The concerns of a Massachusetts public school superintendent

Email last month from the superintendent of schools in a nearly-all-white suburb of Boston:

The Superintendent’s Bulletin can be accessed by clicking on the link below:

Superintendent’s Bulletin – September 23, 2021

In This Week’s Bulletin:

Letter from the Superintendent

Diversity & Dialogue Series 2: Hispanic Heritage Month

Adolescent Mental Health Free Clinic

Webinar: Anxiety in a Time of COVID

Sustainable Food Parent Survey

October Flu Shot Clinics

Free School Lunch Through June 30, 2022

Employee Benefits Open Enrollment

District Calendar of Upcoming Events

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Quiz for readers: What topic is missing?

Second question… if typical children are not at risk from COVID-19 (other causes of death being much more common), how did they become anxious about it?

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The last person that I saw in Massachusetts

It’s October, the month when rich people show up to their South Florida houses (folks without kids in school don’t rush back to catch the 90-degrees-and-humid high temps of August and September; see Weather Spark for an analysis of the climate and the opinion that mid-October through early May is when a rich/flexible person should be in Palm Beach). Starting in mid-September, we noticed that it was pleasant to be out walking Mindy the Crippler in the mornings and evenings.

I’ll take this moment to reflect on the last person whom I saw in Massachusetts. It was a hot August day. He was alone on the South T hangar ramp at KBED. There is no FBO there, just individual hangars to which aircraft owners must drive in private cars. As such, there was nobody within 300′ of him other than myself (taxiing past inside a Cirrus SR20 being ferried to its new Florida home).

He was wearing an N95 mask.

(No photo, sadly, since capturing the scene would have required a telephoto lens and I was solo in the airplane. Taxiing is an operation that demands concentration and avoiding distraction. There are a lot more taxi accidents than in-flight accidents, though obviously the consequences are less severe when something bad happens on the ground.)

What’s the current COVID-19 situation in a state that is fully vaccinated and fully masked? It’s an “emergency” according to this email from yesterday:

An Act extending COVID-19 Massachusetts emergency paid sick leave, H.4127, was signed into law on September 29, 2021. This legislation modifies the Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave program in two ways:

Extends the program until April 1, 2022 or the exhaustion of $75 million in program funds as determined by the Commonwealth, whichever is earlier; and

Effective October 1, 2021, permits employees to use Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave to care for a family member who needs to obtain or recover from a COVID-19 immunization.

During this period, employers must continue to offer Massachusetts employees leave time for qualifying reasons related to COVID-19. Further information on the updated law is available at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-temporary-emergency-paid-sick-leave-program.

Employers may continue to apply for reimbursement by logging into the Department of Revenue’s MassTaxConnect website. Further information, including detailed instructions, is available here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-temporary-emergency-paid-sick-leave-program#how-to-apply-for-reimbursement-.

As the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave program comes to an end, the extension of this state leave program will assure continued support for businesses of all sizes, including smaller businesses that to date have relied primarily on federal financial support for employees’ COVID-related leave time.


(Note in the above that the COVID-19 vaccine isn’t in any way harmful, but you might need to take some taxpayer-funded days or weeks off work to help a family member “recover from a COVID-19 immunization.”)

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Cambridge, Maskachusetts back under a mask order

From August 27, “City of Cambridge Issues Emergency Order Requiring Use of Face Masks in Indoor Public Places, Effective September 3, 2021”:

The City of Cambridge issued an emergency order requiring that face masks or coverings be worn in indoor public places. The order takes effect at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, September 3, 2021. It applies to everyone over the age of two years old, with exceptions in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines.

“I am grateful to everyone in Cambridge who has taken our public health guidance seriously, gotten vaccinated, and done their part to help protect themselves and our community,” said City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “With the rapid rise of the Delta variant, we are issuing this mask order for indoor public places to reduce the spread of the virus and to protect those who live, work, learn, or visit our city. As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will take a data and science-informed approach to our pandemic response.”

“With schools reopening and COVID-19 cases increasing due to the highly infectious Delta variant, instituting this mask mandate for indoor public places is a critical measure to help minimize the spread of the virus,” said Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui.

It’s an emergency situation. COVID-19 is on a rapid (presumably exponential) rise. We have at our disposal a critical measure that we know will save lives. So… let’s wait a week before applying this critical measure!

Separately, my Uber driver in Cambridge on August 27 described what happens in the patchwork coronapanic landscape of Maskachusetts. “They closed the gyms in Boston, so thousands of people started coming to my gym in Quincy,” he said. “It was so packed that I couldn’t use any of the machines.”

