Right now, a lot of us are hunkered down binge-watching Netflix, fretting over the upcoming rent payment, and wondering when public places will re-open. A drastic change like this prompts us all to crave a return to normal.
But here’s the problem: there cannot be a return to normal after this. The corporate state has tipped its hand too much on this one.
Don’t believe me? Then consider this: California governor Gavin Newsom has requested $1.4 billion to house the homeless during the coronavirus pandemic. States like Ohio are releasing hundreds of inmates for fear of contagion within our nation’s overcrowded prisons. Amid an ineffective, insufficient federal response, state houses and city halls from coast to coast are calling for a moratorium on evictions, foreclosures and mortgage payments. Even Republicans are calling for a universal basic income to tide over Americans through the economic collapse and ensuing recession.
Meanwhile, the most loud-lunged critics of Bernie Sanders’ “socialism,” including Wall Street bankers, fossil fuel tycoons and airline executives are lining up at the Fed with their hands out, asking for free money. The Trump administration has pumped $2.2 trillion into the stock market in hopes it wouldn’t collapse, but collapse it did.
Release of prisoners, housing the homeless, freezing payments on real estate, universal basic income. Aren’t these things the government can just do to ease people’s suffering? Governments were perfectly capable of enacting these policies earlier, but chose not to, instead deepening people’s misery in order to further profit from it.
The Federal Reserve just created a couple of trillion dollars out of thin air (aka quantitative easing) to put their precious stock market to rights, money that wound up completely squandered, anyway.
So tell me again why we can’t afford Medicare for All?
As in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, American empire and corporate capitalism are drowning in their own inherent contradictions and hypocrisy, laying bare the inequalities that existed long before COVID-19. Millions lived precariously with insufficient wages and crippling rent and medical bills, student loans, and personal debt, but only when a global pandemic breaks out does the government choose to act, when it’s their own political futures and economic interests on the line.
The inefficient rollout of a comprehensive response is in large part due to a byzantine, fractured healthcare system whose overhaul is long overdue. The economic collapse in COVID’s wake shows the fragility and insubstantiality of the American consumerist economy, and the obscene levels of wealth and income inequality the last four decades have produced.
The proposed bailout of American workers, “free money” by any other name, just goes to show how even a pea-brained right-wing demagogue can do the right thing when left with absolutely no alternative.
The point is, they need us more than they understand, and lawmakers across the country tipped their hand more than they realized. Freeing prisoners at a moment’s notice indicates that many of them didn’t need to be locked up to begin with. Suddenly taking pains to shelter the homeless shows that homelessness is arcane and barbaric in this day and age, and that there is no reason anyone should be hungry and homeless.
Cutting checks to every American for doing nothing tells us that all the while, they could have been easing our misery and removing the boot from our necks, but chose to keep the Ponzi scheme running to enrich themselves instead.
Not just Trump, but Obama, too. He didn’t lift a finger to help homeowners in 2008, nor did he come to the aid of striking teachers in Wisconsin. Not just Obama, but Dubya, too. He wasted trillions of dollars on illegal wars, let a city drown, and blew billions of taxpayer money on the Wall Street crooks. Not just Dubya, but Clinton, too, who gutted welfare, exploded the prison population, and consolidated media into a handful of conglomerates, offering the American public ten different flavors of corporatist goon propaganda and manufactured consent. Not just Clinton, but Bush, too, who expanded the War on Drugs, started a war in Iraq, and helped rob the Soviet Union after its collapse. Not just Bush, but Reagan, too, who … you get the idea.
In a consumer and debt economy, they need consumers and debtors. Without us, this whole charade comes toppling down. So now is our time to demand real change and action. It’s time to demand Medicare for All to prevent another embarrassing and life-threatening response to a pandemic.
It’s time to demand a Green New Deal to fight climate change, provide real economic stimulus and job creation, rather than propping up the already fabulously rich. It’s time to demand an end to student and medical debt, millstones around the necks of working and middle-class people everywhere. Now we can demand an end to homelessness and comprehensive criminal justice reform, because their continual cashing in on our misery depends on our participation.
This system of enforced austerity and exploitation depends on us obediently following our orders and participating in our own subjugation. Let’s choose not to participate in our continued defrauding and pillaging. The oligarchs have revealed too much their own vulnerability to us. Let’s get out there and demand the change we all so desperately need: an end to the failed neoliberal experiment that made the coronavirus pandemic even more painful to you and me.
Let’s start with debt strikes, rent strikes, spending strikes; let’s bring these parasites to their knees, and then we’ll see how quick they are to ignore the people again.