When is having sex with the boss a good idea? (Melinda and MacKenzie)

We are informed that sex between a high-income senior worker at a company and a lower-income junior worker is bad. Yet MacKenzie Scott, then a secretary (“administrative assistant”) at D.E. Shaw, turned sex with Jeff Bezos, a vice-president at the firm, into a multi-$billion fortune. And recently we’ve learned that Melinda Gates, who had sex with the founder/CEO at her employer (Microsoft), will soon join the ranks of strong independent female billionaires. Nobody is saying that it was a mistake for these women to have sex with their respective bosses. Nor is anyone criticizing the bosses for having sex with subordinates and then paying them $billions.

(What if the boss is already married and only “high income” rather than rich? Sex with the boss can still be far more lucrative than continuing to work, depending on the state (see Real World Divorce for each state’s child support formula and this calculation of how much better Ellen Pao would have done by having sex with her boss compared to suing Kleiner Perkins).)

How are people supposed to distinguish between bad-sex-at-the-office and good-sex-at-the-office?

An immigrant friend has been writing about Melinda Gates pulling the ripcord. A sampling:

[14-year-old] read Bill Gates’ divorce tweet and reacted: I so hate it how Americans always describe these things in this annoying sugary way: “we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple” or “we’re no longer a perfect match.” A Russian woman would have said directly: “He got boring” or “He is crazy, I don’t want to deal with him anymore” or “he is running out of money” or “screw him, I am out of here.” In fact, I don’t think any European would talk like Americans do. They wouldn’t probably even say anything because who cares?

I am anticipating a firehose of stories: “Melinda Gates is the real founder of Microsoft, while Bill with the rest of the white men took all the credit”, “Melinda breaks the next layer of the glass ceiling in philanthropy”, “The rising tide of female billionaires: here is how divorce can empower you too”.

From a U.S.-born friend:

So I heard Bill Gates is having a massive parasite removed. The surgical process should cost about 65 billion dollars.

The actual complaint for divorce (“petition” in Washington State) filed by Melinda Gates:

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New York City High School: two days per week, two hours per day

I was chatting with a friend last night. His son is a high school student in the New York City public school system. What’s the experience, 14 months into coronapanic and four months after teachers became eligible for vaccines? “It’s two days per week, two hours per day,” he explained. “But there is no teaching. It’s like a study hall. We just talk to our friends.” What about the rest of the week? “We are online for two hours per day.”

Separately, though the son may not have learned much academic content since March 2020, he is fully educated on Mask and Shutdown Karenhood. He is a big believer in the efficacy of masks for the general public (#Science proves they work; practical trials in the Czech Republic cannot contradict #Science) and is happy to follow the dictates of Governor Cuomo and Dr. Fauci. What’s his personal experience with COVID? After a year of cowering and being masked any time he was outside of the family apartment-bunker… he got COVID. He, his sister, and his mom all had slight cold symptoms (the father had been vaccinated at this point).

Here are some photos from a May 1, 2021 COVID-safe fly-by, up the Hudson River at 1500′ in a friend’s Cirrus SR22T (with A/C!):

#StaySafe everyone!

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Why not a one-month shutdown of casual sex?

PeterReed’s comment on Why don’t migrants get COVID vaccines at the border? (which references an Atlantic magazine article by a fat guy complaining that the righteous vaccinated Americans will be paying for COVID-19 treatment for Republicans (mentioned 12X in the article) who refuse to #FollowExperts and take the vaccine):

This future burden from lack of covid vaccine is no different than similar righteous talk about smoking, overeating or reckless lifestyle. It is convenient to bring this objection out now for a certain political view about vaccines, but better not bring it up about drug use or casual sex.

My response:

That’s a great point. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/04/14/986997576/once-on-the-brink-of-eradication-syphilis-is-raging-again : In certain circles of San Francisco, a case of syphilis can be as common and casual as catching the flu, to the point where Billy Lemon can’t even remember how many times he’s had it. “Three or four? Five times in my life?” he struggles to recall. “It does not seem like a big deal.” At the time, about a decade ago, Lemon went on frequent methamphetamine binges, kicking his libido into overdrive and silencing the voice in his head that said condoms would be a wise choice at a raging sex party.

