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Tags cities , Covid , urban issues , working from home

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Old 16th March 2023, 11:16 AM   #1
Brainster
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What Happens to Downtown?

I've been thinking about this for quite awhile and found some discussion of it in the news and in scholarly papers. The Covid year caused many changes in society, notably the work-from-home revolution. Companies are having trouble getting people back to the office full-time, and adjusting by downsizing their office needs. A LOT. If you allow your employees to work from home one day out of five, you can reduce your office size needs by about 20%. Granted, you might have to rotate the days (it can't be Monday or Friday off for everybody every week).

Sounds great for companies that rent a lot of office space, but of course the whole city has been built up based on all those people coming in every day. The ground-floor retailers and restaurants need the lunchtime crowds to pay rent. The transit systems need the daily riders, or they will need more subsidies, just as the city's tax collections start to crater from reduced commercial real estate values and decreased sales taxes.

How bad are things? Consider these stats from a January article:

Quote:
Retail and restaurant spending in Boston’s Financial District was down 20 to 25 percent last year, compared to 2019. The number of workers showing up downtown remains more than 40 percent below pre-pandemic levels in New York, Philadelphia and Washington. The number of workers showing up in Pittsburgh’s downtown is down by half.
In San Francisco, office space vacancy was officially at about 24.9% as of the end of last year, but that understates the reality, as the space that is occupied is less occupied than usual due to continuing layoffs this year and fewer people working at the office. It also doesn't consider space that is officially leased but will turnover in the next year or so. And this is not some usual recession-induced vacancy; if we actually go into recession soon things will get worse before they get better.

Here's where people will argue that this represents a great opportunity to provide affordable housing by converting office space to residential. Let's just say that they have never looked at the costs. Generally the assumption is that you might as well tear down and rebuild, which means a whole lot of tearing down and not much rebuilding, because there won't be much demand for the space from the young and upwardly mobile, since the trendy bars and restaurants are all gone. Meanwhile city governments will be unable to maintain the level of services with drastically reduced revenues.
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Old 16th March 2023, 11:39 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
I've been thinking about this for quite awhile and found some discussion of it in the news and in scholarly papers. The Covid year caused many changes in society, notably the work-from-home revolution. Companies are having trouble getting people back to the office full-time, and adjusting by downsizing their office needs. A LOT. If you allow your employees to work from home one day out of five, you can reduce your office size needs by about 20%. Granted, you might have to rotate the days (it can't be Monday or Friday off for everybody every week).

Sounds great for companies that rent a lot of office space, but of course the whole city has been built up based on all those people coming in every day. The ground-floor retailers and restaurants need the lunchtime crowds to pay rent. The transit systems need the daily riders, or they will need more subsidies, just as the city's tax collections start to crater from reduced commercial real estate values and decreased sales taxes.

How bad are things? Consider these stats from a January article:



In San Francisco, office space vacancy was officially at about 24.9% as of the end of last year, but that understates the reality, as the space that is occupied is less occupied than usual due to continuing layoffs this year and fewer people working at the office. It also doesn't consider space that is officially leased but will turnover in the next year or so. And this is not some usual recession-induced vacancy; if we actually go into recession soon things will get worse before they get better.

Here's where people will argue that this represents a great opportunity to provide affordable housing by converting office space to residential. Let's just say that they have never looked at the costs. Generally the assumption is that you might as well tear down and rebuild, which means a whole lot of tearing down and not much rebuilding, because there won't be much demand for the space from the young and upwardly mobile, since the trendy bars and restaurants are all gone. Meanwhile city governments will be unable to maintain the level of services with drastically reduced revenues.
Given thats its San Francisco and new construction is much more expensive due to earthquake regulations, I have my doubts on that. I bet it would be cheaper to gut the building and put in apartments. But you are likely correct in most parts of the country.

ETA: and if its for cheap homeless shelter could they not say leave in the current plumbing and just put in dorm style rooms? Wouldn't that be better than living on the street? Or is that not acceptable for some reason and they have to put in actual apartments with kichens and bathrooms?

ETA2: in Albuquerque they converted the old Albuquerque HS (built in 1914) to apartments and it was apparently cost effective. But, they may have essentially knocked the building down and just left the facade for all I know. And a 3 story building is not exactly a high rise.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Al...ue_High_School

ETA3: the article mentions Highland High... of Beavis and Butthead fame.

Last edited by lobosrul5; 16th March 2023 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 16th March 2023, 12:15 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by lobosrul5 View Post
Given thats its San Francisco and new construction is much more expensive due to earthquake regulations, I have my doubts on that. I bet it would be cheaper to gut the building and put in apartments. But you are likely correct in most parts of the country.

ETA: and if its for cheap homeless shelter could they not say leave in the current plumbing and just put in dorm style rooms? Wouldn't that be better than living on the street? Or is that not acceptable for some reason and they have to put in actual apartments with kichens and bathrooms?

