April 12, 2022
Inflation. Not a word we like to hear, that’s for sure, and unfortunately, we are getting nailed with it right now. And of course, the political blame game has ensued with finger pointing, mudslinging, and some trying to use it to their advantage in upcoming elections. But let’s get real about why we are being slammed with rising prices.
Multiple factors are coming into play that are driving the inflation we are seeing these days. Early in the pandemic, demand for many goods and services (such as gasoline, dining out, buying vehicles, and more) dramatically decreased. Prices often decreased as well. This was seen with oil prices. Then, economies started to pick back up, and demand for many goods and services also increased correspondingly. But there have been serious supply chain problems creating a situation where supply has frequently not kept up with demand. This has created bottlenecks and raised prices of numerous goods and services. When this type of thing happens to enough goods and services, inflation results.
As to why supply has often been lagging behind demand, there are multiple reasons, but the Pandemic has been a major one. The COVID Pandemic has been fluid and worldwide. Some areas get hit with surges more severely than others and often at varying times. Also consider how different places don’t necessarily respond the same way. Think about all that. This means that while one area has high demand for a product, another area that may be key in producing or transporting it could be facing serious limitations because of a surge. Consider it this way: when a bad surge is affecting an area, a significant number of factory workers may be out sick. Output from that factory thus decreases. At the same time, a significant number of truck drivers and port workers may be out with COVID, which in turn makes transportation of products being produced more difficult. And when the demand for the factory’s product is still high, it gets more expensive for those buying it. Another factor involved in worsening inflation is that when the prices of certain key items or services (such as oil) go up, they can have ripple effects, driving up the prices of many other goods and services. Oil is a good example of this. When oil prices go up, transportation costs of goods go up which make those goods more expensive (be it food in grocery stores or smartphones in electronics stores). Another example is the shortage of semiconductors and periodic disruption of other parts needed to build automobiles. This has led to a shortage in the number of vehicles being produced at a time when demand for new vehicles increased. The result: it’s more expensive to buy a new car. In the United States, there has also been a shortage of truck drivers (rising fuel costs and other factors have likely lessened the number of people wanting to pursue this career). Yet, products still need to be shipped, so here’s another factor in the supply chain problem going on. Greed also comes into play, with the oil industry being an example of that. Oil producers (including US companies and OPEC) have resisted the idea of temporarily increasing oil production to lower prices, in large part because they don’t want to lower their profits (they’ve had high profits lately).
So when you consider the number of ways the supply of goods and services are being disrupted these days, it’s clear that this is a major driving force in the inflation that we are seeing around the world. That’s right: inflation is striking around the world. Not just in the United States. And Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine is also playing a role since Russia is an oil producer (European countries have relied heavily on Russian natural gas). It’s also clear that this inflation situation would have struck no matter who was in the White House and Congress. Government spending (which includes COVID stimulus bills during the Trump years) may be contributing to some degree as well, though I think the supply chain problems that have been exacerbated by the Pandemic (and now the war in Ukraine) are the primary factors. In terms of combating the rise in inflation that we are seeing, there is no single way to stop it. Fixing the supply chain problem would be a big one, but seeing how the supply chain situation is so complex and global in nature (and that COVID is still around), there is no simple fix. President Biden is trying to battle rising gas prices by attempting to get oil producers (like US oil companies, Saudi Arabia, and others) to increase oil production, but he can’t order them to do so. Releases from the US Oil Reserves have also been authorized as has increasing the percentage of Ethanol allowed in gasoline). Efforts are being made to try to alleviate the bottlenecks US ports are grappling with (like getting the port of Log Angeles to operate 24/7), and the Federal Reserve is likely to increase interest rates several times this year as it fights inflation. I also think we need to speed up the process of shifting away from our reliance on fossil fuels and increase the use of renewable, clean energy because this would help combat Human Caused Climate Change as well as make us less susceptible economically to the whims of the oil market. But the brutal truth is that there are limitations on what the White House and Congress can do to slow down the inflation we are experiencing, especially in the short term. It will almost certainly take time for the situation to improve.
