Political Fix (2 April, 2020)

Take a break from the news and fill out the Census.

Our household has received letters and postcards concerning the census with a stern message, “Your response is required by law.”

The first envelop that landed in our mail box was the actual survey with reminder and information notices following. Needing no outside motivation, I eagerly tore open my thickish envelope hoping to find the long form–only to discover the long form has not been used by the census since 2000.

A lot has changed since the 2000 census in which I was a crew leader: there is no regional office in Hanford, it’s in Fresno, there was no fight over a “citizen question” and people can fill their out their survey online.

In 2000, for those who had internet, it was mostly dial-up and no laptops were issued enumerators. I remember our boss had to beg us just to buy a cell phone, which I did, then canceled it right after my tenure with the census was over.

Being a crew leader in a rural region, where there actually was no signal, versus an urban zone meant a lot more than counting its inhabitants.

Unlike in urban areas where residents received their form in the mail, enumerating rural households such as in Three Rivers, Badger, or Posey, meant sitting down with the respondents, filling out their form, and delivering them back to the regional office.  Besides enumerating, we were also tasked with mapping any new, diverted, or abandoned roads and documenting any missing or new domiciles, whether it be a house or camper shell on a truck with an inhabitant.

It took two weeks to train rural crew leaders and it took a week for crew leaders to train their enumerators. Except for my passive/aggressive boss, who demanded we lie about our car mileage so she could lie about hers, I loved every minute of it.

My first career in the Bay Area in the 1990’s was in survey research methodology. Living in Tulare County in 2000 with five school-aged kids, I knew the 2000 census was the last time I would ever do survey research professionally.

Fast forward 20 years, and even though I’m dying to whip out my blue or black pen and check the boxes and fill in the blanks on the form, I also am curious to see how well the online version works.

So I logged into my2020census.gov.

April 1 was Census Day, which doesn’t mean that’s the day you fill out the census. It means tell the government the number of people living in your house on April 1 except for temporary house guests.

Before the Corona Virus that meant don’t count college kids home for spring break. College kids would normally be counted by a census worker in late spring in their apartments or college dorm.

Now? I don’t know, but I have a suggestion.

Being a disadvantaged, often ignored, poor rural county, let’s give Tulare County a fighting chance this time by providing an accurate count.

When in doubt count anyone under your roof as a household member.

The number of Californians counted by the census determines the number of seats in the House of Representatives and apportions billions of dollars in federal money.

Everyone who does not fill out their form now will get a follow-up visit from a census worker. So let’s not short change Tulare County.

Get on line and fill out your census or someone like me will be knocking on your door.

OK, Back to Corona

Joseph and I were empty-nesters for about two minutes before the Corona Virus returned our two youngest chicks back to the nest. During those two minutes, I somehow managed to visit Mercedes twice in Portland. My two older kids live in Oregon also, so I had a good excuse to hover.

She actually had a tumultuous first trimester away from home, but got her college life straightened out and was really looking forward to spring term at Portland State University – without mom.

Now she is in disbelief that it’s not going to happen.

I am in disbelief that, with our large active family flung up and down the West Coast, it’s the only thing not going to happen.

Our family has only been lightly impacted by COVID – 19, but it’s hard to fathom the number of milestones Generation Z will miss. Seniors won’t be going to prom, putting on their high school play, going to Disneyland for grad night, or attending graduation. College juniors had to come home early from studying abroad and seniors involved in sports will miss their last season, and they will be entering the job market with our economy in a shambles.

Even harder to wrap my head around is that couples have to cancel their weddings, some new moms are delivering their babies alone, and loved ones receive no funerals because of social distancing. I have a close relative who has had her funeral mapped out for decades, not imagining no services will be allowed.

Even worse, for those infected with Corona Virus, they have to die alone. Family members are not allowed to be with their husbands, children, or parents because they might spread the virus.

Quite honestly, that blows me away. I think that many people’s greatest fear is dying alone. Yet here we are.

One more reason to call the Corona Virus the great equalizer.

