Wes Moore Interview, Fresh Air

Moore says the deaths of Freddie Gray and George Floyd highlight injustices that go beyond police brutality.

“The justice that’s also being sought must be an economic justice. It must be health justice. It must be housing justice,” Moore says. “If we permit these tragedies to recede from our memory, we will risk the opportunity to change the systems that are ultimately responsible for all of these injustices.”


Fresh Air

Former Parole Officer Reflects On His Time Supervising ‘The Second Chance Club’

Four and a half million Americans are on probation or parole — more than twice the nation’s jail population. Parolees and probationers are required to check in regularly with officials, who are charged with helping them rebuild their lives.

I got the book after hearing this interview. It was quite good.
The Second Chance Club: Hardship and Hope After Prison
Jason Hardy
Amazon

Snippets of life living alone during Coronavirus – NY TIMES

Claire Manship belted songs out the window. Ketaki Chowkhani began barking at a stray puppy. Blake Mitchell performed in drag.

As millions of people grapple with isolation in a pandemic, those who live alone face a particular kind of solitude.

More people live alone now than at any other time in history, a seismic shift from even a half-century ago, and one fueled largely by women’s economic rise.

Being alone and being lonely are not the same thing, of course, and many people who live by themselves spend little time alone.

Until, perhaps, a pandemic hits.

Weeks or months into the stay-at-home orders worldwide, we wanted to know how solo dwellers were faring. What were they doing to keep themselves occupied? What did they most long for? What did they feel liberated to live without?

More than 2,000 readers shared their stories and their photos. Here are some of them.

Jessica Bennett, Daniel Jones and Anya Strzemien
Alone.

It’s a relief or a nightmare, irritating and liberating, and already, for many, interminable. This is living alone in a pandemic.

Los Angeles County Unemployment, Coronavirus effect on

Because of the colossal impact that the coronavirus outbreak has had on the U.S. economy, less than half of Los Angeles County residents — 45% compared with 61% in mid-March — still hold a job, a decline of 16 percentage points, or an estimated 1.3 million jobs, according to findings from a national survey released Friday.

Jaclyn Cosgrove
Los Angeles Times, April 17, 2020
Less than half of L.A. County residents still have jobs amid coronavirus crisis

For Many, Getting By Was Difficult Before Coronavirus

In less than two decades, the share of income paid out in wages and benefits in the private sector shrank by 5.4 percentage points, a McKinsey Global Institute study found last year, reducing compensation on average by $3,000 a year, adjusted for inflation.

The result is that a job — once the guarantor of income security — no longer reliably plays that role.

“For many working families, wage growth has not been strong enough to allow them to meet their basic needs on their own,” the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston concluded in a report last year.

“Straggling In A Good Economy, And Now Struggling In A Crisis”
Patricia Cohen
 https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/16/business/economy/coronavirus-economy.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage.

Trying to Stay Afloat in the Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has brought big changes in how Americans work.

Some are fortunate to work from home, while others, including health care workers and delivery drivers, still have to go out in public.

Both women are also supporting children at home.

Humphreys, a single mother who is caring for her son and niece, says she is trying to save money by limiting the use of air conditioning, even though the temperatures in Austin have been in the mid-90s.

She’s also trying to hold off on grocery shopping.

“I started going through my freezer, we are eating everything that’s in the freezer before I have to buy groceries again,” she says. “I’m trying to go through all the canned foods.”

She will lose her health insurance next month, so her son’s father will put her son on his insurance. But for herself, things are uncertain. A survivor of thyroid cancer, Humphreys says she “can’t be without medication.”

“What I tried to do was refill all of my medications for 90 days for now,” she says. “I at least have that for now.”

Lee says she is barely getting by. She has three children and her husband was recently laid off from his job as a trucker. She says he’s receiving unemployment benefits, but combined with her income, that’s “barely” enough to support everyone.

“American Workers Confront Range Of Challenges During The Coronavirus Pandemic”. April 2020. Wbur.Org.

Fighting the Insurance Company – Example of

After My Son Suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury, I Was Told Insurance Would Cover His Medical Bills. I Was Dead Wrong.

When RJ was discharged from the ICU after three weeks, he was transferred to a rehab facility. After he got there, they called me on the phone and said, “Your insurance company called and said RJ’s rehab benefits are up on Friday.”

I said, “No, no, no, no. That’s covered. I was told by my insurance company that this facility is covered for at least 60 days and possibly more. We have more time.”

But all I had was a voice on the phone. Without written proof, without the summary plan description, I couldn’t prove it. So when the rehab facility got another call from my insurance telling them these benefits had lapsed and I couldn’t prove otherwise, I went to the facility and I asked, “Where am I supposed to take him? He’s in a coma.” I remember a social worker telling me I could look into foster care.

Months passed, and I still couldn’t get the summary plan description. I kept calling my insurance company, and they’d be telling me my benefits, and I’d say, “You’re giving me information that you’re looking at. Give me, like, a screen grab of your computer screen.” But they wouldn’t do it. They kept telling me it was being “revised.”

I did some research, and I found out that under a law called ERISA—the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974—I was entitled to the details of my insurance policy.