March 23, 2022
Oh no, another piece about COVID lol! Well, sorry, but yes it is.
I know everyone wants this damn pandemic to end. I get that. I feel it. But the thing is, COVID is not going to disappear as much as we wish it would. The hard, cold reality is that we have to learn to live with it. But in living with it, that does not mean totally ignoring it as if it wasn’t there. On the other hand, we shouldn’t live in desperate fear of it either. Instead, we need to be vigilant and flexible in terms of living our lives in a world with COVID in it.
Now, you may be wondering what I mean by that. Well, let me explain. The COVID virus mutates which is why we keep seeing new variants sprout up. This is what viruses do which allows them to survive. Immunity (or immune resistance would be a more accurate term I think) can come from vaccines, previous infection, or both. We also know that with time, immune resistance to COVID decreases, which is why keeping up to date with boosters is so important. Another issue that comes into play is that as more mutations occur, the risk of new variants becoming more resistant to people’s immunity increases because of the new mutated variants potentially being so different from earlier versions that people’s immune systems don’t respond nearly as well (and in a worst case scenario, not at all). So, when you consider all this and the fact that some people still haven’t gotten vaccinated and how many more have not received boosters, it’s easy to see why COVID cases go up and down.
Now and in the future, people need to stay aware about what the status of COVID is in their communities and countries, and they should keep up to date in getting their boosters. In all likelihood, new boosters based on newer variants will become available, and it will be important for people to get those shots when they are able (like getting yearly flu vaccines). Also, people need to be prepared to make adjustments depending on what COVID is doing in terms of case numbers and severity. While we all would like to see COVID case numbers stay low, that may not always be the case. In all likelihood, there will be times when case numbers rise (and sometimes it could be to significant levels). As a result, when those levels are high enough to be of concern, people will need to make some adjustments to help bring those levels back down. This could include things like people who had not been wearing masks in indoor public places starting to do so again. Another example could be needing to make adjustments to indoor gatherings (like shifting them outside, decreasing crowd size, and perhaps asking attendees to take at home rapid COVID tests before coming). I’m not saying people will have to take severe precautions all the time. It will depend on what COVID is doing (whether case numbers and severity are low or high).
While we all need to live our lives, we should be smart about it and do so in a responsible way being prepared to make adjustments if necessary. By being vigilant and flexible, we can keep ourselves and other people safer and healthier which in turn will allow everyone to live better lives.
What is wrong with people?
We are still in the COVID Pandemic and are experiencing a serious surge as the Omicron variant spreads like wildfire around the world. Some medical experts are thinking Omicron may be as contagious as Measles. Here’s an example of how contagious Omicron is. In late November of 2021, 110 people attended a Holiday party in Oslo, Norway. Most of the attendees were fully vaccinated (from the initial 2 dose series). One individual who had recently arrived from South Africa was infected with the Omicron variant of COVID, and when all was said and done, 70% of those in attendance ended up catching the virus. 70%. Think about that. And remember many more people who had not been to the party undoubtedly caught Omicron from individuals who had been present. That is how contagious the Omicron variant is.
Another problem we’re seeing with Omicron is that while immune resistance from the initial vaccine series is still helping protect against severe disease, it appears to be weakened in preventing people from getting infected in the first place. Immune resistance from previous infection of earlier COVID variants is also not working as well against Omicron so that the risk of reinfection (especially in those who are unvaccinated) is significantly increased. This is why getting boostered is so important. Boosters are improving the immune system’s ability to fight the virus.
We know that mask wearing and social distancing help significantly decrease spread of the virus. It’s also clear that to gain the maximum effect, everyone inside a public space should be wearing a mask. This is because masks decrease the amount of virus that is exhaled into the air by someone (who may have COVID and not realize it) while also increasing protection for other people in the room who would be exposed to what virus is able to escape into the room’s atmosphere. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense.
Now consider how schools are getting ready to restart after the Holiday break. It should be abundantly obvious that everyone inside a school should be wearing a mask right now. Everyone. Kids and staff are going to be inside rooms in close proximity to each other for hours. We’re also seeing how in this current surge, a growing number of young people are getting infected since so many kids are not vaccinated (whether because they are too young or because the parents being too hesitant). And yes, some of these kids end up in the hospital. This is why everyone should be wearing a mask inside schools.
