- High Pressure
- Mendo CV
- Rubble Removal
- Co-op Seniors
- NY Disaster
- Ed Notes
- Costco Seniors
- Compliance Notes
- New Low
- Small Things
- Feeling Afraid
- Russ Remembers
- School Meals
- Boont Berry
- Food Options
- Weed Lines
- FB Mayor
- Local Newspapers
- Funeral Services
- Spit Not
- MCDH Update
- Farm Report
- Court Updates
- Mild Symptoms
- Young Crossdresser
- SF Lockdown
- Florentine Plague
- Corona Cost
- Plague Journal
- La Peste
- Sanders Campaign
- Doing Business
- Fed Dictatorship
- Drone Walk
- Mortgage Relief
- Found Object
HIGH PRESSURE will build into the area through the weekend with moderating temperatures and more sunshine, but chilly morning lows. The next storm system will bring widespread rain and mountain snow along with colder temperatures during the early to middle portions of the coming week. (NWS)
MENDO’S FIRST VIRTUAL BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING
by Mark Scaramella
A somber, business-like feeling pervaded Friday morning’s first-ever virtual Board of Supervisors meeting. As CEO Angelo and her staff held down the fort in the Supes chambers, three of the five supervisors participated from their homes by video stream (Haschak, Gjerde, Williams) while McCowen and Brown attended by phone. Williams appeared to be sitting on his back porch on the Coast with a sweeping ocean view behind him.
But the ocean view did little to raise spirits. Because the subject, of course, was the very serious subject of how Mendo was going to deal with the consequences of the metataszing corona virus.
At the beginning of the meeting about 100 people were tuned in to the live video. But three hours later, as the discussion got further and further into operational details, virtual attendance dwindled to ten or so.
Many of the seats in the supervisor's chambers were closed off with caution [sic] tape or signs on chairs encouraging people to stay a safe distance away from each other.
For this first part of our report, we will address the more urgent health and related advisory topics. In the next day or two we will cover the longer term staffing, operational, and financial implications.
Mendo’s refreshingly direct Public Health Officer, Dr. Noemi Doohan, told the Board how she’s trying to keep up with constantly breaking developments. Our relatively newly hired Public Doctor, who is also a molecular biologist, is from San Diego where her husband still lives. Dr. Doohan is taking a crash course in all things Mendocino.
She’s in contact with other Bay Area Health Officers, and others from “hot spots” like San Diego and Seattle. The doctor said she hoped that Mendo can slow the spread and become something of a northern “firewall,” preventing the virus’s northward march.
Dr. Doohan said she has been focused on three problem areas: the homeless, the jail, and nursing facilities.
Unfortunately, Dr. Doohan didn’t have many specifics about the homeless who may be affected by the virus, other than to say that the State has authorized up to $150 million for housing homeless people who need to be quarantined. But there were few details as yet. Presumably, some of that state money (perhaps as vouchers) will go to hotels, motels or other facilities — presumably now vacant under the Governor’s new “stay home” order — who may need temporary isolation.
An isolation wing has been set up at the jail for any inmate showing signs of illness. Showers and uniform changes are required for personnel going in or out. CO uniforms are left at the jail as they leave, laundered on-site overnight in preparation for the next day's duty.
Skilled nursing facilities: Doohan said that so far Mendo facilities are in “a good position.” They are setting up special isolation housing as quickly as possible for any respiratory problems which may arise.
Testing, Dr. Doohan said, is a “challenge” everywhere. There’s only one commercial lab in the state, an outfit called Quest Lab in San Juan Capistrano, and it can only do 3,000 tests per day. There’s a huge backlog and it’s increasing every day.
The testing process is cumbersome too: A properly garbed health worker swabs one’s nose and mouth, then, to protect the sample (if it has the virus), it has be put in a special tube with “viral preservation medium,” and shipped to a processing/screening lab in Sonoma County and then to the test facility. Friday morning, the lab was getting 16,000 requests a day. It takes five to ten days to get results. That recently reported first case from the Gualala area was swabbed five days before they got confirmation last Wednesday.
As of Friday morning, Mendo had sent 73 tests out. 35 came back negative, one was positive and 37 were pending. Dr. Doohan did not know when the 37 pending results will come in. But they are focusing testing on the South Coast for now.
Supervisor Dan Gjerde asked about hotel-motel closures.
Emergency Operations Center Manager Sheriff’s Lieutenant Shannon Barney said deputies and other county staff were going door to door to all of visitor facilities to tell them not to host any new visitors. They also plan to visit commercial B&Bs in the near future with the same instructions. (AirBnBs were not mentioned.) The instructions are that commercial lodging establishments are not to rent any new rooms without the approval of the Health Officer, and rooms are to be held to save space for surge capacity and/or homeless isolation. Long term (which in the past has meant over 30-days) hotel/motel residents will not be moved.
Dr. Doohan said that a Frequently Asked Questions page is available at the County’s website for more details about how the shelter in place order will be implemented.
Dr. Doohan said that in general Mendo will follow the Big Six Bay Area counties as the situation unfolds. She added that she wants to see that businesses survive, especially the hotels and motels that are directly affected. But how that is supposed to happen remains to be worked out. Presumably, some state money will be coming in to pay or subsidize lodging operators.
Dr. Doohan concluded that it is up to each individual and business to make their own decisions under the circumstances and the guidelines.
Tomorrow we will cover other topics that arose such as precautions being taken in various County offices, property tax implications, financial implications, homeless funding, some of the fine points of what Mendo considers “essential,” and some of the long-term aspects facing Mendo in the months (and years?) to come.
RUBBLE REMOVAL of the burnt out remains of last December's "Lodge Fire" has begun! The December fire in central Boonville destroyed the PicNPay store, Lizbby's restaurant/bar, formerly the Boonville Lodge, and two nearby cottages. The cleanup began Friday morning. By Friday afternoon a skilled operator of a rented skip loader, perhaps property owner/Sonoma contractor Dave Johnson, a retired contractor, had finished the demolition of the burnt cottages and was sorting much of the debris into separate piles for metal, wood, plastic, etc. Presumably, the work will proceed in stages as each pile is loaded into dump trucks and hauled outta here. Then, as we understand it, the empty, damaged PicNPay structure itself will be razed and separately removed.
ON A RELATED NOTE, we understand that the water and septic system for Mr. Johnson's property had been upgraded to current codes well prior to the fire, meaning that Johnson might be able to rebuild in some manner.
ARMY TO DEPLOY TO NEW YORK AFTER TRUMP DECLARES MAJOR DISASTER
Troops to turn hotels and sports arenas into hospitals as lines form outside hospitals, ventilators run low and almost two people an hour die in pandemic in NYC.