So I called an ERISA lawyer and told him the situation, and he said, “I can help you, but you’re going to have to give me a retainer of $30,000.”

Stephanie Peirolo
First told at a show by the Moth, the live storytelling group, at the Neptune Theatre in Seattle

Readers digest: https://www.rd.com/true-stories/survival/when-insurance-stops-paying/

Stephanie Peirolo is executive director of the board of the Health Care Rights Initiative, a nonprofit providing advocacy and navigation services for patients and caregivers. This story was excerpted from All These Wonders.

Here Are the Urban Highways That Deserve to Die – City Lab

On one side of Interstate 980 in Oakland rise the new glass skyscrapers of the city’s Uptown neighborhood, home to a bustling entertainment district and Silicon Valley’s spillover tech startups. On the other lies West Oakland, a “food desert” where two-thirds of residents live below the poverty line.

West Oakland residents should be able to benefit from the growing number of amenities available in Uptown, since they technically live in walking distance. But crossing the 560-foot-wide interstate and two frontage roads is a daunting task. It’s a prime example of one of America’s most divisive freeways—literally.

CLAIRE TRAN APRIL 3, 2019
https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/04/urban-worst-freeway-without-future-teardown-demolition-list/584707/

The Philosophy of an Epoch, Unknown Assumptions – Alfred Whitehead Quote

“When you are criticizing the philosophy of an epoch, do not chiefly direct your attention to those intellectual positions which its exponents feel it necessary explicitly to defend. There will be some fundamental assumptions which adherents to all the variant systems within the epoch unconsciously presuppose. Such assumptions appear so obvious that people do not know what they are assuming because no other way of putting things has ever occurred to them. With these assumptions a certain limited number of types of philosophic systems are possible, and this group of systems constitutes the philosophy of the epoch.”

Alfred Whitehead, Science and the Modern
Open Library

Hypothetical example – Everything is about Growth. The assumption that growing the GDP is a universal imperative, or that it’s an inherent good. 

In Utah, some public workers are able to fly to Canada or Mexico to buy their medication at a steep discount – WBUR

Utah is pioneering an alternative for its state employees to address soaring prescription drug prices.

The Pharmacy Tourism Program, a part of the Utah Public Employees Health Program (PEHP), allows certain members with high-cost medicines to fill their prescription in Vancouver, Canada, and Tijuana, Mexico, where medication comes at a much lower cost. The initiative even pays for members’ flights.

WBUR

Non U.S. millenials having same problems as the American ones?


US milliennials (roughly 22-37 yrs of age) are facing heavy debt and low pay which prevents or delays them from buying homes (or other large purchases) and starting families compared to their parents, are other countries experiencing the same or similar economic issues with this age group? from NoStupidQuestions

“In the UK almost identical situation.
I’m 43 I own my house and pay £600 pcm mortgage.
My colleague is 34 rents a house on the same street. Pays £900 pcm rent.
He’s fucked. Totally fucked.”

“In Finland, not as bad, but trending towards that. Pay is dragging behind the increasing cost of living, because we need to remain competitive in EU internal and global markets, which apparently can only be done with wages. Not by for example, making Finland more friendly to startups and small and medium sized companies, and entrepreneurs.”

reddit

‘We can’t afford healthcare’: US hospital workers fight for higher wages

Hospital and healthcare workers across the US are launching union drives and organizing protests in order to win higher wages and better working conditions, saying their industry exploits them and leaves them often unable to afford healthcare, despite working in the sector.

According to the SEIU, there are about 50,000 low-wage hospital workers throughout the Chicago metro area and about 10,000 are currently represented by the union.

LeChrisha Pearson, a single mother and certified nursing assistant for eight years at Chicago’s Mount Sinai hospital, was one of about 400 workers at the hospital who organized a union in June 2019, and threatened to strike in November 2019 before winning a contract that would raise wages for all workers to $15 an hour.

She works two to three jobs, including as a delivery driver for Uber Eats, to make ends meet while working full-time at the hospital.

Michael Sainato, February 17 2020, Guardian

In the News – Shouldn’t workers be doing better in this booming economy?

Despite unemployment at a near 50-year low, a soaring stock market and the longest expansion in US history, the recovery hasn’t yet reached these millions in economic hard times, say these analysts.

Even as wages overall are rising, about 50 percent of US workers received no pay raises last year, according to Bankrate. And in real terms, some say average salaries are stagnant.

“Today’s average inflation-adjusted wage in America has the same purchasing power that it did in 1978,” Liam Hunt, a market analyst at SophisticatedInvestor.com, told The Post. “That’s despite macroeconomic growth in terms of GDP, salary increases for the highest bracket of income earners and rapidly rising home costs,” he added. “In a growing economy, we should see real wage growth, though we haven’t.”

John Aidan Byrne, February 22, 2020, NY POST

‘Glass House’ Chronicles The Sharp Decline Of An All-American Factory Town

Lancaster, Ohio, the home of the Fortune 500 company Anchor Hocking, was once a bustling center of industry and employment. At its peak following World War II, Lancaster’s hometown company was the world’s largest maker of glassware and employed more than 5,000 town residents.

