Data: Antivaxxer Prevalence Correlates With Covid Incidence

CJ Trowbridge

USP 493 Data Analysis

2020-12-01

SPSS Final Project Outline

  1. Introduction – what hypothesis you will test and why you expect your independent variable or variables will affect your dependent variable
    • In the recent past, it was legal for California parents to refuse to vaccinate their children in on the basis of various superstitions. I hypothesize that there is a significant correlation between covid infection rates and the rates at which parents chose not to vaccinate their children before such decisions were banned. I am using counties as the unit of analysis to test this hypothesis.
  2. Brief description of the data you will use
    • There are several datasets that I will need to compile in order to test my hypothesis.
    • First, I need the covid case data by county. I am using the most recently published dataset from Johns Hopkins.
    • Second, I need the population for each county in order to calculate the percentage of the population that has become infected with covid. I am using the 2019 census population numbers.
    • Third, I need the kindergarten vaccination data from the year before the ban on exemptions happened. I got this from the California Department of Public Health Archives.
  3. Univariate statistics for each variable you will use in your hypothesis. Discussion of what these tables tell you.
    • The kindergarten vaccination data for each county is my independent variable.
    • To get my dependent variable, I divide the covid infections by the population for each county in order to get the case incidence numbers for each county.
    • Here’s what it all looks like put together;
  4. Hypothesis testing. What do the statistics tell you.
    • In order to visually compare the two values for each county, I first sorted the data by the independent variable’s value. I then created a combo line-chart with two y-axes plus an x axis. The x axis in this chart is the county name. The dependent variable is on the second y-axis. Initially, the graph was not so clear to look at in SPSS. I asked the professor how to sort the x-axis by the value of the left y-axis but apparently that feature does not exist in SPSS…
    • …So I moved to Excel.
    • But first I ran the descriptive statistics in SPSS to find the minimum and maximum values for each variable in order to scale the axes so that the lines would be comparable as you see in the graph below.
    • I then added trend lines to both y axes to simplify the visual representation of the data.
    • Lastly, I ran a two-tailed Pearson Correlation at a .01 significance in SPSS to determine whether there is a significant correlation between the dependent and independent variables. The result was significant.
  5. Conclusion: Was your hypothesis supported? Implications of what you have found.
    • The hypothesis is accepted. There is a significant correlation between Kindergarten vaccination rates and covid infection rates by county. As far as the possible implications, I will rely on this quote from Isaac Asimov, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

My Data Files

XXI

“Drunk one night, Sarah had told me Women are the race… No two ways about it. Male is just a mutation with more muscle and half the nerves. Fighting, fucking machines… To be a woman was a sensory experience beyond the male. Touch and texture ran deeper, an interface with environment that male flesh seemed to seal out instinctively. To a man, skin was a barrier, a protection. To a woman, it was an organ of contact. That had its disadvantages. In general, and maybe because of this, female pain thresholds ran higher than male…”
― From Altered Carbon

I think it was always inevitable. Maybe they knew that and it’s what caused them to treat women the way they did. Arthur C Clarke wrote in Childhood’s End about the collective unconscious of humanity fearing things associated with its future transition to the next level of existence. Scholars and mystics have speculated that perhaps a similar group premonition fueled some part of the misogyny of the past.

Genetic males have an X and a Y chromosome. Genetic females have two X chromosomes with no Y chromosome. Since women have no Y chromosome, all the children born to X/X couples were female. By the early twenty-first century, it was possible for women’s skin cells to be used to fertilize other women’s egg cells. Through a similar process, it also became trivially easy for women to choose between the sperm provided by male partners and select one with an X chromosome rather than a Y chromosome. In the popular lexicon, these practices were called XXI or X-chromosome/X-chromosome impregnation. Women now had a simple tool which spelled the end of men. That was the first point at which the patriarchy saw it was on life support and knew its days were numbered.

Within a century, these practices became widespread. Women had suffered for millenia under patriarchy, and the idea of simply choosing not to create any more men became a core tenet of fourth-wave feminism. By 2045, XXI clinics outnumbered abortion clinics. As a result, the female population quickly grew and spread as people around the world embraced XXI. Within a generation, men were a shrinking minority of the population.

You’d think that facing their own extinction, men would take a conciliatory tone and try to ameliorate the historical impacts of their actions in order to earn the forgiveness of women. While it’s true that some men wanted to make peace, those few still holding the reins of the world did not; unending war for power and control was all they knew. They doubled down. Despite the fact that the biosphere was well into its collapse, they focused on legislating male supremacy. The last days of the patriarchy were the worst. Food and water supplies around the world were collapsing, more than half of the species had gone extinct, but the laws the patriarchs passed were concerned with banning XXI and enshrining male supremacy at every level of the legal system. Abortion was also banned as “an attack on men’s rights.” Feminism was effectively outlawed throughout most of the developed world. Ironically, it was because of strong international borders under patriarchy that many developing countries became fertility destinations where women could travel to undergo XXI.

