by Joe Courter
We are having a double whammy within a worldwide event. What started it and who is suffering? We humans.
Animals and plants are okay, there is no physical infrastructure to rebuild. Covid 19: our technology gave us a great head start on seeing it coming, and even a body of research to similar viruses. Unfortunately another aspect of our technology — our ability to travel by air, sea and rail — has allowed the virus to get out into and around the world.
As typical with viruses, those that get it have varied success in fighting it off. Humans of today have all kinds of assistance in doing this, in fact a major, complex infrastructure of buildings, drugs, diagnostic equipment and personal protective equipment are there. But, unfortunately, and especially of late, in this country that infrastructure is run like a business, and run on the cheap. It got overwhelmed and it will continue to overwhelm areas of major outbreaks.
This is a mean and sneaky virus.
With regard to seeing it coming, there was that problem of how to read and respond to the warnings, and then how to implement that response. Science and ethics said it clearly: isolation and containment. Lock down and avoid close human contact, the number one source of transmission. Flatten the curve, you can’t stop it but you can slow it down. This whammy will run its course around the planet as it spreads and will be devastating in overcrowded refugee camps and urban third world slums, where the means of slowing it down are near impossible.
The other whammy has just begun, and that is the impact of that needed response on our complex economic and governmental systems. The shutdown’s affecting our lives in many ways, and the highest impact is the loss of income for so many, layoffs if lucky, or possibly closures of businesses. These people will need help because rent and bills will still be there. Bailout money is essential, or some sort of relief. And that ought to come from that same place that can fund wars and weapon systems!! And it needs to go from that lofty mystery place to the people on the bottom, ALL the way down the chain.
From renters to small landlords and homeowners, to those who hold their mortgages, and those mortgage companies to the banks… all need to be made whole to get the system back where it was. It is a big (overly) complex system, and a partial bailout will hurt people. Direct, nonbureaucratic help is needed. I am seeing so much stepping up in our community, getting food and economic relief out while at the same time great cooperation from local government in keeping we social beings from doing the activities which would spread it. However, the State and National response is still shaky at best. Yes, thanks for that $1,200, but for most folks that is already spent. Those that should get unemployment compensation can’t, and others are not even eligible due to our gig economy and the informal economy. They especially need help!
This is big folks, and will impact us for years. But as a world event we can see what’s being done elsewhere, and we should start taking these comparisons seriously, because this country is moving in some dangerous directions. The rising authoritarian track the US is on is obvious to most and there are well funded sources who are promoting it. This is not new; it began under Reagan with increased assistance to the wealthy and the smashing of the union movement. With the fall of the USSR, the fear of communism changed to a fear and revulsion of our own “big” government. Trump has been undoing hard fought rights and regulations at an astonishing clip. We face a huge number of conservative judges in lifetime jobs. And as that is playing out we have the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and a pivotal election months away. Get ready.
p.s. Double Whammy is also the name of a great Carl Hiaasen book … highly recommended for some humorous escapist reading.