About a hundred times a day since the pandemic began, I think to myself, “I sure miss restaurants” or “I really wish I could take my son to the park.”
I could go have a meal on a restaurant patio, sure. And if I really wanted to, I could duck under the city’s yellow caution tape and let my son have some rule-violating fun.
But that’s not what I mean when I think these things, wistfully. When I say, “I miss restaurants” or “I really wish I could take my son to the park” – what I mean is, “I miss the world we used to live in” and “I really wish we were living in an alternate universe where entirely different rules and circumstances applied.”
Wishing the coronavirus didn’t exist is a fine thought to have inside your head. But it’s not a sound way to execute public policy. Yet from the Oval Office on down to local San Diego governments, it appears to be a guiding ethos.
This week, President Donald Trump characteristically demanded that schools must open in the fall but provided no details on how that should happen.
Vice President Mike Pence, when asked “What’s the administration’s specific plan … to support these schools?” offered a bowl of meaningless word soup that included helpful insight like: “The plan is to do what we’ve continued to do from the very beginning” and “we stand ready to provide those resources to the states.” Good to know!
County Supervisor Jim Desmond, who notoriously insisted San Diego has had only a handful of “pure” coronavirus deaths, derided the latest round of restaurant closures by saying that younger people are less likely to die, and argued, “Let’s keep our healthy people working and in their jobs.” The county, meanwhile, released statistics last week showing that the lion’s share of community outbreaks have involved bars and restaurants.
Put simply: If we pretend this virus doesn’t exist, we can keep doing the things we miss doing. Easy!
The magical thinking extends beyond government.
The New York Times reports that a San Diego woman has sued her employer after she was fired because her children were too noisy during work calls.
The woman claims her supervisor was biased against mothers, and said he was “tired of accommodating” her.
Literally everyone is tired of accommodating this pandemic. Every single person would like to wake up and suddenly resume normal life.
Simply wishing it, and ignoring reality, doesn’t make it so. In fact, it’s made things quite terrible. Here’s how The Atlantic assessed California’s current situation this week:
“The coronavirus doesn’t care that you had a terrific March and April, nor is it interested in who you vote for, that you don’t like the look or feel of masks, or that you’re desperate to get your job back and see your friends. It is interested only in whether it can find a warm, moist home in the back of your throat or nose. And, in June, too many Californians made those parts of their anatomy available to the coronavirus.”
Really, really wishing this would all go away, it turns out, doesn’t work when it’s not coupled with real and meaningful action.
What VOSD Learned This Week
Mayor Kevin Faulconer is trying to push through a package of land use policy changes as his time in office comes to a close. One of those changes would rework how parks and neighborhood amenities are funded. We talked about the proposals on this week’s podcast.
It’s redistricting time. But judging by the current applications, Latinos in the city could be massively underrepresented in the process.
San Diego Unified is using one-time coronavirus aid funds to balance its budget, which means there’s less money to use for, well, coronavirus aid.
Border Patrol sent a 2-day-old U.S. citizen to Mexico. Meanwhile, local groups have hit pause on their border sewage lawsuits while they wait to see how the EPA will spend $300 million on projects meant to fix the problem.
The City Council is set to weigh rules governing the city’s use of surveillance technology. Jesse Marx stepped back to detail how we got here.
What I’m Reading
- Post Office trucks won’t stop sporadically bursting into flames. (Vice)
- This is a wonderful take on the “Best Hospitals” lists you’ve seen hundreds of times: These are the hospitals that save lives and money, and exercise social justice. (Washington Monthly)
- I’m truly and honestly terrified about the integrity of the upcoming election. (Gov Tech)
- Patriotism cost Alexander Vindman his career. (New Yorker)
Line of the Week
“Please scream inside your heart.” – A missive to visitors at a Japanese theme park that has banned screaming on roller coasters to prevent the spread of COVID-19.