It was around this time that a small group of white male libertarian entrepreneurs announced they were pouring billions into developing what they called XYI. They promised a life without women, where men could be born from machines without the need for mothers. Importantly, they also called for widespread violence against women including attacks on any XXI clinics and death to any XXI doctors. As a direct response to this threat, Magdalena Thunberg, grand-daughter of Greta Thunberg emerged as the leader of what she called the Feminist Liberation Front. She made public statements online explaining that while XXI was not an attack on men, XYI was an attack on women. She declared war on the establishment and swore to end the threat once and for all.

The Feminist Liberation Front conducted a series of bombings targeting XYI research and development facilities. The FLF also conducted a series of targeted assassinations of the white male libertarian leaders patterned after the successful strategy of the Irish Republican Army’s from the previous century. The unrest spread around the world and resulted in widespread chaos wherever the patriarchy still held power.

Women had worked for generations to slowly take over all major governments around the world.  There was a tipping point at the end of the twenty-first century with the rise of the FLF. The patriarchy could no longer hold onto the reins of power. Once a critical mass of women had taken those reins, they began to undo the harms of the patriarchy. But instead of working to exterminate men like the men had done to them, the women struck the missing conciliatory tone.

The first One-World Congress took place in 2075. In the keynote speech on the first day of the conference, Magdalena The Liberator, grand-daughter of Greta Thunberg, called for the end of international borders and the full devotion of all of humanity’s resources to the cause of finally halting the collapse of the biosphere, feeding and sheltering everyone, and restoring the natural world to whatever degree was still possible. She also called for ongoing compassion towards the now miniscule male population. “We must,” she argued, “strive to avoid the empire that the patriarchy sought. Instead, we must blaze a new path towards an alternative system for humanity which values all individuals. We must build a system which works to support the needs of all individuals and which empowers everyone to thrive. The era of the god-king is over, the age of the first universal human republic must begin.”

The conference adopted all of Magdalena’s recommendations, and that was the beginning of the Earth Republic. All the old nations became states. Many of the state borders were redrawn to reflect the way people actually organized, erasing the Kissinger doctrine of using national borders to deliberately create conflict and destabilize peaceful neighbors.

Over time, the remaining male population learned to accept its place as part of the whole rather than seeking to be master of the whole. In her last interview, Magdalena the Liberator said, “I really don’t think it could have happened any other way. Hegemonic totalitarianism has never voluntarily given up power. The patriarchy needed to be usurped without acceding to its methods. A hundred years ago, people argued that Hillary Clinton would be the end of the patriarchy if she became president, but she would merely have been an extension of it. You can’t make an unjust system just by putting a marginalized person in charge of it. You must change the system fundamentally. It needed to be dismantled without using its own methods, and that’s what we did. ”

“Then do you regret using violence during the FLF campaigns,” the reporter asked.

“No,” Magdalena replied, “Self-defense is not patriarchy. Patriarchy is demanding power and control over others because your male gender is superior. That’s not what we did, we defended the right of women to exist, not to rule over men as queens in place of kings. We worked together to change the fundamentals of our world and that’s the only way we could have survived as a species. The human project became a collective effort rather than a hierarchical struggle for power and resources. And it happened just in time, because…”

Misogynoir and Reproductive Conversations

Prompt: Why are we so afraid of reproductive technologies?” Who is “we?”

Intro

Systems of oppression exist on three levels. First, the pervasive and ubiquitous sociocultural level which encompasses all the ideas (or discourses) in our society’s collective culture. Second, the institutional level, where people enact the sociocultural discourses as policy in order to make the institutions act in a way which reflects the sociocultural discourses. Third is the personal level, where individuals apply sociocultural discourses both internally and externally in interpersonal relationships.

Systemic racism is a pattern which exists on all three levels. This pattern of systemic racism is made up of the aggregate action of small interpersonal racist microaggressions. These acts reinforce the larger system and do its work.

Systemic sexism is also a pattern which exists on all three levels. This pattern of systemic sexism is made up of the aggregate action of small interpersonal sexist microaggressions. These acts reinforce the larger system and do its work.

All systems of oppression are different but they all work in the same way.

In her book Down Girl, Kate Manne explains that microaggressions are what she calls “down-moves.” Or a move intended to confer that its target is not a subject, a person with agency, but rather an object without agency. Microaggressions are fundamentally acts which serve to “other” and dehumanize people on the basis of their marginalized identities.

I created this graph to illustrate the flow of actions from discourse to impact through the system…

Since systemic racism and systemic sexism are normalized in a pervasive sociocultural way, they are everywhere and they inform everything that happens in our society.

As you can see, the discourses of oppression flow down from the sociocultural level through institutions to individuals. Then individuals internalize and act on those discourses. The actions aggregate to form systems of oppression which constitutes a cycle. This cycle is called the cycle of socialization. Here is a flowchart showing the same process from the perspective of the flow of discourses and actions rather than the structure of the system.

In her book Sister Outsider and specifically the essay There Is No Hierarchy of Oppression, Audre Lorde expands on this idea to explain that while it’s not possible to rank women or black people in terms of who has more or less oppression, we do know that black women have significantly more oppression than black people or women do separately, or even added together. Marginalized identities do not add together when they overlap, but rather they multiply. This idea of the amplification of overlapping marginalized identities is called Intersectionality.

Part 1

It is therefore helpful to answer the prompt’s question with regard to a specific intersectional dynamic and its expression within the context of the cycle of socialization.

