Coronavirus / New Roof Phase II

A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.
                                                                                      – Dorthea Lange




The Difference Between Retirement and Sheltering-in-Place






























BTW, why don’t we just call this “Staying-at-Home.” “Sheltering-in-Place” is weird.


Last week I shared a video interview I’d done with Shar McGlynn about her work making masks for a local hospital and hospice nurses. Unfortunately, I just got this message from Shar,

        Health care people that previously poo, pooed the homemade   masks are now asking for them.

       Sadly. I found out yesterday 3 of our hospice nurses are staying    home  with symptoms.   Praying  for their recovery!

An Economic Disaster

 Stanford Shopping Center: Saturday 3:30PM

Highway 280: Sunday 2:30PM


I don’t blame God. (But, why are we being punished? Is it because of gay marriage?)

I don’t blame Trump

I don’t blame McConnell

 I do blame US.

It’s not our fault that the CV exploded onto the world stage, but it is our fault that our response has been so lame.

Ayn Rand and John Wayne

We have all have grown up with and been seduced by a meme called “Rugged individualism,” or, “Every man for himself-ism.” Robert Reich reports that for Trump and many in his cabinet, their favorite author is Any Rand. Two of her best quotes:

          The only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off.

         The man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap.

Let’s mix into this cesspool of bad ideas Ronald Reagan’s famous anti-government quotes:

        “Government isn’t the solution, government is the problem.”

“The worst nine words in the English language: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'”

 So what do we get? One Republican administration after another (Reagan, Bush I and II, Trump) who hate and despise government. Their philosophy of government is: Government = Bad. Libertarian, Every man for himself = Good.

Similarly, Paul Ryan proclaimed about welfare, “The danger here is that the ‘safety net’ will become a hammock.”

We’ve grown up on movies that celebrate this idea of the rugged individualist: John Ford and John Wayne (any movie); detectives and cops and cowboys (Clint Eastwood: Dirty Harry; The Good the Bad and the Ugly); outer space (Harrison Ford Star Wars). The list goes on and on.

It’s no surprise, then, that government-hating Trump brings into his administration people who have little expertise in what they are doing, and work to kill the agencies they manage. Think Betsy DeVos who hates public education as the Secretary of Education. In the meantime, Trump takes an ax to agencies that might help U.S. citizens: FEMA; FDA; CDC, etc. Because, after all, government just makes us weak and robs our wealth.

So, spending money on disaster preparedness would be a total waste. But when disasters do come, he is slow to respond (as W. was) and what help he offers is minimal. Remember him throwing a roll of paper towels to the hurricane-ravaged people of Puerto Rico?

All of this, of course, is against a backdrop of his tax cut for the super wealthy. That put a trillion-dollar hole in the budget, so, budget cuts are necessary.

On top of this, Trump has contempt for science and expertise. Organization budgets are cut and those smarty-pants PhD scientists are fired. In line with the Ayn Rand philosophy, the federal government should take a hands-off approach to the states. And, government at all levels should take a hands-off approach to its citizens. You are on your own. That is freedom. That is choice. That is the American dream.

Consequently, there is no central policy or disaster plan. Trump refuses to activate the Defense Production Act to compel factories to produce medical supplies. Hell, wouldn’t that be socialism? “Oh let the states get their own ventilators.” Or, “We’re not sending you stuff because we are not delivery clerks.”

So, why is all of this OUR FAULT?

Whether left or right, Republican and Democrat, we vote for people who will lower our taxes. Remember Trump’s famous line during his campaign, “I pay no taxes. That makes me smart, and even if I did, it would be squandered.” Wow. That from the self-proclaimed “very stable genius” who is the head of our government.

We all buy into this idea. We want to pay less taxes, but expect the same services. It’s like we get all this cheap stuff from China (or somewhere), but don’t want to know about the sweat shop conditions that make it possible. “Oh, what? I get this great iPhone, but don’t tell me about the workers in the Apple factories who are throwing themselves off the roof.”