ETA2: in Albuquerque they converted the old Albuquerque HS (built in 1914) to apartments and it was apparently cost effective. But, they may have essentially knocked the building down and just left the facade for all I know. And a 3 story building is not exactly a high rise.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Al...ue_High_School

ETA3: the article mentions Highland High... of Beavis and Butthead fame.
According to a discussion on NPR, one of the big problems is that office buildings have gone to very big floorplans, which makes it difficult to subdivide in a way that all units would have some exposure to natural light (i.e., windows). People are willing to work in a cave, but not live in one. Might not be as much an issue for the homeless, but housing the homeless isn't going to solve the other problems downtowns face and will quite likely bring new problems with it.
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Old 16th March 2023, 12:59 PM   #4
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Excerpts:
Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
... The Covid year ...
Lucky you! We have had three so far, and it isn't over yet.

Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
The ground-floor retailers and restaurants need the lunchtime crowds to pay rent.
This is not just a question of commuters staying in the suburbs and working from home. Many people still avoid restaurants and other public indoor spaces even though the pandemic is supposed to be over. Some of us know that it isn't, no matter how desperately restaurants, cafes and travel agencies tell us that it is.

Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
Quote:
Retail and restaurant spending in Boston’s Financial District was down 20 to 25 percent last year, compared to 2019.
Again: That retail and restaurant spending is down isn't just due to people working from home. Some restaurant owners and entertainment venues expected to start earning money again when things got back to normal, so whenever there's an opportunity (and whenever there isn't), they claim that we are already back to normal. Some people are fooled by that, many people aren't.

Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
Here's where people will argue that this represents a great opportunity to provide affordable housing by converting office space to residential.
The thing about affordable housing is that it's competitive. And the owners of expensive apartment blocks don't like competition. Housing is not supposed to be available to people who don't serve the purpose of making landlords rich. And the tenants don't make those landlords rich if cheaper alternatives are available. It's called capitalism. And it isn't fond of affordable housing.

Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
Let's just say that they have never looked at the costs. Generally the assumption is that you might as well tear down and rebuild, which means a whole lot of tearing down and not much rebuilding
So room for more parks?! Many cities and the people living in them could do with some more of those.
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Old 16th March 2023, 03:44 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Excerpts:

Lucky you! We have had three so far, and it isn't over yet.
Not gotten the vaccines yet?

Quote:
So room for more parks?! Many cities and the people living in them could do with some more of those.
A profoundly unserious answer. Keep in mind that many cities are facing major budgetary shortfalls already; where is the money going to come from to tear down the buildings and replace them with parks. And what about mass transit? I've never met an anti-capitalist who wasn't a big proponent. But unless we get people back downtown, mass transit may be doomed.

Here's a good article on the problems facing Public Transit in the Bay Area.

Quote:
In an apocalyptic vision of Bay Area public transit, BART cancels its weekend service and shutters nine stations just to keep the lights on elsewhere. Trains run once an hour, instead of every 15 minutes. San Francisco’s Muni buses crawl around on life-support, and the East Bay’s AC Transit eliminates “numerous local lines.” Ferry service across the bay is halved.

This is not a doomsday fantasy, conjured up on a paper napkin. These are real scenarios drafted by the region’s transit agencies in a series of federally mandated planning documents obtained through a public records request by the Bay Area News Group. The grim projections come as the region’s commuter trains, buses and boats struggle to recover from massive ridership declines during the COVID pandemic and burn through the remaining federal relief funds that have helped keep them operating.

“People don’t understand the transit system is so close to collapse,” said Ian Griffiths, who heads Seamless Bay Area, a transit advocacy group. “They’re on the brink.”
With ridership way down revenues to the systems are also way down, putting in place a grim scenario where the systems cut back on services while raising price, making it likely that ridership will decline yet further, putting mass transit in a death spiral.
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Old 16th March 2023, 05:17 PM   #6
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Some restaurants and coffee shops immediately switched to take-away and delivery business models and are doing just fine.

The coffee shop in my former building closed permanently in April 2020. Still vacant.

A local restaurant (near me) decided to switch to a dine-in only model.

(They went broke, and their former building is still vacant.)

Note that the city (Adelaide) has been building masses of apartments, and has a sizable population of residents. But clearly those residents can make coffee and sandwiches at home.
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Old 16th March 2023, 10:43 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
Not gotten the vaccines yet?

Oh, yes! Don't worry about us in that respect. It didn't really hit the fan until one of the best vaccinated countries at the time decided to tell the population that it had to live with the virus because now we were all vaccinated and Omicron was mild. Besides, since it wasn't airborne face masks were unnecessary. (Kinda ruins the dining-out experience!) That lunacy tripled the death toll.
But all in all, don't worry about us in that respect.

