Your lockdown may vary

Our Boston suburb, which imposes a two-acre zoning minimum to keep out the riffraff, has hung a “We’re all in this together” banner across the main road. (We can restore the Black Lives Matter banner eventually?)

What about on a national scale? Are we actually all in this together? I talked to four friends from the aviation world in the last few days. One is isolated on 40 acres of oceanfront with 12,000 square feet of interior space, a dock with a sailboat and a power boat (not in the water yet this season), jogging trails, a tennis court, a hotel-size home gym, etc. One is isolated on 90 acres of ocean inlet with more than 8,000 square feet of interior space, a pool, a tennis court, a dock with multiple boats. One is on 20 acres of oceanfront over in Europe (in a country that is smart enough to do load balancing of patients to hospitals). One is in a city in a southern state with ample health system capacity. He’s on more than 2 acres with more than 13,000 square feet of interior space.

None of the Americans are in states where the University of Washington doom prophets forecast any shortage of hospital or ICU beds.

We use the same “lockdown”, “stay-at-home”, and “quarantine” terms for all Americans, but the experience of this life can be vastly different for those at different income levels. In non-plague times, when rich and poor Americans go for a walk they might have fairly similar experiences. Right now, however, even if the rich started out in a medium-sized city apartment they’ve often managed to escape to an uncrowded vacation destination, e.g., the Hamptons, Nantucket, or Maine. No matter how tight the lockdown gets, the rich can usually get ample fresh air simply walking around on their own private property.

I’m thinking that this variation in experience of lockdown is driving some of the ruling class’s high comfort level with lockdown. It is one thing to hear about a single mother, her boyfriend, and three kids from previous sex partners all crammed into a 3BR in public housing nearly 24/7. But can people with massive suburban estates actually understand what a Victimhood Studies professor would call “the lived experience” of this quasi-family?

Thomas Friedman, writing in the New York Times, on March 26, 2020, demanded that the Great Father in Washington issue a “shelter in place” order. Leaving aside the issue of whether any state governor would be required to comply with such an order, let’s consider what Mr. Friedman’s life would be like under “shelter in place.” He lives on 7.5 acres in Bethesda, Maryland (a 1/4 acre lot there is now considered lavish). He and his wife (the daughter of a billionaire) demolished the house that was on it and built an 11,400 square foot mansion. What relationship does Mr. Friedman’s “lived experience” of sheltering in place on 7.5 acres and 11,400 square feet have to that of a middle class family stuck in New York City in a 2BR?


29 thoughts on “Your lockdown may vary

  1. Mentioning three children from different sex partners seems offensive. How does your essay actually depend on that?

    • Bradley: It is the American way! More to the point, domestic violence is more likely when the people in a household aren’t genetically related to each other. See “The step-father effect in child abuse: Comparing discriminative parental solicitude and antisociality.” and “The presence of a stepfather and child physical abuse, as reported by a sample of Brazilian mothers in Rio de Janeiro.” (“Brazilian mothers professed to abuse their own children at substantially higher rates when their male partners were stepfathers to the focal child as compared to genetic fathers.”) : One in five of all American moms have kids who have different birth fathers, a new study shows. And when researchers look only at moms with two or more kids, that figure is even higher: 28 percent have kids with at least two different men. “To put it in perspective, this is similar to the number of American adults with a college degree,” says the study’s author, Cassandra Dorius, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. “It’s pervasive.”

  2. We’re all in this together. But some of us are more in it together than others.

  3. I think this is going to be the most important legacy of COVID-19. Not just the lockdowns, but the surveillance and tracking that is going to be enshrined in our culture as a consequence of fighting the virus. Will it ever abate? Will the civil liberties and privacy that are taken in the name of fighting the pandemic ever be returned? And to which people?

  4. It would suffice simply to say “a single mother, her boyfriend, and her three children”. I guess this is a hypothetical person in any case, so why not just say “5 people, not all genetically related, living in a 1 BR apartment”.

    • It is challenging to get into public housing unless you start by identifying as a single mother. It is a logical inconsistency. Housing is a right, which is why some Americans get to live rent-free in Manhattan, San Francisco, central Boston or Cambridge, etc. But you might have to wait 10 years to collect on that “right” (or maybe the waitlist is infinite and closed to new people). That’s why I voted for Bernie, who says that if it is a “right” then we have to fund it, the way that we do with Medicaid, food stamps, and Obamaphone.

  5. 11,400 sq ft is a nice prison but it is still a prison if you accept the narrative.
    On the other hand youtube has plenty of videos of urban youths driving police away that are trying to force social distance on them and they are doing it simply by laughing and mocking the cops.
    The thing that urban youths know, and on some level suburb dwellers are aware of, is that as a pedestrian the police have zero authority over you. Laugh and keep walking. Pro tip the slower you walk the harder it is to be followed/harassed.
    Two weeks it will be nice weather here in MA and the closed beaches will be really busy. It is going to be hilarious to see the authorities realize how little authority they have.

  6. Here’s a seventh inning stretch: Fauci says pro sports could resume if games were played in empty stadiums while keeping the athletes quarantined in hotels and “very well surveilled”…testing them once a week.