Harvard, meanwhile, is #FollowingTheScience by closing the outdoor venue of Harvard Yard to walk-throughs… from 5 pm to 3 am (so everyone who wants to visit Harvard Yard must be sure to crowd in during the limited opening hours!).

Related:

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Maskachusetts tries to preserve the fat and financially unsuccessful with Regeneron

For the purposes of this discussion, let’s assume that, unlike most new pharma (see Book review: Bad Pharma), Regeneron is actually helpful to humans trying to fight off coronavirus.

Florida makes this therapy available to anyone who wants it. (See Florida implements my renal dialysis-inspired COVID care idea (sort of))

The technocrats in Massachusetts, on the other hand, reserve Regeneron for those with a BMI over 35 (“way fat”) and those who are collecting welfare. From the guidelines (from last November, but they haven’t been updated and hospital web pages repeat the same info):

We are informed that COVID-19 is coming for most of us. Maybe Massachusetts is trying to ensue that all future non-immigrant Americans are descended from the obese and those on welfare?

(How is “social vulnerability” defined? Being on welfare is a plus, but the CDC page on the subject says that “race/ethnicity” are also factored in. So, depending on your neighborhood’s prevailing skin color, you could be left to die and tossed on the body heap at the back of the hospital or saved via this miracle drug. (If you want to be treated equally with other state residents, you need to move to Florida!))

Separately, if we are masking kindergarteners and keeping them pinned to desks 6′ apart in school (rather than letting them socialize/play) because it might save just one life, wouldn’t it make sense to go get Regeneron treatment every week? You never know if you’ve been infected with coronavirus or not (friends who’ve had COVID-19 often did not test PCR-positive until they were nearly fully recovered, so daily PCR testing wouldn’t be sufficient). #AbundanceOfCaution

Potentially helpful tip on how to qualify in MA:

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Never say never: Maskachusetts back in masks

Back in April, when we told friends and neighbors in Massachusetts about the decision to follow the reverse underground railroad to freedom (see Relocation to Florida for a family with school-age children), they scoffed at the idea that Florida was a more reliable source of Freedom of Assembly, freedom for children to exercise without masks, in-person education, etc. COVID-19 was finished, vanquished by wise leadership and vaccines. They confidently predicated that, after the 15-month state of emergency officially ended on June 15, 2021, the residents of Massachusetts would never again be ordered to wear masks, to refrain from gathering, to keep children at home, etc.

From our former town:

Effective on 12:01 a.m. August 20, 2021, face coverings are required for all individuals aged two years
and above in all indoor public spaces, or private spaces open to the public…

(the schools, of course, decided months ago that children would be ordered to wear masks, even those children whose parents elect to experiment on them with an emergency authorized vaccine dosage calibrated for adults; this may be moot for urban schools, which closed down for nearly a year during the 2020-2021 coronapanic)

It is currently illegal to be indoors in Provincetown without a mask: “Provincetown Approves Indoor Mask Mandate To Stem Spread” (a bandana is okay when meeting new friends from Grindr!). The situation is similar out across the water: “Three Martha’s Vineyard towns issue mask mandate” (Boston Herald, August 17). How about staying home in the suburbs? Belmont went back into masks on August 9.

Keep in mind that the typical peak period for respiratory viruses in New England is still 3-6 months in the future. The above are the restrictions for the ordinarily flu/cold-free summer (and last summer was more or less COVID-free as well).

The “curve,” according to The Google:

The Leaderboard of the #Science-following Righteous:

(Florida, of course, has a much uglier curve right now, in what seems to be a pattern going forward of high COVID during the peak summer months. But the fact that the government hasn’t caved in to Karens’ demands for muscular orders and restrictions is confidence-inspiring. Unlike most other states, Florida does not pretend that governors’ orders and bandanas are a magic solution for preventing viruses from killing humans. The current COVID-19 wave in Florida is a good stress test for the residents’ and government’s commitment to children, education, freedom, and the Constitution.)

For lockdown state children, from Disney+, Goofy in How to Stay At Home, Episode 1 of which is “How to Wear a Mask”:

Related:

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Nostalgia for the old neighborhood

Discovered in the entryway of our old condo building in Cambridge:

I.e., one of the local righteous had taken the trouble to write “Please do not lock bike on tree — damages the bark” and then the additional trouble to place the note in a Ziploc bag (or maybe the recipient decided to preserve the note via Ziploc?).

I do not expect anyone in Florida to go to these lengths!