If a hater were to complain that Mr. Lemon should have cut back on his recreational meth and trips to the local bathhouse so that our society’s spending on health care could be reduced, we would all condemn that hater.

Similarly, in https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2021-04-14/stds-hit-record-high-again-cdc-says

Meanwhile, approximately 31% of chlamydia, gonorrhea and primary and secondary syphilis cases were among non-Hispanic Black individuals, although they accounted for only 12.5% of the U.S. population, according to the report. Men who have sex with other men were also disproportionately impacted by STDs, the report says.

These disparities likely aren’t caused by differences in sexual behavior, but “rather reflect differential access to quality sexual health care, as well as differences in sexual network characteristics,” the report says.

—————–

It is fine to shut down schools for a year or more, but it is certainly #NotOK to suggest telling people to have sex with just one other person (or none, in the case of many married individuals; see below) for a month so that everyone could be tested and treated.

I hope that we can all agree that nothing is more important than preventing deadly disease. A month with a single boring partner will be a sacrifice for a happy Tinder user, but, as with American schoolchildren, we should be able to find experts to tell us that he/she/ze/they can make up for this after the shutdown.

Readers: What is the justification for allowing this expensive and destructive plague of STDs to continue? (If the objection is that the shutdown won’t end the plague forever, the same can be said for coronapanic interventions, including the vaccines.)

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Mass vaccination campaign meets American health insurance (and Happy Freedom Tax Day!)

From my inbox:

An Explanation of Benefits (EOB) has been posted to your *** Plan online member portal. To log into your account and review your explanation of benefits (EOB):

Go to https://****.com/login

Enter your Username (email address) and Password

Click on the Claims tab at the top of the page, choose claims.
Member claims are listed by date, with the most recent claim appearing at the top of the list. To view an EOB, click on the claim you want to view, then click on the pdf icon under View EOB.

(name hidden to protect the guilty)

So an Explanation of Benefits is available from my vaccine shot? Let’s actually log in…

Even if the promised Explanation of Benefits did not exist, there was a page devoted to my Moderna shot. Two claims hit the insurer’s computer systems, one for $0 (the vaccine itself? Which Donald Trump arranged for the government to pay for?) and one for administering the vaccine:

The actual price is $33.50 to deal with me? But why bill $67? This is one of those rare situations in which there is no way to cheat the uninsured by hitting them with 2X or 5X the “negotiated” price that 98% of customers pay.

(Separately, I’m not sure how $33.50 makes this profitable for the clinic. They paid someone to build a web site where I could register and schedule, paid for a receptionist to check me in, paid an RN to ask me some medical questions, paid for a place where I could sit for 15 minutes after the vaccine, paid for people and systems to send this $67 bill to the insurance company, etc. Unless the Feds are giving them additional money for each shot, why do they want to be in this business?)

I wonder if the goal of the American health insurance system is to make our federal tax system seem logical, clear, and simple. Happy Tax Freedom Day to everyone! (filing is extended this year to May 17 #BecauseCoronapanic)

Note that Tax Freedom Day, on which you stop working for the government (pay all of those government workers who sat home for the past year!) and begin to work for yourself varies from state to state. It is May 3 in New York, April 23 in Maskachusetts, and April 20 in California. It was April 5 in Texas and April 4 in Florida. Before World War I, Tax Freedom Day was in January:

As best historians can tell, the American colonists-turned-rebels-and-traitors were paying roughly 2 percent of their total income for all taxes. So they achieved Tax Freedom about one week into January while complaining that being British subjects was oppressive (the Brits, meanwhile, were shelling out huge $$ to fight with “Indians” on all of the borders).

How about going forward? If Presidents Biden and Harris spend $1.9 trillion every few months on coronapanic Band-Aids, would the “deficit inclusive Tax Freedom Day” move to mid-summer, or, for those here in MA, into foliage season?

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American “experts” agree with the Swedish MD/PhDs… 15 months later

From today’s New York Times, “Reaching ‘Herd Immunity’ Is Unlikely in the U.S., Experts Now Believe”:

Early in the pandemic, when vaccines for the coronavirus were still just a glimmer on the horizon, the term “herd immunity” came to signify the endgame: the point when enough Americans would be protected from the virus so we could be rid of the pathogen and reclaim our lives.

