Covid19 is Not the Flu and Requires a People’s Bailout for Working People

By Zakk Flash (April 28, 2020)

It took 20 years, from 1955 to 1975, for the United States to lose 58,220 men and women — 47,434 in combat — in Vietnam.

In less than four months, just as many Americans will have died from the #Covid19 pandemic — the toll, on April 26, stood at 55,383, a few thousand shy of the total number killed in Southeast Asia.

This is not a hoax.

Do people really think that they’d shut everything down if this was comparable to the flu? The NBA, Olympics, Oktoberfest, the greasy spoon diner on Main Street — all closed.

This isn’t media hype, y’all. The number of people in this country who have died from #coronavirus is, for easy Oklahoma comparison, approximately the same as the number of people who live in Midwest City, our 8th most populous city.

I understand the concerns of people out of work. It sucks. The government is printing trillions of dollars right now; working people need that money. Instead, that money — your tax money — is going to bail out landlords, the cruise ship industry, and a whole bunch of rich assholes who were rich and assholes before the pandemic.

We need to demand a people’s bailout.


“Open the Economy” is a Right Wing Attempt to Doom Working People

By Zakk Flash (April 20, 2020)

They don’t want to “open the economy.”

That’s bullshit language, cooked up in some think tank and seized upon by the media as a neutral descriptor instead of a right-wing euphemism for dooming hundreds of thousands of immunocompromised, elderly, homeless, imprisoned, and marginalized people to an early, painful death.

These folks need our support. The folks gathering at state houses around the country do too. They need a comprehensive social safety net that would allow them to stay healthy, pay their bills, and live with a decent quality of life. We all do.

The White House and its cadre of corporate goons isn’t working to make that happen. They want a return to the status quo.

The plan to ‘reopen the economy’ is dumping the bodies of service and industrial workers in front of a global pandemic so the wealthy can profit.


We Need a People’s Bailout

By Red Corbeau (April 19, 2020)

It is difficult to argue for a ‘stay at home’ strategy to limit the deaths when so many unemployed people are now wondering where the money is going to come from for food and rent. I understand the temptation to deny the severity of this pandemic and, out of fear, clamor for an immediate re-opening of the economy.

What would make ‘sheltering in place’ more workable for the long term would be:

-to provide adequate and welcoming shelters for those who don’t have them; strengthen and expand the social safety net, including a people’s bailout of at least $2,000.00 a month or more for each household (we know the money is there – and remember? collectively we created all that wealth now held by so few), at least until the pandemic passes (I’d rather see this part of the “bailout” continued);

-across the board forgiveness of debt;

-and a moratorium on rent at least until people can safely return to work.

-We need to also recognize that the entire planet is connected, and unless we want to see the pandemic recurring, we need coordinated international efforts.

All of these things have been proposed, but none of them are likely to happen under this Administration (and maybe the next). So the growing fear of destitution and impoverishment has already been mobilized by the powers that be for a disastrously early “reopening” of the economy, and as the pandemic continues, people are more and more caught between the proverbial rock and hard place.

We should be protesting for a People’s Bailout, rather than for the chance to die or kill others to make money for the oligarchy. Ultimately, of course, we need to create a people’s economy that works for all of us.

Structural Racism is the Reason People of Color Are Dying of Covid-19

By Teka Lark (April 13, 2020)

The Surgeon General, Dr. Adams, stated, to paraphrase, that we people of color (Black people and Latinos) need to lay off the alcohol and healthfully eat so that we won’t die of the COVID-19. People were quite (understandably) outraged, but I also found something similar in the Chicago Defender that also outraged me:

“If it was in place now, it would be issuing nutritional, dietary and lifestyle advice to Blacks that emerging research is beginning to suggest that may minimize the effect of the epigenetic damage.”

Respectability politics sometimes comes dressed in a three-piece suit and other times, it comes dressed in kente cloth. Still, regardless of its uniform, in the end, it blames Black people for our oppression, and it refuses to attack the root cause directly (fewer grants in that).

For many reasons, I don’t like the historical trauma argument. It implies that we’re damaged when we are born and that gives alive racists a get out of jail free card. I’m not willing to do that. I’m not throwing it out, but I feel it’s a dangerous game to play with white institutions, because white institutions are always looking at ways to pathologize Blackness and wiggle out of fixing themselves. Fixing themselves would involve no longer existing.

The disparity in care is a massive problem for Black people. It takes us twice as long to get help, and once we get help, it takes us twice as long to convince medical professionals to understand or rather, care what we ware saying. And once we do all that, we’re dead.