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Karenhood in Massachusetts measured quantitatively

After 40+ years of sitting at a computer and typing, my back is in no shape for packing and moving to the Florida Free State. A friend’s 16-year-old soccer star and some of his teammates have been essential to our sorting/discarding/packing process. The muscle turned out to have a quantitative measurement of Karenhood in Massachusetts. Neighbors in his suburban town called the police on 19 separate occasions after observing the high school soccer team practicing (outdoors) without strict mask discipline. (There were more than 19 individual calls to the police. In fact, during one practice 5 different Mask Samaritans called the police.)

The most dramatic COVID-19 team response was five town officials converging on the soccer field. Two coaches, two people from the public health department, and a police officer.

Very loosely related, from Coronavirus Rescue Team (May 13, 2020):

(I told the above story to a woman who lives in Concord, Maskachusetts, center of the BLM movement, at least to judge by the prevalence of lawn signs. “I was walking with my sister in a wide-open field with nobody around,” she said. “A car stopped and the driver yelled at us for not wearing masks.”)

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Effect on children’s wealth when parents move to Florida

Happy Bastille Day! Let’s look at the likelihood of kids being able to afford that trip to Paris…

Taxes weren’t a factor in our decision to relocate to Florida, but it is interesting to look at how a parental move to Florida can affect the wealth of children. I built a spreadsheet positing an already-sort-of-rich Massachusetts resident who moves to Florida 30 years prior to his/her/zir/their death (e.g., will live in Florida from 52 until 82, the median age at death of a COVID-19 victim here in Maskachusetts). The assumption is that this person will pay the top rates for any progressive taxation scheme. Since big numbers are tough to work with, I looked at the effect on the margin. The parent decides not to buy a $100,000 C8 Corvette (marked up from the $60,000 list price in our “no-inflation society” (TM)) and instead invests the money in the stock of a standard C corporation, to be saved for the benefit of the children. Keep in mind that this is a post-tax $100,000, which might have required earning $200,000 pre-tax (or, for those who prefer not to work, having sex with someone who earns a reasonably high income; see Real World Divorce for state-by-state child support profit calculations).

I started by assuming that the government isn’t lying to us and therefore use an inflation rate of 3 percent. If we assume real profits of 4 percent, that gives us a nominal return of 7 percent. The company pays 24.6 percent state and federal corporate income tax (Tax Foundation/OECD). We assume that these dividends are qualified and therefore a federal tax of 23.8 percent is due (20% plus Obamacare surtax). Maskachusetts income tax is 5 percent vs. 0 percent in FL. We assume that there is some way to invest these dividends and get a 5 percent annual return. When the 82-year-old is killed by Delta Epsilon Zeta variant COVID, Massachusetts estate tax takes 16 percent of the accumulated total while the Feds take 40 percent. Florida has no estate tax. Thanks partly to the miracle of compound interest and partly to the miracle of inflation, the $100,000 invested would have turned into $956,012 in a no-tax environment. In the Florida environment, however, it turns into $391,526 at death. In the Massachusetts environment, $275,287. Children end up 42 percent richer if the parent moves.

(You can check my calculations in this Google spreadsheet (downloads in Excel format; also available as a Web page).)

What’s the effective tax rate? In “I Can Afford Higher Taxes. But They’ll Make Me Work Less.” (NYT, 2010), Harvard professor Greg Mankiw calculated the total marginal tax rate on additional earnings for him was 90 percent (assuming that his goal was to help out his children). If we look the profits in nominal terms, subtracting the original $100,000 investment, we find that there was $291,526 profit in Florida compared to $856,012 in the no-tax case. Florida didn’t take anything, but the Feds and maybe some states via corporate income tax took 66 percent. In MA, the nominal profit was $175,287, resulting in a tax rate of 80 percent. What if we look at this in real terms, though. The $100,000 would have grown to $242,726 just from inflation alone. If we subtract this from the MA net of $275,287, the result is a total tax rate of 95 percent, since the real after-tax profit was only $32,561. The tax rate for the Florida residency case comes up to 79 percent of real after-tax profits (again, because of Federal taxation, not because Florida has an income or estate tax).

What if we assume the same real return on investment for corporations, but set inflation at 8 percent and therefore nominal earnings are 12 percent? The effective tax rate for a Floridian is remarkably stable, moving up to only 81 percent (from 79 percent). The effective tax rate for the person who lives and dies in Massachusetts, however, is 98.6 percent. (See revised spreadsheet (or as a Web page).)

