A penny for your thoughts.

Covid plays God

Carolle has found an occupation, she is cleaning my sloppy grouting after tiling our renovated bathroom. I have some excuse for it, we only took possession of the loft in September, and we had plans to visit Nice at the end of November. Although the loft looked clean and ready to live in, it quickly became evident that the bathroom had to be remodeled. Carolle, with her experience in architecture, drew the plan, and I was the contractor. I had help from my friends Larry and Lou who demolished and removed the debris, Mike the plumber installed the new tub and I worked the rest of the job. The plan consisted of small marble squares for the tiled floor, all four walls clad with large ceramic tiles, floor to ceiling, a new toilet, new lavatory, new door etc… something I knew how to do as I had remodeled several bathrooms in the past in the different house we owned at one time or another.  All was finished, except for the grout, only one week before departing for France. Because I did not want to come back with an unfinished job, I grouted the tiles a couple of days before leaving, tired and exhausted from the past eight month ordeal of moving, that in retrospect feels now a bit like a cataclysm. I can’t think of how I would have done if covid had appeared around the time we sold the house. Poor folks left in that situation now. The cleaning should keep Carolle busy for a couple of days. I’m not getting in her way. I offered to help a couple of times and was denied.

It has been a month now since returning from New York City. I have not had any sign of covid, no symptom, my friend Dan, with whom I was that same day, is also fine. Since we haven’t heard of anyone in our close business relations infected with covid. The administration has flipped on wearing masks, now telling anyone who would listen, to wear them in public, specially grocery shopping. Covid numbers are creeping along, the map showing the darker spot near us growing ever larger as the contagion progresses. The color fades gradually to pink the further from the city one lives. We live two hours away from New YorkCity, in the lighter pink part of the covid map in the North West corner of Connecticut. Our county is adjacent to Fairfield County, the county bordering New York, north of the city, where the virus has hit worse in Connecticut. We don’t feel safe even though we are far away. I think most of us wish for a coordinated national effort from the administration to the top down. We want it but we fear it too, specially with the team we have now, and frankly with any team. Ceding states rights is contrary to our democracy. But should we play the same rules during a catastrophic event like the one that’s plaguing us now? I think not. In times like these, the country has to accept uniformity in decisions and actions. Can you keep a ship from sinking plugging one hole on the side of it and ignoring another couple of breaches on the other side? I think not. Instead, states are left to their own decision, and in some cases , their own devises to fight covid. Again, some say the president is, like that well known head of states a few thousand years ago, washing his hands of the whole affair. Can’t put the blame on him if he is not in charge, right. But if he is not in charge then, why do we need him?
As of today, 332,594 cases of covid-19 have been detected, 9,504 have died and 17,018 have recovered in the United States. Giuseppe Verdi’s Opera, Macbeth is on as a background.

This month of semi confinement has passed rather quickly, we try to economize on the small projects left to finish the loft, trying to keep one daily and taking our time to do it, why hurry really, time is cheap today. Yesterday, I took the telescopic 14” ladder out and changed the fastening screws holding the storm windows (a retrofit installed inside instead of outside), with flat head screws instead of the knobby ones provided by the manufacturer. Their large size, useful if one has to remove the window,  put them in the way of the ten feet vertical blinds covering the windows, catching the last long blade and leaving it unnaturally twisted. Shorter screws were the solution, all three windows provided me with exercise, Carolle was happy, the thing bugged her since I installed the new set of blinds, the old ones brittle with time, some blade missing or damaged, but mandatory for the esthetic look of the building, a uniform window dressing for the whole complex.

So far, our lockdown has been fairly uneventful, life as usual without the luxury of socializing. That is physical contact face to face socializing. Online socializing is another story, my mobile informs me everyday that I have spent quite a bit of time on my device, more than usual. It seems that a lot of the president’s apologists are even more vocal than ever. People seeing  what is happening during this catastrophic time, are pushing against a lot of disinformation and misplaced blame. I confess I am one of the folks pushing against the base. I believe the apologists are a minority, but a minority with a strong voice that they are not shy of using time and time again, to extol the president’s actions or inaction, blaming the opposition’s impeachment or other far fetched nonsense. The president did not seem that busy during the impeachment proceedings, he was golfing as usual telling everyone who would listen that all was good, that it was not worried because, anyway, the all affair was a Democrat hoax. Sounds familiar, another hoax, just like covid, a Democrat fabrication was his modus operandi. But the president’s base is pushing, most times with made up figures and falsehood, to remake history. They deny having downplayed the pandemic as a hoax, back pedaling to fit their new message, that Trump is doing a great job and nobody gives him the credit he deserves because they hate him. I don’t hate him, I just think he is not competent to lead our nation, never was, and it is more evident now with his reaction to fighting covid. Our most danger now is that he is in charge. But that has nothing to do about hate. Take the face mask debacle, and we know that no CDC decisions are not vetted by the president. The masks are now recommended, a whole month after the epidemic in New York, for everyone in public, a sudden volte-face after the blatant lies they told the public not even a week before. It was possibly more dangerous for the public to wear masks, they said at the time, with no data to sustain the claim. In the meantime, the president is doubling down on pushing treatment with drugs used for other viruses, against the recommendations of his health team. Again, his mind is influenced by individuals with no medical knowledge, but he listens hoping for a quick fix to the crisis. He keeps on telling us, and having the health experts in charge of guiding him and the country, that a lot of folks will die from covid, a lot of people he emphasizes, and in the same breath, he encourages churches and places of worship to continue as usual, instead of forbidding large gatherings, the path to stopping infections from spreading further. For heaven’s sake, even the Pope closed the Vatican, what does the US religious leaders know that the boss in Rome does not?