    But how will they practice social distancing in the dugout? Will they have to wear masks on the field? And there won’t be any handshaking after the game.

  7. TomAto, tomatO…. Lets call the whole thing off!

    The point is that SOME will endure a prolonged isolation better than others. We can see it, thus far limited, in Sweden, where we by recommendation – not law – are living in isolation of sorts. That some – and not others – will suffer harder is the point. And will this last for months in some nations? Well, in that respect I think Sweden is better off (today).

    • Maybe Turkmenistan and Belorussia is on the right track?
      The first have, by law, disallowed the word “Corona” and anything connected to it and the latter, have a leader, Lukasjenko; that
      A Recommends people to take baths in Saunas, drink Vodka an drive tractors (I personally would like to see a tractor with a sauna mounted on its top, with an endless supply of the forementioned drink…)
      B Declared, just yesterday, that “and I make this official” no-one ever will die of Corona/Covid in Belarussia.
      Perfect political leadership, innit?

  8. MLB in Phoenix will actually be pretty easy. Fifteen Cactus league teams will use their existing spring training fields. The MLB will revise the rules for this group and call it the National League. Similar things will happen in Florida for the American League teams. Multiple games will be played each day in the various Phoenix/Florida area stadiums like a regular season. During the game every player on the field will wear a helmet with a face mask attached. Players not in the game will wear simple face masks. Five relief pitchers and a few coaches will stay in the bull pen. The current pitcher and eight field players will set in the dugout. Two coaches will set in the dugout. There will only be 11 people in the dugout so they can spread out The rest of the players for each team will set in the stands behind their dugout. Umpires will stand in their normal places on the field. They will wear face masks as well. High fives and hugs and hand shakes after a great play will be eliminated. Instead players will only shout and clap and cheer.

    TV field crews and cameras will be set up as normal around the stadium. These people will wear masks as well. TV announcers will set in their normal seats way up high and not wear masks while on the air. They are way apart from the players. No face to face interviews will be conducted.

    Team office people and players wives can attend the game and set spaced out in the stands. No kids allowed. Some wives will be allowed to quarantine with their husbands.

    Players and office personal and umpires will stay in local hotels and each team will be quarantined to a single hotel and on property restaurants for food and drink.

    Covid 19 testing is TBD and mostly limited by medical supplies and available personal and what the local authorities will accept. I think weekly testing of home plate umpires and catchers is enough plus temperature screening twice a day for everyone else. They can also do some statistical sample testing as well to make sure this is enough.

    I expect MLB and the various government agencies to officially start planning this out in detail starting May 5 or so. I think they will aim for players to start coming to town for workouts and initial quarantines and some testing starting around May 20. So official games will start around May 30, Memorial Day.

    This will be big country wide morale booster so I hope this is done.

    • This is surreal. If only we spent this amount of effort increasing our testing capacity and/or production or procurement of PPE for medical workers.

  9. Toucan Sam is hunkered down in a lake front vacation house in an undisclosed location. It’s only 5000 square feet but we have both a power boat and sailing boats in the water. The local authorities has tried to discourage non full time residents from being up here but we ignore them.

  10. My wife and I are raising our kids (ages 12,9) in an urban area, in an apartment. We’ve chosen this because we can walk to everything, lots of work nearby, great parks, kids activities, 2 min walk to subway & other urban amenities. But this changes everything: schools closed, office closed, neighborhood closed. To live this lockdown life, all we need is an internet connection and a grocery store – lots of places offer this with more space for much, much less. So we have poked around, looking for places we could stay short term outside of the city.

    We have easy options. In-laws are on 100 acres with ample space, my parents have a suburban house and a modest cottage on a river – they have offered us the choice of either. Interestingly, even with everything closed and no meetups with friends, the kids voted to stay put, which we’ll do for now. We’re not setup for everyone to work from home all day, but we’ve made it work. Judging from conference calls with coworkers, I think its hardest for those with younger kids.

  11. Geez, the only thing I got from this post is that I want to be an aviation friend of Phil’s. Not one is living in a less that 8000 sq ft home.

  12. Because during non-lockdown times the lives of your aviation world friends and the single mother example are so much more alike? We are all in this together every day… NOT.

  13. CDC is now showing “Demographic characteristics of COVID-19 cases in the United States, as of April 14, 2020.” See:

    No demographics by sex/gender. Is sex/gender no longer a demographic characteristic?

    At least for now, “Global Health 5050 Towards Gender Equality in Global Health” is showing “”How much higher is the proportion of deaths among confirmed cases in men than in women?”

    The answer is a lot. Sweden is relatively close to gender equality at “only” 35% more men dead than women. The figures for Denmark and Greece are 56% and 157% more men dead than women dead, respectively.

    No gender data from the woman-gender-obsessed U.S. How odd! But NYC shows 77% more deaths among men than women. See:

    The media seems to regard men’s huge gender disparity in COVID-19 deaths as about as important as the completely bizarre, sexist, unjust, and damaging “child support” practices that you have so importantly documented.

    • And the winner (on CDC website) is:

      Race missing/unspecified, with 78% percent of the cases!