Now, more than half of adults in the United States have been inoculated with at least one dose of a vaccine. But daily vaccination rates are slipping, and there is widespread consensus among scientists and public health experts that the herd immunity threshold is not attainable — at least not in the foreseeable future, and perhaps not ever.

Instead, they are coming to the conclusion that rather than making a long-promised exit, the virus will most likely become a manageable threat that will continue to circulate in the United States for years to come, still causing hospitalizations and deaths but in much smaller numbers.

This is exactly what the Swedish MD/PhDs said 15 months ago, i.e., that coronavirus would be with us forever so it wouldn’t make sense to do anything that you wouldn’t be willing to do forever (e.g., close schools).

Let’s look at Sweden versus the eager mask-and-lockdown adopters such as the Czech Republic and the U.S. (varies by state):

Note that New Jersey, if it were its own country, would be #1 worldwide in COVID-19 death rate. New York and Maskachusetts are just behind NJ (chart). The front page of the NYT reminds me, based on IP geolocation, that right now is a great time to panic:

Everyone old/vulnerable is vaccinated and yet there is a “very high risk”?

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Cost of being continuously stoned: $7,400 per year

From “Medical marijuana patients just got huge win as N.J. court says company must pay injured worker’s bills” (nj.com):

The New Jersey Supreme Court dealt medical marijuana patients a big victory Tuesday, ruling unanimously that a construction company must pay for an injured employer’s medical cannabis bills.

The decision upheld an Appellate Division ruling from January 2020. That court said Vincent Hager’s former employer, M&K Construction, must foot the monthly bill for medical marijuana he uses to treat injuries he sustained on the job in 2001. As of early 2020, those costs were about $616 a month, according to court documents.

New Jersey’s medical marijuana patients have long complained of high costs. Prices have averaged between $350 to $500 an ounce. The law allows them to purchase up to 3 ounces each month, though most use less.

Only in America could we figure out a way for a literal “weed” to cost $7,400 per year per person!

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Hang out together at Oshkosh this year?

Supposedly Sun n Fun was busy in 2021 (see “Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo ticket pre-sales soar to record highs despite COVID”, for example). EAA AirVenture (“Oshkosh”) should also be packed. Folks who love aviation are apparently willing to accept the additional risk of leaving the house.

We’re staying on the field at the Hilton Garden Inn this year (“I know some people that know some people that robbed some people”), attending the Cirrus pilots’ dinner Monday evening (July 26), and bought a full-week pass to the EAA Aviators Club (chairs, A/C, food, phone charging, etc., right on the flight line for airshow viewing).

It would be great to see readers/commenters there! (sign up for the Cirrus dinner and Aviators Club now if you want to join; they both will probably sell out)

Note that EAA AirVenture is currently scheduled as a mask-optional event (EAA coronapanic page).

From 2019…

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Coronapanic: When does country get “back to normal”?

A month ago a friend bet me that, due to vaccines, Maskachusetts would be “back to normal” today and that the governor repealing his mask order (from among at least 66 total orders issued under a state of emergency) would be the determinant of normality and who would buy lunch at his favorite COVID-unsafe indoor Thai restaurant.

In taking the “this is normal going forward” side of the bet, I pointed out that a mutual friend had said the same thing back in March, i.e., that the vaccine would get us back to normal soon. He’d been hiding in his suburban bunker for over a year when he said that. I said “You believed them when they told you it would be 14 days to flatten the curve and then you could go back to normal. You believed them when they said if people would wear masks for a couple of months that would end coronaplague. You believed them when they told you we just needed one more shutdown. Now you believe them when they say that the restrictions will end once everyone is vaccinated?”

My primary evidence against residents of Massachusetts wanting to be unlocked is observing rich suburbanites, i.e., the folks who have enough money to support politicians with donations. They’d been fully vaccinated weeks earlier and were still wearing masks when walking outside at least 100′ from the nearest human. When queried (at a masked distance) they expressed a personal fear of contracting COVID-19, since they’d heard that the vaccines are not 100 percent effective. I ran into a (masked) mom who was walking her dog. She’s been a Shutdown and Mask Karen from Day 1, but complained that her son, enrolled in an elite private high school, wasn’t allowed to participate in crew because he is also in drama and the drama teacher did not want him exposed to additional COVID risk.

Maybe young people living in crummy apartments in poor neighborhoods wanted to be unlocked, I argued, but they have no political voice.

