Blog 30 – COVID-19 vs. Community

Introduction

This is a blog to show how a community like the Pilot Demonstration Project (PDP) could adapt to life with the onset of a pandemic like Covid-19.  The secret to this is being small enough to combat the virus and having the right facilities in place in the beginning.  Even when a vaccine is available for Covid-19 there are other viruses or clusters of bacteria that could come on the scene at a later date.  However, they’re other players around in this game of life.  This was brought to mind yesterday when I watched “The Planet of the Humans,” a film produced (shown free on YouTube) by Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore.  In the evening I watched a 2019 production of “Climate Change – The Facts.” on PBS.  This was a true double whammy.  In other words Covid-19 has many partners.  The “Planet of the Humans” was disillusioning because it showed that wind, solar and biomass energy systems were not sustainable.  In fact, biomass burning was causing extensive damage to our environment.

This map (above)  shows the number of biomass plants in the US (from “The Planet of the Humans”) and around each one they need a supply of trees or imported wood chips to feed the Biomass plants.  This in a few years could leave a barren landscape in many areas.  However, we could have more carbon dioxide and less nature.  Now biomass energy production is considered a renewable source of energy which is a misnomer due to the damage it causes.  As can be seen by the Global renewable chart (from movie) the biomass form of energy production is by farthest the largest.   Bill McKibben, the environmentalist, is shown backing them due to some conflicts of interest noted in the film.  Al Gore and others are shown having their own conflicts of interests and you begin to wonder who to trust.

Adding to this, the problems caused by climate change will present a chance of a food security pandemic happening in the near future.  This will stretch any countries resources and there will be problems throughout the world.   Putting this challenge in the hands of President Trump is a dismal thought.  The fact that our present system of food production and the food supply chain is presently an environmental disaster, he could lead us to a place where we shouldn’t go.  Some of these problems are discussed in my book “Toward Self-Sufficiency.”  Big Ag is not the answer our food problems.  This is one of the many reasons why not electing President Trump in November is of prime importance.  I am 88 years old and I am glad that I do not have the prospects that are facing the younger generations at this time.  We must remember that we are presently having  occurrences such as methane releases in Russia, rapid melting of glaciers, population explosions, wars refugee migrations,  consumption, capitalism, etc. that are happening outside the US, but will have impacts on the conditions on how we are living at different periods of time. 

Fish stock are the main source of protein for many countries in the world. As our oceans warm there could be mass deaths of fish. Their breeding grounds among the coral reefs and seaweed forests are being decimated now. Some biomass energy producers are even looking at using seaweed for energy production. The constant quest for money in order to have an economy may be our downfall. Planning, using a systems approach, is desperately needed in order to show people what can happen with different options in place. Perhaps this can be shown with better understanding by using different options affecting the Pilot Demonstration Project as an example.

In 1999 Eben Fodor published a classic planning book Better Not Bigger – Hot to Take Control of Urban Growth and Improve Your Community (New Society Publishers).  True to its name it was only 174 pages long and that included credits.  Unfortunately I don’t think many people in governmental agencies read it.  It even had a section on understanding the Urban Growth Machine and the Koch Brothers read that part.

One section in the book included “The Common Growth Mythology.”  It was a list of 12 assumptions about growth such as ” Growth provides needed tax revenue, Growth is inevitable, We have to grow or die; Growth makes the economy strong and creates better paying jobs, We have to grow to provide for people in the community, etc.”  It concludes The better you make the community the more people will want to live there  until it is no better than  any other community other community.  A good example of this is resorts such as Cancun, Mexico. The value of growth is not what most people think it is. Good growth economics includes production.

Fodor suggests using the following 12 steps toward a Sustainable Community:

  1. Build a positive vision
  2. Improve citizen involvement
  3. Provide economic opportunity
  4. Use land wisely
  5. Provide better information
  6. Use indicators and benchmarks for progress
  7. Use full-cost accounting
  8. Think long range
  9. Encourage efficient resource use
  10. Make neighborhoods walkable
  11. Preserve unique and natural features
  12. Recognize physical limits to growth and consumption 

He shows that you must invest in real economic health, not spontaneous consumerism.  Arnold Toynbee stated: True growth is the ability of a society to transfer increasing amounts of energy and attention from the material side of life to the nonmaterial side and thereby increase its culture, capacity for compassion, sense of community and strength of democracy.

