Remote Working is the Antidote to Pandemic Power Grabs

A couple months ago, a friend on Facebook raised the issue whether it was appropriate to speak of “silver linings” during the coronavirus pandemic. Whether or not it is (I think she decided it wasn’t), there are a couple of key ways in which life may change for the better as a result of the lessons we’ve learned in the last several months.

First, many people are starting to take their overall health–particularly metabolic health–more seriously, as knowledge about the connection between metabolic health and immune response has become more mainstream. (For more on this, check out my interview with Robb Wolf.)

Second, we have learned that many more jobs can–and perhaps should–be done remotely. While working from home has its own set of distractions and challenges, this will improve as kids start to go back to school, and even having kids at home with working parents (perhaps being home-schooled) can be preferable to the “open-plan” offices that have been fashionable of late in the tech sector and elsewhere. (To learn more, read, e.g., Chapter 3 of Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet”.)

It’s hard to say which of these two will make the biggest difference in terms of improving the quality of human life. And of course we don’t have to decide; we can take advantage of both. What the expansion of remote working options has done–and what I want to emphasize here–is make it possible for more people to practice “Foot Voting” as a response to creeping statism throughout the world.

Good thing, too, because during this pandemic, statism is no longer really creeping–it’s gone into a full-speed sprint. From ongoing, indefinite, job-killing lockdowns, to mask-wearing requirements of dubious justification, to governments at all levels spending on pet projects and handouts in a way that even drunken sailors could not abide–the pandemic has smoked out petty authoritarians and would-be tyrants everywhere.

As a result, here in the United States, many are now fleeing the statist “hotspots” and freedom-seeking–also electricity-seeking–people are migrating to more hospitable climes, such as Texas (Tesla, Me!), Tennessee (The Daily Wire), or Florida. Tulsa, Oklahoma made news recently, due to many California Bay-Area residents taking the city up on its offer to pay $10,000 to remote workers who relocate there. Given that these workers already stood to save quite a bit by relocating, and that there were, unfortunately, already reasons to leave California, $10k to cover relocation expenses (and then some) is apparently just the thing to help indecisive people make the leap. If Tulsa isn’t your thing, other cities are starting similar programs.

Are you currently suffering under an aspiring dictator and considering making a move? Need a nudge? My recent discussion about “Foot Voting” with Ilya Somin, about his new book, “Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom,” might be just what you need:


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Two Functioning Adults are Now Running for President!

Pandemic fireworks are different.

It’s not clear yet whether he’s serious about this–or, if he is, he’s not just doing it to ensure a Trump victory over Biden (remember his White House visit?)–but already he’s received a full endorsement from Elon Musk:

And at least a partial endorsement from Mark Cuban:

Can you blame them? Late last year I bought this sticker from Amazon and put it on my car, after having seen it on another car while out driving:


It’s embarrassing that, according to the political establishment in our country, the best candidates our country has to offer are Donald Trump and Joe Biden. If these two don’t manage to use the Coronavirus as an excuse to skip the debates this year, can you imagine the level of cringe there will be? (While some of Trump’s prepared speeches are quite good, those are written for him. Off-the-cuff he’s just a little better than Biden.)

So, welcome, Kanye! At least you realize the importance of philosophy, enough to try to write a book about it. On Twitter.

You know, I might even vote for you over those other two. That is, if Jo Jorgensen drops out. Not only is she a functioning adult, she offers a reasonable, coherent set of positions on the issues. What a concept!

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Rahaf Mohammed

This week we learned of a beautiful, courageous, independent woman who had the initiative to escape her abusive, traditional Muslim, Saudi Arabian family. She was en route to Australia, tourist visa in hand, and ended up being detained by the Thai authorities, who–under pressure from Saudi Arabia–intended to send her back to her family. But did she give up? No. She barricaded herself in her airport hotel room, where she was told to wait for the next flight back to Kuwait. And she started tweeting. Soon the whole world became aware of her plight, putting enough pressure on the Thai authorities that they had to refrain from forcibly deporting her, and allow the United Nations to intervene.

More on Rahaf’s plight here:

At first I was skeptical as to whether the UN would be much help. After all, they’re the organization that is seriously considering trying to do whatever it can to outlaw “blasphemy,” and Rahaf is an atheist apostate. But, perhaps due to the spotlight Rahaf created for herself, they ended up granting her refugee status. This, under the current bureaucratic regime, allows countries to consider her application for asylum–and prevents Thailand from sending her back to Saudi Arabia. Her first choice had been Australia, but the latest word is that Canada was the first country on her list of preferences to actually agree to admit her. Good for them. And her.

Even though I spent much of Sunday night messaging any contact I could think of to help get her here, in hindsight I think this is probably better for her. (Even better, of course, would have been her first choice, Australia.) Our country, at its best, would have been the natural place for a woman with such independence, courage, and initiative. But our current President is too unwelcoming, and way too chummy with the Saudis. (And apparently we are, in the United States in the 21st century, regularly approving child bride requests, giving legal sanction to this horrific abuse of women and girls.)

So Rahaf is on her way to (relative) freedom, but that doesn’t mean that she’s no longer in danger. Even in the limited time I spent posting on social media on Rahaf’s behalf, I ended up receiving a number of hostile responses, including one actual threat. I can only imagine how many she must have received. (As of this writing, she has at least temporarily deactivated her Twitter account, due to the threats she received.)  Unfortunately the same actions that were necessary for Rahaf to take, to bring the world’s attention to her case, to give her a real chance of escape, will now also make her vulnerable wherever she goes.

Moroever, there are still many more women, still stuck in Saudi Arabia, facing the same conditions that Rahaf was. And their situation is not helped by the way that many in the media have been framing her story. The headline of the one I found on Apple News this morning says that she has “fled ‘abusive’ family.” And from what I hear, that’s typical of much of the news coverage about her case. How does anyone expect the conditions faced by Saudi women to improve, if no one is brave enough to even name the problem properly: She’s an atheist apostate, and her home country, Saudi Arabia, would allow her family to kill her for it, without even blinking.

Nonetheless, despite the media’s attempt to minimize the nature of the plight faced by Rahaf and other Saudi Arabian women, she has inspired many of them to demand better for themselves. I don’t know that I’m as optimistic as Mona Eltahawy, who said she thinks there will now be a revolution in Saudi Arabia due to the inspiration Rahaf has provided. But it’s clear, judging by the reaction I saw on Twitter and elsewhere, that Rahaf has made a difference.

And while, as I said, she herself is still at some risk, she has earned a real shot at a great life, in the type of country she deserves: one that provides religious freedom, equal rights for women, and significantly better prospects for safety. Rahaf, I admire what you’ve done and I wish you the best in your new life.


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