In her essay, Explanation Of Misogynoir, Trudy explains how racism and anti-Blackness alter the experience of misogyny for Black women, specifically. In another essay, she goes into some depth on the specific issue of reproductive rights for black women.

Indeed, we see that discussions of reproductive rights are essentially all simply arguments for racism and misogyny masquerading as a discussion about reproductive rights. In her essay Racism, Birth Control, and Reproductive Rights, Angela Davis gives a litany of examples and further deconstructs the background which has led to the use of reproductive rights as a mask for racism and misogyny. The fundamental argument against reproductive rights always being that women — particularly black women — should be robbed of the agency to make their own decisions on the basis that they are not as qualified to make those decisions as white men are qualified to make those decisions for them.

In one sentence, we see how the entire discussion of reproductive rights boils down to a simultaneous down-move against women and black people, but especially against black women.

Anecdotally, I have discussed with colleagues a relevant and recent social phenomena which illustrates the point from another perspective. In social media vanguardism, people like me create content which is intended to arm people with discourses and ideas to critically analyze many of the situations we face together in our culture today. Historically, these types of content are often met with some subset of replies being terse down-moves such as “faggot,” “there are only two genders,” “show us your tits,” etc. During the Trump presidency, we saw a sudden disappearance of those overt replies. They were replaced instead with comments like “Trump 2020,” “blue lives matter,” or “all lives matter.” I submit that in this context, these symbols are a mask to cover up the real intention of the people who use them. And now that Trump has lost the election, this mask has disappeared, and we see a move back to more overt down-moves intended to dehumanize and objectify directly rather than indirectly.

The idea of a public debate about whether or not black women should have agency over their own bodies is necessarily, fundamentally, always racist and misogynistic. It is not possible to ask the question without the implication that it might be true. The agency of humans is not something that can be ethically debated. Consider functionally identical questions like “Are there too many Jews?” or “Is the third world overpopulated?” These questions take the same approach of inviting the reader to question whether some kinds of people really are people, or whether they are objects to be manipulated without agency or ethical concern.

In the article, Why Are We So Afraid of Each New Advance in Reproductive Technology?, author Sarah Richards explains a medical experiment done on Chinese children to introduce a Norwegian mutation called CCR5-Delta32. (I have this mutation as a Norwegian-American.) This mutation confers some HIV immunity onto people who have it. It actually only protects against one of several forms of HIV so it’s not a cure-all and people who have it are only at lower risk of HIV, not completely immune to HIV. The problem is that the scientists did not properly inform the patients of the risks they were undertaking. The scientists robbed Chinese children of agency and treated them as lab rats for a dangerous experiment without informing the families of the risks.

 

Part 2

To address the second part of the prompt, in this case, the “We” is anyone within the sociocultural landscape. That means everyone. We all engage with discourses perpetrated by a fundamentally racist and sexist system.

Audre Lorde in her book Sister Outsider said that trying to survive as a black woman in America is like trying to survive in the mouth of a racist, sexist, suicidal dragon.

The cycle of socialization feeds itself and gets stronger all the time. But there is a solution. That solution is two-fold. First, we need to learn about people experiencing marginalization. We need to read their writings. We need to understand how it’s happening. We need to listen to their demands for change. We need to learn about the theories their ideas are based on. We need to explore Critical Theory in order to interrogate power structures like systemic racism and systemic sexism. We need to learn about Black Epistemic systems, Feminist Epistemic systems, and other marginalized epistemologies in order to articulate and defend the ethical and philosophical solutions which the leaders of marginalized communities are asking for.

Second, we need to develop actions based on an understanding of theory which create change in the world. This process is called praxis. One excellent illustration of this process comes from Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, the same source as the cycle of socialization shown above…

Learning to critically analyze the discourses we are socialized to, within the context of an understanding of the ethical and philosophical perspectives of marginalized communities allows us to question those discourses rather than running them on autopilot like we always have. Only then can we take steps to challenge the discourses to which our culture is socialized.

The reason our culture is so afraid of reproductive technologies is that our racist, sexist culture is socialized to treat black women as objects rather than people, stealing their agency and giving it instead to white men who are then empowered to rule over them and make decisions for them. Only by learning about the hidden premises and interrogating the power structures which underpin these issues can we break the cycle of socialization and make progress in ameliorating the intolerable conditions facing black people and women in our culture.

 

USP 515 Session 13 Notes

November 16th and 18th
Session Thirteen:  Addressing Environmental Injustices/Cost Benefit Analysis/Precautionary Principle

ASSIGNED READING FOR SESSION THIRTEEN (click on session 13 on left to access reading) 

 