      Not even piss poor demographics for the measure that matters, the deaths.

    • Again: While it is true that the U.S. family law system is damaging to children, it is highly enriching to plaintiffs. Check out the touching story of self-actualization in “I loved being a trophy wife until I realized what I was missing out on. I made the terrifying choice to blow up my marriage — and it was worth it.”

      “I was in my early 20s when we met; he was already over 40, 17 years older than me. And 17 gazillion times wealthier. … Having money makes so many things easier. … I remembered how much I’d always wanted to write … I was beginning to find my voice. … There was, of course, a divorce settlement, so I didn’t have to go back to baking water-and-Bisquick paste in my toaster oven to make it to the next payday.”

      Imagine the literature that we wouldn’t have if Americans couldn’t live off a former sex partner!

  14. Am I the only one who is concerned the American constitutional experiment may not make it to its 250th anniversary in 2039? Not asking for myself, but for my grandchildren. If (most of) our politicians don’t unify the country soon, the tribes are going to separate in some way. It almost happened in 1861, it was dissolving in the 1930’s until WWII unified it, and here we are again, at each other’s throats.

    • ToD: I don’t think the U.S. can fall apart as a nation simply because the government is too rich/strong ($5 trillion/year budget). Even Abraham Lincoln was able to keep the South from seceding despite the primitive military technology of the day and the small size of the federal government.

      So we will be a “nation” in the sense that we have a government and a military. I think mass immigration plus the comprehensive welfare state has eliminated the idea of an “American people.” Suppose that an immigrant shows up from Somalia, for example, and is immediately entitled to a free house, free health care, free food, and a free smartphone. Native-born Americans are supposed to feel happy to work extra hours each week to support this newly-arrived migrant. But someone who stayed behind in Somalia? We owe that person nothing. We will not work even one minute extra each week to ensure that the Somali in Somalia has shelter, health care, food, and mobile phone service. In theory, if a person can somehow contrive to put his/her/zer/their feet on American soil, we owe that person a 100% paid-for life of leisure and health. But if the same person ends up one meter (me, trying to think global!) short of our border, we owe him/her/zer/them nothing.

      The Somali immigrant does not have a greater overlap in language, religion, cultural values, etc. with the native-born American who would have to work to support him/her/zer/them than does the Somali who ends up 1 meter short of the border. What makes the Somali who showed up yesterday someone we want to support forever and the Somali who is outside of our border someone to whom we will give nothing? (and in this Age of Shutdown, someone from whom we will also buy nothing!)

      combined with

      means the U.S. will be a “nation” but not a “people”.

    • I know it sounds tedious, but the Irish were once the subject of the same kind of ranting that you’re doing regarding Somalis. Eventually, the ranters found a way not to hate them so much.

      Also, if you’re going to talk about immigrants and welfare, it’s worth noting that we’re often told that many of rich founders and CEOs of “tech” companies in Silicon Valley are immigrants. That whole industry was built on corporate welfare, going back to its earliest days. If the subject is immigrants who benefit from welfare, they should be the first group discussed. In many cases, their “language, religion, cultural values, etc.” vary greatly from the typical native-born American. Though it’s unclear why that is a significant piece of information.

    • I know it sounds racist but compare the average IQ of the Irish to Somalis. Never mind proclivity to crime and non compatible culture. Thing is back in the day we had real conversations about not letting in the Irish and Italians because we didn’t want to lower the quality of our countries culture. We’ve come a long way. Government is downstream of culture and culture is downstream from genetics. There is no magic dirt. Import the third world become the third world. Which was someone’s plan via Hart-Cellar. Even the globalist cheerleaders at the UN define large scale migration as genocide.

    • @Vince My great grandparents emigrated here and worked. I am offended that you would compare them to today’s welfare migrants.

    • Vince: the Irish immigrated into a country where the only ways to survive were by working or private/family charity. The 19th century version of the U.S. doesn’t have any structural resemblance to the 21st century U.S. See “One family. Four generations of disability” for example. You couldn’t have done that starting in 1850 or even 1950 (SSDI was created in 1956).

      Here’s a story from 1981 about a family that had four generations in a public housing project in Chicago. By now it could be six generations for that family!

    • philg, Thanks for exploring, I agree there will be a central government, but the tensions between “blue states” and “red States”‘ majorities are alarmingly high, and there is very little constructive dialog. In my state of Florida, two virtual states exist with the I-4 corridor roughly the border and the northern half in political control right now. My concern is that these factions will somehow deteriorate into partition, a la Yugoslavia. I would be as much a minority in an evangelical-by-law place as your Somalian, except I could hide in the open. I already suppress my positions because many lifelong friends take any remark about civics as a personal attack. All of this is not so much a personal threat because I had my productive life in the 20th century, but I still want a future for oncoming generations.

    • Speaking of Yugoslavia and politicians exploiting tension, here’s what Trump had to say to his followers this morning:

      LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!



      Why the Second Amendment? Is he thinking that if Americans are worried about outbreaks of gun violence, they’ll be distracted from the nearly 700,000 COVID-19 cases and 35,000 deaths? If so, it’s an amazingly cynical move.

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