From the Publisher: The Slide

An American icon passed on this week. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who tried her best to hang on through the election despite being in the final stages of cancer, lost the battle and, barring anything unpredicted, the Republicans will fill her seat. There are two terribly saddening things about this. One, that we have lost an extraordinary human being and, second, and maybe even more lasting, it’s clear to all of us that there are no rules in American politics anymore. We have turned a corner, so don’t waste my time with arguments; they really don’t mean anything. It’s raw power that counts and it’s a game that both sides can play and will play and it’s going to get meaner and meaner and we as a country, I firmly believe, are on a downhill slide from which there is no reversal. Other republics have died, typically the same way. Mostly they die from within, splitting into factions and then civil war and we certainly don’t seem to be any different than those that came before us. I think with a fifth conservative vote on the court, Obamacare is going to die. Preexisting conditions won’t be covered, which means nearly one-half of the population of the USA will be without medical coverage. We’ve just crossed the 200,000 mark in COVID-19 deaths, among the highest per capita rate in the world, and a significant portion of the population doesn’t seem particularly disturbed. “Well, it’s just old people, after all, and no one lives forever,” but we’re still dying at the rate of 800 per day, meaning close to 250,000 dead by Election Day and perhaps 300,000 by year’s end. They may in time come up with a vaccine but who is going to trust it? Who is going to believe any public agency now that it has all been politicized? “I’ll consider taking it but you go first because I want it tested on you and not me.”

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Just got an email from Malibu Mayor Mikke Pierson asking everyone to fill out the census form because the deadline is Sept. 30 for the 2020 Census. It’s important because it helps secure federal funding and seats in the House of Representatives. The problem is that the U.S. response rate is 66.1percent, California is 68 percent, LA County at 63.9 percent and Malibu is way down at a lowly 40.9 percent response rate, among the lowest in the country. Are we just indifferent slackers? I don’t think so. I believe the people simply are not here. At one time, about 16 percent of our houses were second homes, so they lived somewhere else, and voted somewhere else. I suspect that second home number is way up today. The Woolsey Fire destroyed 750 or so homes in greater Malibu and how many have built to date? Ten or so. That’s a loss of about 2,000, maybe 2,500 people. Many own beachfront homes but very few live in them. People have two, three and four homes, and you just don’t see them on weekends or holidays anymore. Then there is COVID-19. LA is still a COVID hot spot so if you can afford to be somewhere else, you probably are somewhere else. We are also trying very hard to get our own school district, which could be spectacular, but it seems farther away because we seem to have fewer kids. We’ve dipped well below the 1,500 enrolled students mark. Part of it is the fire, part virus and part that the city council really doesn’t want kids. If they did, they wouldn’t have walked away from the deal that would have given the community a community center or a pool or additional ballfields or other amenities to be built in Malibu Bluffs Park. There is a city council race going and all the candidates are taking about “keeping Malibu, Malibu,” whatever that is supposed to mean. But the truth is, Malibu is changing because the guts of a community is its people, and we have fewer people, and older people, and fewer families and fewer kids, and empty stores in every shopping center. I don’t see that improving much. Stores are empty for a number of reasons. Retailing has changed because of online buying and now we are way overbuilt on retail just about everywhere. What we don’t have is rentals. Our work force can’t live here. It would be sensible to convert some retail to residential. I can’t imagine that happening in my lifetime in Malibu. Other towns have created housing for its work force but not us. There are always ADUs (granny flats) but at the cost of building them in this town, practically no granny flats pencil out, so no one builds them. We are, in a word, stagnant and probably will stay stagnant, because there are many people who love stagnation. They want everything to be like yesterday, of 10 or 20 or 30 years ago.

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Too much negativity for one column. So on the positive side, I bought one of those watches that has a sensor, tells time, counts your steps and takes your blood pressure, your heart rate, O2 level and a dozen other things, and all for $49.95. There are other watches that can check your blood sugar levels, perhaps a dozen other bodily secretions and electrical activity (like an EKG or an ECG), and who knows what else. Your watch will connect to your phone, which will send messages to a medical computer, which will check your readings against your profile and, if anything looks out of whack, it will send a message to you, probably your doctor, probably your insurance company and maybe even automatically to a laboratory. It’s amazing what this means. The face of medicine is changing, and changing rapidly. So those of us whom the government hasn’t yet kicked onto the COVID scrap heap may very well live a long time and you’re all going to be paying for it, so there.

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