  1. Pricing the Priceless (this is a legal article so you may have to review it several times

    • Cost-benefit analysis is a deeply flawed method that repeatedly leads to biased and misleading results
      • offers no clear advantages in making regulatory policy decisions and often produces inferior results, in terms of both environmental protection and overall social welfare, compared to other approaches
    • Proponents of cost-benefit analysis make two basic arguments in its favor.
      • First, use of cost-benefit analysis ostensibly leads to more “efficient” allocation of society’s resources by better identifying which potential regulatory actions are worth undertaking and in what fashion
      • Second, the use of discounting systematically and improperly downgrades the importance of environmental regulation.
      • Third, cost-benefit analysis ignores the question of who suffers as a result of environmental problems and, therefore, threatens to reinforce existing patterns of economic and social inequality.
      • Finally, cost-benefit analysis fails to produce the greater objectivity and transparency promised by its proponents
    • While economists have spent three decades wrangling about how much a human life, or a bald eagle, or a beautiful stretch of river, is worth in dollars, ecologists, engineers, and other specialists have gone about the business of saving lives and eagles and rivers, without waiting for formal, quantitative analysis proving that saving these things is worthwhile.
  2. The Precautionary Principle Puts Value First, Nancy Meyer
    • Professor definition: if the producer is not able to prove that no one will be harmed occurs in the process of their activity, then they may not proceed.
    • potential harm, scientific uncertainty, and precautionary action
    • The Wingspread Statement went on to define three additional components of the principle’s application: In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof. The process of applying the Precautionary Principle must be open, informed, and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action

 

NO HOMEWORK

USP 514 Session 14 Notes

November 16th
Session Fourteen:  
Green New Deal 

REQUIRED READING FOR SESSION FOURTEEN

 

  1. Blueprint for Europe’s Just Transition – https://report.gndforeurope.com/
    • Austerity is not a solution to the climate collapse.
      • Progress is expensive. You can’t get progress with austerity.
    • Economic inequality is another major problem facing civilization.
    • Democracies are collapsing around the world as a result of the unaddressed economic and climate crises.
      • These three things are tied together and can only be addressed together.
    • Background Process
      • Get everyone on board with understanding gnd
      • Listen to stakeholders and incorporate their feedback to create “the just transition”
      • Bring everything together to form a comprehensive vision
      • Bring the plans to the institutions
        • This is where this document comes in
    • Transform financialized capitalism into something that supports rather than threatens our long-term interests with regard to justice, equity, etc.
      • America is the “vampire mothership
        • The private sector sucks the blood of the country like a parasite while also exterminating the population and destroying the ecology that sustains the extractive, productive, and consumptive activities which the vampire capitalism relies on
    • Class discussion:
      • Main demands
        • 3-day weekend/4-day work work
          • More jobs, less work
        • Democratize the economy and society across workplaces and communities
        • Fair wages
          • People should be able to afford to live if they are working
        • Local job creation, including rural areas
      • Guarantee a basic income for industries that are being phased out
      • Fund government procurement from sustainable GND manufacturers
      • Use the GPW to fund major buyback programs for vacant housing stock
      • Penalize non-renewable investments
  2. Green New Deal Report, Data for Progress – https://www.dataforprogress.org/green-new-deal-report
    • GND is necessary to meet the scale and urgency of environmental challenges facing America
    • GND can bring American job and economic opportunity
    • GND is popular among American citizens
    • GND can be environmentally just and distribute benefits equitably
    • GND is Financially feasible and necessary
  3. Creating a Road Map for a Green New Deal” – https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/creating-a-road-map-for-a-green-new-deal
    • AOC and others protested at the offices of Pelosi, demanding GND
    • Large scale projects are essential to resolve climate crisis
  4. “Can A Blue Wave Deliver A Green New Deal” – https://www.thenation.com/article/can-the-blue-wave-deliver-a-green-new-deal/
    • More coverage of the same AOC/Pelosi protest

 

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT FOR SESSION FIFTEEN

  1. Watch the video Clean and Resilient Recovery (1 hour 30 minutes) –https://www.wri.org/events/2020/07/webinar-building-clean-and-resilient-recovery-covid-19

    1. Answer the 5 questions below in writing and be prepared to discuss them in class:
  2. What are the main points raised in this video about Covid 19, the SDGs and Climate Change?
    • The historic economic paradigms are inefficient, polluting, and not resilient.
    • Alternatives exist as articulated by the UN SDGs.
    • The post-covid recovery can be clean and resilient.
  3. What similarities and differences are different nations facing?
    • Everyone faces economic collapse due both to covid and climate change
    • Everyone faces disasters like covid and will continue to face wider challenges as the collapse of the biosphere progresses
    • Different countries have different access to investment capital to implement change
    • Different countries face different short and long-term threats from climate change
  4. What are the main challenges addressed in this video?
    • Covid is just a sneak peek of the disasters that are coming as a result of the climate collapse
    • Most of the crises we are going to face in the near future are either directly or indirectly related to the ongoing collapse of the biosphere
  5. What solutions are presented?
    • UK
      • As we recover from covid and rebuild, we can make wiser decisions about the kind of future we want.
      • We need to use sustainability and resiliency as the lens through which to view the recovery and rebuilding post-covid.
      • Subsidize clean alternative vehicle and transportation designs
    • Bangladesh
      • Scale up early warning systems for extreme storms
        • These investments save 10x the cost in lives and property damage
      • Covid recovery needs to be durable and resilient
        • Investment must be guided by and directed through these principles
      • SDG alignment is key to a resilient recovery
      • Supply chains need to be circular
      • Wellbeing and inclusiveness as central goals is key to securing long-term prosperity in addition to durability and resiliency
    • Korea
      • Smart grids to distribute sustainable and renewable energy
      • GND officially endorsed by federal govt
        • We can not go on like it was before.
          • Short term recovery measures must be in line with out long-term ecological interests
        • Decarbonization
          • Green innovation
          • Job creation
        • Three main pillars
          • Eco-friendly and smart infrastructure
          • Low-carbon energy infrastructure
            • Increasing renewable power capacity
            • Phasing out coal and other non-sustainable power sources
              • Ten coal plants closed already with six more scheduled to close
          • Green manufacturing
      • Covid reveals how fragile the existing economic systems are. This should be taken as a warning, since the climate disaster is going to be so much worse than covid.
    • Nigeria
      • It is now cheaper to provide sustainable energy versus unsustainable energy
    • Rwanda
      • Significantly increased their ambitious plans for SDG progress
      • Established covid economic recovery fund
        • Based on climate resilience strategy and action plan
      • Investing in climate action can accelerate covid recovery
    • Jamaica
      • Committed to establish low-carbon economic recovery from covid
      • Sustainable investments in renewable energy sector
      • Climate finance needs to be more accessible and more available
  6. How do the SDGs fit into the solutions?
    • Countries can choose to double down on the polluting and inefficient economic strategies of the past or choose sustainable alternatives as articulated by the SDGs?