It’s not rocket science folks.
Yet many people are fighting against mask wearing mandates in schools claiming that not wearing a mask should be their individual right. The problem with their argument is that we are in the midst of a pandemic with case numbers rapidly rising. This means that wearing a mask inside a school is not just about protecting the well-being of the wearer. It’s also about protecting everyone else in that school as well as people students and staff will be in contact with elsewhere in their lives. It’s about doing what is responsible and right for the greater good.
This is why when people are vehemently opposing mask wearing mandates in schools, they are being seriously irresponsible and are endangering the lives of not just their own children, family, and friends, but those of other people as well. And worse still is how Republican Governors DeSantis of Florida and Abbott of Texas have prohibited mask mandates in their states’ public schools. That means local public school officials are not allowed to institute mask mandates, even during times of high transmission rates in their districts. This goes against science and will definitely cost lives to be lost needlessly and unnecessarily. Frankly, people like Governors DeSantis and Abbott have (or will have) blood on their hands.
In times of crisis, everyone needs to pull together and do their part for the greater good and let go of some of their own personal desires and demands. This is what happened during World War II when everyone did their part to defeat Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan. The problem is that right now millions of Americans are refusing to do their part in that they’re not wearing masks and social distancing when they should, and many are refusing to get vaccinated and/or boostered despite the fact they have no legitimate medical reason not to.
So I ask again: what’s wrong with people? Why are so many being selfish to the point of endangering the lives of not just themselves and their own children, but those of other innocent people as well?
During this time of crisis, mask wearing and social distancing in public places, especially schools, is critical in managing the pandemic because otherwise, the health care system will become even more overwhelmed than it already is. Another vital tool in battling COVID is for people to get vaccinated and boostered when eligible.
If more people would think about the greater good and do the right thing, we would get better control over the pandemic faster, which in turn would save lives.
I know we are all tired of COVID and are anxious to get back to more normal lives. But the blunt reality is that COVID in all likelihood is here to stay. The best case scenario (realistically speaking) is that it will become endemic as opposed to the current pandemic. But even once it is considered endemic, there will be periodic surges (some local and some worldwide). It will wax and wane with some areas having larger outbreaks than others.
There are multiple reasons why COVID is here to stay. For one thing, there are too many people refusing to get vaccinated even though the vaccines have been proven to be quite safe and effective, especially against severe disease. There is also growing evidence that people’s immune resistance from previous infection and vaccines may decrease over time. This is why boosters have now been authorized. Another factor is how the virus has been mutating so quickly. As the virus mutates, new variants of it are created. Sometimes, a variant will fizzle out without getting very far, and other times a variant will spread rapidly to become the dominant form of the virus for a period of time. We recently saw this with the Delta variant. And now we have a troubling new one called Omicron.
Omicron is concerning because it has a large number of mutations which could affect how transmissible it is and potentially how severe it is. The mutations might also impact how well people’s immune resistance (from previous infections or vaccines) may be able to fight it. There is a chance that Omicron could be so different because of its mutations that people’s immune resistance won’t work well in battling it. At this time, it’s too soon to tell the full impacts of this new variant. Some preliminary data is raising the possibility that with Omicron, the risk of reinfection for people who already had COVID via an earlier variant, may be elevated. Research is ongoing. Hopefully, within a few weeks, we will have some idea how well people’s current immune resistance will work against it.
Another concern for the Northern Hemisphere with regards to Omicron is the onset of winter. Some viruses, like the flu, survive better in cold, dry environments. We can’t say for sure whether COVID is like this or not, but there was already concern about a winter surge due to the fact that in cold weather, people are more likely to be gathering indoors where there is less ventilation. There’s also the fact that people are getting out more and fewer are wearing masks/social distancing when they should. This combination of factors is creating great concern about what is going to happen during the next few months.
People should wear masks and social distance when they are inside public places or in outdoor crowds that are large and concentrated. Individuals who are unvaccinated need to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and vaccinated people need to get boostered when eligible.
