[Plura-list] Stimmies killed the McJob; MRNA vaccines and Clarke's Law

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Wed May 5 12:20:54 EDT 2021


This coming Friday (May 7), the Gaithersburg Book Festival is featuring
me in an interview conducted by John Scalzi; we pre-recorded the event
but I'll be in the live chat for the premiere.



Today's links

* Stimmies killed the McJob: Job creators hate him.


* This day in history: None

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current
writing projects, current reading


🥗 Stimmies killed the McJob

A recurring viral genre during the lockdown is photos of signs on the
front doors of low-waged establishments (especially fast food
restaurants) asking customers to have patience with long wait-times
brought on by staffing shortages "because no one wants to work."

These signs go on to claim that "overgenerous" unemployment benefits in
the Biden stimulus have encouraged work-shyness among the lazy slobs of
the working class. It's a complaint that's been picked up and amplified
by the US Chamber of Commerce.


They're not entirely wrong.

After all, the subtext of these signs is, "Our pay is so low, and our
working conditions are so awful, that only the truly desperate would do
this job. In forestalling that desperation, the federal government has
deprived us of our workforce."

40 years of wage stagnation and the Clinton-and-onwards destruction of
the social safety net has left workers so desperate they continue to do
their jobs, even as their employers stole billions from them, with
virtually no penalties for wage-theft:


The lack of any meaningful prosecutions for wage-theft created the
environment in which a restaurateur tortured a developmentally disabled
man in order to keep him working 100 hours/week for a decade without any
pay at all:


It won't surprise you to learn that the overwhelming majority of the
victims of wage theft and other employer abuses (up to and including
forced labor - that is, modern slavery) are Black and brown.

The complaint that people receiving the anemic stimulus - less than a
$15 minimum wage - find them preferable to working for employers whose
companies received publicly funded bailouts and mass infusions from the
private equity sector leaves out the obvious, important point.

Namely, if no one wants to work for you at the wage you're offering,
maybe try increasing the offer? The fast-food sector already had the
highest turnover of any US industry before the pandemic - maybe that's a
hint about the quality of the jobs?


States where the tipped minimum wage is still legal have restaurants
that pay their workforce $2.13/hour. Fast-food workers who receive no
tips - who are forced to wear pocketless uniforms to prevent them from
collecting tips from customers who offer - can be paid this wage.

If a company can't afford to pay its workers enough to survive - to
feed, clothe and shelter themselves - then it's not a business, it's a
publicly subsized, badly run jobs program operated by a fast operator
who enriches themselves at public expense.

The stimulus - and a minimum wage, and a federal jobs guarantee through
the GND - will 100% cause these "businesses" to cease operation.

As the noted socialist Warren Buffett is fond of saying, "Only when the
tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked."


🥗 MRNA vaccines and Clarke's Law

Pluralistic is my mutli-channel publishing effort - a project to push
the limits of POSSE (post own site, share everywhere) that allows me to
maintain control over my work while still meeting my audience where they
are, on platforms whose scale makes them hard to rely on.

Every day, I write 1-5 essays and syndicate them over Twitter, Tumblr,
Mastodon and email, with the canonical link at pluralistic.net, a CC-BY
licensed Wordpress site with no tracking, data-collection or ads.

Now, I've added another channel: Medium, where I'm part of a group of
paid writers who contribute a mix of original material that's exclusive
to the platform and syndicated material from elsewhere.


I was delighted and honored to be invited to the program by editorial
director Jon Gluck and I'm happy to be working with Megan Morrone - whom
I've known since her Twit days - as my editor. I've been syndicating my
Pluralistic posts there and it's been going great.

Yesterday, I published my first Medium-original post: "Manufacturing
mRNA vaccines is surprisingly straightforward (despite what Bill Gates
thinks)," which discusses vaccine apartheid and the covid vaccine patent
exemption petition at the WTO.


The post breaks down an amazing scholarly article on mRNA vaccine
manufacture, “Rapid development and deployment of high‐volume vaccines
for pandemic response” (DOI: 10.1002.amp2.10060), from the Journal of
Advanced Manufacturing and Processing.


The authors - a mix of public health, chemical engineering and vaccine
specialists from Imperial College and the International AIDS Vaccine
Initiative - describe the results of their modeling of new mRNA vaccine
factories, based on the experience of ramping up covid vaccine facilities.