It is in our power to stop the redistribution of wealth from the middle and lower classes up to the top 1%. But, hey, I’ve got nonstop sports on my big screen TV and plenty of beer. Why should I care?

You should care because our democracy is being taken away from us and our  country is being turned into an oligarchy.


Cheer for the First Responders.

It is so disingenuous when we applaud the maids, the drivers and delivery people, the clerks, even the fire fighters and cops in these terrible times… when many of them barely make a minimum wage, have no healthcare, and certainly no retirement (except the firefighters and the cops). When the dems fight in Congress to increase the minimum wage, the Republicans fight tooth and nail against it. But, oh yes, let’s cheer for them out our windows.

Reports last week were that one sixth (16%) of the NYC police department were home sick with symptoms. You wanna know what chaos looks like? Imagine having cops too sick to work, or too scared of getting their families sick. Welcome to Syria.

One physician working on the front lines of this disaster wrote to the NYT last week, “Spare me the beating on pans. Just give us the PPE (personal protective equipment) so we can do our jobs, not get sick, and not worry about bringing it home to our famies.” AMEN.

Let’s not forget we have an economic system that gives mere entertainers billions, while 28 million of our fellow citizens have no healthcare, 40% don’t have enough savings for a $400 doctor or car repair bill. Oh, and then we have 500,000 Americans living in abject squalor under tarps under our freeways. No bathrooms. No running water. No electricity. But wait, basketball, football stars, and popular singers are paid billions.

Paul McCartney and LeBron James each have net worths in excess of a billion dollars – that is ‘B’ – Boy…billion. Nothing wrong with writing and singing pop music or shooting baskets from 40 feet, but how does that move us forward or help us care for the less fortunate? Perhaps it keeps us in a dream state so we don’t see the destruction of our country going on around us.

What if we rearranged our money so it went into education, healthcare, infrastructure, and out of mindless entertainment, fancy cars and bling-bling. What if the big money for college grads was not on Wall Street, but in education? What if we actually cared enough about our fellow Americans under those tarps, to allocate funds for the Corps of Army Engineers to build them permanent, inexpensive housing to get them out from under the freeways. Safety. Running water. Bathrooms. Showers.

Oh, no. That might be turning the safety net into a hammock.


What Have We Learned (Hopefully)?

When all this is behind us, perhaps we’ll rethink the value of a strong central government manned by people who know what the hell they are doing. Imagine if everything we have endured under three years of this Trump madness was the same except the president was Hillary Clinton – who actually knew something about government. Imagine running our country via science, technology, and expertise.

We now see that SO MANY things need to change. Top on my list would be that we finally dump the chaos of this for-profit healthcare system and institute a national healthcare system based on caring for our citizens, not how much money can be gouged out of our savings by those thieving insurance companies.

Maybe Bernie Sanders ideas don’t look so crazy these days.

Love to hear what you think.



Installing Solar


On my March 23 blog, I presented a video of Phase I of our new roof project. It involved removing the old roof and laying down a tar and gravel new roof. Here is Phase II.





























8 thoughts on “Coronavirus / New Roof Phase II

  1. Mary says:

    I am with you on this one. Competence and expertise couldn’t come back into favor fast enough. And how about more, many more, women in leadership positions? Better yet, have all the leaders throughout all levels of government look like what our society looks like. Different and better decisions would surely ensue. The first would be that all people must have health care. And a place to live.

  2. Susan Page says:

    You have nailed it once again, Rick. It’s heartbreaking to watch our country fall apart over greed and gross incompetence. Just 244 years ago, so young in the history of countries, we had the opportunity to create a truly just and fair country, with a democratic government designed to serve the common good. We have now blown this golden opportunity, big time. Whether we can ever recover and return to our founders’ ideals remains an open question.

    I totally adore your difference between retirement and confinement! Great image!