The propaganda was pretty intense: The vaccine was supposed to have made us resilient enough to render the infection harmless; instead of making us sick or even killing us, it was supposed to give us super immunity). A new, rosy dawn was on the horizon.
However, in spite of the attempts to convince us that the pandemic was over and in spite of many people believing the lie, enough people knew (and still know) that it isn't over to make them stay away from cafes, restaurants, pubs and conferences.
After (!) the pandemic: In spite of a rise in tourism, meetings, fairs and conventions still lagging behind (Finans, Aug 1, 2022). You can fool some of the people some of the time etc.

Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
A profoundly unserious answer. Keep in mind that many cities are facing major budgetary shortfalls already; where is the money going to come from to tear down the buildings and replace them with parks. And what about mass transit? I've never met an anti-capitalist who wasn't a big proponent. But unless we get people back downtown, mass transit may be doomed.

A profoundly unserious answer because it wouldn't be a problem if the pandemic was actually over. That would be the way to "get people back downtown." You need to address the real problem instead of pretending that it isn't there anymore.
It isn't as if people all of a sudden lost interest in eating out or going to the movies etc. But it is obvious that pretending that the pandemic is over isn't nearly as good as the real thing. You may have been fooled, cf. "The Covid year" from the OP, but enough people didn't believe the lie, and now they're on to you. A formal declaration that it's over won't make much of a difference. At this point, only the dimwitted will be fooled a second time, and many of the dimwitted are already dead or suffering from sequelae, which also tends to make them stay at home rather than go to the pub.

Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
Here's a good article on the problems facing Public Transit in the Bay Area.

With ridership way down revenues to the systems are also way down, putting in place a grim scenario where the systems cut back on services while raising price, making it likely that ridership will decline yet further, putting mass transit in a death spiral.

Indeed. So stop pretending that the pandemic is over and start taking it seriously.
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Old 16th March 2023, 10:58 PM   #8
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I am a part of the problem. Between work and family, I spent close to a thousand dollars a week on average at restaurants in my area through the pandemic, but left for the country when it became possible.

The reasons were many, but the main reason I don’t eat out now is exactly what dann is talking about. I was just sick for close to three weeks despite being fully vaxed and being careful. No steak is worth that.
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Old 17th March 2023, 02:33 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
I've been thinking about this for quite awhile and found some discussion of it in the news and in scholarly papers. The Covid year caused many changes in society, notably the work-from-home revolution. Companies are having trouble getting people back to the office full-time, and adjusting by downsizing their office needs. A LOT. If you allow your employees to work from home one day out of five, you can reduce your office size needs by about 20%. Granted, you might have to rotate the days (it can't be Monday or Friday off for everybody every week).
The other problem is the downturn in productivity, and people have been suckered into thinking it's not happening.

This study is used as the benchmark to show working from home is more productive, but given the survey is self-reported and the people know they're being monitored, I believe the whole survey is bogus.

The reality of companies who have allowed working from home is the exact opposite of what the BoL says.
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Old 17th March 2023, 03:00 AM   #10
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Yes, nothing improves productivity more than getting staff and customers infected, spreading the virus with wild abandon! Everybody knows that, don't they?!
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Old 17th March 2023, 05:07 AM   #11
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Worked in a downtown office for years, with one day per week working from home. The beginnings of the pandemic and related (temporary) closing of our office was the deciding factor in my long-considered retirement. So the pandemic caused my both my personal productivity for my firm, and my contributions to the downtown economy, to plummet instantly to zero.
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Old 17th March 2023, 11:01 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Yes, nothing improves productivity more than getting staff and customers infected, spreading the virus with wild abandon! Everybody knows that, don't they?!
Hey, great point! Everyone should lock themselves in their houses and never go out. No viruses, and screw the economy and jobs.

Brilliant!

The funniest thing about lockdown-work-from-home johnnies is they're elitist wankers. The guy building your roads can't work from home, nor the bloke picking up your rubbish, pumping your gas, or working in hospital. Firemen can't put your fire out from their home office, and I'm sure crooks would be really concerned about getting caught by a cop sitting in his lounge.
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Old 17th March 2023, 11:05 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
Worked in a downtown office for years, with one day per week working from home. The beginnings of the pandemic and related (temporary) closing of our office was the deciding factor in my long-considered retirement. So the pandemic caused my both my personal productivity for my firm, and my contributions to the downtown economy, to plummet instantly to zero.
You and a couple of million others: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money...a/11436716002/

As Brainster noted in the OP, a sudden change like this creates massive shortages of revenue for cities and local authorities. That will come back in the form of increased rates and inflation.

No big deal.
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Old 17th March 2023, 11:22 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
The funniest thing about lockdown-work-from-home johnnies is they're elitist wankers. The guy building your roads can't work from home, nor the bloke picking up your rubbish, pumping your gas, or working in hospital. Firemen can't put your fire out from their home office, and I'm sure crooks would be really concerned about getting caught by a cop sitting in his lounge.
Not to mention the factories all full of workers churning along to stop civilisation collapsing. As one of the "laptop class" (or elitist wanker, as you put it) I cheered on the lock-downs at the time. I got to sit at home writing code, while the non-laptop classes toiled away in factories, kitchens and warehouses making and distributing the nice things I like. While another class scooted around on mopeds delivering the said things right to my door.

