From the publisher … Publishing in the time of COVID-19

by Joe Courter

Setting about this task right now is surreal. We are all so off from our life rhythms. The town is so shut down, so a limited press run is in order. You subscribers, and those of you who have picked the Iguana up from wherever, I hope you are staying safe and unscathed from this outbreak of our tiny viral adversaries, facilitated by our fellow humans who assist them into our bodies either inadvertently or with careless disregard.

Rapidly closing in on 70, I feel somewhat vulnerable to this virus, a vulnerability I only otherwise felt when I had a motorcycle. But beyond that, it is empathy I feel for those whose lives are being or are about to be turned upside down. So many friends of mine are musicians. Gigs and tours cancelled. Many others work in the service industry, either owning, managing or working in enterprises that are now all but shut down. People with kids … no school. And then there are the many for whom this situation itself provokes so much stress and fear, sucking the joy out of life.

But there are positives; “Look on the bright side …” my friend Lexi would say. This is a world problem, and the best minds in the world are looking for cures. We can look around the world and see what systems worked better, get inspired to see what can be made better. Locally we can see people pulling together forming mutual aid networks, and we can know this is happening everywhere. 

We can see Italians singing from their balconies. We can see Cuban doctors being welcomed back to Brazil after being told to leave not long ago. We can see that corporations and greed are not the motivators that help humanity, and that science must be paid attention to. We see artists lifting us up, performing informally on Facebook or other platforms, and fundraising as well on these new platforms. Local efforts are reported on in this issue, and we are skipping our calendar of events because for at least the next month, our tasks are: #1) Stay Safe and #2) Help each other out as we can.

What we should also be feeling, though, is an anger that in not only the last two months, but the last decades, decisions have been made that have put the U.S. into this unprepared situation. 

Disaster stockpiles have not been kept up. Hospitals have been torn down. Our healthcare system has been made a cash cow of the insurance industry while many suffer without care, and this is before this particularly noxious virus came into being. Big money has taken over our government by funding candidates more beholden to their corporate backers, than to the needs of the citizens whose interests they are supposed to represent. 

The news media have become corporate mouthpieces as well. They have openly admitted that covering, and in effect promoting, Donald Trump’s campaign 2016 was a big money maker for them. And the biased coverage of Bernie Sanders is there for all to see.

In the fall, job one for us all is a massive voter turnout to not only dump Trump, but win all down the ballot. And that momentum has to continue beyond the November elections. 

But that is a long way off. Here and now, and for at least the next month, we get to slow down and stay healthy. But we also need to demand the government do more, way more, to help people survive. The government controls the money. They will bail out banks in a blink of an eye. 

That money needs to pass down the chain, and bail out property owners to allow rent and mortgage payments to be forgiven. Living expenses need to be subsidized. Debt payments need to be postponed or forgiven. If they can find the money for war, they can do this too.

Please keep your social distance practices firm and spend time in the great outdoors. But the tools and time are there to fight for each other, support each other, and limit the impact this pandemic will have on our future. We’ll get through this.

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