The site plan shown on page 3 is the concept for the Pilot Demonstration Project.  The plan will be revised when a site is selected and will have all the same components as the one shown.  When discussing the PDP it is to be assumed that all the facilities as noted on the plan will be in place.  The purpose of this blog is to show the advantages that the community will have in fighting Covid-19 versus a larger urban area.  It will also show its advantages for food security.

Lockdown:

The smaller the community the easier it would be to lockdown the community.  This would mean that there would be just one entrance and exit at the same location.  The design of the PDP would allow this to happen.  All other entrances would be secured to prevent incoming and exiting cars and people.  This is typical of a gated community.  The community is designed to be as self-sufficient as possible with minimal need for automobiles,

The second action would be a plan for testing.  If possible all the people living in the PDP would be tested.  This would allow free movement by everyone.  If someone leaves for work or other needs they will return and observe the distance rules, use of masks, washing of hands, etc.  Everyone  (even children) will have an identity card.  It will have an identity number.  Information will be kept on the PDP computer which will be kept in the guardhouse and at the nurses station.  The following information will be shown on the card:

  1. Community Number of Head of Household, (family will have same number)
  2. Name (Other information such as address, family living with person including ages, rental or ownership, any medical problems and number of trips outside of the community will be kept on the PDP computer but not on the card)
  3. Information if anyone in the family has had the flu or Covid-19.
  4. Phone Number of Head of Household and the Nurse’s Office

Everyone going outside of the community will keep a separate contact log for each trip.  This will allow for tracking if needed.  The card will be used for identity at all times.  If a card is lost then new one’s will be issued and the old number voided.  All entryways will be opened when allowed by the state.

Medical Facilities and Medical Insurance:

There will be a community medical clinic on the property that is manned by a registered nurse or assistant nurse.  The nurse will live on the PDP in a house provided by the PDP and she will have it rent free plus salary.  It will will have the capability of using telemedicine technology when needed.  All protective practices will be followed but there should not be a problem because everyone in the community will have been tested for  Covid-19.  Flu shots will also be available.  The clinic will have all of the standard medical equipment and there will be a storage area on the property to house masks, PPE clothing and other equipment  for use  in case there is another outbreak of the Covid-19 or other virus.

It is hoped that by the time this PDP is constructed  that “Medicare for All” is in place.  If not then a minimal plan should be available for low income persons.  Everyone will have “Good Rx” cards for drugs.  Another option would be to find a single payer through the PDP.  Government agencies, charities or insurance agencies could be contacted to see if something could be worked out.  A unit could be set aside for fitness equipment to be used as part of a preventive health plan.  This could lower the medical plan costs.  This could be a worthwhile study. Some of the information in Gar Alperovitz’s book What Then Must We Do? – Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution (2013) pertains to health care.

  1. The health care system is dominated by insurance companies, hospital chains, big drug companies and to a much lesser extent, private fee-for-service doctors.  Every body gets a profit when somebody gets sick in this system.  In Medicare (or a single payer system) you can knock off about 20 percent what the various companies cost.
  2. On average the US spends  roughly nationwide  on administrative costs as Canada.  Medicare typically registers 80 to 90 percent lower administrative costs than “Medicare Advantage Plans.” 
  3. Obamacare included insurance companies and drug companies in the system in order to have it passed.  Now costs keep rising and it is a mess because it is much more expensive than many of the other nations in the world.
  4. Health care is 20% of the GDP and costs keep rising.

Thinking about Covid-19 remembers how efficiently South Korea handled Covid-19?  It had a single payer system and didn’t have Trump as President.

Anyway, the PDP should try to find a system that could provide everyone living in the community a food storage plan including growing crops in the community and on collaborating cooperative farms.  Since occupants are regularly tested for Covid-19 they are freer to move around the PDP than can the people outside of it.  People that live in the PDP and work outside it will not be able to leave during a pandemic (other than medical staff, police, etc.). Their movements inside the community will be limited and all precaution rules will be followed by everyone.