They base their findings - contrasting mRNA vaccine production with
conventional vaccine production - on an open-access Superpro Designer
model (available at Github).






Seriously. Like Clarke's Third Law/indistinguishable from magic Amazing.
How amazing? Well. compared to conventional vaccine production, mRNA
factories are:

* 99 - 99.9% smaller

* 95 - 99.7% cheaper

* 1,000% faster

If you convert a single closet in a conventional factory to mRNA
production, it will make more doses than the rest of the factory
*combined*. Only part of the factory needs to be a high-spec cleanroom
facility, and the rest can be cheaper and more easily maintained.

Spend $20m to build one of these microfactories, install a 5l
bioreactor, and, for $100m/year, it will produce *one billion vaccine

As I wrote in my Medium piece:


These aren't performance gains in GPUs or SSDs. These are gains in
nanoscale chemistry producing precision medicine for human consumption!

Now, that said, there are some caveats. You still have to figure out
testing, materials and distribution (of course).

But even there, it's easy to see how these vast reductions in cost,
scaling and logistics will help - from producing medicines for trials
more quickly to reducing cold-chain logistics by making vaccines closer
to the people who will receive them.

Every pandemic ends with a lot of serious chin-stroking and demands to
"learn some lessons" and "prepare for the next one," but this never
seems to happen.


As the JAMP authors say, the next pandemic - or even epidemic - will
require a very fast rampup of vaccine production, as will any vaccine
breakthroughs for treating current endemic viruses.

The production modeling they do here suggests that we actually can
prepare for The Next One.

And as I say in my Medium piece, this is also how we can end the current
vaccine apartheid and avert the next one.


🥗 This day in history

#10yrsago Shannon’s Law: a story about bridging Faerie and the mundane
world with TCP-over-magic https://www.tor.com/2011/05/05/shannons-law/

#10yrsago Neil Gaiman responds to Minnesota Republican House Leader who
called him a “pencil-necked geek” and a “thief”

#5yrsago MEP tours the farcical viewing conditions for the TTIP text

#5yrsago Amid education funding emergency, Washington State gives
Boeing, Microsoft $1B in tax breaks

#1yrago A federal jobs guarantee

#1yrago What "writing rules" actually mean

#1yrago Teen Vogue on socialist feminism


🥗 Colophon

Today's top sources: Naked Capitalism (https://nakedcapitalism.com/).

Currently writing:

* A Little Brother short story about pipeline protests.  RESEARCH PHASE

* A short story about consumer data co-ops.  PLANNING

* A Little Brother short story about remote invigilation.  PLANNING

* A nonfiction book about excessive buyer-power in the arts, co-written
with Rebecca Giblin, "The Shakedown."  FINAL EDITS

* A post-GND utopian novel, "The Lost Cause."  FINISHED

* A cyberpunk noir thriller novel, "Red Team Blues."  FINISHED

Currently reading: Analogia by George Dyson.

Latest podcast: How To Destroy Surveillance Capitalism (Part 05)

Upcoming appearances:

* In conversation with John Scalzi (Gaithersburg Book Festival), May 7,

* Interoperability and Alternative Social Media, Reimagine the Internet,
May 12, https://knightcolumbia.org/events/reimagine-the-internet

* Book launch for Aminder Dhaliwal's Cyclopedia Exotica (Indigo), May
13, https://www.crowdcast.io/e/udbva8py/register

* Seize the Means of Computation, Ryerson Centre for Free Expression,
May 19,

Recent appearances:

* Hexapodia XIII with J Bradford De Long and Noah Smith

* Podcapitalism Podcast

* Talking "Robot Artists & Black Swans" with Bruce Sterling

Latest book:

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone
technothriller for adults. The *Washington Post* called it "a political
cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution
and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies

* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet
analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a
(print edition:
(signed copies:

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new
introduction by Edward Snowden:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime,
gender, and kicking ass. Order here:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed
copy here:

Upcoming books:

* The Shakedown, with Rebecca Giblin, nonfiction/business/politics,
Beacon Press 2022

This work licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.
That means you can use it any way you like, including commercially,
provided that you attribute it to me, Cory Doctorow, and include a link
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"*When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla*" -Joey "Accordion
Guy" DeVilla

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