FROM HERE, the most startling development on the day is the announcement from County authorities that visitors are unwelcome, aggressively unwelcome, with police visiting hotels, motels, inns, and even bed and breakfasts to notify these facilities, "No Visitors." What's next, roadblocks on 101?
AS MENDO SHUTS DOWN, it can't be any clearer that our economy is service-based, and suddenly several thousand servers are out of work, out of income but, hopefully, not out of their homes. We'd always thought in an emergency that our visitor-based economy was precarious given that frivolities are the first to go when the economy goes south. But the whole national show collapsing at once?
I WAS WATCHING Trump's press conference this morning on Channel 7 when a local reporter broke in to announce a "breaking development from Contra Costa County." Odd call, I thought, given that the feds ordinarily trump locals, especially during this, The Mother of All Catastrophes. Then appeared a parade of Contra Costa officials to announce that a very old person "with pre-existing medical conditions" (i.e., eighty years of life) had died from the virus.
I SWITCHED BACK to the national leadership just in time to see Trump go off on a reporter who'd asked him if he was putting too positive a spin on the coronavirus crisis, apparently referring to Trump's statement yesterday (Thursday) describing the anti-malaria drug chloroquine as "a game-changer" that would stop the virus in its tracks. As we've learned about the guy, he can't keep his mouth shut, so everything he says has to immediately be fact-checked.
THE IMPERTINENT reporter then asked Trump "what message" he had for Americans who are scared. "I would say that you're a terrible reporter, that's what I'd say." Trump heatedly replied. "I think it's a very nasty question. The American people are looking for answers and they're looking for hope. And you're doing sensationalism." Trump had just said that he'd ordered up "millions" of units of chloroquine and that he had a "feeling" it will be effective against coronavirus. "We ordered them. We have millions of units ordered. Millions of units are ordered and we’re going to see what happens."
DR. FAUCI, the nation's top infectious disease expert, diplomatically clarified, that "There isn’t really that much of a difference of what we we're saying. The president feels optimistic about something, his feeling about it. What I am saying is that it might be effective. I’m not saying that it isn’t. It might be effective. But as a scientist and as we are getting it out there, we need to do it in a way as while we are making it available for people who might want the hope that it might work, you are also collecting data that will ultimately show that it is truly effective and safe under the conditions of COVID-19."
THE MARIN COUNTY Board of Supervisors plans to consider a resolution on March 24 that would prevent residents and business owners from being evicted because of a sudden loss of income tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. The moratorium would last until May 31. We badly need that resolution here in Mendo.
CASHING IN on the crisis we find US Senators Kelly Loeffler, Richard Burr, Dianne Feinstein and Jim Inhofe, all of whom short-sold stock holdings a week before the stock market started crashing.
FROM SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS:
I want to thank lodging businesses for coming into compliance. Many have acted as partners in public safety.
Working with the Sheriff, yesterday we addressed dozens of facilities operating against orders, including social media ads calling Mendocino a place to get away during covid19. It needs to stop. We’re wasting precious personnel time.
FROM DA EYSTER:
Getting tired of the 24/7 talking heads and their pontificating that always seems to take a political turn with unsolicited thoughts on who is to blame … when it really should be about the next step in helping one another get through this rough patch alive and well. Candidly, if anyone locally doesn't know what needs to be done or how to help, he or she needs to start listening better.
Kudos to Dr. Doohan for continuing to bring us no nonsense local public health updates and recommendations.
That said, I decided to pay attention to a couple of small things this afternoon that brought in to focus some of the joys of living in Mendocino County.
First, there were the finches. The finches are eating up a storm at my two nijer seed feeders. L tells me that this means there will soon be a lot of little finch eggs in the nests. I like it that she still thinks I need instruction on the birds and the bees…
And then there was that incredible sunset tonight. Wow. Simply wow!
KEEPING THE FEAR AT BAY
RUSS EMAL LOOKS BACK:
Sitting around with less than normal to do, my mind wandered to the time we first moved to Anderson Valley. It was in the late seventies. We moved here as Wendy, my wife, was from Willits and this was an area we had visited. We fell in love with Anderson Valley quickly.
The first time we went out to eat was in Philo. The restaurant in town was then known as the Philo Cafe. When we entered the place was dark and rather empty. Not what we thought of as a good sign. Only one table had people at it. But we sat down and waited for a menu. And waited for a menu. And…. No server came to the table. We sat for maybe 5 minutes hungry and had no idea at this point if this was even a place to eat.
Then from the other table a woman stood up and came over to us and asked, “Would you like to see a menu?” This was perhaps the waitress. It was Lady R! We later found out this was how it went at the cafe. Good food. Yet not what you might call a fast food restaurant. The cafe offered other experiences beyond food.
This was the center of the valley’s musical entertainment. Over the next year or so we saw a good number of bands play there. Slim Silver and the Side Effects, Cabin Fever, and several more. All had different names. Yet all had the same musicians. There was Bill McEwen, Piggy, AJ Soares, Ron Tinkler, Charlie Bass, Rick Ragweed, the Wood brothers and local luthier Dave Dart played back then as well. And there were many, many more.
The cafe was where we all went to dance. Some nights the place would really rock. Yea there was music but no good foundation. So the actual building rocked. I remember one fellow who showed up to dance. Pogo. He loved to dance and at the same time sweat. Boy when he was on the dance floor the sweat would fly. Doug Johnson helped rock the place also. He was known as the Dancing Bear.
Did you know the original Variety Show was held in the Philo Cafe? It was the ‘Magic Company’ that created it. But then called it the Talent Show. They later changed the name to the Variety Show. I understand they had trouble finding actual talent so felt variety was closer to the truth. You have been to one of the shows right? If so you understand the change.
Do you remember the Little Man? Maybe the act most remembered by folks who attended the shows in the cafe. The ‘Captain’ and ‘Master of Illusion’ Henry Hill were the Little Man. Somehow two full sized men created a little man. They made fun of the cafe service by eating napkins as getting food at the cafe was not an easy task. Oh yes, the Little Man also peed beer. Nasty Fellow.
That was then and this is now. Life has always been good here in Anderson Valley. Now there is little to do and stuck in my house due to the Corona Virus. Yet spring is here! A perfect time to do spring cleaning. Like I do that.
I’m really not at all sure why we ever moved to Anderson Valley. I had a great job in Sacramento working at EDD (Employment Development Department) paying out unemployment insurance. Wendy had just graduated from Sac State as a social worker. (Little did she know she would spend her working life as our high school librarian. Talk about social work!)
Yet one day we decided to sell our home, give up my job, and move to the valley. The plan was simple. Build and operate a shingle and shake mill. If you do not know what that is, neither did I. My milling experience to that point was a tour I had in a lumber mill back east. But hey! I’m a fast learner.