Food Security, Education and the Environment:

The problems of inequality, social justice, corruption, lying, waste, screwed up economic decisions and a host of other inequities has been addressed by several people, but nothing seems to change.  Millennials and others are seeing themselves in the crosshairs of stagnation with little course of having a voice for changing the situation.  It is worse when one of the environmental leaders, Bill McKibben seems to lose his ethics and follows the money.  What effect this will have on his organization 350 and us I don’t know.  No wonder he is pushing the use of solar systems.  Even the Sierra Club is a bit suspicious (shown in “The Planet of the Humans”).  The champion of the Progressives, Senator Bernie Sanders had to drop out of the presidential race.  An interesting article in the May 2020 issue of Harper’s magazine “How the Anti-Populists Stopped Bernie Sanders is worth reading by presenting a historical background to his race and a description of the term Populism 

I am just going to address a few of our problems that may undo our world civilization as we know it now.  The first one is food security.  Due to the many systems involved it is a complicated topic and thereby is noted in several books and articles.  The present methods of marketing foods uses too much energy and the mono-cropping use of land lacks diversity and destroys the soils on which crops are grown.  The constant use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides further depletes the soil by killing the microorganisms living in it.  The small farmers, especially the dairy farmers, are going bankrupt at faster rates each year.  Most of the farming land is now controlled by big Ag.  See the news how Smithfield’s pork plants because many people were catching Covid-19.  The PDP community encourages the localization of farming and teaches Agro-ecology and regenerative farming techniques.  Both of these systems are sustainable.  Food security will be seriously hit developing nations and it will be hard to find a system to prevent it.  Add to this changing farming conditions due to pollution, lack of water and climate change.

The rise in the cost of education is causing problems throughout the entire education systems.  Books that comment on the present situation are The Nearly free University & Emerging Economy, Fifth Wave and Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses.  These will be discussed in future blogs. 

Presently our environmental protection efforts by the government have been removed so the damage wrought by the Trump Administration is bad now.   If he is reelected it may be too late to prevent major damage and this may cause major adverse conflicts among nations in the future.  Most people think in terms of one or two things being a major problem, but the way systems work many adverse things being in place at the same time could be catastrophic.  The movie “The Planet of the Humans” pointed out that wind, solar and biomass energy systems are not sustainable, so our long term crutch of using them to provide energy is not there.  They use too much energy to make, some of the materials may be too costly (shipping and availability) and the systems may not last over 20 years.  Complacently is not the feeling we are looking for.

Conclusion:

It is interesting that after three years of coming up with an idea about a society that you think should be in place, you read about the same general idea which was written sooner.   This is in the conclusion of the book “What Then Must We Do?”  Some comments from the book:

A nation that proclaims a creed based on centrally important values but continues to violate them in practice is setting itself up for challenges much more serious than the problems of “normal” politics.

If you don’t like corporate capitalism and you don’t like state socialism, what do you want?  And if you aren’t willing to answer that question, or even engage it, why should we listen to your concerns about the failings of the current system?

We are not “merely” talking about nurturing democratic community practice; we are talking about community practice as the basis of fundamental experiences of critical importance to the nation as a whole and of democracy in general.

At the same time, three recent national surveys have found that Americans under the age of 30 – the people who will build the next system – largely indifferent as to whether capitalism or socialism is better, and if anything slightly more favorable to the latter term.  (This was BT- Before Trump)

Read the book.  The community (PDP) that I have designed could show what might be a beginning process toward a solution utilizing “Progressive” thinking.  Wikipedia defines a progressive movement as follows: 

“In the modern era, a movement that identifies as progressive is “a social or political movement that aims to represent the interests of ordinary people through political change and the support of government actions”[3] In the 21st century, those who identify as progressive may do so for a variety of reasons: for example, to favor public policy that reduces or ameliorates the harmful effects of economic inequality as well as systemic discrimination, to advocate for environmentally conscious policies, as well as for social safety nets and rights of workers, to oppose the negative externalities inflicted on the environment and society by monopolies or corporate influence on the democratic process. The unifying theme is to call attention to the negative impacts of current institutions or ways of doing things, and to advocate for progress, that is, for positive change as defined by any of several standards, such expansion of democracy, increased social or economic equality, improved well being of a population, etc.”

Perhaps this should be in the question also (or take out socialism).  I hope Joe Biden becomes more progressive or we may have to answer the question “What Then Must We Do?” And the answer may not be what he expected.

-George Hunt
towardselfsufficiency.com

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.