Daily Digest 4/16 – The Virus Is Vaporizing Tax Revenue, Big Pharma Prepared To Profit

Economy

Wall Street feasts on federal coronavirus aid while Main Street starves (Adam)

I hope my Wall Street sources are wrong. I hope the money earmarked for small businesses and individuals as part of the $2 trillion rescue package will prevent the economy from falling off a cliff. I hope the money made on Wall Street trades will trickle down to small businesses when the economy opens up.

Big Pharma Prepares To Profit From The Coronavirus (David S.)

The ability to make money off of pharmaceuticals is already uniquely large in the U.S., which lacks the basic price controls other countries have, giving drug companies more freedom over setting prices for their products than anywhere else in the world. During the current crisis, pharmaceutical makers may have even more leeway than usual because of language industry lobbyists inserted into an $8.3 billion coronavirus spending package, passed last week, to maximize their profits from the pandemic.

Coronavirus is making touch-free shopping a necessity (thc0655)

There are many uncertainties about how the coronavirus will impact people’s health, their jobs and the economy, but some consumer trends have already become so obvious that they suggest a long-lasting shift in people’s behavior when the COVID-19 crisis finally departs. One of them is the move toward contactless transactions in the US getting supercharged, as shoppers try to restrict what they touch in stores — if they go out at all — to avoid catching the virus. Studies have shown that the coronavirus can live for 24 hours on cardboard and several days on hard surfaces.

Far worse to come: COVID-19 collapse of state and local governments (Sparky1)

The result is that state and local tax revenues will plummet. States and localities will burn through any reserves they’ve maintained like wildfire. Since most of our politicians and government managers have been raised during a decade of expanding economies, their first instinct will be to wait and then panic and then raise taxes to cover shortfalls — perhaps a special “coronavirus surtax.” Taxpayers across the country have tolerated various forms of high state and local taxes; the politicians would naturally ask, “Why should now be any different?”

The Virus Is Vaporizing Tax Revenues, Putting States in a Bind (Sparky1)

Many state and local governments have already taken extraordinary measures to protect residents and keep public services running. New York lawmakers gave Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo a one-year window to unilaterally cut spending if warranted, as the state faces a shortfall of at least $10 billion in tax revenue.

The second pandemic that awaits Covid-19 first responders (Sparky1)

My father was a sergeant in the Emergency Service Unit of the NYPD during the nearly nine months he spent at Ground Zero. What started as a rescue mission searching for survivors quickly turned to one of recovery of human remains. At 14-years-old, it was hard for me to understand what he was still doing there in February of 2002. We hardly saw him my first year of high school. He’d come home, take off his Carhartt bodysuit covered in World Trade Center dust, throw it down the basement stairs to wash, and sleep a few hours before waking for another shift. When I asked him what he was searching for at Ground Zero, he simply said, “Thumbs.”

WATCH: Police Arrest ‘Reopen’ Protester; Say Constitutionally Protected Rights ‘Non-Essential’ (thc0655)

Nearly every state in the country is now under stay-at-home orders, which bar activities state governors deem to be “non-essential.” In the stunning sequence of events on Tuesday in Raleigh, North Carolina residents were told that exercising the First Amendment-protected rights “peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress ” are among the activities deemed “non-essential” by state authorities.

He threatened a Publix shooting because ‘not enough people’ are wearing masks, cops say (thc0655)

A man was arrested after deputies say he threatened a mass shooting at a Florida Publix store because “not enough people” were wearing masks outside during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Robert Kovner, 62, of Sebring was arrested and booked late Tuesday night for the threat he wrote on Facebook, according to the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office.

Churches Could Play Leading Role In Reopening America (thc0655)

Who has the best information to weigh these risks, the costs and benefits of each trip out versus staying home? Not a governor or a president, but an individual. Different people may have different tolerances for risk. For some people that trip to a restaurant or a place of worship may be a risk worth taking. For others it is not. For sure, each individual decision can affect other people—one person who takes too much risk and gets sick means one fewer hospital slot available for someone else. But that is true in many areas of American life, and it hasn’t until now caused the country or states to be locked down.

Our own little Covid-19 relief package (Phil D.)

Well, perhaps it’s 11:22 PM on April 14, 1912. The night is clear, the band plays, and the champagne flows. We ride together in luxury on the largest economy ever, a seaworthiness never before matched.

And here I am, yelling about icebergs. The iceberg I can see is the broken paper money system.

WHO Blocked Doctors From Urging Border Controls to Stop Spread of Coronavirus (thc0655)

In early February, Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus re-iterated this in a statement in which he said that travel restrictions “can have the effect of increasing fear and stigma.”

Right up until the end of February, the WHO continued “to advise against the application of travel or trade restrictions to countries experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks,” despite the rapid spread of the disease.

California farmer plows under lettuce after coronavirus shutters restaurant market (Sparky1)

The lockdown in most U.S. states that started in mid-March created a logjam of fruit and vegetables bound for restaurants across the country. The effects of the business closures rippled throughout the supply chain, reaching even the produce still rooted in farmland as customers cancel orders.

Staggering quantities of food are being destroyed due to coronavirus (Sparky1)

In a heartbreaking turn of events, many farmers are having to destroy the crops they’ve worked hard to grow because wholesale markets have dried up completely. Countless schools, airlines, restaurants, and hotels are no longer operating, which means orders for fresh produce have been cancelled. Crops that have already been grown according to contracts are being plowed back into the ground to rot, while new ones are being planted simultaneously in hopes that the economy will have restarted by the time they’re ready to harvest.

Final few hundred employees help close Greeley plant, third worker dies from COVID-19 (Sherry V.)

Bruett said the company provided some tests over the weekend to some workers but said company leaders felt a plant closure would be in the best interest of everyone.

People who go through the extended quarantine and isolation will not require testing, he said.

Smithfield Foods Now Largest Coronavirus Hot Spot In U.S., CDC In Sioux Falls To Investigate (Sherry V.)

The 518 employees and 126 non-employees connected to Smithfield makes it the largest cluster in the country (644), according to tracking by the New York Times. The previous top cluster was 585 cases aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in Guam.

Who’s behind the Chinese takeover of world’s biggest pork producer? (Sherry V., from 2014)

Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, was acquired by a Chinese firm in 2013 for nearly $5 billion — more than the company’s market value. The surprising purchase caused some lawmakers to wonder if there might be a hidden player. As part of the series Food for 9 Billion, Nathan Halverson of the Center for Investigative Reporting examines how the Chinese government is involved.

Our food supply system is shaky, but it’s not breaking, say experts (Sparky1)

“The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply. It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running,” said Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and chief executive officer, for Smithfield, in a statement. “These facility closures will also have severe, perhaps disastrous, repercussions for many in the supply chain, first and foremost our nation’s livestock farmers. These farmers have nowhere to send their animals.”

What The Coronavirus Pandemic Can Teach Us About The Climate Emergency (David S.)

Is it cruel to point approvingly to the steep reduction in carbon emissions now unfolding, given the skyrocketing deaths, lost livelihoods, and widespread privation? And won’t the reductions be negated as the virus is tamed and emissions come roaring back? No and no.

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