In the Valley today the action is centered around Lauren’s restaurant. But back in the late seventies when something was happening, it happened at the Floodgate. Butch Paula and his family had purchased the store from a lady called Margarete. I do not recall her last name. Butch’s mom Molly/Bobbie/Barbara (we all called her a different name) pretty much ran the store while Butch ran the saw shop. At the beginning Butch knew about as much about fixing a saw as I did about running a mill. But he too was a fast learner.
Back then logging was still happening big time in the valley. Masonite was still in operation. Loggers said they used the Floodgate to get saw work done. But really the store sold beer. A lot of beer. I guess they also sold food. They made a great sandwich and sold dozens upon dozens of $1 pickled eggs. The eggs were displayed in a tall, thin glass jar containing a pickeling brine. That jar of brine may have pickled over a thousand eggs. Molly, as I called her, raised chickens. The brine jar was always full. I think profit wise, pickled eggs kept them in the black.
When you needed a hair cut back then you went to the Floodgate. About once a week, not on any schedule, Marilyn Pronsolino (sp), I think her name then was M. Bonnie, showed up to cut hair in the parking lot. Men would sit in the bar drinking beer until their turn came to get cut. She did a good job. I think…I mean I too had been drinking. Think she even cut the hair of a few passing tourists
We lived and still live up Nash-Mill Road about 4 miles. We had no phone, no TV, and really no road. When we needed to make a phone call we used the pay phone at the Floodgate. Wendy, my wife, remembers a time just after dusk when she went to the store to make a call. The Gate was a-jumpin’! Wendy says the place was so rowdy, she didn’t enter the store. I understand her fear. You now know most of these men today as gentle souls. But, give them a few beers and see what happens!
Now my mill is gone. Floodgate is a memory, and wineries fill the valley.
What’s your story?
SCHOOL MEALS IN AV
Parents and Guardians of Anderson Valley,
Starting next Monday, March 23, school meals will be provided on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays only. No meals will be available for pick up on Tuesdays or Thursdays.
Meals will include two breakfasts, two lunches, and two milks. Pick up will still be outside of Anderson Valley Elementary School from 11:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.
This change will remain in effect through Friday, April 2, after which time meals will be discontinued because of Spring Break, which is scheduled for April 3 through April 12, 2020.
Thank you, as always, for your continued patience and understanding.
(Anderon Valley Unified)
JESSICA AND KEVIN WELCOME YOU!
Boont Berry will be open during this crazy moment in time. In addition to our normal selection of food, we are offering take out deli food, street side delivery of preordered items and special orders of bulk items. We are also hoping to be able to deliver food to those who can't leave their homes. Just give us a call. 707-895-3576
SHELTER IN PLACE ORDER AND LOCAL AND ONLINE FOOD OPTIONS
from Anderson Valley Village
I am always thinking about food myself and now it is more of an issue so I have compiled a partial list of the local food stores and restaurants with an update of their hours, pick-up and/or delivery options if any.
And there is always online shopping…
In Ukiah Raley’s offer curbside pickup for prescriptions at our Pharmacy locations. Shop online at Raley's and you could just pick up your groceries (order need to be done 48 hours in advance…). Starting Saturday, March 21, we will have two unique Senior Essentials Bags available for purchase at a discounted price. These bags can be picked up daily curbside or in store. We will make every effort to meet demand.
$20 Bag: Contains a mix of fresh items and pantry staples
$35 Bag: Contains ready-to-eat meals.
1315 N. State St., Ukiah CA, 95482
Store: (707) 468-5178
Pharmacy: (707) 468-5156
On the coast Harvest Market has online shopping and you can pick it up at either store, I heard.
AV stores and restaurants Update — I got as many as I could:
Navarro General Store — 895-9445 - same hours — will do pick up (?) but no deliveries.
Lemons Philo Market, Inc. — 895-3552 — same hours — no deliveries
Redwood Drive-In - 895-3441 - remains open for take-outs, propane, and fuel. Hours: 7AM-8PM
Disco Ranch Wine Bar & Specialty Market - The Disco will be offing retail sales only. As you hunker down you might as well have tasty treats! 11-6, please call ahead for curbside orders. 707-901-5002 Online ordering coming soon!
Anderson Valley Market — 895-3019 — same hours but starting Saturday (3/21) hours will be 10am to 6 pm daily — no pick up or deliveries. From their facebook page — “we will not be making any made to order sandwiches, unless you call it in for pick up. We will not be cooking but we will have bagel dogs, tamales and hot sandwiches in the heating unit.”
Lauren’s to-go orders and curbside pick up only from 5 to 8:30 Tuesday through Saturday — hours may change. If you would like curbside pick up, please call 895-3869 and place your order with a credit card. Our dinner menu is available at our website.
Boont Berry - 895-3576 from their facebook page “will be open during this crazy moment in time. In addition to our normal selection of food, we are offering take out deli food, street side delivery of preordered items and special orders of bulk items. We are also hoping to be able to deliver food to those who can't leave their homes. Just give us a call.”
AV Senior Center — 895-3609 or see website
The Senior Center will provide take out and/or delivered meals on our regular lunch/dinner days (Tuesdays & Thursdays). If you would like a meal delivered, please notify the AV Senior Center at 895-3609 by 11 am. Those picking up their meals may do so at noon, our regular lunch time or 6 pm on our dinner nights. Bringing your own container is encouraged. Of course non-seniors are always welcome. Regular pricing still applies: $6 seniors/$7 non-seniors.
Yorkville Market - 894-9456 — same hours but may shorten them later — have take and bake items - yes curbside pick up next week and potentially deliveries.
Hope this helps - stay safe!
Anderson Valley Village Coordinator
SF CANNABIS DISPENSARIES ALL SHUT DOWN — For Now — After City Hall Flip-Flop
Long lines and mass confusion gripped San Francisco marijuana dispensaries on Monday, after Mayor London Breed announced the coronavirus shelter in place order that shut down many SF businesses and brought the city to a halt. Even though dispensaries were mobbed, it all initially seemed for naught — the original order issued by Mayor Breed had cannabis dispensaries under the impressions that they were exempt, and could still sell medicinal marijuana. But at 6:31 p.m. Monday night, the San Francisco Department of Public Health issued an order to shut down all cannabis dispensaries, and those people in line were the last ones able to buy weed for the foreseeable future.
FROM FORT BRAGG MAYOR WILLIAM V. LEE —
During this National Emergency, I want to express my gratitude for the goodness and kindness of the people of Fort Bragg. Difficult times, like we are now experiencing, make our community so special. We Fort Braggers always look out for each other in crises, and we offer comforting assistance to our friends and neighbors.
As we now face a mandatory Shelter-in-Place order from the Mendocino County Public Health Officer, we must all stay in our homes and venture out only for essential services or essential business. Essential businesses include going food shopping; picking up medications; doctor, dentist, and vet visits; and for essential exercise like walking, jogging or strolling on the beautiful Coastal Trail or in Otis Johnson Park. Walk with family but keep a six-foot distance from strangers as you exercise and get fresh air.
