March 24, 2020 – The word out of Washington is that President Trump wants to “open America for business” asap. “The cure can’t be worse than the disease,” insists POTUS. Indeed, goes the argument of a growing chorus of pro-corporate voices, public health “is” economic health, so taking care of the latter will automatically resolve the problem of the former. The chilling message to American workers seems to be: Your choice is between total economic collapse and financial ruin for you and those you love, on the one hand, and on the other sacrificing your own physical and mental health to the economic well-being of the nation.
Nonsense. The conflation of public health and economic health is certainly wrong, and most likely undiluted propaganda designed for the sole purpose of solving the “problem” of a sliding stock market and the threatened bottom lines of the corporate CEO’s propagating this disinformational “solution.” They’re scared and desperate, the titans of industry, and so they’re pulling the same stunt that they’ve pulled in the past – turn to the federal government for unrestricted bailouts, and lay the risk off to already-suffering working class citizens.
So, no, economic health decidedly does not equal public health.
At the same time, we insist that it is indeed possible to address health and economic needs simultaneously. Here’s a three step program for the quickest return to both public and economic well-being:
One. Continue to ramp up rigorous, aggressive, disciplined measures everywhere to “flatten the curve” of infection, thereby preventing our weak and unprepared health care system from being overwhelmed and in turn driving up mortality rates. At once, POTUS and a bipartisan Congress should direct manufacturing to produce the protective and intervention equipment desperately needed by front line health care professionals.
Two. Bail out individuals, families, and small businesses immediately and generously; $2000 per month for individuals until the resolution of the crisis would be a good start, as would be direct grants to small businesses, with their main objective to keep workers on the payroll, whether they’re actually working at this time or not. Disallow no-strings-attached bailouts for banks and major corporations. Absolutely refuse to hand President Trump the equivalent of an unchecked half-trillion-dollar slush fund, which is precisely what’s being pushed currently by Senate Republicans intent on using the crisis to advance corporate interests and boost Trump’s reelection prospects.
Three. Jettison once and for all the incoherent neoliberal cant claiming that government, and government regulation, is bad, while an untrammeled “free market” is good, the solver of all problems. Always disingenuous, the big lie of a privatized, anti-public market-driven utopia has been savagely exposed by Covid-19 – a tiny microorganism that has exploded the grandiose fantasies of the oh-so-smart corporate class and their legally corrupt political toadies, literally overnight.