Though Anchor Hocking remains in Lancaster today, it is a shell of its former self, and the once thriving town is beset by underemployment and drug abuse. Lancaster native Brian Alexander chronicles the rise and fall of his hometown in his new book, Glass House.

“People are genuinely struggling,” he tells Fresh Air’s Dave Davies. “The economy of the town is struggling, not because there’s high unemployment, [but] because the employment that there is all minimum wage, or even lower than minimum wage.”

Fresh Air, February 6, 2017. NPR

For Her Head Cold, Insurer Coughed Up $25,865

Alexa Kasdan had a cold and a sore throat.

The 40-year-old public policy consultant from Brooklyn, N.Y., didn’t want her upcoming vacation trip ruined by strep throat. So after it had lingered for more than a week, she decided to get it checked out.

Kasdan visited her primary care physician, Roya Fathollahi, at Manhattan Specialty Care, just off Park Avenue South and not far from tony Gramercy Park.

The visit was quick. Kasdan got her throat swabbed, gave a tube of blood and was sent out the door with a prescription for antibiotics.

NPR, December 23, 2019

The system at work.

An Algorithm That Grants Freedom, or Takes It Away

Across the United States and Europe, software is making probation decisions and predicting whether teens will commit crime. Opponents want more human oversight.

He didn’t realize that an algorithm had tagged him high risk until he was told about it during an interview with The New York Times.

“What do you mean?” Mr. Gates, 30, asked. “You mean to tell me I’m dealing with all this because of a computer?”

In Philadelphia, an algorithm created by a professor at the University of Pennsylvania has helped dictate the experience of probationers for at least five years.

Interesting article in the Times:
Cade Metz and Adam Satariano, NY Times

This kind of reminds me of this book:
A Philosophical Investigation, by Philip Kerr

LONDON, 2013. Serial killings have reached epidemic proportions—even with the widespread government use of DNA detection, brain-imaging, and the “punitive coma.” Beautiful, whip-smart, and driven by demons of her own, Detective Isadora “Jake” Jacowicz must stop a murderer, code-named “Wittgenstein,” who has taken it upon himself to eliminate any man who has tested posi­tive for a tendency towards violent behavior—even if his victim has never committed a crime. He is a killer whose intellectual brilliance is matched only by his homicidal madness.

Amazon

“Educated Fools” – Thomas Geoghegan, The New Republic

In fact, the college graduates who are now the base of the party have moved working people out of the old neighborhoods. I think here of my own city—Chicago—where the members of the City Council whom columnists from Ben Hecht to Mike Royko used to mock now have more degrees than reporters of Hecht’s generation had. Here’s the finding of a new study from the University of Illinois at Chicago: In 1970, one half of Chicago by census tract was “middle-income”—that is to say, the people who made up the old working-class machine vote, most of them without four-year college degrees. Now that “middle-income” group is just 16 percent. The bungalows in those formerly middle-income neighborhoods teeming with high school graduates now belong to high-tech entrepreneurs and investors in hedge funds.

Thomas Geoghegan, New Republic

Apartments for rent in Denver: What will $1,100 get you?

Listed at $1,005/month, this studio apartment is located at 1431 Humboldt St. South.

In the apartment, you can expect a dishwasher. Amenities offered in the building include a resident lounge and on-site laundry. Pet owners, take heed: This property is both dog-friendly and cat-friendly. There’s no leasing fee required for this rental.

Walk Score indicates that the surrounding area is a “walker’s paradise,” is convenient for biking and offers many nearby public transportation options.

hoodline

Should Coal Miners Learn To Code? Slashdot discusses

During a campaign event on Monday, U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden “suggested coal miners could simply learn to code to transition to ‘jobs of the future,'” reports Newsweek:
“Anybody who can go down 300 to 3,000 feet in a mine, sure in hell can learn to program as well, but we don’t think of it that way,” he said… “Anybody who can throw coal into a furnace can learn how to program for God’s sake…”

Many Twitter users criticized Biden’s comments as reductive. “Telling people to find other work without a firm plan to help them succeed will never be popular,” communications professional Frank Lutz wrote… Congressional candidate Brianna Wu tweeted that she was “glad to see the recognition that you don’t need to be in your 20s to do this as a profession,” but also called Biden’s suggestion “tone-deaf and unhelpful.”

Long-time Slashdot reader theodp notes the response this speech got from New York magazine’s Sarah Jones: “Please Stop Telling Miners To Learn To Code.” And in comments on the original submission, at least two Slashdot readers seemed to agree. “Not everyone can code and certainly not every coal miner or coal worker,” wrote Slashdot reader I75BJC. “Vastly different skills.”

Slashdot reader Iwastheone even shared a Fox News article in which rival presidential candidate Andrew Yang argued “Maybe Americans don’t all want to learn how to code… Let them do the kind of work they actually want to do, instead of saying to a group of people that you all need to become coders.”

But is there something elitist in thinking that coal miners couldn’t learn to do what coders learned to do? It seems like an interesting question for discussion

Slashdot