We must all do our part in fighting COVID. It’s more than just protecting ourselves; it’s about doing the right thing for the greater good.
We are still in the COVID Pandemic folks. This is a fact. The Delta Variant is much more contagious than earlier variants and is spreading very quickly. This is also a fact. Many hospitals around the country are filling up again with COVID patients. We are at the point now where people who need ICU beds aren’t always able to get them, and as a result, some of these individuals have died when they likely could have been saved if they had gotten into ICU. Now consider that of the COVID patients who are in ICUs, the significant majority are unvaccinated individuals.
Think about that. We have safe vaccines available that we know are very effective in decreasing the chances of getting severe disease from COVID, yet millions of Americans are still refusing to get vaccinated even when they could. Hospitals are getting overwhelmed and people are dying who could have been saved otherwise because so many people are refusing to get vaccinated. This is a cold, hard fact.
On top of this is how so many people in the United States refuse to wear masks when they should. Masks work. They decrease the chances of people spreading and catching the virus.
Masks are most effective when everyone is wearing them, particularly inside spaces with less ventilation. Consider this: you have a room full of people. If one of those individuals has COVID, that person is shedding the virus as they breathe and talk. The virus then spreads on small water droplets (>5 microns) and probably also in the form of much smaller aerosolized particles. The droplets fall into the ground quicker, whereas aerosols can linger in the air for hours. There is evidence that COVID can be spread via both methods. If someone with COVID is in such an environment without a mask on, then everyone right around that individual will be at risk of breathing in virus laden droplets that the person is breathing out. The longer these people are in close quarters to the COVID individual, the greater the chance they will become infected, especially if they’re not wearing masks. Individuals who are inside the room but a little farther away may also be at risk via breathing in virus containing aerosols. This risk obviously goes up if they are in the room for extended periods of time and aren’t wearing masks. But if everyone, including the individual with COVID, is wearing a mask, then the risk of other people getting infected significantly goes down. This is because masks help decrease the amount of virus that is breathed out into the atmosphere of the room by the COVID individual while also decreasing the amount of virus the uninfected people might breathe in.
Now imagine this room is full of your kids and their teacher at school.
This is why mandatory mask wearing in schools is so vitally important right now. We are seeing a significant rise in the number of minors catching COVID (and going to the hospital) right now. These kids who are getting infected can then in turn spread the virus to others in their household, some of whom might be at greater risk of getting severe disease.
In order to get a better handle on this pandemic and defeat it, everyone needs to work together like happened during World War II. During that conflict, people worked together to achieve victory. Everyone from civilians to soldiers. But this is not happening during the current COVID Pandemic, even though we are at war with a virus. According to Johns Hopkins University, as of September 25, 2021, 687,572 human beings have died in the United States alone from this virus (418,500 Americans died in WW2). Too many people are not wearing masks / social distancing when they should and too many are still refusing to get vaccinated even though they could. These individuals are being extremely irresponsible and frankly selfish. They are the major reason why hospitals are getting overwhelmed with COVID patients.
It’s time for everyone to do their part for the greater good, like occurred during WW2. People who are able, need to get vaccinated immediately, and everyone should wear masks (and social distance as much as possible) when inside public places or in concentrated outdoor crowds. If enough people would do this, we would get a much better handle on the COVID Pandemic, which in turn would save lives.
Ok, I know: people are sick and tired of the COVID Pandemic.
I get it. I am too. We want are lives back. Dream about things being normal. Doing things we used to do. I hear you.
But folks, this thing is not over.
The Delta Variant of COVID is much more contagious than earlier variants and is now the dominant form in the United States and much of the world. Case numbers are quickly rising so that almost the entire country is now rated by the CDC as having substantial or high rates of transmission. We are seeing increased numbers of younger people getting severe COVID cases that are sending them to the hospital.
Thing is: there have been too many people refusing to get vaccinated and not wearing masks when they should. Earlier in the summer, too much of the population started acting like the Pandemic was over. They stopped wearing masks and quit social distancing. This allowed the virus to spread faster. The more a virus spreads, the more mutations occur. These mutations lead to new variants. Add in the fact that many people had not been vaccinated, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Well, the disaster is here.