A mandatory Shelter-in-Place order is not meant to punish anyone, but to keep our families and friends safe during this pandemic. We encourage you to check in on elderly and sick/shut-in neighbors, but please call them first. You can offer to shop for them, to pick up their medications, or take them to their doctor visit or to the bank. You can make that large pot of soup, bake some bread, make your family-size lasagna and take it to those told to stay home.
Please support our local businesses during this crisis, as we are all in this together. Order take-out or home delivery from one of our fine restaurants. Get essential supplies from one of our pharmacies or grocery stores. If you have questions or concerns, please call the County Public Health Office at (707) 234-6052.
All Fort Bragg citizens, especially our local seniors, can contact the Fort Bragg Police Department at (707) 964-0200, and our officers and staff will direct you to the appropriate agency.
Also know that your City Council, the City Manager, and staff members are working hard to get ever-evolving information out to our citizens. Call any Council Member if you need help or more information. Together, looking out for each other, we will make it through this crisis in our City, our State and our Country.
CORONAVIRUS COULD STRIKE FINAL BLOW TO LOCAL NEWSPAPERS
News of the recent closures and layoffs are a stark reminder of the precarious financial positioning of some local news organizations, and it comes exactly at a time when local outlets are a potentially lifesaving, trusted source of information for readers in communities across the US.
A FRISCO READER NOTES:
During Channel 5 San Francisco's never ending corona virus coverage are happy-face commercials for an empire funeral services. gotta wonder if this is coincidence, insensitivity, or if maybe this outfit knows more than we do.
Conversations with Rural Law Enforcement Leaders: Volume 1
No surprises here; pages 13, 14, and 15 describe the “acute challenges” of illicit drugs, substance use, mental health, and homelessness — not much different than our northern California counties, along with staffing, jail overcrowding, technology costs, grant complexities, and funding needs.
“ON OCTOBER 3, 1918, only five days after Krusen had let the parade proceed, he banned all public meetings in the city—including, finally, further Liberty Loan gatherings—and closed all churches, schools, theaters. Even public funerals were prohibited. Only one public gathering place was allowed to remain open: the saloon, the key constituency of the Vare machine. The next day the state health commissioner closed them. The first temporary facility to care for the sick was set up at Holmesburg, the city’s poorhouse. It was called “Emergency Hospital #1”; the Board of Health knew more would follow. Its five hundred beds were filled in a day. Ultimately there would be twelve similar large hospitals run with city help, three of them located in converted Republican Clubs in South Philadelphia. It was where people had always gone for help. In ten days—ten days!—the epidemic had exploded from a few hundred civilian cases and one or two deaths a day to hundreds of thousands ill and hundreds of deaths each day. Federal, municipal, and state courts closed. Giant placards everywhere warned the public to avoid crowds and use handkerchiefs when sneezing or coughing. Other placards read “Spitting equals death.” People who spat on the street were arrested—sixty in a single day. The newspapers reported the arrests—even while continuing to minimize the epidemic. Physicians were themselves dying, three one day, two another, four the next. The newspapers reported those deaths—on inside pages with other obituaries—even while continuing to minimize the epidemic. Health and city workers wore masks constantly. What should I do? people wondered with dread. How long will it go on? Each day people discovered that friends and neighbors who had been perfectly healthy a week—or a day—earlier were dead.”
— John M. Barry, ‘The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History’
ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE DAY
(1) 6:00~8:00 AM has now been unofficially designated as “Geezer Hours” locally. The old birds settle on the local supermarket like a plague of locusts, leaving the stock utterly depleted until the poor stockers can catch their breaths and get it all built up again for the second wave a few hours later. The old bastards can be quite surly as well, my stocker friends tell me. If this goes on for awhile I can imagine assigned shopping times and store occupancy limits. They’ve evidently already implemented that last one at store opening time, letting the teeming throngs through the doors in 25 shopper increments, spaced out by a few minutes per wave.
(2) There are only a few things I am sure of more than that Joe Biden is a more palatable Big Daddy figure than Donald J. to at least one half of the country. I agree that he is senile-strength incompetent and an arch-corrupt Washington weasel but I don’t think these things will matter to most voters in the fall. During his first term in office, Reagan said many idiotic things, mixed up life memories with his movie roles, had Nancy or cue cards prompt him when he was lost for words, and all but undid the regulatory systems and taxation that kept the U.S. decent and its economy manageable. And yet, he was re-elected even after a disastrous first debate with Mondale, in which he easily matched blanks by Sleepy Joe. But somehow Ronald managed to talk coherently while shuffling his feet, in the second debate. He campaigned, smiling and waving, occasionally delivering some really stupid joke, like when he at the height of the campaign announced he signed a bill to outlaw the “Evil Empire”. And yet he was the Big Daddy who made everyone with money feel good about America. In the end, they were the ones that mattered. The thing is that under Reagan and the second Bush, a manifestly incompetent president is actually a boon for powerful cliques around him, for a cackle of smart boys and girls who will do what is good for the Big Money in the U.S., China and places elsewhere, just like it has been done since Ronald Reagan. Trump is no exception, all his tweeting twaddle all the same. This should be self-evident to anyone who knows the name of Arthur Laffer and that Trump considered him the economics thinker most deserving the presidential Medal of Freedom. So, as we go through the sad saga of a pandemic that has crippled the world economy before it materialized as a lethal scourge, it should be clear that all bets are off concerning the November election shenanigans. It actually looks better for Biden because if the stocks do not recover substantially by fall, which looks improbable, the Trump fairy-tale of unprecedented prosperity for working Americans will have gone faster than this week’s toilet paper off the shelves. There was a great line in a silly Mel Gibson flick called “The Edge of Darkness”. It was delivered by a corrupt cop called “Whitehouse” (kid you not): “It never is what it is, it’s always what it can me made to look like”. Biden as a Big Daddy is no problem to arrange at all.
FROM COAST HOSPITAL:
Another update from your local hospital. I am informed by Lynn Finley Chief Nursing Officer that, in response to the spread of C-19, we will have one tent for triage and another for a potential surge of patients. Each tent will have two heaters, lights, generator and cots. Furthermore, we are hoping for the best but planning for the worse which would be 25 admissions per day. And lastly we have an incident command team that spent a good part of the day calculating and planning what resources we will need if and when we get hit with the C-19 wave. Of course, with everyone's cooperation, the surge may never materialize.
— John Redding, Coast Hospital Board member
PETIT TETON MONTHLY FARM REPORT - FEBRUARY 2020
I will attempt to avoid the "news".
We're sheltering in place which for us is just another day on the farm. We and our employees, who we consider our community, recently sat down to determine how best to be prepared for the unknown we are free falling into. A list was made (we're lucky - food is not on it) and we're attempting to execute it. We guess you're doing the same.
