BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2021-08-01 Su

Things that went whizzing by that I want to remember:


Matthew YglesiasMartin Luther King Called for Radical Redistribution of Material Resources: ‘King’s speeches had more lines than just that one. And he didn’t retire after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. And his actual ideas were, I think, superior…. Formal equality mostly characterized the United States before the civil rights revolution. The pre-Brown understanding was that separate accommodations were permissible as long as they were “separate but equal.” Black people were de facto disenfranchised across the South, but the basis for disenfranchisement was facially race-neutral…. Nor was there ever a “no Black CEOs in the Fortune 500” law. There just weren’t any such CEOs until Wharton’s son was appointed to lead TIAA-CREF—which didn’t happen until 1987. So that’s the context for King’s speech. There was legally entrenched segregation in the south, but officially the facilities have to be equal…. King isn’t… saying “equal access to all public accommodations, whether run by the government or private enterprise—what’s the big deal?” He’s saying this is a very big deal…. He wants real access to the ballot, not just a requirement that voter suppression measures be facially race-neutral. And he’s talking about conditions in the North as well as conditions in the south. And he’s talking about generating meaningful economic opportunities. It’s called the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice…. If you want to understand why racial justice advocates aren’t satisfied with the “judge by the content of character” nostrum, it’s because King’s version of that dream was the endpoint of a program of massive material redistribution to build a radically more egalitarian society…. Right before King was murdered, my grandfather interviewed him for a magazine article about the Poor People’s Campaign. It was a really big moment for grandpa and he spoke about this stuff with me when I was a kid. King was saying at the end that the moral fervor of the civil rights movement needed to go in the direction of “class struggle” and “redistribution of economic power,” and that America risked damnation over its indifference to the fate of the poor…

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Very Briefly Noted:

The Chatner
Hotel Dull, Food Indifferent: The Wedding-Breakfast
The Hotel Dull, Food Indifferent project is a weekly fiction series that, for legal purposes, charts various uncomfortable meals hosted by the nameless second wife – let’s call her Mrs. de Summer — of a wealthy Cornish landowner. The previous chapter can be found…
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  • David FrenchOn Racial Justice, Individual Guilt, & Institutional Responsibility: ‘We aren’t guilty of the sins of our ancestors, but we must still choose to work to repair the damage they did… <

The French Press
On Racial Justice, Individual Guilt, and Institutional Responsibility
Even by the degraded standards of contemporary discourse, my Sunday essay last week triggered a volcanic reaction. I was called “loathsome,” “truly despicable,” and “odious” (among other things). In his Monday podcast, my friend Ben Shapiro engaged in an…
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Stephen S. RoachChina’s Animal Spirits Deficit: ‘A longtime China optimist fears the recent tech crackdowns represent a tipping point: When it comes to the Chinese economy, I have been a congenital optimist for over 25 years. But now I have serious doubts. The Chinese government has taken dead aim at its dynamic technology sector, the engine of China’s New Economy. Its recent actions are symptomatic of a deeper problem: the state’s efforts to control the energy of animal spirits. The Chinese Dream, President Xi Jinping’s aspirational vision of a “great modern socialist country” by 2049, could now be at risk. At first, it seemed as if the authorities were concerned about a one-off personnel problem when they sent a stern message to the irreverent Jack Ma… 

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Provincetown’s Covid Outbreak Shows ‘It’s Nowhere Near Over’: ‘From the 965 cases that scientists have traced to gatherings in Provincetown, among them 238 residents, scientists have drawn important conclusions about the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which has helped drive a rise in hospitalizations across the country, mostly among the unvaccinated. The good news is that people infected in Provincetown, about three-quarters of whom were fully vaccinated, were, for the most part, not seriously ill; no deaths were reported, and only seven people were hospitalized… 

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Corbin BoliesWest Virginia Guv Wanted to ‘Pee and Throw Up’ After Getting Briefing on Delta Variant: ‘Republican Governor Jim Justice… made the remark Thursday during a COVID briefing, which he has upped to three per week as the virus spikes once again. “I think I can see the enemy coming, and I really am hesitant to shoot or not. But I know for sure I can see the enemy coming,” Justice said. “The enemy is this Delta variant.” He said he wouldn’t impose a mask mandate or state shutdown, but, in the same breath, said the government should be doing more. “It’s not time to be running through the streets in a panic. This thing the next couple of weeks is probably going to get worse”… 

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Bob Wachter’[The] internal CDC document…. We knew much of what’s in here, but there’s some new information & analysis…. The new stuff’s a bit worse than I expected…. 1) Delta is much more infectious than the original: they estimate an Ro of 5–9, vs. the 2–3 for the original, which makes Delta “as transmissible as chicken pox.”…. 2) They believe the period of infectivity is longer (high levels of viral shedding for 18, rather than 13 days)…. 3) As we learned in the CDC announcement 2 days ago, they’re finding equal viral loads in noses/mouths of people with breakthrough infections as in infected unvaxxed people…. 4) Vaccine efficacy… estimates… tend to show ~80% efficacy vs. Delta (vs. the prior 95%). Thankfully vax IS still ~95% effective vs. serious infections…. 5) Lower efficacy in selected populations: significantly lower efficacy (~70%) in nursing home elderly (Fig L) and in immunocompromised (Fig R) patients…. 6) Waning of immunity… protection from prior infection wanes after 6 months…. 7) Seriousness of Delta infections….. This document supports the “more serious” stance. That’s concerning. 8) Notwithstanding all the noise about breakthrough infections, the case for vaccination remains enormously strong: they show an 8-fold reduction in cases, and a 25-fold reduction in hospitalizations and deaths…. Universal masking is critical to block spread of Delta–a more infectious, and possibly more serious virus–particularly if it’s true that vaccinated folks can be part of the chain of spread. Document also makes clear that we need a new & far more aggressive vaccination strategy (w/ everyone masking indoors until we’re there) if we’re to get ourselves out of this new & unsettling stage. The foe has gotten better at its job, and so the war has indeed changed.


Paul KrugmanThe Year & a Half When Liberty Died: ‘I’m wondering how I’ll manage to give my potted version of political philosophy with a straight face. I usually teach this stuff as a dispute between John Rawls and Robert Nozick…. [For] the conservative position… invoke Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia which centers on the concept of freedom of choice…. People should have the right to act as they like, so long as it doesn’t hurt others, and this principle of freedom should prevail even if you might prefer that some people have more and others less… call[s] for a government as limited as possible, certainly much smaller than the big welfare states all advanced countries currently operate…. But… my usual effort to offer maximum sympathy to the conservative position falls apart completely when one tries to make sense of the U.S. right’s response to Covid–19…. While sheer self-preservation should be a good enough reason to get vaccinated, refusing the shots for whatever reason is also putting other peoples’ lives at risk by keeping the pandemic going. It has also been amazing to watch many conservatives do a complete 180 on the rights of business owners… conservative politicians trying to prohibit stores from requiring that their customers wear masks, trying to prohibit cruise ships from requiring that passengers be vaccinated, and so on. All that rhetoric of freedom suddenly didn’t apply when it came to protecting public health. OK, I’m not naïve: I’ve long argued that there are very few true libertarians in American politics, that the language of freedom is largely used to defend privilege…. But for all my cynicism, I didn’t think it would get this raw…. It has been quite an education… 

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