The sky is falling. Or at least so it seems. The coronavirus pandemic, the rapidly ensuing economic meltdown (now predicted by many mainstreamers to be worse than the Great Depression), and tanking oil prices (which started before the Covid crisis took hold) have obliterated the seeming stability of just a few weeks ago.
Many voices are saying that “hope” demands that we look past the current crisis to the return of “normal.” But what will normalcy look like? The status qua ante is quite simply unacceptable. While clear to many already, it should be clear now to everyone how horribly inadequate our “social safety net” (in quotation marks because it seems a cruel joke to suggest we even have one) was and is. Weaving a real safety net responsive to the needs of all Americans through radical, transformative federal policy is absolutely essential, and should be the top priority of every elected official in Washington, beginning with the provision of immediate economic relief to individuals and families.
Skeptics (no doubt including the hordes of corporate lobbyists begging for no-strings-attached federal bailouts for their respective special interests) will say it can’t happen, not in the business-dominant, anti-“socialist” U.S. political culture. Skeptics said the same thing in the early 1930’s. But things got bad enough that radical change, in the form of massive government intervention into the economy and the construction of a social welfare policy foundation, did happen.
It can, and should, happen again. Because things are fixing to get worse in a hurry. Way worse.