This year seems to have zoomed through spring after an almost water-less mild winter, and now that many trees and flowers have finished blooming we are feeling winter weather - weeks of grey cold drizzle, occasional hail, and frosts at night. Since early February our 170 chickens have been laying like it's Easter only slowing down now. Even the seasons are out of joint. What we're going through and will be transitioning into, was predictable although the connections are never mentioned… climate collapse, overpopulation, germs gone rogue are all of a piece.
We are ramping up our plantings of crops since food is needed by all (more than toilet paper), and so far, we're being allowed to provide it at farmers' markets and our farm. Like everyone else, we are struggling to change our habits and learn this distancing, hand-washing, no contact with anything business. Habits are hard to break! But we are lucky to be in an "essential" business that requires outdoor activity and caring for animals.
Please take care of yourselves and others and listen to the dictates of science, not politicians. Change is very scary but also creative and clarifying in the end.
— Nikki Auschnitt and Steve Krieg, Petit Teton Farms, Yorkville.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY PRESSER
All jury trials scheduled for March 23, 2020, March 25, 2020 (Ten Mile-Fort Bragg), and March 30, 2020 are vacated and any person who has received a juror summons will be re-summoned for a date in the future. This Order is based on a finding of good cause arising out of the Public Health Crisis declared by the County of Mendocino, the Governor of the State of California, and the President of the United States of America. This Order will facilitate the court’s goal of eliminating public gatherings in our courthouses of large groups of people that jury trials necessarily require.
Any jury trial scheduled for March 23, 2020 that is a no-time waiver trial will be re-set for April 13, 2020 or a later time the parties agree upon.
Any jury trial scheduled for March 25, 2020 in our Ten Mile Courthouse that is a no-time waiver will be re-set for April 23, 2020 or at a later time the parties agree upon.
Any jury trial scheduled for March 30, 2020 that is a no-time waiver trial will be re-set for April 20, 2020 or at a later time the parties agree upon.
Any misdemeanor jury trial scheduled for March 23, 2020 or March 30, 2020 with a time waiver will be re-set for no sooner than May 11, 2020.
Any felony jury trial scheduled for March 23, 2020 or March 30, 2020 with a time waiver will be re-set for no sooner than May 18, 2020.
Any jury trial set in the Ten Mile Courthouse for March 25, 2020 with a time waiver will be reset for no sooner than May 20, 2020 or at a date the parties agree upon.
FURTHER COURT UPDATES
For Famlily Law and Civil Departments During Mendocino Shelter in Place:
- All non-emergency Family Law hearings will be continued.
- All ex parte/emergency requests including requests for temporary restraining orders will be reviewed by the judge in chambers, without a court appearance. If a court appearance is required, the parties must appear by telephone through CourtCall or a toll free number. Call the clerk's office to find out more.
- Judges have the authority to extend temporary restraining orders due to expire between now and April 3, 2020, by no more than 21 days.
- Child custody mediation will be available on a limited basis, and by telephone only.
The Presiding Judge's Order detailing these provisions is available at https://www.mendocino.courts.ca.gov/docs/COVID-19_2.PDF.
MORE THAN 80% OF CORONAVIRUS PATIENTS ONLY GET MILD SYMPTOMS, like a cough and fever, and most recover quickly from their infections, Chinese data reveals.
While coronavirus has spread around the globe with alarming speed, data from the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that 81 percent never get seriously ill.
ODD, OLD NEWS: ‘ESCAPADE IN MAN’S GARB’ LEADS TO ARREST… AND MARRIAGE
Full particulars of the queer romance of Miss Aileen Shaw of Eureka, who was arrested in San Francisco last week for wearing boy’s clothes, are contained in the Bulletin. Miss Shaw, it will be remembered, figured in the double murder tragedy at Jacoby Creek a year ago when George Clark, her sweetheart, murdered Mr. and Mrs. Baxter to avenge a fancied insult to the girl.
SAN FRANCISCO SHELTERS IN PLACE
by Anna Wiener
Last week, much of San Francisco was in a state of denial. Many of the tech shuttles had halted service, and a slate of local conferences had been cancelled. Still, I received e-mails from a neighborhood yoga studio, a local dispensary, and several hair salons assuring customers that they were open for business. “Let’s be healthy and well,” an e-mail from a bath house in Japantown read. “Let’s lift the vibration globally to allow this to be a time of healing.” An upscale New American restaurant in the Mission, known for its wine list and seasonal fare, wrote to say that it was temporarily switching to a soup-only menu: asparagus vichyssoise with Dungeness crab; carrot-ginger with Greek yogurt; Tuscan minestrone with pancetta and wild peas. “This is a brilliant food-safety strategy,” I said to my boyfriend studiously. I also was having trouble reading between the lines.
On Thursday evening, I walked from my apartment to a theater near City Hall, where I was scheduled to do an event—a conversation with another writer. The coffee shops and stores were quieter than usual, but the parklets were full. It felt a little like Burning Man week, the city’s annual exhalation, when thousands drain out to the playa. The clocks had changed, and it was still sunny and warm, a slow slide into summer. I felt gaslit by the weather. I paused to check my phone outside a bakery, where two men wearing sunglasses relaxed at a sidewalk table, eating pastries. Maybe it’s all right, I thought, scrolling through headlines that told me otherwise. One of the men coughed, and I turned my back to him.
The theater, a beautiful 1920s auditorium, had the still, cool air of a tomb. The event organizers had decided to live-stream the event rather than cancel it outright, and a cleaning crew of two moved silently through tight rows of crimson seats, sanitizing. A few minutes before the event was slated to begin, we took our seats onstage, in two armchairs positioned beneath warm photographer’s lights, as if posing for a furniture catalogue. I felt a steady, gnawing panic. I could not hold an idea. I wanted to cry, but I was in my 30s, and on a live stream.
“I have heard people suggest that folks in Silicon Valley were perhaps a little ahead of the curve, because they have really good intuitions for exponential processes,” the other writer said. “Do you think that a founder of a social network actually does get something about a pandemic that, say, a politician would not?” I felt caught between my long-standing opinions and recent developments. For weeks, venture capitalists and founders had been tweeting about their own prescience, attributing their cautionary measures to familiarity with the sort of exponential growth curves exhibited by successful startups. I didn’t mind the warning, which was fundamentally useful; I minded the smugness, the implication of superiority or exceptionalism.
At the same time, in the absence of trustworthy government authorities, tech companies had been ahead of the curve: closing offices, halting shuttles, cancelling conferences, suspending travel, taking it seriously. I gave a terrible, unsatisfying answer. Embarrassed, I laughed nervously at all my own jokes. (On a live stream, every joke bombs.)