 

Videos 

  • The Green New Deal: Putting the climate at the heart of global policy – Jeremy Rifkin (9 minutes)
    • Animal and insect populations under threat around the world
    • Sea levels rising
    • Planet getting hotter because of fossil fuels
    • It’s not too late to change course
    • GND: Fossil fuel economy will collapse by 2028
      • GND is an aspirational document
      • Patterned after the new deal of the 1930s.
        • Roosevelt initiated massive programs to get people back to work
      • GND helps us move quickly out of a fossil fuel economy in order to avoid mass extinctions
        • We are on course to lose half the species on earth within the century.
    • Renewable solar energy is now cheaper than the other energy sources
      • This means a widespread economic collapse will happen in the energy sector because the capital invested in obsolete polluting energy sources is going to move to sustainable alternatives like solar
    • Every region and community needs to locally implement GND principles in order to move into the new era of sustainable energy production and consumption
    • Long-term equity (pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, etc.) moving out of bad bets on fossil fuels is a hugely powerful force for change.
    • Small sustainable pilot projects need to expand to huge widespread projects
      • This will allow long-term equity bets to move into these projects in a big way.
  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Breaks Down What the Green New Deal Really Is (5 minutes)
    • A proposed resolution or vision statement about building a sustainable future through investments in better alternatives to the status quo
      • This would inspire separate legislation to address each of the smaller ideas.
    • Affordable housing
    • Homelessness
    • Free education for all

 

Class Discussion

  • Played video of spoken word poem
    • If the lifespan of the earth is a day then humans have existed for three seconds and in that time basically wrecked everything, destroyed the environment, and initiated an extermination of the population including ourselves.
  • GND is the first attempt to meet the scale of the challenges of the climate crisis
    • Justice, equity, jobs, etc
    • Advocates for large government investments in programs and projects to resolve the crisis
  • The long-term actuarial perspective of institutional capital from sources like pension funds can be a powerful force for change through green investments in renewable energy, sustainability, and resilience in the developing world.

USP 515 Session 12 Notes

November 9th
Session Twelve: Civil Rights

Part One of this session will focus on how voting rights restoration schemes deny the right to vote to those who cannot afford to pay legal debt. Part Two will focus on Prison Abolition.

 

ASSIGNED READING FOR SESSION TWELVE
Part One: Voting Rights/Disenfranchisement

  1. Can’t Pay/Can’t Vote 
    • Poll taxes, or taxes imposed on otherwise eligible voters as a condition of voting, were abolished across the country during the 1960s, with the ratification of the Twenty‑Fourth Amendment and the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in Harper v. Virginia State Board of Education that wealth is not germane to voting
    • felony disenfranchisement statutes, mass incarceration, and the monetization of the carceral state have combined to create a modern-day equivalent to the poll tax—one that is imposed only on those individuals caught up in the criminal justice system
    • Nearly six million individuals are denied the right to vote in the United States due to a past conviction, and, for many of those individuals, the ability to vote is contingent upon their ability to pay an increasing number of fines, fees, court costs, and restitution
    • The surest way to eliminate the impact of wealth on access to the ballot for people with convictions is to abolish felony disenfranchisement.
    • Absent abolition, the most effective way to ensure that inability to pay does not preclude ability to vote is to restore voting rights automatically upon release from incarceration.
  2. Restoring Voting Rights for Felons: Case Study of Florida
    • Amendment 4 was approved by 65 percent of Florida voters and “automatically” restores voting rights for convicted felons if they have completed their sentences, fulfilled probation requirements and paid any restitution and court costs. The amendment excludes murders and felony sex offenders but is expected to enfranchise 1.4 million people
  3. Depriving “Felons” of their Right to Vote
    • A group of voting rights advocates and felons has filed a lawsuit after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis approved a law that could make it more difficult for felons to vote.
    • The amendment approved by voters said that “voting rights shall be restored upon completion of all terms of sentence including parole or probation.” It excludes those who have been convicted of murder or felony sexual offense.

