There are times, especially when you are confined to your house by a “shelter in place” order, when you must torture yourself just a little bit in order to feel alive. By you, I mean me. By “torture yourself a little bit,” I mean turn on five minutes of Tucker Carlson.
I had a feeling, after seeing Trump tweet that if social-distancing hadn’t cured the coronavirus pandemic within three weeks. that we should “just go back to living our lives as if things were back to normal” because the “cure shouldn’t be worse than the disease”. At that point, I knew that the RWNJ (“right-wing nut job,” in case you weren’t sure) media was going to be ripe with some wackadoodle BS.
Boy was I right!
Dan Patrick, the Lt. Governor of Texas, a state not known for its intellectually-sound politicians, made one of the most callous, inhumane, and stupid statements that I have heard on Fox News in quite some time. And that is saying a lot. He said that “Grandparents would be happy to die if it meant preserving the economy for their grand-kids” One more time for those in the back: “Grandparents would be happy to die if it means preserving the economy for their grand-kids.”
Let that sink in.
At no point have I been this upset during the Covid-19 crisis. I have been frustrated with my gig-job employer, I have been worried about my future, and I have been baffled by the president’s unceasing dishonesty in a time of crisis, but at no point have been utterly angry and upset. I was further enraged by the fact that my grandmother, who is a Trump supporter, immediately looked at me at the end of the segment and I said “I do not want to die.” You could see in her eyes that she knew that the President that she supported considers money more important than her life.
The question I began to ask myself was “how can someone be so callous?” Once again, I turn to a fact that I have pointed out in past articles: American has completely internalized capitalism. We have preached, meditated on, and proclaimed the value of capitalism, greed, and profit for so long that, as a society, we can see no good in a situation in which businesses have to take a loss. We have taught the values of independence and self-reliance for so long that we are willing to push people towards illness and death rather than asking for a “hand-out” or “leg-up” from government.
Yes, we are in the midst of a financial and health crisis. Yes, things are going to be tough. This is obvious. But if we could look at the crisis with compassion, we would see that this pandemic shows the need to expand the social safety net. And not only for the laboring class, but for small business as well. If our time of plague demonstrates anything, it is that we need to care for those who actually make this country great, and not continue to suckle those who drive us economic and moral collapse.
But until Americans begin to explore other economic paths, other economic philosophies, and question why we believe what we do, we will simply see more of the same. The the poor will continue to pay the price for the irresponsibility of the rich. We cannot stay on this path and survive.
It would not take a complete overthrow of the market economy. But we must politely challenge our more conservative friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors who may be to think more critically and compassionately about the social safety net. That is the only way we can take power-back from people like Dan Patrick and Donald J. Trump who would happily discard us into a mass grave in order to protect their and their friends’ profits.