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In the Covid-19 Economy, You Can Have a Kid or a Job. You Can’t Have Both.

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Under the best of circumstances, the impact on children will still be significant. Students will lose most of a year of learning as parents — their new untrained teachers — cannot supervise in any meaningful way while Zooming into the office. At best, the kids will be crabby and stir-crazy as they don’t get enough physical activity because they’re now tethered to their parents’ work spaces all day, running around the living room in lieu of fresh air. Without social interactions with other children, they constantly seek parental attention in bad ways, further straining the mood at home. And these are ideal scenarios.

But what about kids who cannot learn remotely? What about kids who need services that are tied to schools? Or those who are at higher risk for complications if they get the virus and might not be able to go back even one week out of the three?

When learning plans for children with special needs could not be followed appropriately this year, academic gains for many students were quickly wiped out. Remote learning has already widened racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps because of disparities in access to technology tutors. As parents are crushed by the Covid economy, so are the children who need the most support. It’s no wonder the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement this weekend urging that students be physically present in school as much as possible this fall.

The long-term losses for professional adults will be incalculable, too, and will disproportionately affect mothers. Working mothers all over the country feel that they’re being pushed out of the labor force or into part-time jobs as their responsibilities at home have increased tenfold.

Even those who found a short-term solution because they had the luxury to hit the pause button on their projects and careers this spring to manage the effects of the pandemic — predicated on the assumption that the fall would bring a return to school and child care — may now have no choice but to leave the work force. A friend just applied for a job and tells me she cannot even imagine how she would be able to take it if her children aren’t truly back in school. There’s an idea that people can walk away from careers and just pick them up where they left off, even though we know that women who drop out of the work force to take care of children often have trouble getting back in.

And lest you think it’s everyone vs. teachers, I cannot imagine a group this situation is less fair to. Teachers are supposed to teach in the classroom full-time but simultaneously manage remote learning? Even in non-pandemic times, teachers would tell you that they already work unpaid overtime on nights and weekends, just planning and grading. Where, exactly, will the extra hours come from? For teachers with their own school-age children, the situation isn’t just untenable, it’s impossible.

Without a doubt, reopening schools is a colossal undertaking. There are no easy solutions to finding enough space for students to socially distance, ensuring teachers and staff are protected, adding more sinks and cleaning staff, and implementing widespread temperature checks, testing and contact tracing.

But after nearly four months since the lockdowns began — four months of working all hours, at remarkable stress levels, while our children have gone without play dates and playgrounds and all of the other stimuli that help them thrive — most parents have been shocked to find that state governments don’t have any creative or even plausible solutions.

For parents who cannot simply sort it out, our national response feels more like a dystopian novel where only the wealthy get to limit their exposure and survive the pandemic unscathed. Allowing workplaces to reopen while schools, camps and day cares remain closed tells a generation of working parents that it’s fine if they lose their jobs, insurance and livelihoods in the process. It’s outrageous, and I fear if we don’t make the loudest amount of noise possible over this, we will be erased from the economy.

Deb Perelman is a New York Writer and the creator of the food blog smittenkitchen.com.

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mareino
28 minutes ago
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Washington, District of Columbia
acdha
7 hours ago
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The Daily 202: Why a freed slave is kneeling in the Lincoln statue in D.C. that some are trying to remove

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Money for the Emancipation Memorial was donated by black people, but it was designed by white people.





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mareino
21 hours ago
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"An early proposal by sculptor Harriet Hosmer depicted a black Union soldier and Lincoln in a sarcophagus.".
OK when you put it THAT way, I guess we could have a better statue.
Washington, District of Columbia
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Oily House Index

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We're underwater on our mortgage thanks to the low price of water.
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mareino
22 hours ago
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*ahem* it was only one specific oil index that hit zero in 2020 ... oh, who am I kidding this is great
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1 public comment
alt_text_bot
22 hours ago
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We're underwater on our mortgage thanks to the low price of water.
DrGaellon
6 hours ago
In order to get the OHI in feet, the oil price would have to be in $/cu.ft.

‘Always Trumpers’ complain as president’s missteps threaten Senate GOP majority

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Senate Republicans, reluctant to criticize Trump on many issues, are starting to speak out about his mismanaged reelection bid.





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mareino
1 day ago
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I love the part at the end where Grassley admits that Fox is so in the tank for Trump that they need to edit reality.
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A ‘Cure for Heart Disease’? A Single Shot Succeeds in Monkeys

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A novel gene-editing experiment seems to have permanently reduced LDL and triglyceride levels in monkeys.

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mareino
2 days ago
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It does seem bizarre that turning off the function of a gene that the majority of humans have could improve health. I'll be watching this space.
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Democrats’ infrastructure bill has a special delivery: Electric mail trucks

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House Democrats recently unveiled their Moving Forward Act, which includes $25 billion in funding for the US Postal Service. | Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Cleaner, quieter, cheaper Postal Service vehicles — if Mitch McConnell allows them.

For months, Democrats in Congress have focused on immediate recovery from the coronavirus, saying they would turn to long-term stimulus when the time is right.

