The protests against lockdowns in China: Why didn’t California pursue Zero COVID?

All of the U.S. media that previously celebrated lockdowns, school closures, forced masking, and forced vaccination are now highlighting the purported horrors of life in Zero COVID China. The apparent 180-degree change is justified by the idea that SARS-CoV-2 today is far less dangerous than it was in 2019. This is untrue according to Science: “Study suggests SARS-CoV-2 Omicron is as deadly as past variants” (May 2022). Sometimes the about-face is justified because vaccines are so effective, but “Covid Still Kills, but the Demographics of Its Victims Are Shifting” (KHN) shows that the reduction in death risk was at most 4X in the summer of 2022 and was trending down. (Remember that the vaccinated may have less to begin with because they’re more likely to be members of the laptop class. The reduction from the vaccine itself might be a factor of 2 at this point.) Why might the Righteous believe that COVID-19 is less dangerous than it was a few years ago? Because a human cannot be killed twice. Those who were most vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 are already dead. Yersinia pestis did not become less dangerous in 1354, but most people who could be killed by it had died in 1346-1353.

From state-sponsored NPR: “China’s lockdown protests and rising COVID leave Xi Jinping with ‘2 bad options'”.

My big question is why Gavin Newsom did not pursue Zero COVID in California. Gifted with the meekest and most compliant group of humans in the history of our planet, he failed to use the obvious tools of quarantine (which include welding torches for apartment houses!) to shut down COVID for at least a few years, as the Chinese have done. Californians pat themselves on the back for having an age-adjusted death rate of 270 per 100,000 compared to 292 in give-the-finger-to-the-virus Florida (full stats; remember that California is one of the youngest states due to the miracle of immigration and Florida has one of the highest percentages of elderly and therefore vulnerable). But given their zeal for fighting COVID, isn’t the correct comparison for California the 0.3 deaths per 100,000 in China?

Here’s an NPR article noting that lockdown can also kill, e.g., because humans cannot access non-COVID medical care:

This is the same enterprise that cheered when U.S. states made it illegal for physicians to continue providing non-emergency care! Even worse, by highlighting “Young Chinese”, they’re implying that people of different ages face different risk levels from SARS-CoV-2 infection and, therefore, a young person might want to reject experimental medicines that have received emergency use authorizations.

Nearly 100,000 Californians have died with a COVID-19 tag. Gavin Newsom could have saved all but 100 of these folks if he’d used Chinese techniques to achieve a Chinese COVID death rate. Lockdown governors such as Newsom have explicitly marked the cost of lockdowns, e.g., children denied an education, adults denied the opportunity to work or socialize, at $0. So there would have no cost to Californians from a Zero COVID program. Hawaii showed that it is not illegal for a U.S. state to restrict people coming in from the rest of the nation. Why didn’t Newsom do at least what Hawaii did and, preferably (under his expressed value system), what China did?

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Long COVID and California Worker’s Compensation

I was chatting with a guy who works at a Los Angeles-based manufacturer about the challenge of building back up to full production. “One issue is that if you got COVID at any time during the past two and a half years,” he said, “California assumes that you got it at work. Then if you say that you have Long COVID you will get years of Worker’s Compensation payments. Especially older workers were prone to making Long COVID Worker’s Comp claims. and, if you add up their Social Security, Worker’s Comp, and 401k, it wouldn’t make any sense for them to return to the factory.”

Fact check: this law firm says “with COVID-19, there is a rebuttable presumption of a workplace connection. An employer has the burden of proving that a claimant was not exposed to COVID-19 in the relation to their employment.”

Let’s look at the California labor force participation rate. California has one of the nation’s youngest populations (one reason the COVID-tagged death rate was lower than in some other states) and we’d therefore expect the labor force participation rate to be higher than the U.S. average. Yet it isn’t:

We see participation rising as women entered the labor market (70s and 80s) and then falling as women were offered the opportunity to earn cash via divorce litigation or simply having sex with a married dentist (state child support formulas guaranteeing profits were introduced around 1990; history and also “Divorce laws and the economic behavior of married couples” (Voena 2016)). Then we see the downward trend from all of the enhancements to the welfare state that started in 2009 (see Book Review: The Redistribution Recession for how Americans could find themselves in a higher-than-100-percent tax bracket as a consequence of means-tested programs, including mortgage relief). And right now we are bumping along at 62 percent in one of the best labor markets for workers in history. That’s the same as the national rate despite California being 1.5 years younger (median) than the U.S. overall.