Now I think they were a massive mistake. Not only because we collectively spent trillions on them (money that could have solved so many other problems), but that I'm sceptical they even did anything to the overall death rate. In the west 43% of those who died were in care homes, so in terms of protecting the most vulnerable it was a disaster.

But it's not just the money, I think we've affected our economies and societies in profound ways that we are only just starting to realise. My wife is a vice-principal in a inner-city school, and she says that the social contract between pupils, families and the school has been significantly damaged. Behaviour is poorer and absenteeism (not due to illness) is way up - a picture supported by data nationally across the UK.

One of these profound affects has been on our city centres, many of which feel like they are in a death spiral - people just stopped going into them during lockdowns and haven't got the habit back. I'm not even sure what can be done.
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Old 17th March 2023, 01:03 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
I've been thinking about this for quite awhile and found some discussion of it in the news and in scholarly papers. The Covid year caused many changes in society, notably the work-from-home revolution. Companies are having trouble getting people back to the office full-time, and adjusting by downsizing their office needs. A LOT. If you allow your employees to work from home one day out of five, you can reduce your office size needs by about 20%. Granted, you might have to rotate the days (it can't be Monday or Friday off for everybody every week).

Sounds great for companies that rent a lot of office space, but of course the whole city has been built up based on all those people coming in every day. The ground-floor retailers and restaurants need the lunchtime crowds to pay rent. The transit systems need the daily riders, or they will need more subsidies, just as the city's tax collections start to crater from reduced commercial real estate values and decreased sales taxes.
(looks around my rust belt factory town that has literally had movies filmed in it because it looks like 1978)

Maybe they need to adapt rather than whine about change.

This hand-wringing is about the worry property values will drop and way too many extremely rich people have been investing / hiding money in urban real estate because of all the loopholes and gains it offers.


Unless I miss my guess any increased media hand-wringing over work from home policies will leave a trail of breadcrumbs back to those holding tons of urban real estate. It smells way too much like manufactured media concern. Like the absurd shoplifting pieces from a few years ago. Likely some of those consultants that like to claim the NCAA tournament costs offices billions every year in lost productivity will get in on it.
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Old 17th March 2023, 02:17 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Yes, nothing improves productivity more than getting staff and customers infected, spreading the virus with wild abandon! Everybody knows that, don't they?!

During lockdown a hefty portion of those displaced office workers were bringing their entire families to the Lowe's where my wife worked (open because it sells essential items). It was great for them to get out of their crowded McMansions for some climate-controlled indoor recreation, letting the kids use the aisles as race courses and the shelves as jungle gyms while they gawked at "essential" floor tiles and patio furniture. Good thing there wasn't any staff or (actual) customers there to get infected.
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Old 17th March 2023, 02:39 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
During lockdown a hefty portion of those displaced office workers were bringing their entire families to the Lowe's where my wife worked (open because it sells essential items). It was great for them to get out of their crowded McMansions for some climate-controlled indoor recreation, letting the kids use the aisles as race courses and the shelves as jungle gyms while they gawked at "essential" floor tiles and patio furniture. Good thing there wasn't any staff or (actual) customers there to get infected.
Never met an actual office worker, have you?
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Old 17th March 2023, 03:44 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
Never met an actual office worker, have you?

Middle managers and executives don't work in offices?
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Old 17th March 2023, 04:24 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
Middle managers and executives don't work in offices?
They would be a minority of office workers, yes. If you meant "displaced highly paid managers" that is what you should have written.
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Old 17th March 2023, 05:07 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by FatherLukeduke View Post
... the "laptop class" (or elitist wanker, as you put it) I cheered on the lock-downs at the time...
Just to put that comment into context, I'm firmly one of the elitist wankers, and so much so that I got to sit in my nice, warm, disease-free house while I told people to go and work in factories producing the food and goods that kept me and mine in our house.

I can't say I enjoyed the experience.

Originally Posted by FatherLukeduke View Post
Now I think they were a massive mistake. Not only because we collectively spent trillions on them (money that could have solved so many other problems), but that I'm sceptical they even did anything to the overall death rate. In the west 43% of those who died were in care homes, so in terms of protecting the most vulnerable it was a disaster.
I agree the lockdowns didn't have a major affect on deaths, but what it did do was smooth out the gigantic surge that would have happened if we hadn't had them.

I think that with the infectiousness of covid, we'd have seen a near-total shutdown of all services due to the number of people sick. No hospitals, no cops, no food. That could have turned out pretty badly.

Originally Posted by FatherLukeduke View Post
But it's not just the money, I think we've affected our economies and societies in profound ways that we are only just starting to realise. My wife is a vice-principal in a inner-city school, and she says that the social contract between pupils, families and the school has been significantly damaged. Behaviour is poorer and absenteeism (not due to illness) is way up - a picture supported by data nationally across the UK.
Ditto NZ - absenteeism is the highest ever. We look like having lost a generation of kids. That\ll be positive for the future, for sure.