  3. Michael Joyce says:

    Much to agree with. Trumps’ most impressive quality is clearly deadly incompetence.

    But about Bernies’ ideas, there are some things to be said. About the Affordable Care Act, Bernie likes to say “I wrote the damn bill!”

    Not so according to Google: The bill was introduced on October 29, 2009 and passed on November 7, during the 1st Session of the 111th congress. Its primary sponsor was the Dean of the House, John Dingell of Michigan. The bill is a revised version of an earlier measure, the proposed America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (HR 3200). Bernie’s name does not appear in the bill’s history as googled.

    The health care industry employs 16 million of us. While I have no affection for insurance companies, this system has far more working well for this society than against it, and the front line folks in the covid19 battle are ALL of that 16 million.

    Medicare for all that want it is a good iteration for a system that works. Getting 16 million folks concerned about how and how much they are going to get paid, and another 150 million folks concerned from where and who their health care will come is a roadblock to moving health care ahead smoothly, and probably an election losing option.

    If there was cartoon of Bernie sticking his magic wand where the sun don’t shine I’d attach it.

    Just have it to leave to your imagination.

  4. John Warren says:

    I am with you on the politics – especially the need for national healthcare for all!

    Regarding the solar panels – it was very clever of you to record the installation – probably insuring a perfect job!
    Did you have your hard hat on while you were on the roof?

    I like the new retirement outfit for reading the morning paper!

  5. Pat Green says:

    Thanks Rick,
    The tragedy of the COVID 19 not withstanding, the only good thing to come out of it is the spotlight on POTUS’ incompetence. Let’s hope even his supporters remember this in November, though not likely.
    BTW, why don’t you do a short tutorial on ZOOM for those of us who aren’t there yet.

    Stay well.

  6. Pat Titus says:

    “Perhaps we’ll reconsider the value of a strong central government manned by people who know what the hell
    they are doing.” What a satisfying thought! Looking around, I ask: Has market fundamentalism run its course? Is whining about “the tax burden” over? Are students going to study civics again? What about another smart, “No
    Drama” leader?
    I’ve been yearning for Medicare for All for years, but only yearning, because its simple title is nothing like the the
    complexity of creating and selling it. Still it’s worth starting on the road. This pandemic cries out for it.
    Keep talking, Rick.

  7. Bill Scanlon says:

    Agree first step should be comprehensive health care (including diagnosis, treatment, drugs) as well as infrastructure (health care personnel, facilities, equipment, drug supply and manufacturing capacity, etc.) adequate to deliver the care to everyone everywhere in the country. The care and infrastructure benefit everyone whether sick or not and so should be paid for by everyone through taxation. Like roads, parks, police and fire, … Duh!

    Bernie’s (and Warren’s at first) positions on the principle were sound. The problem was how they presented the positions.

    While we’re waiting not too long on comprehensive health care and related infrastructure, Medicare needs some improvements that could be implemented much more quickly but would directly benefit for the most part only people old enough for Medicare: (a) have Medicare provide ALL vaccines under Part B rather than only the four covered now; the rest are available now only under Part D at typically exorbitant cost and the cost for Medicare of care for someone who becomes ill because s/he couldn’t afford a vaccine is typically enormous; (b) eliminate Part D, the GOP’s scam to promote drug company price-gouging and for-profit drug insurance companies, (c) allow Medicare to negotiate prices for all drugs used by people covered by Medicare; and (d) require Medicare to pay reasonable amounts for medical services and increase Medicare’s budget accordingly,

    As long as I’m at it, reducing by a few years the age to qualify for Medicare should be straightforward to accomplish. I understand some Dems running for election or reelection to federal office are already fostering this (to reduce age to 60),

    Finally, as long as we’re on health care reform, every business should be required to provide all employees adequate fully paid sick leave (at least a month annually). Not primarily to benefit employees but, as we’re learning, to protect all of us.

    ’nuff said.

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