That night, I went to dinner with a group of people I didn’t know well. On the way there, I passed a nightclub with open doors. Inside, a band was playing to a good-sized crowd; on the street, a man with a mask hanging around his neck smoked a cigarette. The restaurant was half full of people eating from shared plates; the panicky feeling intensified. As we sat down, someone asked if I was a mom. I was not a mom, I said, feeling oddly guilty about it. “You need to get on the mom threads,” she told me helpfully. She recounted a piece of information that had recently been shared in one of her group chats: drinking water every fifteen minutes, she said, would flush the virus down the digestive tract, and then stomach acid would kill it. This did not sound quite right, I said, picking up a glass of water and draining it. I excused myself quickly, worried I would have a panic attack. When I got home, I took a shower and looked up the mom-thread advice. Google returned several articles warning against it as a hoax. The next morning, I woke up to an e-mail from a relative containing the exact same misinformation. Right, I thought. It went viral.
I stayed home. I stayed home. I stayed home. On Friday night, we needed things. Outside, everything was still there: incredible, a miracle. The sun was setting. I walked to a nearby market for groceries, passing a group of six or seven people who were standing outside an apartment building, chattering happily. “Wait,” one said. “Is he hot?” I passed a couple my age, arms locked and heads bent together, singing quietly and dancing a slow, theatrical shuffle down the block. By the market, a newly opened restaurant was well lit and bustling. At one table, a dozen people, maybe an intergenerational family, were celebrating.
The market was well stocked and not busy. The abundance was startling. There were baskets of citrus, shelves of cereal, tubs of onions and sprouting garlic. I circumvented the produce, as if it were poisonous. After each customer had paid and left, the cashier pulled a fresh disinfectant wipe from a nearby tube and rubbed everything down: the register, the counter, the credit-card reader. Even with this measure, the mundane point-of-sale ritual––handing over my card, signing the receipt, nestling everything into an ill-sized tote bag––felt reassuring. On the walk back, I passed a jogger in a reflective vest. A delivery-app courier exited a white minivan, walked up the steps of a crisply painted Victorian, and deposited a bag of food on the porch.
I wanted to know what our neighbors were doing. Amazon, via a module advertising “trending items” near me, offered a strange and slanted perspective: disinfectant wipes, cough-and-cold medication, barbecue-flavored seed mix. A friend in Los Angeles e-mailed to say that he was cancelling his wedding. A friend in New Orleans, a public defender, posted an Instagram story soliciting donations to help his incarcerated clients post bail and buy commissary soap. Friends in New York announced the temporary closures of their restaurants; friends in Point Reyes announced the temporary closure of their bookstore. Brushing my teeth, I watched a trio of ants making their way across the edge of the shower. Don’t they know? I thought, deranged.
On the Internet, every open tab was a porthole to some new horror: ventilator shortages, death-toll projections, layoffs, Disneyland, spring break. Still, social media was proving itself helpful in a crisis. Funding drives for laid-off workers were launched. Spreadsheets and Google Docs outlining strategies for mutual-aid responses were circulated. An Instagram account run by volunteer couriers sprang up, offering services to the ill or high-risk. “I’m off the whole week so my availability knows no limits,” a woman in San Francisco posted. Volunteers in Vancouver, Bozeman, Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Portland said that they could provide free dog walking, grocery shopping, babysitting, and transportation; one offered emotional support, tarot readings, poem readings, meal prep, specialized playlists. A venture capitalist put out a call for virus-related startups and projects to fund. “The Jelly Cam is here for you,” the Monterey Bay Aquarium tweeted, with a link to its live-streamed exhibits. The city’s museums joined a social-media campaign, #MuseumFromHome, linking to art work and objects in digital collections, including a leather jacket owned by Albert Einstein. “Take a break from the mainstream media chaos, turn off your TV, and get lost in music,” an e-mail from the San Francisco Disco Preservation Society, a nonprofit audio archive, suggested.
The crisis accelerated, and time slowed. Dread compounded. Outside, it rained in sheets. Sirens felt particularly ominous. Not everything needed to be a metaphor, I reminded myself, staring out the window at an empty street.
Walks were still an option. Somehow, it was spring. It seemed unfair, illusory, that we still had nature. The rain stopped, and the city resumed its shimmer. People trekked to the top of Bernal Hill, Tank Hill, Twin Peaks; they wandered along Ocean Beach. I took short, cautious loops around my neighborhood, wistfully admiring the cherry-blossom trees, the palms, the prehistoric-looking succulents. The constancy of the natural world was jarring.
Over the weekend, the city began laying the groundwork for what is to come. Public schools have closed; libraries, too. Visitors are banned from nursing homes and hospitals. On Sunday, the state followed suit: Governor Gavin Newsom held a news briefing in Sacramento, a California flag behind him draped at such an angle that the grizzly seemed to be trudging perpetually uphill. Seniors and those with compromised immune systems should self-isolate, he said; bars, night clubs, breweries, and wineries should close; restaurants should operate at fifty-per-cent capacity. These were recommendations, and would not be enforced. The state, he said, was looking into housing options for the hundred and fifty thousand people who live in California and are homeless, including the lease of hotel rooms. On Monday morning, the Grand Princess left the Port of Oakland and dropped anchor in the middle of the San Francisco Bay.
On Monday afternoon, London Breed, San Francisco’s mayor, held a press conference in which she announced that six Bay Area counties, and nearly seven million people, were ordered to shelter in place. I watched the conference on YouTube. On the other side of my office door, a pot of dal simmered. Grocery stores, gas stations, banks, and laundromats would remain open, Breed announced; restaurants would be able to offer takeaway meals; dogs could still be walked; hikes could be taken. But, by and large, the city’s residents had one mandate: stay inside. “What we are asking for everyone to do is to remain at home, for all but the most essential outings, for your safety and the safety of those around you,” Breed said. She asked residents, over and over, not to panic.
People panicked, in a way. There was gridlock at the grocery stores. Lines stretched out the doors of dispensaries. Messages were broadcast and received: Safeway announced that it would be hiring two thousand new employees; Amazon announced that it would be suspending shipments of nonessential products; Silicon Valley technologists announced the launch of a new Web site connecting volunteers with specialized projects (developing a strategic reserve of ventilators, scaling the manufacturing of chloroquine, in the event that it might prove useful). A seventeen-year-old housing collective in the Mission announced a rent strike; restaurants announced that they would be selling off ingredients and bottles of wine. “Did someone say delivery promo codes?” a deli asked in an e-mail.
Members of the city’s fragile, critical human infrastructure—nurses, doctors, janitors, grocery clerks, line cooks, mail carriers, delivery drivers, firefighters, and others—are still at their posts. For the rest, as white-collar work, entertainment, exercise, and leisure move online, there is a feeling of suspension—a sense that things are sliding out of time, that life has been displaced and consolidated. The Internet is well suited to a lockdown; it has always excelled at placelessness.
