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The World In Which We Live: Pandemic Edition

What a year 2020 has become. As the federal government (particularly the head of the executive branch) dithered, a microscopic killer grew in strength and swept across the globe. A novel virus; one which humans have not been exposed to and thus have no immunity from. No effective treatment, no vaccine at this time. The possibilities are horrendous.

At first it was a China problem, then an Asia problem, before it became a global problem. In my home state of Georgia, it has become a human behavior problem. The state has been partially shut down for a matter less than one month, yet is set to reopen in days. Never mind that our governor claimed he was unaware that the virus could spread via asymptomatic persons, earning himself a place on the Dumbest Governors list. The state is reopening with a mind-boggling list of businesses: hair salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, massage parlors, bars. These are the last businesses that should open, yet Kemp, doing his best impression of a son of an idiot king wanting to impress his father, chose these businesses first. The decision has been called reckless, stupid, ill-conceived.

I call it class warfare.

The employees of such businesses tend to be lower paid, lesser educated than the sort Kemp caters too. In the case of massage parlor employees (note the wording: massage parlors, not therapists. Georgia has a thriving parlor industry where prostitution busts occur regularly, yet somehow the businesses always remain open), some are sex trafficked immigrants. Who among these can mount a defense against this ruling? And how long can they continue to go without work?

Meanwhile, Federal funding has been drained for small businesses. Anger is building after the revelation that hedge funds and national chain restaurants have applied for and received funds meant for small businesses, to the tune of $10 million for Shake Shake and a similar figure for Ruth's Chris Steak House. An Inspector General to oversee distribution of funds would be helpful, but the president fired him.

Anger is also building among the citizenry, for a number of reasons. Lack of medical equipment, even such basics as masks and gowns for healthcare workers. Lack of beds, ventilators. Dying healthcare workers. Refrigerated trailers used as makeshift morgues. And then there's the other side: those Americans who are protesting the shelter-in-place orders by gathering in public, some armed with assault rifles, holding signs and chanting about needing haircuts  (I'm not making this up).

If I come across as outraged in this post, it's because I am. These are outrageous times. But I also have a family history tied to a previous pandemic. A century ago, my great grandparents weathered the Spanish Flu outbreak, losing two children to the disease. My grandfather told of his mother missing the burial of one of her babies because she had to stay home and try to ease the passing of another. Such sorrow isn't easily shed and is deeply ingrained in the personal mythology of the Holder family. Perhaps this is why I hold the lunatic fringe protesters and science deniers in such contempt; contrariwise, perhaps they simply deserve it. One can't help but wonder what these people who couldn't simply stay home for a few weeks will do until effective treatment or a vaccine is produced, as a vaccine is routinely 12-18 months in development and testing can take even longer.

Regardless, this is the world on which we live on this 21st day of April, Year Of Our Lord 2020.

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