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For the last few weeks, calls have been growing to return to some version of normalcy – by which people mostly mean opening up businesses and amenities.
But in another less obvious way, we’ve already been sliding back to where we were before the pandemic. That is, people are beginning to beat the same drums they beat before our world was upended – only now they’re doing it by arguing that the coronavirus makes the positions or causes they’ve always advocated for more righteous or urgent or necessary.
That people would begin to use the virus as an excuse to pursue agendas they’ve had all along started to become clear last month, when the president teased an effort to suspend all immigration into the United States under the guise of coronavirus protections.
In the last week, this tendency seems recognizable everywhere you look.
Progressives who’ve long argued gig economy companies are misclassifying their workers say in a new lawsuit filed this week that the pandemic proves them right: Uber drivers who don’t have sick leave, for example, will keep working – thus exposing the public to harm. But Uber and other companies that have for just as long contended their workers aren’t real employees can employ the same trick: The virus makes their services more vital than ever – are you going to deprive people of grocery deliveries in the midst of a stay-at-home order?
Unsurprisingly, NIMBYs who’ve always cast density as a villain have blamed it for fueling the spread of the coronavirus too.
Schools have long fought efforts to make their spending more transparent and accountable to the public, and this week, it looks like they convinced many people that the coronavirus makes such efforts more burdensome.
Conservatives who’ve long argued businesses should get to put profits over workers and customer protections are outside protesting that businesses should reopen as soon as possible, thus … putting profits over workers and customer protections.
When you look at it that way, we’re already back to normal.
What VOSD Learned This Week
Money from the CARES Act is causing cities anxiety whether they got funding or not. San Diego got a lot of money – it’s just not sure what it can use it for. Smaller cities, meanwhile, are desperate for money but weren’t eligible for help. They’re hoping the county is generous enough to share the wealth. And Lemon Grove was in dire financial straits before the coronavirus hit – now it’s basically running on fumes.
The city’s new public power company is ramping up operations – and has some big decisions on the horizon.
The clamor to reopen the economy continues – but it’s absurd to think that’s possible with schools, daycares and camps closed. Meanwhile, small live music venue owners are pondering what the future will hold when things do begin to reopen. Opening up will require the state and county to ramp up an army of coronavirus contact tracers.
Border traffic has been restricted to essential travel only – but despite the drop in travelers, wait times are soaring. Meanwhile, Tijuana hospitals are buckling under the strain from coronavirus cases.
What I’m Reading
- Only Taffy could pull off writing a celebrity profile before the coronavirus pandemic that somehow feels more relevant during it. (New York Times Magazine)
- The case of Ahmaud Arbery drives home with infuriating clarity who is bound by the rules, and who is exempt from them. (The Atlantic)
- The world is incredible sometimes: 173 years ago, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma sent $170 to Ireland to help fight the Great Famine. Now Irish citizens are mobilizing to send millions back to the Choctaw to return the favor and help residents there hit hard by the coronavirus. (NBC News)
- This piece doesn’t just expertly lay out the gaps in Tara Reade’s claims against Joe Biden, it gives an excellent window into how investigative journalists pursue and vet claims – and how hard it can be to produce something print-worthy. (Vox)
- President Donald Trump often claims he could have been a pro baseball player. The verdict from this very important work of investigative journalism into his baseball career: Nah. (Slate)
Line of the Week
“There are villains here, but they’re not the ones desperate to escape this awful new half-life we’re all living. They’re the ones whose job it was to chart a way out, and just gave up.” – From an incredibly thoughtful column on leadership and public shaming.