Sunday, March 22, 2020

Imagining A New World After the Pandemic

As COVID-19 rapidly spreads across the United States it exposes the nation's flaws and weaknesses like never before. These are also extremely hazardous times and  also facilitating an economic meltdown. The coronavirus pandemic can make people realise that capitalism value profits over human life. This tragedy can eventually pave the way for a new and more just planet.  
The coronavirus pandemic threatens to exacerbate socioeconomic inequality where 45,000 Americans are dying each year because they do not have health coverage. 30 million people are living without medical insurance and 137 million are facing financial hardships due to medical debt. One in four US workers - more than 32 million - is not entitled to paid sick days. Millions of people who live from hand to mouth have already begun losing their livelihood and thus will be unable to pay rent or mortgage or put food on the table. Many of those who become ill do not have paid sick leave, and for those who do, it seldom covers their actual income.

Reform proposals that would have been swiftly dismissed as fringe left-wing fantasies merely a few weeks ago are now being discussed in the mainstream media and by even Republicans such as calls for some sort of universal basic income and the “helicoptering” of money to working people. Cities and states have halted evictions, put mortgage payments and student and medical debt on hold, and are now considering suspending utility bills, water shut-offs and bank fees.With the coronavirus pandemic poised to become a crisis in the nation's prisons, jails and migrant detention centres, there are renewed calls for decarceration. Already non-violent offenders are being released.

Public health systems are finding it difficult and increasingly impossible during this pandemic to address the population's needs, and many coronavirus patients and others suffering from ailments not related to the virus will not receive adequate treatment. This is the direct outcome of years of austerity, where public healthcare systems were starved of resources. In countries that do not have public health systems, like the United States, it is extremely likely that the predicament of those people who fall sick will be much, much worse. The situation of millions of refugees trapped in transit camps is even more catastrophic.
Across the world, streets are deserted as curfews and lockdowns multiply to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.
This pandemic can be an opportunity that exposes the capitalist economic structure which has rendered vast sections of the world's population vulnerable. Solidarity and care for our planet must be our guiding principle for the future. It is time for a new forward-looking vision. It is time for a new beginning.

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