So, everyone needs to buckle down and do their part in battling COVID-19. Practice social distancing and wear masks when inside public places or in large crowds. And unless your doctor has legitimate medical reasons not to, get vaccinated! If everyone would do their part, we could get through this much faster, and that would help people get back to more normal lives quicker and safer. But more importantly, it would save lives.
So please do your part.
Practice social distancing!
Wear masks inside public places and in large crowds!
And unless your doctor has legitimate medical reasons not to, get vaccinated!
What has this country come to? Hmm? So many people are refusing to get vaccinated or wear masks even though it’s been proven that both are extremely important in fighting the COVID Pandemic. And it sure seems like a significant chunk of the Republican Party keeps sinking to greater and greater depths of irresponsibility which is endangering people’s lives as well as our democratic values.
It’s bad enough how so many Republicans are trying to change the narrative of what really happened on January 6th and who was responsible. Too many continue to spread Trump’s lies about the election, and Republicans around the country are even trying to pass voting laws that a lot of experts feel would make it more difficult for many Americans to practice their constitutional right to vote. These actions are clearly undermining and threatening our democracy.
But what is also sickening is how such a great number of people, many of whom are Republicans, are so willfully ignoring and mishandling the COVID Pandemic. They seem to be denying or avoiding scientific evidence and advice about how to fight COVID-19. A great number of individuals are not wearing masks when they clearly should and far too many are still refusing to get vaccinated despite the fact that vaccinations are vitally important in battling this deadly virus. Even before the current surge which is enveloping this country exploded, the CDC was recommending unvaccinated people wear masks when inside public places or in big crowds, yet many were totally disregarding this advice. A variety of people from different walks of life have been doing this sort of thing unfortunately, and it’s been a significant problem among Republicans. Polls and studies have shown that as a whole, Democrats and Independents have been more likely to take this Pandemic seriously when compared to Republicans. A higher percentage of Republicans say they will not get vaccinated as compared to Democrats. It’s been Republican states which have been having much lower vaccination rates and thus faster spread of the Delta Variant. Now we are in another surge as the Delta Variant, which is much more contagious than earlier forms of COVID, spreads rapidly around the country and the world. The CDC is recommending that in areas with substantial or high rates of transmission (which is most of the United States), everyone should wear a mask when inside public spaces. This includes those who have been vaccinated. Yet many people are ignoring this. And what makes matters even worse is the fact that there are Republican leaders such as the governors of Texas and Florida who are refusing to institute mandatory mask wearing for schools. Governor DeSantis of Florida is even going to the extreme of threatening the salaries of education officials who enforce mandatory mask wearing in their local school districts. This is beyond sickening!
Mask wearing absolutely saves lives in that it decreases the chances of the virus spreading from person to person. The scientific evidence for this is beyond overwhelming. A significant majority of kids are not vaccinated, especially those under 12 because they’re not allowed to get one of the vaccines at this point. And we know kids can catch and transmit COVID. We’re also seeing in the current surge a greater percentage of young people ending up in the hospital because of COVID infections. So it’s blatantly obvious that everyone in schools should be wearing masks and that doing so would help limit the amount of spread that occurs. Yet Republican Governors DeSantis and Abbott are completely ignoring the scientific evidence and are opposing mandatory mask wearing in schools. This will absolutely cause lives to be lost needlessly and unnecessarily.
What is wrong with such members of the Republican Party? How low are they going to sink, and how many innocent people have to die because of the irresponsible behavior of leaders such as DeSantis and Abbott (as well as that of everyday individuals who refuse to wear masks or get vaccinated)?
When history looks back on this time, it’s going to treat a great many people, especially a significant number of Republicans, very harshly, and they’re absolutely going to deserve it!
The COVID pandemic has been raging for over a year now. People are getting tired of wearing masks, social distancing, not seeing friends and family in person, not attending gatherings, and so on and so on. A great number of people are hurting financially due to jobs being lost or hours being severely curtailed because of the economic impacts of the pandemic. Many businesses are suffering and quite a few sadly have closed permanently.