From NPR “All Things Considered” from 2016 Analysis by NYC Health

“Five years of data found that black, college-educated mothers who gave birth in local hospitals were more likely to suffer severe complications of pregnancy or childbirth than white women who never graduated from high school.”

This analysis and other studies point to a disparity of care.

Another challenge is that Black people live farther from their jobs. Black people and Latinos typically live farther from work and are farther away from good public transit options. That means Black and Latino people generally are walking more than a mile and transferring at least once to get to work. The 2015 “It’s About Time: The Transit Time Penalty and It’s Racial Implications” study of the Minneapolis and Twin Cities area stated that people of color communities were spending 11-46 more hours a year on their commute than white people.

You lose nearly two days of your life just for not being white.

More time commuting means more time being exposed to illness, disease, and just the elements and being in cold weather in addition to stressful commutes lower the immune system.

Another huge issue for Black people is that we typically work in the public sector and the service industry. In July 2010, the Center for Labor Research and Education released a report examining the state of Black workers in the years 2005 – 2007. It found that the public sector is the most critical source of employment for African Americans, and it is the sector that provides us with the highest paying jobs.

Those jobs include education, transportation, sanitation, the postal service. Even when we have degrees, we’re going to be working with the public, owing to the dynamics of race and access in the US.

In 2020 this is still the case.

Outside the public sector, we work in retail services and parts of the health care sector, including home health aides and nursing home workers, jobs that also expose you to the public.

And also the kind of jobs we have outside the public sector tend to be last hired, first fired. Jobs that you can’t do at home, that are at-will employment.

The cemented institutions of racism is the reason that Black people are disproportionately —exposed and dying from COVID-19.

There are no buts here. There are no if we just…no, it’s structural racism, that’s why and that is the only reason why.


Nelson, A. (2002). Unequal treatment: Confronting racial and ethnic disparities in health care. Journal of the National Medical Association, 94(8), 666-8.


To Be in the United States During a Pandemic

By Jasper Smith (April 9, 2020)

To be in the United States during a pandemic:

– People without homes are told to stay home.
– People without clean water are told to wash their hands.
– People lose their job and with it their healthcare.
– Most people don’t have enough savings to cover two weeks of lost income to quarantine without paid sick leave.
– Hospitals overflowing with sick patients lose money and threaten to close because they have to cancel elective surgeries.
– People must risk their lives to work and even to vote.
– Kids without internet and computers are told to do school online.
– The market drives up the price of essential consumer and medical supplies.
– Scammers target vulnerable people to cheat them out of what little they have.
– Current and historic inequities compound the losses in communities of color.
– Gun sales surge and some people fear getting shot if they wear a mask for safety.
– Women and children suffer abuse in their homes.
– Politicians vilify immigrants even when a third of our doctors were born in other countries.
– Environmental regulations are suspended to compound the impeding climate crisis.
– Members of Congress use access to information to buy and sell stocks and enhance their wealth.
– Misinformation is more prevalent than information.
– Leaders see a financial crisis and pass a stimulus bill for the wealthy rather than a health crisis needing relief for those in need.
– The president fires the independent oversight for $2 trillion in spending.
– We waste time developing our own test that doesn’t work when functioning tests from other countries were available.
– The president hawks an unproven drug in which he and his allies have financial interests after having previously disbanded the government’s pandemic response team.
– For two months the president tells us there is nothing to worry about and now we lead the world in the most cases and will soon lead in most deaths.

In a Properly Civilized World

By Louis Colombo (April 6, 2020)

In a properly civilized world, we would view this pandemic as nothing but a reminder of our interconnectedness to nature, a reminder that we are part of, but not above, nature.

We would treat this time as a time to pause, retreat, reflect, be with those we love, tend to those we care about.

But our world is not civilized, so instead, we are thrown into panic, anxiety, and despair, worried about making it through the month in the blind hope that next month things will return to “normal,” all the while forgetting that our date with finitude is the normal we forever try to suppress.

Seeing Inequality in Zoom

By Alexandro Jose Gradilla (April 1, 2020)

One of the problems we struggle with in the university is getting a lot of the faculty to honestly see the “whole student”.

As I Zoom teach with my students…I see their realties…”attending” class with a phone in a car. In very small cramped rooms. You can tell they are precariously positioned in the camera so as to “edit out” all the people they live with and not to interrupt them. The anxiousness is on their faces.