It was almost too easy to overlook another announcement that arrived amid Monday’s squall of headlines: PG&E will be temporarily suspending planned upgrades. It’s a reasonable precaution for the immediate situation, in which people cannot afford to have gas and electricity interrupted, and a reminder, or alarm, for California, which still faces seasons of drought and wildfire. There will be more news, an onslaught, as the crisis accelerates and deepens. A revised future will collide, in the coming months, with the future for which we had almost prepared.
(The New Yorker)
FRANCESCO RONDONELLI, a contemporary chronicler of the Florentine plague of 1629:
“And who had heard an entire city praying at the same time all together … through the tenderness it was not possible to contain the tears … and a most beautiful thing in some roads with poor people to see lights at every window; and all the praises of the Mother of God resounded everywhere; in this way verifying the common proverb that the poor sustain two things better than the rich: that is, justice and devotion.”
COST OF TREATMENT for an uninsured COVID-19 patient: $34,927.43.
About that “employer insurance” Biden’s so fond of instead of Medicare for all… The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that the average cost of COVID-19 treatment for someone with employer insurance—and without complications—would be about $9,763. Someone whose treatment has complications may see bills about double that: $20,292.
(Jeffrey St. Clair, Counterpunch)
DANIEL DEFOE: “This was the beginning of May, yet the weather was temperate, variable, and cool enough, and people had still some hopes. That which encouraged them was that the city was healthy: the whole ninety-seven parishes buried but fifty-four, and we began to hope that, as it was chiefly among the people at that end of the town, it might go no farther; and the rather, because the next week, which was from the 9th of May to the 16th, there died but three, of which not one within the whole city or liberties; and St Andrew’s buried but fifteen, which was very low. ‘Tis true St Giles’s buried two-and-thirty, but still, as there was but one of the plague, people began to be easy. The whole bill also was very low, for the week before the bill was but 347, and the week above mentioned but 343. We continued in these hopes for a few days, but it was but for a few, for the people were no more to be deceived thus; they searched the houses and found that the plague was really spread every way, and that many died of it every day. So that now all our extenuations abated, and it was no more to be concealed; nay, it quickly appeared that the infection had spread itself beyond all hopes of abatement.”
(Journal of the Plague Year)
READING CAMUS’ ‘THE PLAGUE’ IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC
by Jonah Raskin
“Each of us has the plague within him, no one, no one on earth is free from it. We must keep endless watch on ourselves lest in a careless moment we breathe in somebody’s face and fasten the infection on him.”
– Albert Camus, The Plague, 1947
Like millions of other “shut-ins” in northern California, where I live, I’m under quarantine and doing my best to chill. I’ve just finished reading for the first time Albert Camus’ "The Plague," which takes place in Oran, on the coast of Algeria, and offers a horrific picture of a whole population living with fear and anxiety and trying to comprehend the incomprehensible.
For decades "The Plague" has been less well known than "The Stranger," which was first published in 1942, but here and now in 2020 it ought to sound alarms, touch nerves and reverberate globally. In fact, it reads to a large extent like a contemporary account of the coronavirus.
Oran suffered from plagues in 1556, 1678, 1921, 1931 and 1944 in part because it was a major port on the Mediterranean. Camus must have looked back at historical events to write his book, which he began to think about in 1941, soon after the Nazi invasion and occupation of France.
Published in French in 1947 as "La Peste" and in English in 1948, as "The Plague," it’s set sometime in the 1940s. Camus doesn’t provide an exact year, but he describes in vivid detail the pain and suffering that strikes the lives of rich and poor alike. Oddly enough, or perhaps predictably, the narrative features no Arab or Berber characters, though Spaniards appear in minor roles.
Born in 1913 in Algeria to parents who belonged to the demographic group known as “pied noir,” Camus refused to support the Algerian struggle for independence when it raged in the 1950s and 1960s. He famously observed, “I believe in justice, but I will defend my mother before justice.” His mother was of Spanish descent, his father French-Algerian. Briefly, he belonged to the French and then the Algerian Communist Party to “fight inequalities between Europeans and ‘natives’ in Algeria.”
He moved to Paris before the outbreak of World War II, took part in the Resistance, edited and wrote for "Combat" and befriended Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, though he soon went his own way politically speaking.
"The Plague" isn’t exactly a novel. It doesn’t have a strong plot and dramatic action, though it has momentum and suspense. It’s a philosophical work with reflections on freedom, terror, love, and exile and on the necessity of bearing witness. Still, despite its refusal to play by the traditional rules of French fiction, it offers six major characters, all of them men and all intended to be representative types, though they lack real individuality.
The six men are: Bernard Rieux, a medical doctor; Jean Tarrou, an outsider who arrives in Oran just before the advent of the plague; Raymond Rambert, a journalist; Joseph Grand, a government clerk; Monsieur Cottard who goes mad and shoots people on the street; and Father Paneloux, a Jesuit priest. There are no political leaders and no military officers. Indeed, there’s a vacuum of leadership.
Camus tracks the comings and goings of his characters, though the real protagonist of the book is the plague itself, which follows phases of life and death. Critics have suggested that "The Plague" was meant to be an allegory about French resistance to the Nazi occupation.
That may well be. In "The Plague," “the contagion,” which is also referred to as “the holocaust,” creates a totalitarian society. “It’s up to us, as far as possible, not to not to join forces with the pestilences,” a character observes and sounds like he’s preaching a version of existentialism.
If Camus were alive today—he died in 1960 at the age of 46—and wanted his book to speak even more directly to the current Coronavirus pandemic than it already does, he might want to revise and update, though there’s a great deal that he wouldn’t want or need to touch. Indeed, "The Plague," with its trenchant reflections on the human condition itself, is timelier now than it was in 1947. Much of the language retains its power. Camus writes poetically about “the angel of the plague” and the “odious freedom of the plague.”
Tarrou, the outsider in Oran, observes, “each of us has the plague within him; no one, no one on earth is free from it.” He adds “we must keep endless watch on ourselves lest in a careless moment we breathe in somebody’s face and fasten the inflection on him.” No heroism exists in "The Plague," though there’s human decency and friendship between men.
Before the arrival of the pestilence in Oran its citizens are largely preoccupied with matters of commerce and are bored with themselves, and one another. The plague catches the authorities off guard. The essential serum that can fight the plague is in short supply, and coffins run out so the dead can’t be properly buried. At its height, the plague erodes the capacity to love and to experience pleasure. Citizens fall into a state of denial. Railroad platforms are off-limits, streets are often empty, telephone calls are illegal, good intentions do as much harm as evil itself.
Citizens are quarantined in a vast public stadium. Those without the contagion are obsessed about getting it and do their best to practice cleanliness. They’re also obsessed about the need for sterilization. “Revolutionary violence” erupts but achieves nothing.
