News Miner 2
Notes on free range kids, Hispanic vaccination rates, party privilege, GOP bigotry, and more.
Welcome to my second “News Miner” for Colorado Pickaxe! I hope you will “subscribe” by signing up for emails. Although I’ll make all articles free to read, I also welcome paid subscriptions.
Denver is Ridiculously Beautiful
Free Range Kids
In my new column for Complete Colorado, I discuss the “free range kids” bill the legislature passed. Here is the main text of the bill:
A child is not neglected when allowed to participate in independent activities that a reasonable and prudent parent, guardian, or legal custodian would consider safe given the child’s maturity, condition, and abilities, including but not limited to activities such as: (i) traveling to and from school, including walking, running, bicycling, or other similar mode of travel; (ii) traveling to and from nearby commercial or recreational facilities; (iii) engaging in outdoor play; and (iv) remaining in a home or other location that a reasonable and prudent parent, guardian, or legal custodian would consider safe for the child.
I also talk as a parent about the balance between keeping kids safe and letting them explore the world. Read the entire article.
Hispanic Vaccination Rates
According to Colorado vaccination data accessed March 27, only 39.6% of Hispanics have been vaccinated against Covid-19 with one or more doses, compared to 77.1% of “white non-Hispanics.” That is a shocking disparity.
The Colorado Sun reports that a small part of the disparity might be the result of under-reporting.
Part of the explanation for the lower vaccination rates is probably that Hispanics got hit especially hard by the pandemic. People with a prior infection may be less motivated to get the vaccine. The CDC reported in 2020:
In Denver, Colorado, the majority of adult COVID-19 cases (55%), hospitalizations (62%), and deaths (51%) were among Hispanic adults, double the proportion of Hispanic adults in Denver (24.9%). Among adults with COVID-19, Hispanic persons reported larger household sizes and more known COVID-19 household exposure, working in essential industries, working while ill, and delays in testing after symptom onset.
See also a KUNC report about Covid hitting the Hispanic community hard in Weld County.
But here is some relatively good (less-bad) news: Although the case rate was higher among Hispanics, the death rate was comparable to whites, data from CovidTracking.com indicate. Note that this data was reported “as of March 7, 2021.” (If I find more recent data I’ll drop it in here.)
Another likely part of the explanation for lower vaccination rates is Hispanics are younger. Many younger people may have (reasonably) thought they were at lower risk and so skipped getting vaccinated. Here are some age stats from the Latino Leadership Institute.
The Covid vaccines have been remarkably effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths (and cases to a lesser extent). Even though people with prior infections and younger people are at relatively less risk, getting vaccinated still improves the odds.
Separate Party and State
In a recent column for Complete Colorado, I argue against government-mandated open primaries:
If you counter that it’s unfair that parties with minority support among Coloradans get to choose the only viable candidates, I agree. But the proper solution is not to force parties to hold primaries open to unaffiliated voters. It is to quit giving political parties special treatment, enact fair ballot access laws with the same rules for all comers, end government control and financing of party primaries, end government tracking of people by party affiliation, and implement approval voting (vote for as many candidates as you like) or ranked voting (list your candidates by preference) to eliminate the 'stolen vote' problem.
I also wrote about this issue in a 2018 column for the Colorado Sun. (That remains one of my favorite articles that I’ve written.) There I describe what it means to separate party and state:
I’m not saying that political parties should not exist or that they should play no role in advocating candidates and policies. I’m saying that parties should operate as private organizations, with no special government powers and no formal standing in election law.
I also addressed the matter in a 2020 article for Complete. I’ll probably have to keep writing about this, as party operatives are not too excited to give up their government perks, and few other people care enough to try to fix things.