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Why did the police let David DePape hit Paul Pelosi with a hammer?

We are informed that the San Francisco police, presumably armed with guns and clad in bulletproof vests, were spectators as a violent attack on a taxpayer occurred. From the New York Times:

In the early hours of Friday morning, the intruder entered through a back door of the stately home in San Francisco’s upscale Pacific Heights neighborhood, yelling, “Where is Nancy?”

Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, was thousands of miles away in Washington, D.C., protected by her security detail, but her husband, 82-year-old Paul Pelosi, was home. By the time police officers arrived after being dispatched at 2:27 a.m., they found the assailant and Mr. Pelosi wrestling for control of a hammer. The intruder then pulled the hammer away and “violently attacked” Mr. Pelosi with it in front of the officers, said William Scott, San Francisco’s chief of police.

In other words, if we are to believe Pravda, at least for a period of time, the police took no action to stop the crime in progress.

Chief Scott said in a late-afternoon news conference that when the officers arrived, they saw Mr. Pelosi and the suspect, each with a hand on a hammer. They ordered both men to drop the hammer, he said, and the suspect pulled it away and struck Mr. Pelosi “at least once.”

There are multiple officers (plural). One of the guys involved in the struggle is 82 years old. The other one is probably not a prime specimen of physical fitness (see below). Why wouldn’t the police officers have rushed in to take the hammer away instead of waiting for the struggle for hammer possession to be resolved?

More aggressive policing in Los Angeles 30 years ago:

Separately, the attacker is characterized as a “MAGA Trump supporter” on social media. “Pelosi Attack Suspect Was A Psychotic Homeless Addict Estranged From His Pedophile Lover & Their Children” (by Michael Shellenberger, the “lifelong progressive and Democrat” author of San Fransicko) has some photos taken at the attacker’s house in Berkeley, California:

Some excerpts:

DePape lived with a notorious local nudist in a Berkeley home, complete with a Black Lives Matter sign in the window and an LGBT rainbow flag, emblazoned with a marijuana symbol, hanging from a tree. … Neighbors described DePape as a homeless addict with a politics that was, until recently, left-wing, but of secondary importance to his psychotic and paranoid behavior. “What I know about the family is that they’re very radical activists,” said one of DePape’s neighbors, a woman who only gave her first name, Trish. “They seem very left. They are all about the Black Lives Matter movement. Gay pride.”

The modern American “family” structure is on parade here as well:

A November 27, 2008 article in the Oakland Tribune said Taub and DePape were married with three children. But DePape’s stepfather, Gene, told AP yesterday that Taub was his stepson’s girlfriend, not wife; that David and Taub had two, not three, children together; and that David’s third child was with another woman.

(At least two generations of children growing up without two biological parents.) The family structure evolves to become more complex over time:

Taub was in the news again five years later when she, then 44, married a 20-year-old man, Jamyz Smith, naked, at City Hall in San Francisco. A photo in the December 16, 2013 edition of The San Francisco Chronicle shows DePape, Taub, Smith, and the three children huddled under a blanket watching television together. The caption describes DePape as “a family friend.” … Ryan La Coste, who lives in an apartment directly behind the Taub-DePape house, said that the day after Taub’s wedding to Smith, “There was a huge fight. The guy [Smith] that she married got locked up. And so Taub married somebody else. My understanding was that David [DePape] was the best man to her husband at the wedding.”

Based on Twitter and Facebook, it is primarily Donald Trump who is to blame for this attack and, after Trump, Republicans generally. Let’s assume that this is correct. But why aren’t the San Francisco police at least partly responsible for not stopping what Donald Trump told David DePape to do? The Pelosis pay property tax on their Pacific Heights mansion. Aren’t they entitled to police protection rather than police spectators?

(Note that the disintegration of public safety in San Francisco is not a bad thing from the perspective of the Florida real estate industry or from the perspective of a Florida taxpayer. We would be delighted if everyone who owns a mansion in Pacific Heights (“the most expensive neighborhood in the United States”) sold it and moved to Palm Beach County to start paying property taxes to the school system here.)

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California’s new law against “lewd” pictures and Islamic tradition

“Bill to Ban Sending Unsolicited Lewd Pictures and Videos Signed Into Law”:

After receiving strong bipartisan support in the Legislature, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation earlier today authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) to establish legal protections for technology users when they receive unsolicited sexually explicit images and videos, also known as ‘cyberflashing.’

