Dispatch from Not Quite Rural Texas
It must be Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, because, from my back yard, I can hear cattle in the auction barn on U.S.183, south of the Lockhart Airport. The sale starts every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. and the cattle don’t sound happy about this. The days are running into each other and losing form. I told someone that time was going free jazz, no weeks, no measures, it’s just all one, beat, beat, day, day . . . and on like that.
Every day I check the site that tracks Texas confirmed covid-19 cases by county. My father’s home county, Archer County, where I have many kin, had only three cases for a long time. Yesterday, it had four, today five, out of a population of around nine thousand. I can remember back in March when Caldwell County, where I reside along with about forty three thousand of my fellow Caldwellians, had only five cases. A week and a half ago we had eighty five. Today, we have two hundred and eighty six. My son lives in Austin, Travis County, six thousand, five hundred and ninety six confirmed today. Houston,Harris County, has twenty four thousand, four hundred and twenty one.
I watch the case counts grow like flood waters rising around my safe little subdivision, wedged between a maize field and a strip mall, and wonder, why? Does Texas have to follow Brazil? The case count was rising when Governor Abbott decided to reopen the economy with seriously insufficient testing capabilities in place. What did he expect? Now he’s panicked because he knows he fucked up, but he still won’t order businesses to close again. Why?
Would Republicans really rather watch people die than pay unemployment and risk being branded as socialists? Servers are having to risk their health working for paltry, half to three quarter capacity pandemic era tips, which, combined with paltry sub minimum service industry wages, don’t always make ends meet. The luckiest bartenders are those who can still draw, because their bosses had the sense to stay closed, either out of concern for the safety of staff and customers, or for lack of figuring out how to make a profit at fifty percent capacity, or both.
The bars that re-opened are going to have to re-close anyway, as will many other businesses. Apple is closing stores left right and center. People are eating and drinking at home. The economy will not magically roar back just because most of the GOP wants to play make believe so they won’t have to sign off on a new wave of government spending and taxing which will be absolutely necessary. Maybe they’ll just hand the mess off to the Democrats like they did when the Bush stimulus proved to be way too little too late. More than once It’s seemed to me that Republicans give up power when they can’t do what needs to be done, like raise corporate taxes, because to do so would cause them to break character and lose their base. Republicans need Democrats to occasionally right the ship, so Republicans can then take credit when they regain power and proceed to capsize it once more.
Ah, new day, and Abbott, has suspended elective surgeries in some places, in order to have plenty of hospital beds, a wise move given that Houston is already sending adult patients to a children’s hospital. Abbott seems to end most of his sentences with the word “business,” he’s all about business. He says,”We are focused on strategies that slow the spread of the virus while also allowing Texans to continue earning a paycheck (read: “to continue to stay off the unemployment rolls”) to support their families. The last thing we want to do as a state is go backward and close down businesses.” Yeah, well we are going backward. We’re already back to April, in terms of safety and stress on the health care system. I’m extra careful not to slip in the shower these days. Time for coffee.