 

ASSIGNED READING FOR SESSION ELEVEN
Part One: Prison Abolition

Also recommended readings by Mariame Kaba

 

Videos

USP 514 Session 13 Notes

November 9th 
Session Thirteen: Cost Benefit Analysis and Precautionary Principle 

REQUIRED READING FOR SESSION THIRTEEN (click on Session 13 on left side to access reading)

 

  1. Pricing the Priceless (this is a legal article so you may have to review it several times

    • Cost-benefit analysis is a deeply flawed method that repeatedly leads to biased and misleading results
      • offers no clear advantages in making regulatory policy decisions and often produces inferior results, in terms of both environmental protection and overall social welfare, compared to other approaches
    • Proponents of cost-benefit analysis make two basic arguments in its favor.
      • First, use of cost-benefit analysis ostensibly leads to more “efficient” allocation of society’s resources by better identifying which potential regulatory actions are worth undertaking and in what fashion
      • Second, the use of discounting systematically and improperly downgrades the importance of environmental regulation.
      • Third, cost-benefit analysis ignores the question of who suffers as a result of environmental problems and, therefore, threatens to reinforce existing patterns of economic and social inequality.
      • Finally, cost-benefit analysis fails to produce the greater objectivity and transparency promised by its proponents
    • While economists have spent three decades wrangling about how much a human life, or a bald eagle, or a beautiful stretch of river, is worth in dollars, ecologists, engineers, and other specialists have gone about the business of saving lives and eagles and rivers, without waiting for formal, quantitative analysis proving that saving these things is worthwhile.
  2. The Precautionary Principle Puts Value First, Nancy Meyer
    • Professor definition: if the producer is not able to prove that no one will be harmed occurs in the process of their activity, then they may not proceed.
    • potential harm, scientific uncertainty, and precautionary action
    • The Wingspread Statement went on to define three additional components of the principle’s application: In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof. The process of applying the Precautionary Principle must be open, informed, and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action

 

Group Discussion

  • Cost benefit analysis
    • Define cost benefit analysis
      • A method/methodology for making decisions by weighing pros and cons, strengths and benefits, strengths and weaknesses but always prioritizes the economic considerations beyond all other considerations.
        • In fact, cost-benefit analysis is incapable of delivering what it promises. First, cost-benefit analysis cannot produce more efficient decisions because the process of reducing life, health, and the natural world to monetary values is inherently flawed
      • Cost-benefit analysis tries to mimic a basic function of markets by setting an economic standard for measuring the success of the government’s projects and programs. That is, cost-benefit analysis seeks to perform, for public policy, a calculation that markets perform for the private sector.
      • An attempt to attach a price to solving a social or environmental problems.
      • Good
        • Homelessness: it’s much cheaper to give them houses instead of leaving them on the street.
        • Domestic violence: it’s much cheaper to give them housing so they can split up instead of leaving them together.
      • Bad
        • We can’t always know the costs and benefits. For example what is the future value of an acre of rainforest and how do we weigh it against the alternative developments that could happen there
        • Utilitarianism debunked
          • Different groups value costs and benefits differently, so they can’t necessarily balance the costs and benefits across identities.
          • Dangerous lead levels change to accommodate whatever the lead levels are so that no one has to do anything about them.
        • Wind is expensive to set up, but better in the long-term there are huge advantages over the alternatives
        • Difficult to see a profit motive for solving covid
          • It may be that only the wealthy will get the vaccine and the treatments
        • The failures of cost benefit analyses are often based on the failure of capitalism to solve problems that don’t have a clear profit motive or clearly quantifiable costs and benefits.
    • Discuss problems and benefits with cost benefit
      • If it was cheaper to solve problem instead of not solving problems, then why would there be any problems?
      • Using cost as a measure of harm does not account for all the ways that harms happen.
      • Actuarial perspective
      • reinforce existing patterns of economic and social inequality
      • We can’t really know all the costs in many cases
  • Professor said we should be thinking conceptually rather than theoretically or practically
  • The concepts we are talking about today are competing methodologies for decision making
  • Precautionary principle: designed to address the problems of cost-benefit analysis from the opposite perspective
    • Accepts risk as a natural, unavoidable part of decision making
      • If we don’t remove the contaminated soil and kids get sick, that’s the cost of doing nothing
      • If we fight a war for oil, the cost is the lives of soldiers, chaos in developing nations, etc
    • Potential harm
    • Scientific uncertainty
    • Precautionary action

November 11th – NO CLASS VETERANS DAY

The Magician

CJ Trowbridge

Race and Resistance Studies 280

Race, Gender, and Science Fiction

2020-10-29

Future Voting Eutopia

I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I had long since learned to trust that feeling. Keeping the pistol pointed towards the empty street, I looked over my shoulder and whisper-shouted for Mario to hurry up.

He stepped out of the wreckage, “All done, let’s get out of here.”

“Did you find  anything,” I asked, still standing in the bed of the truck, using the cab for cover.

“Sure did. Nobody wants smoke detectors now that the neighborhood’s burned down. Everyone in there looked like Uncle Owen and Aunt Veru, but all the detectors were right where they should be.”

“I think we should head home. We’ve got a lot of Americium here,” I said, pointing at the pile of smoke detectors in the bed of the truck, “We’re over our quote. The Magician asked us to fill two crates and they’re full.”

