Quantcast
Connect with us

Here’s how we could be responding to the COVID-19 crisis instead of the bizarrely backward-looking programs we have now

Published

on

Thanks for your support!
This article was paid for by reader donations to Raw Story Investigates.
Courier in protective mask and medical gloves delivers takeaway food. Delivery service under quarantine, disease outbreak, coronavirus covid-19 pandemic conditions.

This article was paid for by Raw Story subscribers. Not a subscriber? Try us and go ad-free for $1. Prefer to give a one-time tip? Click here.

Terry H. Schwadron
Terry H. Schwadron

No matter how welcome, the various aid programs emerging from Washington are helter-skelter and backward-looking.

Sure, we should welcome the idea of aid efforts to keep workers employed by keeping companies small and large afloat — however haphazardly they are being administered.

But once you get over the idea that we’re bailing out airlines and big industry, and too many “small businesses” that are actually big businesses, all of which may or may not be keeping employees on the payroll, here’s a thought: We are expanding our huge federal debt in an effort to keep a status quo that is out of step with new needs.

ADVERTISEMENT

The aid checks are just arriving. But if these loans are working, we should be seeing a more positive change in the weekly unemployment claims, rather than the continuing spiking of millions upon millions of new jobless. Indeed, all indications are that widespread layoffs are just beginning to take off among a wide swath of industries dependent on advertising, heavy walk-in consumer traffic like retail, and service industries that need fuel to stay alive.

What we’re seeing in public programs probably reflect as much as our current leadership – in both parties – can handle while they are dealing with the overwhelming, simultaneous medical and economic emergencies.

Still, it seems to me we should have some government council in all of this mess that has its eye on assessing where the weaknesses of our systems are, and giving our public investment strategies a good shove in those directions.

Quality, Not Quantity

Here are some examples of what I’m missing in the rush to aid:

Food. We’re seeing pictures of farmers dumping crops and spilling milk because supply lines are interrupted just as millions in the cities are struggling to get meals and food handouts. The problem seems to revolve around immediate ways to get food from there to here. The obvious thought is why isn’t the government aid being used to hire truckers and whoever else is needed for these supply lines to smooth the way to get these needed food supplies to where they are needed? California, for example, has announced a program to pay restaurants to produce meals for vulnerable seniors.

ADVERTISEMENT

Pharmaceuticals. There’s a lot of blather about how China has replaced U.S. companies as a prime manufacturer of pharmaceutical drugs just at a time when our leaders debate how badly to try to swat China for lagging in sharing factual coronavirus information. Why aren’t we using our aid programs to incent U.S. pharmaceutical companies into starting drug manufacture in this country? Are we waiting for Big Pharma to decide by itself that it would have to pay U.S. wage scales? Where is the “whole of government” approach we hear bandied about nightly?

Education. Schools were shut in states across the country, and teachers, trained to stay in front of classrooms, were now faced with offering instant, online stimulation to students in their pajamas at home. Colleges, universities and trade-oriented schools joined them. Training, however, was on-the-fly. What if we had, I don’t know, a working and caring Department of Education that was concerned with student learning rather than the promotion of bankers for student loans and the health of parochial schools? Why are we not investing in the re-training and adjustment of educators who are prepared for an online teaching environment and myriad associated problems?

Health. By contrast, governors in Massachusetts and New York are leading the discussion about hiring and training a zillion people to do contact tracing of those who are found to be coronavirus in the still-nascent virus testing programs. This is exactly the kind of match that seeks to put public investment where there is a social need, and that starts with training as a basic building block. The federal aid programs for hospitals are aimed at keeping hospitals from having to lay off workers in a time when it seems like lunacy to do so. If the nursing home model is no longer acceptable, how are we using aid programs to develop a new model that actually pays home health workers more than minimum wage, for example, or that marries service as a health aide to the favorable treatment of immigration status.

ADVERTISEMENT

*

The best thought I’ve heard about all this is toward “infrastructure” programs to rebuild broken roads, bridges and tunnels. It is discussed openly as a jobs program that would be aimed at putting people back to work in areas where it would help American society at large.

In regard to this theme of matching policy with need, infrastructure is obvious. But it doesn’t go far enough.

ADVERTISEMENT

We’re facing a time of increasing dependence on technologies for industry, learning and home. Job training as an online enterprise is infrastructure investment, just as building out our online storage and networks are. So are cyber policing efforts toward stopping fraud, identity theft and skill-building.

We’re facing a post-coronavirus need for a federal arts and humanities effort that recognizes that we are known and recognized by our ability to express ourselves in a variety of communications modes.

There are like emphases for re-born health care industries, energy manufacturing, food distribution and supply-line management for every type of business.

ADVERTISEMENT

All I’m seeking is some intelligence on the part of our leaders to match the aid to where we will need to go next.

Of course, that is a lot to ask. It takes more than a hat and off-the-cuff suggestions about swallowing bleach.

This article was paid for by Raw Story subscribers. Not a subscriber? Try us and go ad-free for $1. Prefer to give a one-time tip? Click here.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Federal judge says Trump pardon of Michael Flynn may have been ‘too broad’: report

Published

on

A trial judge has raised the possibility that the federal judge overseeing the case of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn could find that President Trump's pardon of Flynn may be "too broad," according to The National Law Journal.

The comments “came unexpectedly” during a Freedom of Information Act hearing about releasing documents from special counsel Robert Mueller's office, according to BuzzFeed reporter Jason Leopold.

Continue Reading

2020 Election

Here’s why Republicans who are calling for a Trump dictatorship should not be taken lightly — and aren’t going away

Published

on

The United States dodged an authoritarian bullet when former Vice President Joe Biden, a centrist Democrat, became president-elect, winning 306 electoral votes and defeating defeated President Donald Trump by more than 6 million in the popular vote. But when Republican Lin Wood, a pro-Trump attorney who has been fighting the election results in Georgia, implores Trump to impose martial law and elections officials are receiving death threats for acknowledging Biden as president-elect, it is painfully obvious that there is a strong appetite for fascism in parts of the United States. And journalist Sasha Abramsky, in an article published by The Nation on December 4, warns that Republicans who are openly calling for fascism should not be taken lightly.

Continue Reading
 

2020 Election

Welcome to ‘Crazytown’: An unprecedented frenzy in Georgia shows how democracy breaks down

Published

on

On the eve of the general election, Russ Silva and his family, like many fellow Georgians, watched as the results started slowly pouring across his television set. It was becoming more and more apparent that Georgia was destined to become a focal point for the entire country, not just because it was a contested battleground state between Donald Trump and Joseph Biden, but also because it was setting the stage for an unprecedented situation.

As election night came to an end with many results still uncertain, Silva let out a sigh as he bemoaned to AlterNet what he suspected was inevitable: "Now I pretty much know I'm going to be barraged by endless ads."

Continue Reading