So I understand why people are so eager to try to get life back to a more normal level.
But, the pandemic is still raging. While in a number of areas, cases have slowed down to some degree compared to during the holidays, the numbers of new cases are still dangerously high. And in many states and cities, the rate of new cases right now is higher as compared to the spring of 2020 when states went into total lockdown.
I’m not saying we should to go into a total lockdown again. But we must continue to fight the pandemic.
Texas has rescinded its mask wearing mandate and is allowing businesses to open to full capacity. This is dangerously premature and in my opinion will absolutely cost lives to be lost unnecessarily and tragically. It’s way too soon to open businesses at 100% capacity, and rescinding mask wearing mandates is grossly irresponsible.
The COVID virus has mutated as viruses due. Currently, there are multiple variants spreading around the country and the world. Several have shown to be more contagious than the original strain. We also can’t say how efficacious the current vaccines will be against all these new variants. This is why mask wearing, social distancing, and restrictions on how many people are allowed inside businesses are still vitally important in fighting this virus.
What we need is for everyone around the country and the world to continue wearing masks and social distancing in public. Businesses will have to find ways to function as best they can with restrictions such as limiting the number of customers allowed inside. We also need as many people as possible to get vaccinated as soon as they are able. If we do this, we will get control over the COVID virus much sooner, which in the long run will save lives and help businesses get back to more normal levels sooner than otherwise.
But fully reopening and relaxing mask wearing/social distancing rules too soon will prolong the pandemic and cost more lives to be lost, lives which could have been saved otherwise. The other thing that would prolong the pandemic is if too many people refuse to get vaccinated. In order to reach herd immunity, we need as much of the population to get vaccinated as possible.
So please, continue taking precautions. Wear masks and social distance in public. And when your turn comes, unless your doctor has a genuine legitimate reason not to, get vaccinated against the COVID virus.
By working together we can get through this and get through it sooner. But it’s up to all of us.
People all around the country are hurting badly during this pandemic between health concerns, tragic deaths, and economic impacts.
A great number of businesses are seriously hurting, and as a result, many people have found their hours being cut or their jobs lost completely. Even places that have been around for decades with devoted customers have had to shutter their doors permanently. Many people are on the precipice of potentially being kicked out of their apartments and homes. Millions of Americans are barely hanging on.
But the thing is: this pandemic is still raging. People are still getting sick and too many are dying, so various restrictions are still needed to try to control spread of the disease and save lives.
It’s a terrible dilemma. We have to balance fighting the virus while trying not to devastate the economy at the same time.
This is why we really need Congress and the White House to pass the COVID relief bill as soon as possible. Everyone’s not going to get everything they want in the bill. This is a democracy in a time where partisan divides are often extreme and bitter. But we have to find ways to work together and get something passed to help people and businesses who are struggling economically as well as provide strategy and coordination in the effort to battle the devastating virus.
Come on DC. Please get it done.
I know people are sick and tired of the pandemic. They want to get out and do things. They miss restaurants, family gatherings, bars, movie theaters, the list goes on and on.
People are getting impatient. They want their lives back to the way they were before.
But folks, the COVID Pandemic is still raging.
People are still dying. As a matter of fact, people are dying at a daily rate that is higher than was seen back in early 2020 when strict shut down measures were first instituted.
We must all do our part to fight this deadly disease, and that means keep wearing masks and social distancing in public. It also means that when your turn comes to get a vaccine, get it! Unless your doctor has genuine legitimate reasons not to, get a COVID vaccine when your turn comes because it’s not just about protecting yourself. It’s about protecting everyone. In order to gain herd immunity in the population, we need as many people as possible to get vaccinated. That’s how it works. If a bunch of people refuse to get vaccinated, the pandemic will continue and people will keep dying needlessly, tragically, and before their time.
So please, please, please: do your part.
Practice social distancing and mask wearing in public. Avoid large gatherings especially when indoors. And when your turn comes, get vaccinated!
Together, we will get through this.