“Yea,” he said, “Let’s head back.”

“Get on the radio,” Mario said, “Tell them we’re on our way back.”

Home was an old munitions depot in the Sierras. It was abandoned when the government collapsed. They say governments were always fighting the last war instead of the next one. Well this place is a fortress half a thousand miles from the border. None of us is really sure how it was supposed to help them, but none of it was ever used.

Before the fall, The Magician had set up a small agricultural commune just over the state line in Nevada. They were experimenting with Xericulture and self-sufficiency in order to survive the coming collapse; The Magician had seen what was coming.

It wasn’t just food they were into. They were also experimenting with exotic technologies. People knew how to do fusion since the 1950s, they just didn’t know how to make more power than it took to run the reactor. Well The Magician figured something out with lasers. Some kind of frequency that did something to the Americium; made it act like plutonium on steroids.

Hot neutrons made to order as long as you had some Americium from a smoke detector to burn under The Magician’s laser. We used the reactor to run the vaporators and the aquaculture equipment. See that’s why Mario joked earlier about Uncle Owen and Aunt Veru. They were moisture farmers from an old movie, before that was real life, before North America turned into one big desert where the only place to get water was out of the air.

The biosphere collapsed very suddenly in 2026. They say it was the methane hydrate being released from the arctic ice. It sped all the problems up a hundred times faster. Suddenly there were ten times as many hurricanes and ten different kinds of killer flu and rona. Ten million people poured over the border into America in a year. The system failed, and the state collapsed.

Well The Magician knew there was a munitions depot ten minutes from the commune, and as soon as the chaos started, the people from the commune seized the depot. This depot was built to supply the Pacific Theater during the second World War. The Magician could have become a warlord, but instead it was all fortify and develop. The Magician said we needed to secure crucial materials to grow more food so that the community could be self-sufficient. Now that we had the depot and its cache, that would keep us safe from any attack, but it wouldn’t keep the lights on or the vaporators running.

So two-person teams were sent to the towns and cities surrounding the commune to find the things we would need. Mario and I were one of those teams. It was like that for the first year. The whole community was focused on protecting what we had and finding what we needed to keep us going.

Mario parked the truck and another team came to unload the salvage we had brought back.

“I’m exhausted. I’ll see you at breakfast,” I called to Mario as I walked towards the nearest dome. I stepped through the double curtain airlock and felt the cool humid air wash over me. Breathing felt so much easier in here. It was such a welcome feeling after spending so many hours out in the desolation.

The compound was a series of large geodesic domes connected by tunnels and curtain airlocks. Most of the domes were for agriculture. Some held chickens while others held potatoes or mushrooms. More domes were going up all the time. We had a lot of space out here to grow, and so we grew.

I slept like a baby. Next thing I knew I was back on my feet and walking towards breakfast. Things had started to change recently. There were a lot of new faces at breakfast. Mario and I were digging into our home grown mushrooms and eggs with the rest of the commune when The Magician stood up and looked slowly around at all of us. A hundred conversations turned to hushed murmurs as we waited to hear what The Magician had to say.

“Friends,” The Magician said, “I’m happy to report that our salvage teams have found enough raw materials to make us completely self-sufficient for the foreseeable future.”

Claps and cheers rose up from every table. Fists pumped the air as proud salvage teams smiled back and forth.

“We have plenty of food. We have plenty of water. We have security and resiliency enough to spare.”

More cheers and applause, especially from the ag tables.

“I think that our community is ready for the next stage in our evolution,” The Magician continued, “I think we can become leaders, sharing with others our ideas and our technology and our excess wealth of food and water and power. We have more than we need, and we can share it with those outside our walls who have less than they need. ”

An uncertain quiet replaced the cheers. I felt myself tense, afraid that something I desperately needed was going to be taken away. I felt the sense of loss and fear and anxiety. I looked around and I could see the same anxious uncertainty in the hearts and on the faces of my comrades.

“Do not be afraid,” The Magician said, “It’s not just that we have more than we need. In fact we now have far more than we need. We can share a great deal with those in need and still go to bed with full bellies every night. We have all lived a long time in fear of on uncertain future, but what we have built here together changes that. The future is ours to do with as we please. And I say we can finally start to help our less fortunate neighbors.”

I felt the tension release slightly, and I saw my comrades relaxing along with me.

“I will not decide this for the community,” The Magician said, “I ask only for volunteers to sit on a new committee to study our bounty and to study the needs of our neighbors. If it is as I say and we have so much more than we need, then those who wish to do so may choose together what path we will take. The choice is yours. I call for a vote, shall we be a community that looks inward or a community that looks outward?”

Data: Which Party Creates More Jobs?

This was an interesting project. I compiled the monthly job creation data from the Fed for every month on record and broken it out by who was president at the time and what party they were in.

Hypothesis

Let’s start with what I was expecting to find. I hypothesized a slight Democratic lead with maybe a few percent more versus Republicans.

Results

Well the hypothesis was correct for the monthly averages. For the last 981 months since 1939, Democratic presidents have seen an average of 55% of all monthly job growth. Republicans have seen an average of 45%.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, compound interest is the most powerful force known to man.

