scharrison's blog

The Trust deficit that is plaguing America

I recently posted in a Facebook group dedicated to politics about the judge's decision to open up the churches, and one of the commenters asked where all the attacks on Governor Cooper's pandemic restrictions were coming from. I explained about the upcoming election, including Dan Forest's dismal poll numbers, and that has definitely played a role in the visible pushback. Forest is connected to both the ReopenNC people and the Return America group that filed the lawsuit.

But in order to really understand why these (and many other) people are primed to defy common-sense government actions, we need to delve into the trust deficit that has been building for decades. Follow me below the fold if you can trust me to not mislead you:

Living and dying for poverty wages during a pandemic

I hope you enjoy that Quarter Pounder with Cheese:

Bergeron-Lawrence described how her poverty wages and lack of access to paid sick leave had recently compelled her to go to work — despite battling a nagging and undiagnosed respiratory illness, where she was assigned to the drive-thru window — interacting with 50 to 80 people per hour. But what seemed to evoke the most anger and emotion in Bergeron-Lawrence was when she described how the McDonald’s corporate offices had brought in and distributed a shipment of “lovely little pins” to the restaurant employees that read “I am essential.”

As Barber observed, the pins constituted a pathetic and maddening token from a multi-national corporation that pays its front-line workers $10 an hour.

That $10 is about $4.70 per hour short of what she needs to pay rent and other bills, and that's not including food. She's probably getting $160 or so in food stamps per month, unless her second job (to finish paying rent) pushed her over the limit ($1,354 gross per month). And before you try to scribble some numbers, there is no way to make that work. You just can't. $15 per hour is not a "dream" wage, it's a survival wage.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Ode to Dandy:

It's all demagogues know how to do.

Of the people, by the people, for the people

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Here are some of the bills filed by Democratic lawmakers this session:

Nickel also sponsored a bill, SB 792, that would drastically increase North Carolina’s unemployment benefits. The coronavirus shutdown and subsequent job losses have highlighted the fact that North Carolina has among the country’s lowest-paying unemployment benefits.

North Carolina cuts off benefits at anywhere from 12 to 20 weeks, depending on the state’s unemployment rate. Most states in the U.S. allow up to 26 weeks, and Nickel’s bill would have North Carolina match that. His bill would also raise the maximum possible payout from $350 to $450 per week.

And before you say it, I know, the chances of any of these bills to even reach the floor, much less get enough R votes to pass, are slim to none. But it's important to see what could be, and also be able to answer those questions from the politically disconnected who whine, "Why don't they do something about this?" This is the root of that, "Both parties suck" mentality; until something gets fixed, they just assume nobody is trying to fix it. Here are more much-needed improvements:

Renewable energy surpasses coal-burning in nation's power generation

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The clean energy revolution is more than just a slogan:

The United States is on track to produce more electricity this year from renewable power than from coal for the first time on record, new government projections show, a transformation partly driven by the coronavirus pandemic, with profound implications in the fight against climate change.

It is a milestone that seemed all but unthinkable a decade ago, when coal was so dominant that it provided nearly half the nation’s electricity. And it comes despite the Trump administration’s three-year push to try to revive the ailing industry by weakening pollution rules on coal-burning power plants.

Please understand: It wasn't those air pollution rules that brought renewable energy to the level it is right now; it was the wise decision to harness the market and entice investors into the mix. Policies like NC's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards created the demand that drove production and innovation, two key areas that had been dormant for wind and solar for so long. And once that process began, the costs associated with renewable energy would (naturally) drop, keeping the momentum going:

Betsy DeVos is funneling virus relief to private and religious schools

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Kakistocracy is as Kakistocracy does:

Ms. DeVos has used $180 million of those dollars to encourage states to create “microgrants” that parents of elementary and secondary school students can use to pay for educational services, including private school tuition. She has directed school districts to share millions of dollars designated for low-income students with wealthy private schools.

And she has nearly depleted the 2.5 percent of higher education funding, about $350 million, set aside for struggling colleges to bolster small colleges — many of them private, religious or on the margins of higher education — regardless of need.

Keep in mind, DeVos is doing this at the same time that state and local revenues are falling precipitously. Funding for public schools is going to be cut, if it hasn't already, but people like Betsy DeVos don't really care about the vast majority of schools and their students. She's grabbing every dollar she can for any school but those public institutions, because destroying them was her goal from the very beginning. But a lot of responsible folks are pushing back:

Dan Forest and other Christofascists holding rally today

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Return America of Amendment One infamy is hosting the event:

A group of Christian leaders plans to rally in downtown Raleigh on Thursday, demanding that churches should be allowed to reopen like retailers. The group, named Return America, will be led by pastors and Christian educators. During the rally, they'll announce a lawsuit against Gov. Roy Cooper over allowing indoor assembling at churches.

The rally is expected to take place at 11 a.m. outside the legislative building. The Primitive Quartet, a bluegrass gospel group, will perform, and Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest will speak, according to Return America.

In a perfect world. both Return America and Berean Baptist Church would lose their tax-free status by allowing a candidate (Forest) to give a speech at their rally. But we don't live there. And if you're wondering about my use of "Christofascists" in the headline, wonder no more:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Think of the children

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Because exposure to coal ash can be devastating to them:

Experimental research has demonstrated that fine and ultrafine particulate matter can pass directly through the nasal olfactory pathway into the circulatory system to the brain.18,19 In addition, research has shown when air pollution is cleared from the lungs it can enter the gut and exit the body via the gastrointestinal tract.20

Chronic exposure to air pollution and particulate matter has been found to cause chronic inflammation and elevated levels of cytokines throughout the body and brain.18,19 In addition, some of the metals in fly ash are neurotoxins,21-24 and exposure to neurotoxic heavy metals during rapid growth in the early stages of life can disrupt developmental processes and result in neurological dysfunction.17,24

Normally I would remove those reference numbers to make the reading easier, but it's good to occasionally give a nod to legitimate research. There's so much industry-funded nonsense out there (a lot of) people can't tell the difference anymore. Prior to the Clean Smokestacks Act of 2002, a heinous amount of the fly ash produced by coal combustion was escaping into the air, literally blanketing the state. But even with the new scrubbers in place these days, particulate matter from coal burning is still polluting our skies. And children are especially vulnerable:

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