Bigotry in the GOP
Greg Lopez, a Republican candidate for governor, said at a recent event (as reported by Sandra Fish), “I think it's time we had a real first lady, don't you?” That was a clear anti-gay comment referencing the fact that our governor, Jared Polis, is gay. Last year Polis married his long-time partner, Marlon Reis, First Gentleman by virtue of Polis’s position. Kyle Clark succinctly summarized the situation: “GOP candidate for Governor who admitted physically assaulting his then-pregnant wife offers a homophobic attack on Colorado’s First Gentleman.” Jason Salzman also wrote about the remark.
Lopez’s comment also is bigoted against women. As I Tweeted, “Incidentally, Colorado has never had a woman as governor, which in the case of a married hetero woman would bring in a First Gentleman.” The front-runner on the Republican side, Heidi Ganahl, is married to Jason Ganahl.
In related news, another Republican candidate for governor, Laurie Clark, demeaned transgender people (as Heidi Beedle reports), saying, “It is highly illogical to take a scientific fact, of male and female, and try to pervert it. This is a perversion.”
Yet another candidate, Jack Dillender, said the following about transgender people (via Beedle again): “They’re trying to destroy our country. They’re Godless, I’m not joking. They’re going to take everything from us. They’re going to make you believe what they want, and we have to stop them.” That is just crazy. Transgender people aren’t trying to take anything from everyone else. They are trying to gain social acceptance and to reduce rates of violence against transgender people. This scapegoating of transgender people is disgraceful and dangerous.
Bar hours: Good for Democratic Rep. Marc Snyder for sponsoring a bill to extend bar hours. Unfortunately, he killed his own bill under pressure from MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Obviously it’s none of the state’s damn business what people do in the night, so long as they’re not hurting anyone else. There’s nothing inherently wrong with sitting in a bar late at night or early in the morning. Indeed, there’s reason to think that variable closing hours actually would enable police to better-enforce drunk-driving laws, as cops can’t possibly watch all the bars at 2 a.m., the current mandated closing time. Down with Big Nanny.
Politicized Education: Three Republican congressional candidates say they’d vote for a Trump-inspired “patriotic education bill,” Jason Salzman reports. I guess Republicans are for local control . . . except for when they’re not.
Smearing KBJ: Everything I’ve heard about Ketanji Brown Jackson makes me extremely glad she’s headed to the Supreme Court. See (for example) Clark Neily’s take. I was disappointed, indeed disgusted, to see Colorado Congress members Ken Buck and Lauren Boebert smear the judge based on child porn sentencing. As Colorado Newsline points out, Jackson’s sentencing falls within normal practice. As ABC reports, Republican-nominated judges also have pushed against overlong sentences. Child pornography is a serious crime, but unjustly long prison sentences are not the solution to anything. University of Colorado philosopher Michael Huemer discusses (among other things) some of the problems with overpunishment.
GOP Meltdown: From Mario Nicolais: “In Colorado Springs Rep. Mary Bradfield lost her seat to a convicted felon. Karl Dent, no longer eligible to run for sheriff due to his conviction, won more than 70% of the delegate vote. . . . Given the overwhelming Republican makeup of the district, Dent is a shoo-in this November. It matters little that he has been accused of violent actions against women, child abuse and animal cruelty.”
Right to Die: When I first heard of “right to die” medication being provided in cases of anorexia, I had severe misgivings. But Mario Nicolais persuasively argues that, when anorexia has caused extensive and irreversible physical damage, such cases probably rightly fall under Colorado’s “right to die” law.
Egypt: I visited the Denver Nature Museum's special exhibit on Egypt (this is separate from the much smaller permanent exhibit) and it's worth the trip (even though it costs extra), with a great blend of artifacts and historical context. If you go be sure also to see the guitar exhibit (no extra cost).
Police Abuses: “A jury has ordered the city of Denver to pay 12 protesters $14 million in damages over the Denver Police Department’s response to rallies following the murder of George Floyd in 2020,” Denverite reports. I think that’s the appropriate outcome. Without cause, police shot numerous people with chemicals and projectiles.