So … how’s your 2020 going? Not so great, right? I honestly had no expectations for this year beyond meeting a few personal goals, but the coronavirus pandemic (this virus is called COVID-19) has already ruined this year for many. Not only are people dying, but many have either lost their jobs or have been furloughed. They will not have money to pay all their bills or buy essentials to make it past this indefinite crisis period (which could last for at least six months).
Instead of talking about statistics — at least in this post — I wanted to briefly write about what we need from our leaders to stop the spread of the virus and help people recover.
What Our So-Called Leaders Are Doing
Currently, in the United States, both the executive and legislative branches are working hard to make sure that the response is as feckless and worthless as possible — at least for workers and anyone else in great need:
- A few U.S. senators, including Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia), engaged in insider trading. Burr sold up to $1.7 million in stock. Apparently, after receiving a security briefing about the coronavirus in January, these senators decided to dump stocks. Loeffler, whose husband is the chairman and CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, took the opportunity to also invest in Citrix, a company that offers telemarketing software.
- As many people were adjusting to a life of self-quarantine, Trump was busy grabbing more power for himself. Besides using the crisis to institute coveted travel bans, he is looking to take the opportunity to crush unions and institute martial law.
- Trump and other goons have suggested that we try herd immunity — by which everyone gets the coronavirus so that we can cull the weak — to save the economy.
- Just this weekend, the Senate Republicans offered a bill that would have served as a $500 billion giveaway to corporations. There was no language to help people who were in need, particularly those who had been laid off or furloughed, and the U.S. Treasury would be granted wide discretion over which businesses/industries benefited.
- In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been holding up any and legislation to cut Americans checks due to her predilection for means-testing.
- After refusing to acknowledge the seriousness of the pandemic, Trump and some Republican lawmakers have resorted to pointing fingers at China (where granted, COVID-19 originated) and using racist dog whistles.
The only good news here is that the Senate Democrats rightfully shot down that horrible bill in their chamber.
What Real Leaders Should Be Doing
Besides the shutdowns of nonessential businesses, our leaders should be focused on protecting the health professionals and workers who provide essential services, like delivery services, while helping other workers and families in need of aid. The steps they should take include:
- Freezing rents and mortgages
- Freezing all student debt
- Freezing bill collection
- Cutting $2,000 checks for all American adults per month
- Providing free coronavirus tests and treatment
- Providing access to clean water, electricity, and the Internet to everyone for free or at reduced prices
- Releasing nonviolent criminals and debtors from jails and prisons
- Building more hospitals
- Getting the government to produce personal protective equipment (PPE), like masks, which there is a shortage of
- Nationalizing some essential businesses, if needed
- Working will all countries to contain the virus and treat as many people as possible
Yes, this might seem risky for our leaders and it might cost businesses and CEOs a lot of money, but not doing this will be more costly. A crisis like this requires a response that matches its magnitude.
The Bottom Line
There is a solution here, but it will require a lot of selflessness on the part of our leaders, large businesses, and CEOs. Scratch that. The solution requires boldness and compassion from our leaders, even if that means temporarily hurting the bottom lines of large businesses and CEOs.
All of this has revealed to us — or reminded us who have been paying attention — how disgusting and out of touch most of our politicians are. This is a crisis, people are dying, others are trying to figure out how they will make it for an indefinite period. This is not the time for finger-pointing, profiteering, or handwringing. Our leaders should just help people and figure out the rest later.