The time is apparently right. This week, House Democrats unveiled their Moving Forward Act, a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill. It is capacious: $300 billion for repair of existing infrastructure, $100 billion for public transit, $100 billion for affordable housing infrastructure, $100 billion for broadband, $100 billion for high-poverty schools, $70 billion for upgrades to the electricity grid, and many, many smaller items.

The bill contains multitudes, but it is just an opening bid. It will eventually make its way to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is certain to bargain it down and try to strip out anything he sees as “green,” if he brings it to a vote at all.

If it does come to a vote, there will be more to discuss. For now, I just want to focus on one tiny gem in the bill that has made me — and the dozens (?) of other people obsessed with this issue — very happy.

To wit: The Moving Forward Act contains money to electrify mail trucks!

Making the US Postal Service a vanguard for electric vehicles

Back in April, I wrote an in-depth post on why replacing the US Postal Service’s fleet of delivery trucks with electric vehicles is a good idea, why now is the perfect time to do it, and where the process stands within the USPS.

To summarize: USPS trucks are old and janky. They get poor gas mileage, have no air conditioning, regularly burst into flames, and are imposing huge and rising fuel and maintenance costs on the already-struggling agency. Replacing them with electric delivery trucks would radically reduce those costs, improve driver health and performance, and reduce air and noise pollution in districts across the US.

US-HEALTH-VIRUS-USPS Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images
USPS mail carrier Lizette Portugal poses for a portrait in front of her truck before departing on her delivery route amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 30, 2020, in El Paso, Texas.

The USPS says it needs about $6 billion to replace its vehicles and about $25 billion overall to save itself from financial ruin. Well, if you scroll way, way down in the Moving Forward Act to Division I, Sec. 50001, you find this:

Authorizes $25 billion in funding for the Postal Service for the modernization of postal infrastructure and operations, including through capital expenditures to purchase delivery vehicles, processing equipment, and other goods. The section reserves $6 billion for the purchase of new vehicles.

Then Sec. 50002 gets more specific about how the $6 billion for vehicles must be used:

Requires the Postal Service to use any of the authorized funds to purchase electric or zero-emission vehicles to replace its current right-hand-drive vehicles to the maximum extent practicable. However, at least 75 percent of the new fleet must be such vehicles. The section would also require that the fleet of medium and heavy-duty trucks consist of at least 30 percent of electric vehicles by 2030 and that any vehicle purchased after 2040 be electric or zero-emission.

A minimum of 75 percent electric vehicles: that’s awesome. Beyond the immediate health benefits and the long-term savings for the USPS, this would be an incredible marketing coup for electric vehicles generally.

The Postal Service is the US public’s favorite government agency. It is a friendly, reliable presence in every community in the nation. If the familiar, boxy mail trucks were replaced with electric trucks, every American who interacts with a postal carrier — which is nearly every American — would have a chance to see an electric vehicle with their own eyes, in a workaday, non-political context.

It would do more to raise awareness of electric vehicles than any conceivable amount of marketing. And there’s evidence that electric vehicles, much like solar panels, are “contagious,” meaning that people who see them in their own community are more likely to buy them. The Moving Forward Act would spread EVs like a contagion across the country (a good contagion for once).

Using post offices to kickstart electric vehicle charging infrastructure

Speaking of acting as a vanguard, there is one other intriguing provision in Sec. 50002: “The section would require the Postal Service to provide at least one charging station at each publicly accessible facility it owns or leases by 2026 and ensure that it has adequate charging facilities to keep its fleet operating.”

Every analyst agrees that one of the major challenges facing electric vehicles is the lack of charging infrastructure. It creates a perpetual chicken-and-egg problem: the infrastructure doesn’t make sense without the cars; the cars don’t make sense without the infrastructure.

The research consultancy Brattle Group put out a report this week projecting that EVs in the US will grow from today’s 1.5 million to between 10 and 35 million by 2030. Part of what will enable (or constrain) that growth is charging infrastructure. Out of the $75 to $125 billion in investments in the electricity system Brattle estimates will be needed to support EV growth, about $30 to $50 billion need to go to charging infrastructure.

ev charger needs Brattle

Nothing would do more to increase consumer confidence in EV charging infrastructure than having an EV charger publicly available at every post office. It could finally break the chicken-and-egg stalemate: It would make EV chargers a familiar part of public infrastructure, prompting more consumers to choose EVs, prompting more investment in chargers.

Given the amount of federal spending needed to pull the US economy out of a nosedive, $25 billion for the USPS isn’t much, and $6 billion for electric postal trucks is peanuts. But it’s a smart investment that would return itself many times over in health, economic, and social benefits.

“This provision is a win all the way around,” California Rep. Jared Huffman told me. “We can slash emissions from one of the largest vehicle fleets in the world, boost clean vehicle manufacturing in this country, build out EV charging infrastructure, and help the USPS save money on wasted fuel and maintenance costs for an aging fleet.”

The provision was drawn from Huffman’s Federal Leadership in Energy Efficient Transportation (FLEET) Act, for which he has been fighting a lonely battle since 2014. He is cautiously optimistic about its chances.

“Good legislation has a tendency to die at Mitch McConnell’s hand,” he says, “but I hope he’s smart enough to see how much this will benefit the country and doesn’t leave it on the cutting room floor.”


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mareino
2 days ago
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This is the kind of fun legislation that I need right now
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