Essential? Whose Body is It Anyway?

Essential is such a funny word.  Having watched doctors fill in forms for my reasonable accommodations since the 1990s you start to get a feel for medicine and why some physicians are M.D.s and some are O.D. or D.Os as well as who is entrepreneurial in the field of medicine starting, for instance, physical medicine (dominated now by Physical Therapy or PT) and even more importantly what doctors contribute to the ever increasing and expansive field of “public health.” Were I home, look at my  neighbor Cornell Tech and its initiatives.

Not surprisingly public health is one of those fields that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg favors. Doing good by algorithm or at least taking the drama (read female) out of who lives or dies. To me, public health is really about what or whose bodies matter. The politics behind it, forget economics, gets translated into law.

I mean with behavioral economics out there like Freakeconomics, we don’t need to think there’s any one rational person that creates a standard for all. Thanks to AI we can quantify irrationality as well as rationality. This is actually quite serious or essential when you think about it. The American rule of law is based on that so-called rational person or human being, yet AI has replaced it with some courts going so far as mandating their judges use algorithms to determine sentencing.

Now that we’ve got “essential” workers (truck delivery, restaurants, meat processing plants, K-12 teachers), as opposed to those on the frontline in public health, what is to become of them?  

The term is perverse, risking your life and the life of your extended family all for minimum wage and life in a gig economy that cements working poverty as well as institutional racism and injustice. 

Checking out careers and professions as I’m won’t to do with two sons in their twenties, I noticed that K-12 teaching as a profession dropped out of the top fifty professions.  What a shame.  Meanwhile, of all things, Political Scientists still don’t beat economists, but one site had them ranked as 47th. I can never get comedian Robin Williams’ pronunciation of the term out of my mind.

Meanwhile, those on the frontline can feel proud as they helped stop death and hindered harm.  

The rest of us, as Harvard’s Ethic Professor Danielle Allen noted, are remote and will be the last to return to work.  I got notice that CUNY is going back. No more remote. I’m happy for what I learned but I can’t wait to get back into the seminar room.  

It’s hard to know how well one connects remotely unless we get great training. Fall 2019, I happened to be teaching one seminar on social justice and the ADA in the workplace at CUNY’s School of Professional Studies (SPS). Being the semester before COVID I happened to have gotten excellent training.  I was so happy to have learned my way around Blackboard. 

One happy surprise was that the post writing aspect of remote work makes the online teaching sometimes profound, more profound than utterances in the seminar room.  I suppose we all have a voice and some integrity late at night or in the wee hours of the morning when we’re composing our thoughts and committing them to our online or remote machine.

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This category of posts is for all the blogs I write about PwD or Persons or People with disabilities as reflected in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 as well as the 2008 Amendments and the California law for self-advocacy, particularly in opening up public accommodations to PwD.

COVID has made everyone PwD now.

Indeed, the two words taken are “essential” and “remote.”  Essential is no longer the essential functions of a job or position but the actual category of work in terms of being an essential worker or a worker on the front line serving all of us.

Remote work is a stand in term, a proxy, or a substitute for finding accommodations that are reasonable.  Teaching via Zoom is an accommodation and in the case of higher education, which is different than K-12, students may learn well, especially self-motivated doctoral students, for instance.  Whereas children in pre-school or K-third grade are not going to learn as well and will be harmed by the absence of the social aspects associated with learning to boot.

From COVID-19 to COVID-21: We are all Persons with Disabilities Now

We left New York City after the Presidential Election of 2020. It was so odd that we had to hear President Elect Joe Biden’s not quite acceptance speech in a foreign city at a foreign time after traveling out of JFK. The whole plane clapped when we arrived. Fred and I were too tired to process until the next day — no not Wednesday — the day after the Tuesday of the election — but Sunday going into the next week.

Of course we bumbled with the not one but two large screen TVs. We are both hopeless when it comes to turning them on in a hotel room or wherever, so we opt for our own roving technology.

Now we’re leaving and taking not one but two days to get to a place that everyone else — people without disabilities — would drive in one day. I used to travel from Bakersfield to Weedpatch to UCLA or Claremont then Men’s College in one day. Of course I didn’t drive like a little ole lady with multiple disabilities. (Fred didn’t drive for 28 odd years so he’s only the east coast LI freeway or tollway driver).

COVID-19 is now almost COVID-21. And what’s my takeaway:
We are all people with disabilities. We are all “Bodies in Revolt”. And we are all searching for what our “essential functions” are.

Essential functions (can you be an MD online? Yes but…)
Accommodations (remote or not, then essential or not)

I hope as we move toward the light in COVID-21 after darkness descended over all those essential and non-essential workers (i.e. remote workers who have salaries like me) that we can understand what happened.

The U.S. is 4% of the world’s population and 19% of its deaths. New York City was an epicenter, now it’s Los Angeles CA. What a horrible statistic.

There are 3 ways to look at it:
1. We deserved it since we all participate and live in the political system that created President Donald J Trump. Sure, the GOP is way way way more responsible but . . .
2. We should be shamed for having so much wealth, being so awful to our essential workers putting them on the frontline without giving them proper life (i.e. salary, healthcare, education, higher education . . .
3. This shame or gotta blame situation in the corrupt system of American politics could change. But only if we do “Bodies in Revolt.”

Being a one stone, 2 birds person (short for one stone kills two birds), I always opt for option 3.
Then, again, being a person with a disability that has morphed into disabilities since I was 33 years old, I depend on others to do my revolution. I’ve got two sons who can help me adopt “Bodies in Revolt”. My oldest keeps telling me I should but I can’t.


In any case, we — Americans — are all people with disabilities now — deciding our having decided for us if we are “essential” or not. The perversity is that those remote with salaries have the best accommodations, whereas those who are essential and on the front line have the worst situations — from doctors to take-out restaurant workers.


Sadly, this is NOT new. Crippled Justice — my history book shows that as does Voices from the Edge. It is only my third book on the Americans with Disabilities Act (now ADAAA) that offers me help and hope that one of my sons spilled beer on. He was taking so long to read it, that the beer got spilt and rather than getting mad, I saved it as one of my best memories.#

 

 

Professors Need Ethics, but New York Times Editors Do Not? Propagating Parental Prejudice

merlin_132362976_3c3de7b3-5c62-4db7-a267-a602a88f8eaa-master768.jpg  Having just passed the new Institutional Review Board (IRB) test got me wondering: Why don’t journalists have to do this, let alone their editors (who, after all, set the agenda, “alt” or not)?

The idea that experimental subjects have rights was started by the United Nations and promoted by human-rights activist Eleanor Roosevelt (who didn’t like the United States using information from Holocaust victims, no less).

Ethical training is especially needed by the New York Times, the “paper of record,” which, at least in this one article, was practicing “alt” ethics (promoting parents who teach their young how to discriminate against vulnerable people while they’re still in single digits).

This one even comes with a photo of this so-called nurturing mom, and then publishes some “alt” rubbish (that later contradicts it) articulating the absurd argument that providing elevators to mass transit can be considered unsafe in these terrorist-provoking Trump times.

Why does the NYT feature this overt parental prejudice, and publish the vulnerable child’s photo too? The only fact in the piece is how this is bunk (duh!) and that NYC mass transit is worse than that in other cities (another duh).  So what’s new or news?