What if the parent is a genius at picking stocks and he/she/ze/they selects only those with 8 percent real earnings (11 percent nominal)? The numbers are fairly stable, with the Florida corpse being worth 43 percent more. The Massachusetts real tax rate falls to 88.5 percent (from 95 percent).

Loosely related, a statute celebrating the “world’s first commercial airline flight,” which operated from St. Petersburg to Tampa beginning in 1914. The airline was started by Thomas W. Benoist, who died in an accident in 1917… stepping off a streetcar.

Wikipedia says that the signs should be amended to read “first fixed-wing scheduled airline” because the Germans were operating Zeppelins earlier. (The photo is from the St. Petersburg Pier, June 2021.)

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Fireworks anxiety supplants Coronapanic for one weekend here in Maskachusetts

We were out on the highway over the July 4th weekend for a quite-possibly-illegal visit to New Hampshire (“Live Free or Die” on the license plates, but the state was about average in terms of restrictions on residents justified in the name of COVID-19 (ranking)).

For 16 months, Maskachusetts has used its enormous highway signs to hector residents regarding the need to wear masks and/or the need to go through an elaborate online process to reserve a vaccine (it is apparently too challenging to run a vaccine clinic at a rest stop and change the sign from “go to a URL” to “go to a rest stop”). Over the July 4th weekend, however, the signs were changed to hector residents residents regarding the potential of imprisonment and/or fines if they set off fireworks (even sparklers are illegal in MA). A few days later, the signs were back to telling residents to visit a URL to begin the process of ascending into the ranks of the vaccinated.

From a ski resort in NH:

Sabbaday Falls after the big rain:

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Lockdown advocates now object to restrictions on open-water swimming

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has decided to protect residents against the dangers of open-water swimming. “Swimmers Frustrated By New Ban On ‘Open Water Swimming’ At Walden Pond” (from state-sponsored NPR-affiliate WBUR):

The state’s decision to ban open water swimming at Concord’s iconic Walden Pond is eliciting a quick and irate response from swimmers.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation announced Friday that swimming outside of designated areas at Walden would be prohibited “indefinitely.” In a statement, the agency said the decision was made “in order to simplify and standardize education and enforcement” across all state-regulated bodies of water and to “protect public safety.”

The legislation follows a series of drownings in Massachusetts, including a 19-year-old who drowned Thursday swimming off South Boston’s Castle Island.

An open letter to the state purporting to represent “the open water swimming community of greater Boston” had collected more than 400 names before it was converted to an online petition, where it gathered thousands more. The letter claims the Walden ban “infringes on our reasonable right to access the natural assets of our state,” and proposes instead that open water swimmers should be allowed as long as swimmers use safety devices known as swim buoys.

11,058 of the Massachusetts righteous have signed a petition at change.org seeking relief from this latest governor’s order.

What’s interesting about this? The folks whom I know who signed the petition were enthusiastic lockdown advocates. They cheered when Governor Baker closed the schools “to keep kids safe” from a disease that had never killed a child in Maskachusetts (0 deaths among under-20s in MA through August 11, after which the state withheld deaths-by-age data from the public). Now, however, the Lockdown Karens object to Governor Baker using #Science and his newly unlimited powers to deal with a very real danger (Dr. Jill Biden’s colleagues at the CDC say that roughly 4,000 Americans drown annually.)

An October 2008 aerial photo of Walden Pond. The sandy beach at left is where Governor Baker orders you to swim. The area near the railroad tracks on the right (which went quite close to Thoreau’s cabin back in the old days) is where the open water swimmers used to risk death.

On a separate note, and it may be too soon to wonder this, but why are Americans so interested in the Champlain Towers South collapse, in which roughly 140 lives were lost? We are informed that 600,000 Americans were cut down in their prime by COVID-19. These folks, who had their best years ahead of them, went from the tennis court and soccer pitch to a ventilator in the ICU to the morgue. On June 24, 2021, when the Florida condo collapsed, we are informed that 355 young healthy Americans fell to COVID-19. If COVID-19 kills unpredictably and indiscriminately, like a building collapse does, why would we have time and energy to mourn building collapse victims who are so greatly outnumbered, even on the day of the collapse, by COVID-19 victims?

A January 2021 photo of Normandy Isles and North Beach with Surfside just beyond. The collapsed building, from this perspective, is just behind the first tower to the north of the park (green area along the beach).

(For the record, I personally am sad about the victims of the Champlain Towers South collapse partly because I do not believe that COVID-19 has killed hundreds of thousands of healthy Americans who had a lot of great years to look forward to, whereas I do think that the collapse killed healthy people who could have lived enjoyable active lives for years or decades to come.)

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