Meanwhile, the local economy is plainly very different from what it was. A lot of small businesses remain closed (as of October 2020, 33% of Boston’s small businesses were shut, 42% of those in hospitality; overall number of people employed is down about 15 percent in Boston versus 0 percent in Miami and actually up in Tampa (click on “Metros”)). The ones that are left are usually too short-handed to serve customers in what we would have considered a proper manner. There are no Ubers, something I also noticed in other cities, but only higher-cost Uber XLs. When queried, an Uber XL driver said “a lot of people can make more on unemployment so it isn’t worth driving regular Uber anymore.”

Most of the “experts” quoted by the New York Times and similar have been spectacularly wrong regarding COVID-19. But we make no claim to expert credentials and it is fun to try prophecy. What are folks’ predictions regarding state shutdown and mask levels over the coming 12 months?

I’ll go first: My best guess regarding the future is that it looks like the past. So the states that are masked and shut now will be masked and shut going forward while the states that are unmasked and open now will be unmasked and open going forward. Due to the fact that coronavirus is seasonal (and a med school professor friend reminds me that we don’t know why flu is seasonal so we probably won’t figure out why COVID comes in waves either), I expect variations around this theme. Summer 2020 was a quiet time here in MA (see NYT chart below) so I would expect the virus and restrictions to relax in summer 2021 and both to come back in the late fall.

Masks are advertised as a cost-free intervention, so I’m thinking that Maskachusetts, for example, might have a “mask mandate” (it’s been a year and the Legislature cannot get organized to pass a “law”?) through at least 2022, though the previous statewide unconditional outdoor mask requirement has just recently been relaxed to “when you’re not able to maintain a 6′ distance”. Masks will be sold as a cost-free way to prevent the virus from returning. When the virus actually does return, the Mask Believers will say that the masks delayed the return and/or reduced the peak of the return.

(From a physician friend: “The flu is gone because everyone is sticking to the rules but COVID is rising because no one is sticking to the rules.”)

Let’s put our predictions here and check them at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months from now! Bragging rights for whoever gets closest!

Update: At a Bat Mitzvah today (about 15 people in a room designed to hold 100+), a photographer wanted to get a picture of four 13-year-old healthy slender girls. They refused to take off their masks for an indoor photo. He managed to get them outside. They refused to take off their masks for an outdoor photo.

Related:

  • A Silicon Valley friend: “I am so Woke that I want to change my pronouns to Karen/Karen.”
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To cut interactions between the police and the public, should cars restrict speed to the published speed limit?

Every time there is an interaction between an American subject and an American police officer or officers there is a chance that the police will shoot and kill or cripple the subject. In addition to the loss of life, other subjects may lose tens of millions of dollars per incident when the city has to pay civil damages to the survivors of the person who was killed.

Our beloved 2021 Honda Odyssey (“like a Tesla, but spacious, quiet, and smooth over bumps; lacks Dog Mode”), at least when a phone is plugged in (haven’t checked, but maybe it is getting it from Google Maps?), displays the current speed limit. The engine is controlled electronically. If I mash down the accelerator, it could certainly say “I’m afraid I can’t do that Dave” and accelerate only to, e.g., 55 mph. If nobody can speed, nobody can be pulled over for speeding. This wouldn’t eliminate potentially deadly interactions between the police and the general public, but it certainly would reduce them.

Maybe have a single exception: passing another car that is going more than 10 mph slower than the speed limit on a two-lane road. The Odyssey already has all of the hardware and 99 percent of the software necessary to detect this situation (the adaptive cruise control has a radar to see how fast cars in front are going and the lane-departure and lane-keeping systems (the latter adds some steering inputs) use a camera to see if you’re staying in your lane.

Readers: Stupid or Clever?

Related:

  • Save lives by limiting cars to 35 mph? (if we look at what we’ve done out of coronapanic, it is irrational not to eliminate most driving-related deaths, which kill far younger people (more life-years lost) and which are far easier to prevent)
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Economic wisdom from MIT (David Autor)

Notes from a Zoom talk today by David Autor, an economics professor at MIT. Whenever Democrats are in charge of the economy, I think it is worth listening to the “experts” at Harvard and MIT because that’s where the policy justifications come from.

