mr. Trump offered CureVac roughly $1 billion in exchange for exclusive access to the vaccine. The newspaper quoted an unnamed German government source who said Mr. Trump wanted the resulting vaccine “only for the United States.”

White House officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But two senior American officials said that some of the German news accounts first reporting the story were overblown, particularly with regard to any effort by the United States to secure exclusive access to a vaccine.

In this day and age, when verifiable facts are described as "fake news" by the Trump administration, calling something "overblown" is a tacit admission of guilt. Trump simply has no ethical boundaries, and I don't doubt for one minute that he would use that exclusive control of a vaccine as a lever to get other things he wants. To put it bluntly, Germany is pissed off:

Looming restrictions on SNAP benefits due April 1st

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For many, hunger is just around the corner:

The analysis notes that if the policies had been implemented in 2018, an estimated 3.7 million fewer people and 2.1 million fewer households would have received SNAP benefits in an average month. According to the study, the combined impact of the policies would have been to reduce overall SNAP participation by at least 15 percent in 13 states and make almost three-quarters of households with gross incomes above 130 percent of the federal poverty level ineligible for the program.

Losing much-needed food benefits would cause millions of individuals and families to lapse into food insecurity—defined as “the uncertainty of having, or unable to acquire, enough food due to insufficient money or other resources.”

Aside from the sheer cruelty of tightening restrictions on food stamps, it also represents sheer ignorance of economic forces. Instead of bailing out farmers, an expansion of SNAP would inject capital into not only the agricultural sector, but others, as well. But that is apparently way too complicated for the Liar-In-Chief. Here are the changes that are coming in a couple weeks:

Flattening the Curve: Reducing exposure to COVID 19

It's time for a reassessment of priorities:

What epidemiologists fear most is the health care system becoming overwhelmed by a sudden explosion of illness that requires more people to be hospitalized than it can handle. In that scenario, more people will die because there won’t be enough hospital beds or ventilators to keep them alive.

A disastrous inundation of hospitals can likely be averted with protective measures we’re now seeing more of — closing schools, canceling mass gatherings, working from home, self-quarantine, avoiding crowds — to keep the virus from spreading fast.

Bolding mine, because those in positions of leadership and management need to understand and embrace their responsibility during this crisis. If you're hosting a conference, a trade show, or any other function that would attract a large number of people from other states (or countries), the time to cancel or postpone the event is now. If you have employees scheduled to attend a conference, cancel those plans. Don't put them on the spot and say it's their decision, just do it. Because something like this could happen before you know it:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

In the grips of a possible pandemic:

Not usually much for scare-mongering or overabundance of caution, but large gatherings of people should be avoided. Five (5) Wake County folks who attended a BioGen conference in Boston in late February contracted the Novel Coronavirus and brought it back home, and Dog knows where they've been going since then. Be smart, we're all counting on you.

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