So after this disaster or catastrophe is over…we as educators commit to culturally responsive teaching and more equity minded pedagogies and policies. You can still be “rigorous” and have “high or tough standards”…but know what the realities are of your students.

Zoom is revealing in interesting ways our social inequalities that we ignore.

And a shout out to my colleagues who are adjuncts. Adjuncts do the majority of the teaching in most higher ed systems especially in the CC and CSU. As budgets get uglier…we will have to struggle together to keep the budget priorities on the mission of the university…teaching.


Cesar Chavez and the Struggle for Justice During the Covid-19 Pandemic

By Joseph Orosco (March 31, 2020)


Some thirty years ago, Cesar Chavez staged his last major hunger fast. This fast went on for thirty-six days. In his statement issued at the end, Chavez said he had begun the fast because he had to do penance; he was ashamed of himself. For all his years as an organizer, he said he had not truly comprehended the pain and suffering of farmworkers due to exposure to pesticides.   He felt he had not done enough to make people aware of the immensity of the problem.


So after his debilitating ordeal, Chavez went on to speak to numerous audiences across the country, repeating the stories of farmworker children, such as Johnnie Rodriguez, who died after a two year battle with cancer; or of Felipe Franco, who was born without arms and legs to a farmworker mother who had been showered with toxic chemicals in the field. Most importantly, he wanted people to realize that, to the extent to which we all rely on pesticides and cheap farm labor to provide our food, we are also responsible for the suffering of children like Johnnie and Felipe and thus have a responsibility to prevent more pain. Chavez wrote in his statement:


“The misery that pesticides bring will not be ended by more studies or hearings. The solution is not to be had from those in power because it is they who have allowed this deadly crisis to grow. The answer lies with me and you. It is for all of us to do more. We will demonstrate by what we do and not by what we say our solidarity with the weak and afflicted. I pray to God that this fast will encourage a multitude of simple deeds by men and women who feel the suffering and yearn with us for a better world. Together, all things are possible.”

1988. UFW President Cesar Chavez, his mother Juana Estrada Chavez, and Jesse Jackson at the service during which Chavez ended his 36-day hunger strike and Jackson took his up.

I was thinking about Chavez’s words as I read about the two trillion dollar stimulus package passed by Congress to boost the US economy and provide relief for unemployed workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. As James Harrington–an organizer who worked with Chavez—points out, there are about 4 million undocumented workers, many of them farmworkers, who are not eligible for cash relief. And there are close to another 30 million poor people who are not eligible because they have not filed income taxes recently. Many of these people are likely to work in service or hospitality industries that have had to cut back or close down. Its not clear we are sheltering the most vulnerable among us with this package, but we are certainly propping up some of the biggest industries, with almost $500 billion in loans for airlines and manufacturers.


But I think the realization that made me most understand Chavez’s need for penance was thinking about the shelter-in-place regulations going on in many hard hit states. My social media is filled with funny memes and videos about people going stir crazy at home or dealing with their children. Yet, there are millions of working class people who can’t share in this humor because their work is considered essential: grocery store and pharmacy clerks, postal and special delivery drivers, truck drivers, sanitation workers, water and electric utility workers, and of course, public health workers in hospitals. They have to show up so the rest can work from home. Many of them are starting to realize that they are at a greater risk of exposure and have not received from their employers training to protect themselves, or hazard pay, or even masks and gloves. Some of them are starting to strike now, at Amazon and Whole Foods and other retailers, to improve these dangerous conditions. But I can’t get over the feeling that my well-being, and that of millions of other middle class people, depends on the labor of many people who were probably already struggling paycheck to paycheck to get by.


Of course, Chavez didn’t wallow in guilt and self-pity—his realization of the farmworker’s suffering was a call for him to think strategically and to act. First, he came to understand that the use of pesticides was the result of large agribusiness looking to make a quick profit rather than protect the health of workers: “The wrath of grapes is a plague born of selfish men that is indiscriminately and undeniably poisoning us all.”


It is undoubtedly the case that Covid-19 is a plague born of selfish men. Our top leaders in Washington last week were discussing the need to relax quarantine restrictions lest the economy suffer more damage—weighing human lives less than profit making. But more poignantly, we’ve seen how profit motives in New York City have shut down hospitals and, thus, reduced the overall hospital bed capacity over the last twenty years. The most blatant case of selfish greed is that of the large US manufacturer of ventilators, Covidien. In 2014, Covidien swallowed up a competing smaller corporation that had a contract with the US government to build thousands of newly designed and relatively inexpensive ventilators. Covidien then pulled the plug on the contract, saying it was not profitable to make the ventilators, even though the Centers for Disease Control were hoping to stockpile them for future emergencies.