Inequality is extreme in the U.S. and harmful, according to Autor. He did not explicitly say how he is measuring inequality, though. The charts that he presented seemed to show wages. But a previous slide showed the low and falling rate of labor force participation in the U.S. In other words, a lot of adults live in the U.S. despite $0 in earnings. What if he looked at spending power and lifestyle? Much of the U.S. welfare system is directed toward non-cash benefits, e.g., a free or low-cost apartment in public housing, a $3/month family subscription to MassHealth (Medicaid) that would be $20,000/year at market rates, SNAP (food stamps), Obamaphone, etc.. The non-working folks whom I know here in Massachusetts have a lifestyle that would cost $80-100,000 per year (after tax) to purchase at market rates (apartment in Cambridge or Boston, health insurance, etc.).

[See this Wall Street Journal piece: “The census fails to account for taxes and most welfare payments, painting a distorted picture. … In all, leaving out taxes and most transfers overstates inequality by more than 300%, as measured by the ratio of the top quintile’s income to the bottom quintile’s. More than 80% of all taxes are paid by the top two quintiles, and more than 70% of all government transfer payments go to the bottom two quintiles. … Today government redistributes sufficient resources to elevate the average household in the bottom quintile to a net income, after transfers and taxes, of $50,901—well within the range of American middle-class earnings.” See also the Work Versus Welfare Trade-Off, in which we learn that poor people are not stupid and Fast-food economics in Massachusetts: Higher minimum wage leads to a shorter work week, not fewer people on welfare, in which employees cut their hours to be sure to maintain eligibility for free housing, health care, etc.]

Minimum wage should be much higher, according to Autor. What about the fact that employers won’t want to pay people way more than they’re worth? A friend’s Spanish language tutor, sitting at home in Guatemala with only a high school degree, on hearing about the proposed $15/year minimum wage, said “Won’t that mean a lot more unemployment since many people aren’t worth $15/hour?” Autor says that the government will invest in educating Americans to the point that they’re worth more. On a per-pupil basis and as a percentage of GDP, we already spend more than almost any other country on K-12 education; why aren’t American high school graduates already worth a lot to employers? Autor points out that the average American high school graduate is way less skilled than a high school graduate in other developed economies. “We should fix that.” Autor’s big solution for 13 years of government-run education that he says are generally ineffective is to add one more year: “universal pre-K”. With 14 years of pre-K through 12 and maybe another 5 years of taxpayer-funded college, a worker will surely find employers delighted to hire him/her/zir/them at $15/hour. (Autor also notes that many of today’s college graduates are going into personal service jobs at low wages.)

Borrowing is free. Interest rates have never been lower. We will grow our way out of any amount of borrowing that we do and, after paying back whatever we borrowed, be richer than if we hadn’t borrowed.

Apparently contradicting the above point, he says that successful Americans should pay vastly more in taxes than they’re currently paying. (Why does the government need all of this current tax revenue if borrowing is, in fact, free?) The capital gains tax rate should be much higher (but still not adjusted for inflation, so actually it would be more than 100 percent in a lot of situations, as it is already (if you bought an asset for $10,000 in 2000, for example, the BLS says you spent $15,700 in today’s mini-dollars; if you sell it for $15,000 in 2021 you’ve actually suffered a loss, but will owe capital gains tax nonetheless).

Estate taxes should be higher and there should be no step-up basis for the assets inherited.

Everything that Joe Biden is doing and has proposed is awesome and will propel the U.S. forward toward a dreamland of prosperity. “The Biden Administration is right to go all in rather than nibbling around the edges.” Can all of our dreams be achieved via bigger government? Autor would rather the government “create” better quality jobs than address inequality through the tax code. (i.e., what we really need is a planned economy, a point made by an emeritus professor and former senior MIT administrator, who asked whether Capitalism wasn’t the real source of inequality).

Autor was in sync with the folks at New Yorker magazine: “The President, channelling his inner Elizabeth Warren, pitches an American utopia after a dystopian plague year.”

(Trump’s fantasy was that Americans might not be rich enough to afford the work-free utopia that we desire; Biden is grounded enough to realize that utopia can be ours if we tax and borrow a little more.)

Readers: Have you been following Biden’s latest proposals, e.g., in last night’s speech? Are you as excited about bigger government as Professor Autor?

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