"The Plague" offers a happy ending of sorts. The pestilence vanishes almost as mysteriously as it arrived. Optimism is reborn, but a sense of uncertainty lingers. Those who are alive in Oran want medals merely for surviving. The reader is left with the assumption that the plague can return at any time. On the last page, Camus writes about “the never ending fight against terror.”
His language suggests that he was thinking about religion when he wrote "The Plague," and, though it’s not an explicitly Christian book, it offers words and concepts like “grace,” “crucifixion” and “deliverance.” Religion provides a kind of subtext, though the book doesn’t endorse Oran’s Catholic Church. What Camus wants are healers, not priests, political leaders and certainly not demagogues. We could use a few million healers right now, from Los Angeles and Sydney to Odessa and Oran.
(Jonah Raskin is the author of For The Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman and American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and the Making of the Beat Generation.)
BERNIE SANDERS DRAWS HIS CAMPAIGN TO AN END: The political lessons
The Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign effectively came to an end Wednesday, with campaign manager Faiz Shakir announcing that Sanders was returning to his home in Burlington, Vermont, where he “is going to be having conversations with his supporters to assess his campaign.” The announcement was emailed to millions of people on the campaign mailing list, without the usual accompanying request for a donation—a sure sign that Sanders is preparing to drop out.
“THE TRUTH is that everyone is bored, and devotes himself to cultivating habits. Our citizens work hard, but solely with the object of getting rich. Their chief interest is commerce, and their chief aim in life is, as they call it, ‘doing business.' You must picture the consternation of our little town, hitherto so tranquil, and now, out of the blue, shaken to its core, like a quite healthy man who all of a sudden feels his temperature shoot up and the blood seething like wildfire in his veins.”
— Albert Camus, “The Plague”
THE FED DICTATORSHIP RUNS AMOK AGAINST SAVERS
by Ralph Nader
If you are a saver in a money market account or in a bank, you’ve already noticed your dwindling interest income as interest rates have been at their lowest in modern American history. Well, brace yourself. Your saving account has just become little more than a lock box, thanks to the supreme dictatorship of the Federal Reserve.
On Sunday, March 15, The Federal Reserve announced that it would cut interest rates to “near zero.”
After ignoring the largely unproductive spiral in corporate debt, now a staggering $9.3 trillion, the risk of a domino effect from underwater “zombie companies” is pushing the Fed toward an orgy of printing money for an anticipatory bailout of profitable corporations – not depleted savers.
The Federal Reserve is our version of what other countries call a Central Bank. The Fed is not funded by Congress; its budget comes primarily from interest on government securities and fees from financial institutions. Bankers influence who gets appointed to its Board of Governors. Bankers can also elect three directors directly to the boards of the Fed’s regional Boards.
The Fed decides in secret the fate of the monetary policy, which includes the interest rates paid on your savings. There are no public hearings or open dockets for submission of views. No real explanations by the Fed; just dictates. It is a government of its own inside our government – the epitome of corporate socialism.
The President nominates members to the Board of Governors and they have to be confirmed by the Senate. This is almost an automatic process by a supine Senate. These nominated “governors” and Chairman Jerome H. Powell have allowed themselves to be publically bullied by Trump who, as a failed lifelong debtor, wants zero interest rates.
The Fed has no regard for the hundreds of billions of dollars in interest payments taken from one hundred million unorganized savers who have their savings in Treasury bonds, banks, and money market accounts. Now trillions of dollars’ worth of interest rates are getting “near zero.” What a blow by the Trumped Fed reducing interest rates from about 2.25% – 2.5% to near zero in five dictatorial steps over the past 14 months.
The big Fed fib is that this cut in interest rates will stimulate a shaken economy buffeted by the coronavirus pandemic. How? By reducing mortgage rates and other costs of borrowing. Well, the last interest rate cut by the Fed saw mortgage rates actually increase. Moreover, the Fed’s move doesn’t affect the sky-high credit card interest rates on unpaid balances, the horrifically gouging “pay-day loan” and “rent-to-own” rackets and the towering interest rates charged by lenders for student loans. There is no Fed regulation of usurious interest rates by profiteering lenders.
What harms the economy is reduced interest income for savers that in turn cuts down on consumer demand.
So what is the Fed up to? Juicing the stock market and big finance is the narcotic offered to the executive suite speculators. To enhance further its credentials as the aider and abettor of crony capitalism, the Fed is buying $700 billion in government securities and will be increasing “its holdings of Treasury securities by at least $500 billion and its holdings of agency mortgage-backed securities by at least $200 billion” (See: Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement, March 15, 2020). At the same time, the Fed is reducing bank reserve requirement ratios to zero percent and letting banks tap into the Fed’s discount window at ridiculously tiny interest rates. The average interest on millions of student loans is 5.8%.
On Sunday, when no one was looking, the Fed imperiously announced its decision to hold interest rates near zero “until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals.” That is a very nebulous standard. Congress doesn’t establish any standards for the Fed except the vague mission of advancing employment and maintaining a stable monetary system.
The Fed has its own inscrutable language. “Quantitative easing,” is jargon for printing trillions of dollars in liquid money to lift stock markets and big banks. What the Fed doesn’t want to explain is how boosting the “paper economy” and tolerating trillions of dollars in unstable corporate debt – some incurred for unproductive stock buybacks – helps the common worker.
Pension funds, conservatively invested, can’t begin to earn the interest rates called for by the actuarial tables for payouts. So, backed up against the wall, pension funds dive into riskier stock investments and derivatives for higher returns which bring their own perils in case of stock market collapses.
The Fed has lots of explaining to do for the public in plain language. But why bother? As described by William Greider, in his classic book, Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country, the Fed can do pretty much what the financial industry wants it to do. For all the help the Fed gives to the unrepentant speculative financial industry, it does not ask for anything in return for the huge bailouts that would help the common folk. “Reciprocity” is outside of the Fed’s self-defined dictionary.
After all, the Fed does nothing about rampant speculation and staggering debt until it sees a “liquidity problem” (a.k.a. “the greedy big boys got themselves into a fix”) and then it rushes to inject massive sums of liquidity into the economy as relief. And the self-inflicted cycle of government guaranteed corporate greed and abuse of power starts all over again.
Remarkably, groups like Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America are not fighting for the one hundred million small and mid-size savers who are being taken to the cleaners and have no voice whatsoever in the Fed dictatorship.
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)
TALK ABOUT THE TAIL WAGGING THE DOG
Drone walks dog for man on coronavirus lockdown in Cyprus
U.S. ORDERS UP TO A YEARLONG BREAK ON MORTGAGE PAYMENTS
Homeowners who have lost income or their jobs because of the coronavirus outbreak are getting some relief. Depending on their situation, they should be eligible to have their mortgage payments reduced or suspended for up to 12 months.