In recent entries here, any mentions of COVID-19 have been in the context of its effects on political organizing and the electoral process. I have avoided writing about it in depth, mostly because so many other people are: medical experts, politicians, reporters and pundits in respected publications, your friends and relatives on Facebook posting breathlessly about coronavirus "facts" that can be debunked in ten seconds via Snopes.
What I have gathered from my readings and media diet—which, I'll freely admit, consist mainly of other Progressives' analyses—is that more people are seeing just what holds our so-called economy together. They—and I don't mean just Progressives—are also having little epiphanies about how interdependent everyone and everything is. Some are even tuning in to the Grand Epiphany that our economic systems don't reward the most essential work. In fact, in multiple ways this system systematically rips them off—food producers, food purveyors, hospital assistants, schoolteachers just to name a few—and that we need a new system.
Capitalism is canceled, henceforth and forthwith. It. Doesn't. Work. For. Us. And I'm not just saying that because Krystal Ball has said that we need to suspend it for the duration of the pandemic and Do Not Resuscitate it afterward. This has been my position for decades.
Baristas or Sports Stars: Which Are More Valuable to Society?
I love soccer. I keenly miss being able to watch live MLS and Premier League matches. But do I believe that soccer players should become multi-millionaires? that club owners should be billionaires, or even that billionaires should be club owners? Absolutely not. In times like these, are millionaire athletes (or movie stars or business moguls) of more value to our society than the people preparing your takeout dinner? Nope. And, I would argue, that is also true in "normal" times. (Major props to all the pro athletes who, like J.J. Watt and Kealia Ohai, are tapping into their fortunes to make sizable donations to organizations that help people directly.)
What hurts me a lot more than missing my Saturday morning footy on the telly is how millions of children who love the Beautiful Game are missing out on playing it in their youth leagues due to quarantines and lockdowns. My niece and her friends can't play, and her loving family can't cheer for her and her team.
What hurts me just as much is that all the people whose jobs depend on professional sporting events, from the beer vendors at the stadium to the pedicab drivers, have lost their sources of income. And they are not alone. Millions of Americans who work for hourly wages and tips no longer have those wages and tips coming in. What happens when they cannot pay their bills, including rent? Companies and landlords are allowing for generous deferments, but not all of them. How long will they need to keep this up? What happens when incomes are restored but it takes several months longer to completely recover from the current downtime?
I've recently heard the US economy described as a "house of cards," and it seems like an apt description. But I have a quibble with it, because there's the economy on one hand, and there's the "economy" on the other. The latter is what the media means by the word: Stock market indices and the facts and figures that emanate from Executive Branch agencies. The former is what is actually happening at street level. Millions of underpaid, overworked American citizens and immigrants are holding the real economy together, and they're doing a damn good job of it.
Speculations on the Post-Coronavirus Future
Our nation, our society, and our government cannot solve this by throwing money at corporations who do not/cannot guarantee that they will continue compensating their employees at their regular rates. I am convinced that only direct payments from the government to individuals and families will keep them and the macro economy afloat. [EDIT: And, oh yeah, Medicare for All too. I left that part out earlier.]
Would the government's creation of trillions of dollars overnight cause runaway inflation? You tell me. Did it cause inflation in 2009? Not that I recall. It also didn't increase consumer confidence or spending.
The failures of 2009-10 produced the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011-12. And the United States of America, under a president who campaigned as a progressive but administered as a neoliberal, showed its true police-state colors by using every available tactic to crush that movement. The state refused to listen to the cries from the new Bonus Army camps and Hoovervilles, let alone act on them.
The preceding paragraph describes business as usual in the USA. It is our "normal." Going back to this "normal" will set us up for more health and financial disasters.
Compared to the numbers who might lose their homes and cars after the current crisis, Occupy was small potatoes. The hundreds of thousands participating in Occupy could sit and practice consensus-building and mic-checks and nonviolence in the parks of our major cities, interrupted occasionally by police raids and infiltrations. The millions who may end up deprived of shelter and transportation post-quarantine will not be so civil.
Is this really what our alleged leaders want—an Arab Spring–style economic revolt right here in the USA? Some might say yes, that this is want the establishment has wanted all along. Killing poor people is lucrative for the capitalist class. Why spend so many millions to kill them in distant lands when we have such a target-rich environment here?
Yes, this is all a bit of slippery-slope speculation, but it's based on historical precedents from this country and plenty of others. If it wants to preserve the established order, to avoid a Les Miserables–style popular rebellion, the establishment will need to buy off the people in ways that make the New Deal look like a pregame warmup. But once this nation gets a taste of what those direct payments actually do for the economy at all levels, there will be no going back. Not with socialism already more popular among young people than at any time since 1968; not with the benefit of knowing how the establishment used red-baiting and the Cold War to scare the socialism out of us.
At no time in my life has "Socialism or Barbarism" looked so true to me. And I perceive that a certain Millennial named Krystal Ball feels the same way.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.