So as Chavez said: “the solution is not to be had from those in power.” I’ve been so impressed to read of all the different mutual aid project erupting across the country in which people are stepping up to collect food and other goods for vulnerable people in their own communities. They are creating thick networks of assistance and developing skills for more organizers.


But more will have to be done. It’s said that physical distancing could become a regular occurrence, not only in dealing with a resurgence of Covid-19, but with other viruses that are expected to become pandemics in the future. We are going to have to yearn and dream for what we will need in a better society. If this experience teaches us anything, it is that we need a much more accessible and equitable public health care system, and better social welfare services, than the US currently offers.


This radical imagining means confronting both political parties that have but profit before people and the corporations that fuel political ambition. However, this is precisely the strategy Chavez envisioned. In an essay written in 1970, he said:


“The attacks on the status quo will come not because we hate but because we know America can construct a humane society for all of its citizens—and that if it does not, there will be chaos…The power class and the middle class haven’t done anything that one can truly be proud of, aside from building machines and rockets. It’s amazing how people can get so excited about a rocket to the moon and not give a damn about smog, oil leaks, the devastation of the environment with pesticides, hunger, disease. When the poor share some of the power that the affluent now monopolize, we will give a damn.”




Welcome to the Great Pandemic Depression

By Arun Gupta (March 23, 2020)

I wrote this days ago saying an economic contraction of 10% or more and an unemployment rate of 20%. Only now are investment banks worth hundreds of billions of dollars considering we are in a depression. I haven’t seen anyone acknowledge what is obvious: The same economic denialism is going on now as in 2008. Then, as now, we were told, “No recession.” Then “soft landing.” Then “V-shaped downturn and recovery.” That’s the current line from the Nazi Carnival Barker. Except it’s delusional at best, and a flagrant lie at worst. We are looking at months of economic inactivity and tens of millions unemployed.

Welcome to the Great Pandemic Depression.

If you are feeling stunned and disoriented by what is happening with the Great Pandemic, that’s because we have become embroiled in a war in just days.

We may be looking at a death toll in the millions just in the United States. We are probably looking at an economic depression. We are certainly looking at a disruption and reordering of society and social relations in a way that hasn’t happened since World War Two. That had a profound effect by with 10% of the population being shipped off to war, re-tooling the entire economy, and upending social relations, particularly around gender and race, in ways that rippled through society for decades. We don’t know if this will be on that scale, but we are now in a war society and economy with a malignant narcissist in command.

In this post, I want to focus on the economy. The economic fallout will be as bad as the Great Recession, and we may be headed for a depression. A recession is defined as two out of three quarters of economic contraction, but there is no accepted definition for a depression. So I define a depression as an economic contraction of more than 10% and a peak unemployment rate of 20% or more. This article is informative on the economic impact, but like virtually all reporting on the pandemic, it is behind the curve.

Let’s get ahead of the curve. It is likely many if not most states and big cities will shut down all schools, bars, and restaurants this month. Even if many states, particularly reactionary Red States, don’t enact blanket quarantines, it’s likely a majority of the population will be living under state-imposed self-isolation within weeks as the big states and municipalities do this.

Even before such drastic measures, the airline, hospitality, music, sports, film and TV industry, the entire travel and leisure industry, were trapped between shutting down and collapsing. Global supply chains will be severely disrupted with most of the advanced economies shutting down as well.

Meanwhile, China’s attempts to get its economy up and running again were faltering even before other industrialized countries were hit hard.

There will both be a huge drop in consumption for all but basic goods — food, water, medicine, medical supplies, stay-at-home entertainment — and a huge drop in demand as tens of millions of workers are idled. This will become a feedback loop. People will hoard savings as they hoard toilet paper because they are unsure of how long they need to ride out the storm and hold onto savings, putting off all unnecessary purchases. Consumption will plummet for non-emergency goods, rippling through the supply chain from extraction to manufacturing to sales to shipping. We are talking apparel, electronics, furniture, cars and trucks, consumer durable goods (apart from things like freezers that have all sold out).