When you compound a small but consistent advantage over nearly a thousand months, it becomes a huge advantage over time. It turns out that 72% of all jobs created in the United States since 1939 were during Democratic administrations. Just 28% of jobs were created under Republican administrations.

Here is the raw data visualized by party;

Now I know what you’re thinking, it’s not fair to include the unparalleled scope of Donald Trump’s failure. Well actually, if we leave Trump out of the total, it barely changes. Ignoring Trump, Democrats are still responsible for 69% of all jobs created throughout the last 981 months isnce 1939.

Here is the same graph again, with Trump omitted;

As you can see, even without Trump, the blue lines are generally higher than the red lines. This is confirmed by the dotted trendlines over time, showing a significantly higher trend for the Democrats over the Republicans, even without the outlier of how bad Trump’s presidency was.

Conclusion

Conducting a two-tailed t test for difference of proportions, we find that there is a significant difference between these groups, which seems obvious based on the data. (The value of z is 12.0579. The value of p is < .00001. The result is significant at p < .05.)

Final Word

The data speaks for itself. I wasn’t expecting to find such a stark difference. I will certainly start citing these results in many essays moving forwards!

You can download the data and calculations here. Please take a look and send me your feedback. I’d love to hear from anyone who can poke holes in the analysis or explain how we have managed to ignore such a significant difference for the last century.

USP 515 Section 11 Notes

November 2nd and 4th
Session Eleven: 
Transportation Justice: Case Study of Curitiba, Brazil 

This session will focus on inequities and injustices in the transportation sector. We will be guided by the following questions:

  1. What are the adverse social consequences of transportation injustice?
  2. What policies can be introduced and supported to promote transportation equity and justice?

 

ASSIGNED READINGS FOR SESSION TEn

  1. Rabinovitch, UNDP,sustainable transportation planning in Brazil – working paper #19, 1995 
    • Curitiba was established in the 17th century
    • During the second half of the twentieth century, the population exploded
    • New master plan created in 1964
      • decongestion of the central area
      • preservation of the historic center
      • demographic management
      • economic support to urban development
      • infrastructure improvement
      • changing the radial urban growth to a linear urban growth
    • Objectives
      • Encourage economic development by reducing the cost of mobility, trade, and exchange within the city
      • Reduce the indirect costs of other infrastructure improvements such as water, sewage, electricity, and communications
      • Assist in preserving historic buildings and areas within the city center
    • Land use legislation
      • Structural sectors: divide the city into five main linear growth structures
      • Ban new commercial buildings in the city center and incentivize housing development
      • Ban cars, parking, and supermarkets in congested areas
      • Ban high rise construction above five stories
      • Ban banks and other financial institutions from the ground floors.
      • preserve historical buildings
      • Designate “connecting roads” off the five axes and incentivize transit oriented development, green spaces, and infrastructure installation
      • Designate “collecting roads” off the “connecting roads” off the five “linear growth structures”
      • Preserve river basins and design for flood protection
        • Ban industrial construction in these areas
      • Enforcement
        • Regulatory and planning tools
        • Economic incentives
        • Physical instruments (ie bike paths)
        • Informational tools
      • Impact of land use/ transportation system
        • Environmental and quality of life impacts
        • Housing densities and land use
        • Public transit
        • Pedestrian areas
        • Traffic and circulation
        • Overall impacts of the land use and transport system
  2. how radical ideas turned Curitiba into Brazil’s ‘green capital’
    • Brasilia was redesigned as a bird in flight with radial corridors of transit wings, and administrative offices in the brain.
    • Curitiba decided instead to protect historic buildings while adding transit in a way that helped the city improve without fundamentally changing
    • To get around opposition to bans on cars by incumbent institutions including commercial shops in the area, Curitiba completed projects very rapidly, permanently blocking streets overnight in order to prevent petitions and injunctions by the business owners.
    • “Democracy is not consensus. Democracy is a conflict that is well managed.”
  3. Shifting people out of cars Curitiba, Brazil’s transport and zoning policies
    • Curitiba invents brt
    • Brt spreads around the world
    • Master plan integrates urban planning with transit
    • Good quality mass transit system
      • Extensive network of routes
      • A single unified fare system
      • Quality infrastructure
        • Busses
        • Stops
      • Support for social welfare systems
    • Today about 85% of the Curitiba population uses the bus system
    • Curitiba’s BRT is financially self-sufficient, requiring no government funding
    • Leadership has always had a clear vision
    • Initial financial support was enough to establish a self-sufficient system
    • Mixed public/private roles with clear division of responsibilities
    • Quality assurance is done by the government

 

Other Notes

  • Abolition is the system of the act of abolishing a system or an institution
  • Police abolition
    • Who gets to define deviance
    • Who gets to define crime
    • Who gets to decide punishments
  • Abolition is a vision of what we are for rather than what we are against
  • The central roles of policing are
    • Surveil
    • Frighten/ Intimidate/ Terrorize
    • Deter
    • Capture
    • Harm/ Kill
  • The cure for social problems is social programs
  • The cause of crime is poverty
  • How would we respond to deviance
  • Abolition movement in America dates back to before the civil war
    • Slave catchers
    • Sheriffs/ convict lease
  • 92% of the people incarcerated have never been convicted of a crime
    • Plea bargain: admitted to a crime in exchange for some lesser sentence.