Also known as the FLASH (Forbid Lewd Activity and Sexual Harassment) Act and sponsored by Bumble—the women-first dating and social networking app—SB 53 would create a private right of action against any person over 18 years of age who knows or reasonably should know that the lewd image transmitted is unsolicited.

During its legislative journey, legislators in both the Senate and Assembly signed on in support of the FLASH Act, including Senator Lena A. Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) and Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) as principal coauthors and Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), Senator Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara), Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine), Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-San Fernando Valley), Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) and Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) as coauthors.

The article includes a photo of the bill’s author:

The image is a good example of “lewd” by Islamic standards. The woman shows part of her chest, all of her hair, all of her face. Maybe a prostitute would do that in Kabul, but who else? There are a ton of immigrants from Afghanistan to California. Can they now sue if they receive images like the above? If not, why not? I hope that nobody will say that non-Islamic standards of modesty are somehow superior to Islamic standards.

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Nobody on welfare moves, San Francisco edition

“Bay Area exodus: Median income drops as wealthy residents move out” (

New census data is shining more light on the Bay Area’s pandemic exodus: The region saw the largest drop in median income of any big U.S. metro area as wealthy people moved away — and current residents of all incomes are more likely to relocate soon than in any other major population center.

Household income in the San Francisco metro area fell 4.6% from 2019 to 2021 to $116,005 a year, according to a census report released this month.

The article highlights rich people moving, but, given that some percentage of Americans move every year, the drop in median income could just as easily be caused by no-income and low-income people staying. The article does not note that someone who is signed up to the full package of means-tested benefits (not to be characterized as “welfare”!), i.e., free housing, free health care, free food (SNAP/EBT), Obamaphone, and the new free broadband, is extremely unlikely to move (since it could take 10-20 years on waitlists to get the same package in a different location or state).

So a city or state is guaranteed to hold onto its lowest-income citizens (not to say “poorest” because they may enjoy a median earner’s lifestyle; see below) even when everyone else seeks to move, e.g., due to lockdowns, school closures, social disorder, and high crime.

From “The Work versus Welfare Trade‐​Off: 2013” (CATO), Figure 4:

Ignore the pre-Biden dollar figures and concentrate on the “percentage of median salary” column, which should be valid despite inflation. Prior to the 2020-2022 coronapanic enhancements to welfare, in other words, being on welfare in California yielded roughly the same spending power as working full time at the median wage (and with no risk of exposure to a virus at work and no need to wear a mask for 8 hours per day).

I think it is interesting from the point of view of journalism that the situation is characterized by rich people disproportionately moving rather than by welfare state beneficiaries disproportionately staying.

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Construction costs in Los Angeles

Here in Paris, I met a guy who works in real estate development in Los Angeles. Assuming that you’ve already got the land, what does it cost to build a McMansion-grade house? “$500 per square foot,” he responded. How about an apartment building for the middle class? “Closer to $400 per square foot,” was the answer (same as So the 2,500-square-foot house costs $1.25 million to build and the 1000-square-foot apartment will cost $400,000 to build… assuming that land is free.

“Rents have a long way to go up before they cover these kinds of costs for new construction, plus the land and all of the permitting,” he said.

I am not sure how California is going to house all of the migrants that it says it wants to welcome. How many folks who show up in the U.S. not speaking English will earn enough to pay $2 million for a house (construction plus land costs) or $600,000 for a condo (construction plus land costs)? At current interest rates, the nerdwallet calculator says that a Californian earning $200,000 per year can afford a $675,000 house ( says that median household income in California is less than $80,000 per year).

From these same folks, I learned that the cost of a suite in one of Paris’s nicer hotels is normally $2,800 per night, but they were paying $2,100.


  • City rebuilding costs from the Halifax explosion
  • the venue where the conversation happened, a house that would cost a lot more than $500/sf to replicate. Note the visitor using a cloth mask to protect him/her/zir/theirself against an aerosol virus in one of the world’s most crowded indoor environments whose ventilation system was put in by Louis XIV and got its last significant upgrade in 1698. Was the trip to Versailles actually necessary or could he/she/ze/they have stayed home and saved lives?
  • cloth masks again… outside in the bright French sunshine:
  • and, because I know Mike will want to see this, one last Warrior for Science in a hall depicting heroes in various French battles (note failure to shave beard while attempting to seal out aerosols with a mask):
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San Jose takes a leaf from the Martha’s Vineyard Book of Migrants

Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day, everyone! I hope that you’re celebrating with a new land acknowledgment.