One example. In February, car sales in China were at 21% of levels the year before. Let me repeat that. China recorded only one-fifth of the car sales from a year ago. Their techno-authoritarian state

Auto manufacturing, parts, dealers, repairs, and so are about a $1 trillion industry in the U.S., nearly 5% of the nation’s GDP. The energy sector has crashed as well, anticipating an economic free-fall and because of the price war between the Saudis and Russia. Trump has been acting as if everything is great because gas will be cheap, while ignoring the carnage, but even by his murderous logic low gas prices are bad for the economy. High oil prices are more beneficial to the U.S. economy because of the domestic oil and gas production boom that has become a significant employer throughout the supply chain, from drilling and equipment to chemicals, transport, and storage. (I am not saying fracking is good; it should be banned. But this is another economic blow).

Auto insurance accident claims have already declined significantly, indicating people are driving much less. If they aren’t going to work, kids aren’t going to school, they aren’t leaving the house, and huge amounts of wealth are being destroyed in the stock market crash, how likely is it people will be buying houses?

So there goes another huge leg of the economy: home construction, home sales, moving, and goods to outfit homes. Then there is the restaurant industry, which employs around 15 million people. Who knows how many might eventually be laid off, but it’s likely to be enormous both from direct closures, self-isolation, social distancing, and knock-on effects of reduced employment and spending.

All of this will ripple through the financial sector, especially in terms of loans and corporate debt. The Fed has unleashed nearly all of its tools, both Zero Interest Rate Policy and Quantitative Easing, but it’s having little effect because it’s not a financial crisis. Interestingly, one former banking regulator, Sheila Blair, says the Fed is not using its tools to shore up entire industries, which she says would help businesses and consumers.

If this wasn’t bad enough, state and local governments will be hard hit by declining sales tax and income tax revenue. So will mass transit systems by declining ridership and revenue. Meanwhile healthcare systems will be overtaxed and may collapse in some areas. Manufacturing will suffer as well as inventories build up. Less production and consumption will also mean less material moving, so warehousing, shipping, and trucking will all be dealt blows.

This is already worry that weaknesses and breaks could eventually appear in food supply chains. What happens if supermarkets become hotbeds of infection? They are likely to given the enormous foot traffic and all the people handling goods. Imagine if workers start coming down sick and others are too afraid to show up to work. This is deeply worrisome for obvious reasons.

And the fact a murderous psychopath is running the show doesn’t provide any comfort.


The Left Needs to Think About the Political-Economic Future in Six Months

By Joe Lowndes (March 21, 2020)

Tucker Carlson is being cheered by some liberals for calling out NC Sen. Richard Burr for insider trading.

Burr should be investigated for this, to be sure. But this is consistent with Carlson’s right-wing nationalism more generally – just as it was Pat Buchanan’s before him. However, it will matter in a new way in coming months I think – and in ways that the left should be paying close attention.

The economy is unquestionably going to continue to collapse at the top and the bottom in coming months. When the presidential campaign season begins in earnest this summer, when things may really spin out of control and suffering really increases, it is easy to imagine real pressure from below on the Biden campaign to call for greater economic reorganization that would include heavy taxation on the top brackets and more redistribution in the form of major healthcare reform, debt cancellation, relief, etc. (the return of Sandersism).

Trump will have to outflank this. As the livelihood and lives of members of his electoral base fall apart, they will need to hear him demonize some elites in their defense along with the nationalism he always draws on – more border control, more crackdown on immigrants, more hostile language about China, etc..

This will be where Carlson will be crucial. His distinct framing of politics – a combination of xenophobia, racism, authoritarianism, and full-throated defense of working-class Americans; broadcasted to his massive nightly audience – is exactly what Trump will need to beat Biden.

We should all really be thinking about what the political-economic landscape looks like in two, four and six months and how we should respond. The right surely is.

joe lowndes

This is a Biological and Political Crisis

By Astra Taylor (March 20, 2020)

If you know me, you know I love etymologically. I love the buried meanings of the word we use, their hidden resonance.

The word “crisis” comes from the ancient Greek. It means the turning point in an illness—death or recovery, two stark alternatives.

Someone just told me the root of “apocalypse is “to reveal” or ‘to uncover’

We’ve been saying we are in a crisis (or intersecting crises) for a long time. But now the term couldn’t be more apt. We are living through both a medical/biological crisis and a political one. Many people will die of coronavirus, no doubt, but how many who get sick will actually be perishing from preventable shortages/rising poverty/and our lack of a truly public and international healthcare system?

That is the truth this apocalyptic moment unveils. To truly cure ourselves we are going to need way more than a vaccine….