Mark Pratter, a Hanford rabble-rouser, said that this will be the most important event of our lifetime. Just trying to get through the day lately the importance of the moment can sometimes be missed.

But I guess he is right.

Our great grandchildren will be talking about COVID-19 100 years from now, even more than people mention the Spanish Flu.

Joseph and I speak of the Spanish flu once in a while because we have survivors on both sides of the family. I even have about a dozen of Aunt Helen’s get well cards from October, 1918. But for people who didn’t have relatives affected by the Spanish flu, most have never heard of it.

I think this COVID – 19 will spread its tentacles far into our future and that each country will be judged by history on how well it responded.

Mr. Pratter chuckled, the way people do when the only other alternative is to cry, that the United States is the most technologically advanced it ever has been in the history of mankind.

“And our best answer to the crisis is social distancing?” asked Mr. Pratter.

Neanderthals could have done that.

Why couldn’t the United States have used its economic and technological resources to do what Singapore did?

Singapore made use of the lead time in January and February when China first reported cases of COVID-19. It went straight to work testing, quarantining cases, contact tracing and then quarantining those people. Singapore has not gone into a total lockdown and schools and businesses remain open though they are encouraged to work from home when possible.

As of March 31, Singapore recorded a total of 879 cases of COVID-19 and three deaths.

All the countries suffering high infection rates now really had this lead time to ramp up their testing, reinforce their resources, and formulate a national strategy. Those countries that did not take that opportunity are now suffering the consequences.

Going under lockdown like the United States is doing in a haphazard manner is really any country’s second chance. It’s not an answer. It’s just buying us time.

And some people don’t even believe in the lockdown.

According to an editorial by Robert Reich, “Tom Galisano, founder of Paychex, whose net worth is $2.8 billion, believes ‘the damages of keeping the economy closed as it is could be worse than losing a few more people.’”

As recently as March 23, Fresno City Council member Garry Bredefeld disagreed with the shutdown and several residents of Tulare County have also expressed their objections on facebook.

It’s strange to hear common folk defending the views of billionaires–whose pockets the middle class lines with its hard work. People who work for a living will be the ones dropping like flies from the Corona Virus if we  open up the country too early, while billionaires will wait out the virus safely in one of their many vacation homes.

But there is a silver lining.

Maybe Americans will discover there are other ways to spend their free time than shopping or hanging out in bars. They might realize coffee made at home is as good, or better, than Starbucks. American families might return to the dinner table and eat a home-cooked meal instead of a frozen burrito in front of their laptop.

Because of the school closures Americans have had to face the digital divide and are now trying to bridge it. They now have a deeper understanding of what Bernie Sanders meant when he said work-based healthcare insurance doesn’t work if people aren’t working.

And as we suffer through our interrupted lives, missed milestones, illness, and even death, the Earth on the other hand is healing with less man-made pollution in the sea, land and air.

Our numbers will be depleted and harsh lessons will be learned.

The Earth?

She will be just fine.

3 thoughts on “Political Fix (2 April, 2020)

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  1. In a better world, our 2 Devins would have looked at coronavirus, recognized it as the threat to people it is, and would have worked together to bring resources into quickly finishing the Tulare hospital tower facility so that it could have served Californians. Instead, Devin Nunes told you to go visit a pub and Devon Mathes issues press releases about the bullet train.
    Sad.

  2. As of now Tulare co has more
    Cv cases than Fresno why? Mariposa co has none. The more rural areas there should be less cases. I think a case could be made Tulare should have been more concerned about finishing there hospital than reinstating their police chief. And, Devin Nunes &Trump not trying to get rid of Obamcare more concerned about chasing conspiracy theories in an effort to defend Trump than making sure his district had good health care.

  3. PS Tulare co has over or close to 500,000 people and they only have 3 hospitals. When they had less people every town had a hospital and the bigger ones 2. That’s wrong. They give every dime to law-enforcement and: gangs, drugs and thieves are everywhere and have neglected healthcare.

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