Any time that we think about Native Americans we can also think about immigration, a process that certainly did not in any way replace Native Americans on what is today U.S. territory.

We are informed that low-skill migration into an advanced economy makes all native-born residents richer. At the same time, we are informed by low-skill migration into an advanced economy with ever-higher rents can lead to homelessness. See “From violence to homelessness: Colombian migrants’ journey to Silicon Valley” (San Jose Spotlight), for example.

Arias and Castillo, with an 8-year-old daughter and 1 1/2 -year-old son, had no option but to flee their homeland.

Arias and Castillo said they were sent to San Jose by ICE, which funded the trip. Others were led here by dishonest “guides” who claimed there would be resources for them, according to county officials.

It is “dishonest” to say that Californians who have “migrants welcome” signs on their lawns will actually welcome migrants?

With a language barrier and no idea where to find shelter or food, the family became homeless and ended up in Roosevelt Park in San Jose.

The county said many families arrive under a false impression that designated resources and housing are available. County officials have been working with the Colombian consulate on an education campaign.

“For folks who do not have status, there are limitations on what they’re eligible for—in housing or otherwise,” she said. “They should expect long waitlist on just about everything.”

Maybe a city packed with folks who say that they welcome migrants and want to help the unhoused can build some housing for those migrants and the unhoused? “San Jose: City workers urge council to scrap controversial tiny home site for homeless residents” (Mercury News, 9/19):

Following a backlash from neighbors, city workers are recommending that San Jose back down from a proposal to build tiny homes for homeless residents on a controversial piece of land across the street from an elementary school — the latest indication of the daunting difficulties in combating homelessness.

As part of its goal to build more much-needed shelter for the city’s growing homeless population, the San Jose City Council voted this summer to move forward with tiny homes on Noble Avenue near the Penitencia Creek Trail that winds between the Dr. Robert Gross Ponds. But the city employees tasked with vetting the project now want councilmembers to reconsider. Citing “additional associated challenges” with the Noble Avenue site, Deputy City Manager Omar Passons said the location is not feasible.

… Passons’ findings are likely to elicit applause from neighbors who objected to the plan.

San Jose, which has more than 6,700 homeless residents, is leaning heavily on tiny homes as a strategy to mitigate its worsening homelessness crisis.

Nearly 3,500 people have signed a petition titled “Say NO to the homeless tiny homes on Noble Ave,” citing the need to preserve the “safety and peace of our children.” The site is across the street from Noble Elementary School.

Think of the children!

Speaking of Martha’s Vineyard, here are some members of the Vineyard Poverty Relief Committee walking over the Thames (from last week’s trip to London):

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San Diego trip report

Digging through the summer photo backlog, a report on a June trip to San Diego where I slaved away as an expert witness on a software case in federal court (the jury stuck around to be interviewed by the attorneys after the trial and said that they understood and enjoyed my testimony!).

The local public library sends travelers off from FLL with free music and movies:

If you don’t download these on the airport WiFi, JetBlue will prepare you for California’s state religion on the flight out with movies classified as “Pride Picks”:

I saw more homeless people, pit bulls, homeless people with pit bulls, pit bull poop, and trash in the street in my first two days in San Diego than during nearly a year in the West Palm-FLL-Miami area. Here are a couple of sidewalk-dwellers just steps from where the laptop class enjoys $50/person meals:

San Diego presents a huge challenge to those who believe that a market economy is efficient. There are gleaming new skyscrapers next to lots used for surface parking or other low-value activities. If the land isn’t valuable, why would people build up 15 or 20 stories? If the land is valuable, why is so much of it still not developed in any significant way?