There wasn't really an answer, though. Teachers are an older demographic and the number who croaked in USA is a guide that not closing may have been worse.

I'm happy to blame the parents.

Originally Posted by FatherLukeduke View Post
One of these profound affects has been on our city centres, many of which feel like they are in a death spiral - people just stopped going into them during lockdowns and haven't got the habit back. I'm not even sure what can be done.
I think it may well be terminal.

Originally Posted by Suddenly View Post
Unless I miss my guess any increased media hand-wringing over work from home policies will leave a trail of breadcrumbs back to those holding tons of urban real estate. It smells way too much like manufactured media concern.
Think it through, and leave out the bias against the rich for a moment.

Inner-city businesses create a massive amount of tax and property rates.

If that disappears, you'll be paying the difference.
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Old 17th March 2023, 07:32 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
They would be a minority of office workers, yes. If you meant "displaced highly paid managers" that is what you should have written.

Irrelevent to my point regarding people who are eager to protect themselves and employees from infection at their own workplaces, but unconcerned about doing so at other people's workplaces. But you knew that already, I'm sure.
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Old 17th March 2023, 09:17 PM   #22
dann
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Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
Originally Posted by dann View Post
Yes, nothing improves productivity more than getting staff and customers infected, spreading the virus with wild abandon! Everybody knows that, don't they?!
Everyone should lock themselves in their houses and never go out. No viruses, and screw the economy and jobs.

A straw man fallacy occurs when someone takes another person’s argument or point, distorts it or exaggerates it in some kind of extreme way, and then attacks the extreme distortion, as if that is really the claim the first person is making.
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Old 17th March 2023, 10:55 PM   #23
dann
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Originally Posted by FatherLukeduke View Post
...I'm sceptical they [lockdowns!] even did anything to the overall death rate. ...

No reason to be sceptical. They actually did do something to the overall death rate:
Quote:
Research shows that lockdowns helped control cases in general – but that not all control measures had the same effect.
Did the COVID lockdowns work? Here’s what we know two years on (VaccinesWork, Mar 25, 2022)

My own part of the world, the Nordics. Guess which countries had (short, effective and not at all 'draconian') lockdowns - starting mid-March? And which country didn't ...
Daily new confirmed COVID-19 deaths per million people (Mar 8 to July 31, 2020)
Cumulative confirmed COVID-19 deaths per million people (Mar 8 to July 31, 2020)
The population density of Denmark is 5-6 times that of Sweden's. Notice how the death toll peaks about three weeks after the lockdowns began. Notice that it takes till June 22 before Sweden's numbers are at the level of Denmark's peak in early April.

Sweden's herd-immunity-by-infection advocates predicted that after Sweden's death toll in the spring and summer of 2020, they would be able to lean back and relax in the fall and winter of 2020-21 because Sweden had now acquired immunity by infection and the other countries would now have to catch up. Some Swedes even looked forward to this in a way that made their Schadenfreude very obvious!
So what actually happened?
Daily new confirmed COVID-19 deaths per million people (Oct 2, 2020 to May 30, 2021)
Nope. No herd immunity by infection.

And to this day, the other Nordics still haven't 'caught up' with Sweden in spite of abandoning all other pandemic measures than vaccines and instead jumping on the Swedish herd-immunity-by-infecton band wagon (dubbed 'hybrid immunity' or 'super immunity'). But it does make a difference if the virus is let loose on the population prior to vaccinations or if you wait till after everybody has been vaccinated. Even when 'everybody' doesn't include children.
Cumulative confirmed COVID-19 deaths per million people (Mar 8, 2020, to Mar 16, 2023)

Only the countries that did actually vaccinate everybody and mandate face masks whenever the numbers are rising too rapidly have actually managed to get the virus under control. Cuba and Singapore are good examples of this.
Daily new confirmed COVID-19 deaths per million people (Jan 2022 -- March 2023)
Cumulative confirmed COVID-19 deaths per million people in the last 12 months

I don't think Singapore has a downtown problem, but small businesses didn't come out of the pandemic (if they're out of it!) entirely unscathed.
How Can SMEs Survive the Coronavirus? (MyCareersFuture Singapore, Dec 27, 2023)
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"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

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Old 17th March 2023, 11:47 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
.....
This is not just a question of commuters staying in the suburbs and working from home. Many people still avoid restaurants and other public indoor spaces even though the pandemic is supposed to be over. Some of us know that it isn't, no matter how desperately restaurants, cafes and travel agencies tell us that it is.
....
I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean. For most people in most places, life has returned to normal. Lockdowns are over. Kids are back in school. Travel is overwhelming the airlines. Masks are rarely required anywhere. Effective covid vaccines and treatments are available to everyone. Rates of death and hospitalization are down dramatically from the peaks. Covid might never disappear, but it has become something we are living with.