It’s about time we tax organized religion and churches, we cannot exist as a nation when privileges are accorded to this or that group of citizens. We, the people should not pick up the tab for a huge amount of the free loading businesses, churches and their founders. We cannot survive when rules of conduct, designed to keep people from getting sick, are totally ignored by groups like some southern churches goers, putting all in jeopardy. When exception are allowed, folks die and covid runs amock. There is no more a separation of church and states when churches are not following sanitary rules. There is no more separation of church and states when big mega churches see the president as a messiah, and preach his virtues at mass. Some church leaders are paying an ultimate price for the poisoned gospel they preached. Covid has taken a few, and with more of their flock members infected, death is not done yet. And that’s a problem as parishioners move freely around their communities spreading the virus to countless victims.

We hear stories about folks out of luck in Missouri who had utilities cut before covid arrived. How do you expect they keep clean? How can they wash their hand for twenty seconds, as the good doctor tell them on the tv, before electricity is also cut off? How many of those folks are around in the country? I am sure more than is told on the news. Statistics tell us that 38 million people live at or below poverty level. When you add these 38 million people to 170 million middle class, it leaves our country with 138 million upper class of various wealth. It would only take 3.473684210526316 rich folks to bring 1 person out of poverty. Would that be too much to ask? It could be done as a real life tv show, Adopt a Poor, but that would be crass, wouldn’t it be? Not that we have not had our share of crass shows, like the homes of rich and famous, or the various bachelors or bachelorettes, the naked and afraid and duck dynasties and other degrading shows of the past few years. I still think taxes are a better way to correct a situation that is unsustainable, the recent events been a clear indication that the time has come.
The wealth amassed by the top earners has tipped the balance so much toward the bottom that the ”angle of repose” is breached and the old middle class children’s, with practically no wealth passed down, are falling into poverty faster than ever, nothing to grasp on, the slant too step. The people working two or three jobs, some living in their car or vans, the ones basically swindled by the various services and the job providers (some exempt of contributing to taxes unlike most of us), are the ones paying for that. Kept in modern slavery, living pay check to pay check and working for the company store. Of course, when they are not useful, you cut the utilities, first, then you repossess their dwellings,  and you see them on the streets, or camped in the woods. That’s what’s tipping the balance of our economy, not covid. Our president was right when berating the homeless situation in California, the poverty in Baltimore, now it’s time he acts on it. If he is not interested, someone else has to do it. In the richest country in the world, we should not have such rampant poverty juxtaposed to the ostentatious wealth allowed to flourish unfettered and untaxed.

The system is broken and fixing it will take a strong political will. Folks are going to start thinking about priorities. Will people go back to the party in charge now, the party fighting tooth and nail against just about every social advances, the party whose solution to all ills is to cut founding for services or social security, while largely distributing tax refunds to the same folks who are tipping the balance? Will people, for once, not vote for politicians working against their own welfare.

Covid numbers are climbing in the USA, 10000 deaths and 360000 infected. Bellini’s Norma just finished, with another doomed love and a fiery death finale. Death is inevitable and it’s an anticipation we all experience, we expect it, sooner or later. Still when someone you know dies, you are not ready to believe the news, most times you are shocked. I just learned that one of my old customer died a few days ago. She was extremely wealthy and could have chosen, like some other wealthy clients, to deal with me through an intermediate (I had another equally wealthy client during the same time that I never met). Instead, she would receive me and we would briefly discuss the project and from then on, I had free reigns on the finished product. I appreciated that and the work I did for her was some of the most satisfying if not challenging I created. I could work unfettered and from my own designs. She had impeccable taste, an art benefactor and a beautiful woman. There is no indication she died of covid, and I am glad if she did not. The English prime minister is ill with covid, in intensive care, the Queen of England spoke to her subjects, telling folks to stay put, that there will be better days to come.
Covid, like a malicious god picks his victims blindly.