Whatever the real estate values might be, one great thing about California is the Chinese food. While waiting for a table at the San Diego outpost of Din Tai Fung, we learned that Lucid has dog mode:

The shopping mall reminded us to observe Rainbow Flagism:

Back downtown, the official city art shows Mexican-Americans taking the bus while rich white people yacht in the background:

My favorite images from the trip depict a debate between saving Mother Earth via light rail or via battery-electric vehicles that turned violent:

I suspect that the Tesla 3 in the image was rented to the driver for $390 per week by Uber, as was a Tesla 3 in which I rode (“horrifyingly bumpy and uncomfortable compared to the Hyundai Sonata I was in yesterday,” I wrote to a friend at the time). The drive says that he must do 30 trips per week in order to keep the car and that this corresponds to 1.5 days of Ubering. I posted about this on Facebook, which helpfully added some editorial content of its own: “Explore Climate Science Info”. In the same vein, Google ran a big animation for Juneteenth:

Californians did manage to steal some great land from the Native Americans and Mexicans. Here’s some topiary:

Old Town featured a CDC reference work on how to prevent an aerosol respiratory virus with a cloth mask:

Compared to southeast Florida, it was much more common to see fully covered women:

Aside from observant Muslims, it was rare to see someone following the Science by wearing a mask, despite a raging COVID-19 epidemic at the time. A jammed street fair, with no masks:

It was outdoors, though, right? In my courthouse experience, only one juror and one chubby clerk wore masks. The guards in the lobby were unmasked. The judge was unmasked. More or less everyone in the building was unmasked. These folks will say that they’re preventing COVID-19 from spreading by behaving in a more scientific manner than residents of Florida, but I couldn’t figure out what they were doing differently.

Circling back to the observant Muslims depicted above… they were just a few steps from an official city-flown rainbow flag:

If they were to need to transact some business at the bank they would have to walk under the sacred symbol of Rainbow Flagism:

I recommend the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park:

But of course my favorite tourist attractive was the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier launched just as World War II was over. The ship is now a museum and Navy veterans, including aircrew, give fascinating lectures on how everything works.

San Diego is a great place to spend 7-10 days as a tourist, hitting all of the museums and parks while enjoying great weather and great food. If one were to live there, however, the contradictions would eventually begin to rankle. Why are there so many unhoused people if rich Californians say that they want to provide housing to the unhoused? Why isn’t there enough civic spirit and agreement that people will get organized to pick up trash and dog poop in their city? (Florida has almost no litter by comparison and dog pick-up bag dispensers are common anywhere that people want dog owners to clean up.) If California wants to welcome millions of migrants from conservative societies, which Californians say that they do, how does it make sense to have Rainbow Flagism as the state religion?

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California is 14th in property tax revenue per capita

California has some of the worst-performing public schools in the nation. Pre-coronapanic data from the New York Times:

California kids were nearly a year behind Texas kids, adjusted for demographics, even before California urban schools shut down for 1.5 years while Texas schools remained open.

One of the excuses that my California friends give for the poor quality of government services is that the state is starved for property tax revenue due to Proposition 13. Yet in this ranking of states by property tax collected per capita, California is at #14:

In addition to a state income tax that can reach 13.3 percent of income, in other words, California has a robust property tax revenue stream and a total state and local income tax burden of 13.5 percent (Tax Foundation), which is close to the highest in the nation.

Why is this interesting? Californians are the folks who like to say that they’ve figured out how government should work!

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Masking is optional at the University of California

A friend teaches at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). He described the continued impact of coronapanic at the school. Half of all class meetings can be via Zoom. Vaccine papers are checked to make sure that everyone has had at least three shots of the Sacrament of Fauci. Masks must be worn in the classroom by the triple-vaccinated teachers and students.

I checked the school’s Masking and Operations page:

Masking is currently optional except that it remains required in all indoor classroom/instructional settings, clinical areas, and on Triton/university transportation until further notice.

In addition, all students (regardless of vaccination status) must wear face masks within their residential unit except for their personal bedrooms or in the shower. Masks are also required when inside residential buildings and outside of students’ personal residential units in halls, elevators, lobbies, etc.

No need to wear a mask except when in a classroom or a dorm or some other places!

Professor Doctor My Friend, Ph.D. subscribes to receive text messages when there is a serious on-campus emergency, e.g., a fire or a chemical spill. Here’s one that woke him up a few days ago:

On 06/16/2022 at 11:28pm, the UC San Diego Police Department received a report of an Intimidation – Sexuality Orientation Bias, that occurred at UCSD Hillcrest Hospital on 06/13/2022 at 3:10pm. The reporting party stated that a person left multiple notes in their work space threatening their person and made derogatory comments toward their sexual orientation. The reporting party stated their co-worker received similar intimidation in a previous incident.

The middle-of-the-night message regarded an incident that occurred at a UCSD-owned hospital more than 10 miles from the main campus.

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