As to the original question, office workers have discovered that they like not spending hours a day commuting, with all the associated expenses, and employers have learned that they don't need to spend big bucks on expensive real estate. That's something that won't change, even if the covid virus suddenly somehow disappears completely.
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Old 18th March 2023, 05:34 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
Irrelevent to my point regarding people who are eager to protect themselves and employees from infection at their own workplaces, but unconcerned about doing so at other people's workplaces. But you knew that already, I'm sure.
No, your point as written and explained is that some few people who own "McMansions" are "people who are eager to protect themselves and employees from infection at their own workplaces, but unconcerned about doing so at other people's workplaces." The vast majority of the office workers that you originally disparaged do not fall into that category.
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Old 18th March 2023, 05:41 AM   #26
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Things change.
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Old 18th March 2023, 05:54 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
No, your point as written and explained is that some few people who own "McMansions" are "people who are eager to protect themselves and employees from infection at their own workplaces, but unconcerned about doing so at other people's workplaces." The vast majority of the office workers that you originally disparaged do not fall into that category.

Well, if you insist it is relevant to my point, then yes, the clientele of the Lowes in question was indeed comprised primarily of McMansion dwellers who worked in offices, your uninformed incredulity notwithstanding. This particular store was surrounded by miles of upscale suburban neighborhoods, along with office parks employing middle to upper managers. Just to give you an idea, the public middle school of one of the two adjacent school districts has a planetarium.
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Old 18th March 2023, 06:17 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
Well, if you insist it is relevant to my point, then yes, the clientele of the Lowes in question was indeed comprised primarily of McMansion dwellers who worked in offices, your uninformed incredulity notwithstanding. This particular store was surrounded by miles of upscale suburban neighborhoods, along with office parks employing middle to upper managers. Just to give you an idea, the public middle school of one of the two adjacent school districts has a planetarium.
Seems to become a smaller and more trivial group of people every time you write. Gone from "office workers" to "middle managers and executives" to "the local suburban clientele of a particular store". So your original attempt at disparagement of office workers in general goes down as a fail.

I do think it is a rather fascinating neighborhood you describe though, where there are "miles" of homes containing nothing but families of people all employed in management and working locally in office parks. Makes a person wonder who they manage. Sounds like a static version of D. Adams' Ark Fleet Ship B.

ETA and has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of this thread - Downtown. Seems like these managers you describe are totally unfamiliar with downtown.
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Old 18th March 2023, 06:45 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean.

Read Dr. Keith's post. Maybe that will help you understand what it means.

Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
For most people in most places, life has returned to normal. Lockdowns are over. Kids are back in school. Travel is overwhelming the airlines. Masks are rarely required anywhere. Effective covid vaccines and treatments are available to everyone. Rates of death and hospitalization are down dramatically from the peaks. Covid might never disappear, but it has become something we are living with.

You have indeed missed the point: Pretending that the pandemic is over doesn't mean that it's over. Some people know that. They know about infections and deaths, too, which is why they aren't fooled by 'life having returned to normal'. As for travel being overwhelmed, could this have something to do with it?
Quote:
Labor shortages made it even harder for airlines to recover from routine events. Overambitious carriers trimmed their packed schedules to give their operations more breathing room. Overwhelmed European hubs capped passenger numbers. Even airline employee travel perks were scaled back.
(...)
Airlines canceled or delayed a greater share of their flights compared with 2019. Thinner staffing levels and training backups meant they had fewer crew members to step in when scheduled employees like pilots reached federally mandated workday limits.
Airlines’ chaotic summer is over. These 5 charts show how it went (CNBC, Sep 9, 2022)
TSA screening lower in 2022 than in 2019, at least until September. See article.

As for the effectiveness of vaccines: They are very good at lowering your risk of dying and getting seriously ill, but they still don't stop you from getting infected. And many people still get seriously ill and die. Lowered risk ≠ no risk. Dr. Keith survived, and since he mentions nether hospitalization nor sequelae, I assume he is one of the lucky ones. Even in children, Covid-19 is the worst killer of all infectious or respiratory diseases:
Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
Quote:
Findings Among children and young people aged 0 to 19 years in the US, COVID-19 ranked eighth among all causes of deaths, fifth in disease-related causes of deaths (excluding unintentional injuries, assault, and suicide), and first in deaths caused by infectious or respiratory diseases.
The risk is considerably lowered by vaccinating kids, but many countries won't do that. In some countries, parents have to take them abroad to get them vaccinated. Not everybody can afford that.
And some parents just don't want their children to catch and spread the disease. Sometimes because they themselves may be immunocompromised, sometimes because other family members are. (And a few probably still consider the well-being of fellow human beings. Yes, I know!)

Compared with the peaks, the numbers are down, obviously. But 'we are living with it' means that some are dying both with and of it, which influences people's beaviour. So does pretending that it's all over, but obviously not enough, in the opinion of some people, and not enough for downtown to get back to normal, which you seem to be in denial about even though downtown business and transrport was the problem mentioned in the OP.

Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
As to the original question, office workers have discovered that they like not spending hours a day commuting, with all the associated expenses, and employers have learned that they don't need to spend big bucks on expensive real estate. That's something that won't change, even if the covid virus suddenly somehow disappears completely.

And some office workers have discovered that it's a good way to avoid the infection. "If the covid virus suddenly somehow disappears completely," those office workers will return downtown. As long as the pandemic isn't over, they will prefer to work from home.
Does that make it clear? If it doesn't, look at the numbers! I posted a couple of those in this thread.
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"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

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Old 18th March 2023, 06:48 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
Seems to become a smaller and more trivial group of people every time you write. Gone from "office workers" to "middle managers and executives" to "the local suburban clientele of a particular store". So your original attempt at disparagement of office workers in general goes down as a fail.

I do think it is a rather fascinating neighborhood you describe though, where there are "miles" of homes containing nothing but families of people all employed in management and working locally in office parks. Makes a person wonder who they manage. Sounds like a static version of D. Adams' Ark Fleet Ship B.

ETA and has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of this thread - Downtown. Seems like these managers you describe are totally unfamiliar with downtown.

Apparently I neglected to mention that the office workers I referred to who enthusiastically shared their kids' and extended families' lung secretions with my wife and her co-workers during lockdown due to their essential need to examine paint shades were ones who lived in the vicinity. I didn't mean to imply they travelled there from downtown, let alone congregated there from across the nation. Nor to imply that I'm in possession of conclusive proof that anything similar along the lines of office workers expressing great concern over their own well-being while exhibiting cavalier unconcern for service workers' well-being might possibly have happened anywhere else. My apologies for being so unclear.
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Old 18th March 2023, 08:15 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
.....
And some office workers have discovered that it's a good way to avoid the infection. "If the covid virus suddenly somehow disappears completely," those office workers will return downtown. As long as the pandemic isn't over, they will prefer to work from home.
.....
Whether or not the pandemic is "over," the fact is that a lot of office workers have discovered that they like working from home. They have even discovered that they can maintain their employment while living anywhere they want, even way outside commuting distance. And employers have discovered that they don't need to pay for class A downtown office space for every employee. I think it's a mistake to imagine that downtowns will thrive again if only the pandemic would end. The economy has changed permanently.
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Old 18th March 2023, 09:19 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Things change.
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Old 18th March 2023, 09:53 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
So does pretending that it's all over, but obviously not enough, in the opinion of some people, and not enough for downtown to get back to normal, which you seem to be in denial about even though downtown business and transrport was the problem mentioned in the OP.
Utter baloney, as usual.

People are doing nothing to stop the spread of disease, and suggesting anyone is staying home due to covid is nonsense of the highest order.

Those non-existent fraidy cats of which you speak are attending crowded concerts, bars and malls - they're not bothered by covid at all and as noted by others, are enjoying missing the commute and expenses caused by it.

Maybe it's different in your country, but it's an absolute fact that covid is having zero impact on people's behaviour in NZ, apart from care homes desperate to protect their revenue stream.
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Old 18th March 2023, 12:02 PM   #34
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As always in denial. Even when people tell The Atheist that they stay at home rather than eat out in order to avoid the virus, he can't accept the fact and prefers to turn it into a story of his own invention, the imaginary "fraidy cats".

Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
I am a part of the problem. Between work and family, I spent close to a thousand dollars a week on average at restaurants in my area through the pandemic, but left for the country when it became possible.

The reasons were many, but the main reason I don’t eat out now is exactly what dann is talking about. I was just sick for close to three weeks despite being fully vaxed and being careful. No steak is worth that.

Why does The Atheist do this? The level of denial is so high that people who avoid public indoor settings because of the virus are described as both non-existent and fraidy cats, and people in any bar, restaurant or movie theatre are seen as proof positive that nobody is avoiding those places. The cognitive dissonance is fascinating: They are non-existent, so when they aren't, they are to be despised because ... The Atheist can't deal with the reality of them.
They need to get out there, to mingle, to spend money, and to make them do so, he comes up with one story after another about how the virus isn't even there anymore, and if it is, it isn't really dangerous, and if people die anyway, they must be over 80 and thus shouldn't even exist.
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Old 18th March 2023, 12:26 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
And some office workers have discovered that it's a good way to avoid the infection. "If the covid virus suddenly somehow disappears completely," those office workers will return downtown. As long as the pandemic isn't over, they will prefer to work from home.
So essentially they are never returning downtown and you think this is a smart decision on their part? Let the cities rot? Things change? If the mass transit systems cut services or fail, whom do you think will feel it more--capitalist overlords or working stiffs?
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Old 18th March 2023, 12:45 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Whether or not the pandemic is "over," the fact is that a lot of office workers have discovered that they like working from home. They have even discovered that they can maintain their employment while living anywhere they want, even way outside commuting distance. And employers have discovered that they don't need to pay for class A downtown office space for every employee. I think it's a mistake to imagine that downtowns will thrive again if only the pandemic would end. The economy has changed permanently.

I don't think you noticed the point I was making: That many of those people not returning to downtown do so to avoid an ongoing pandemic. That others will have realized that they'll never want to return because they simply prefer to work from home is not surprising.

As for this:
Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Travel is overwhelming the airlines. Masks are rarely required anywhere.

I used to go to Southern Europe, the Canaries or Cuba three to four times a year by plane. Since the pandemic, I only went once - to Cuba. I noticed that masks weren't required anywhere on planes or at the airports, which doesn't make me want to start traveling more. I also noticed an awful lot of coughing. But I enjoyed the weeks in Cuba where some people still mask up indoors in spite of a very low level of infections.
I would like to go back, but then there's news like this:

Quote:
“We are particularly concerned because we have seen an uptick in serious close calls,” Buttigieg said in his opening remarks, referring to a series of near collisions on runways across the US.
After the rare summit, the FAA said discussions about how to prevent incidents at airports ranged from overstressed pilots and flight attendants to better air traffic control technology.
“Pilots and flight attendants expressed concerns that they continue to feel stress in the workplace, including long work hours under adverse conditions,” the FAA said following closed-door meetings. “A primary concern was workforce experience and attrition.”
The summit comes after the FAA said it was investigating another close call between commercial airliners. The most recent close call was at Reagan National Airport near Washington, DC – the seventh since the start of this year.
On March 7, Republic Airways Flight 4736 crossed a runway, without clearance, that United Airlines Flight 2003 was using for takeoff, according to a preliminary review, the FAA said. The United pilot had just been cleared for takeoff, the agency said.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg cites ‘uptick’ in aviation incidents at FAA safety summit reviewing ‘serious close calls’ (CNN, Mar 15, 2023)

Brain fog? The airlines might have been doing better if they hadn't told their passengers that they could stop masking up. I noticed that some flight attendants did wear face masks, but the vast majority of passengers didn't, in particular many of those who had a cough.
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Old 18th March 2023, 12:59 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
So essentially they are never returning downtown and you think this is a smart decision on their part? Let the cities rot? Things change? If the mass transit systems cut services or fail, whom do you think will feel it more--capitalist overlords or working stiffs?

So you think they should stop thinking of their own health, take one for team capitalism, and go back and get infected? No, I don't think that it would be a smart decision on their part to do so. They are obviously not the ones who pretend that there is no virus. They are not the problem. People who are trying to make them go downtown by lying and minimizing are the ones who are responsible for this mess, and they don't seem to want to do anything about it. All they have to offer is the same old lies.

As for our capitalist overlords, they seem to be very well aware of what could be done and what should be done, so why don't they?

It's called the Davos standard: Coronavirus - World Economy Forum: Here Are All The Covid-19 Precautions At Davos 2023 (Forbes, Jan 20, 2023)

If they want the "working stiffs" to continue to work for them, it's the least they could do.
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Old 19th March 2023, 09:16 AM   #38
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In the real world, people in downtown Phoenix are not worried about covid, they are busier dodging bullets from the homeless encampment.

Quote:
Soon there were hundreds of people sleeping within a few blocks of Old Station, most of them suffering from mental illness or substance abuse as they lived out their private lives within public view of the restaurant. They slept on Joe and Debbie’s outdoor tables, defecated behind their back porch, smoked methamphetamine in their parking lot, washed clothes in their bathroom sink, pilfered bread and gallon jars of pickles from their delivery trucks, had sex on their patio, masturbated within view of their employees and lit fires for warmth that burned down palm trees and scared away customers. Finally, Joe and Debbie could think of nothing else to do but to start calling their city councilman, the city manager, the mayor, the governor and the police.
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Old 19th March 2023, 09:44 AM   #39
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Re: OP: yes, businesses are just now discovering what many of us have known for years: the business model of going to an office for basically no reason whatsoever is kind of stupid and wasteful. Other businesses have formed their business plan based around the aforementioned stupidity and wastefulness. And it seems that they are on track to discover that like a third of their workers are only working to maintain the stupidity and wastefulness , and another third are doing nothing much that needs a human in the first place. In theory, eliminating all this wastefulness should result in a much more streamlined and cost-effective operation that results in lower costs to the end user or consumer. Because that's totally what a corporation would do.

So the resteraunts etc now fact the dilemma that horse and buggy manufacturers faced when cars started rolling out. Move forward and change, or stamp your feet and complain that the way things used to be was more to your wasteful financial benefit.
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Old 19th March 2023, 10:43 AM   #40
dann
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 17,384
Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
In the real world, people in downtown Phoenix are not worried about covid, they are busier dodging bullets from the homeless encampment.

That doesn't sound like #DavosStandard at all. What's good for Davos is good for all. And not just when we are talking C-19.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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