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Est. April 5, 2002
Apr 02, 2020 - Issue 812
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Cooperation,  Consideration, Compassion
Needed In Fighting Covid-19,
Things that Americans are not
Used to Doing


"The fight against the virus has brought out the best
in millions in this country, summoning cooperation,
consideration,and compassion on a grand scale.  But
all those who are exhibiting these fine traits are hampered
by the class that rules the nation and its politics. 
The worst example of this is the president, himself."

When it comes to fighting a pandemic such as coronavirus, or COVID-19, the nation needs volumes of cooperation, consideration, and compassion, all things that the U.S. as a nation is loathe to give, since the mantra of America has been individualism and laissez faire economic and social policy.

Laissez faire economics, which has always bled into the social fabric of the nation has held that the individual is the basic unit in society. That has meant that each one is a stand-alone entity and should be allowed to fend for himself or herself. If all things were equal, that might have made some sense, but things never have been equal since the beginning of the United States of America. There has been a ruling class that was in charge of the economy, the politics, and the social interactions of what has become a nation of 325 million souls.

Nothing has shown laissez faire to be the end game for individuals and the nation like the current struggle against the coronavirus. It shows in the millions who have no access to health care, because of the privatized (and disjunct) scattering of health care, if you can pay for it. Other developed nations have some form of national, universal health care system that cares for everyone. In the U.S., what passes for health care could never be considered a system.

The fight against the virus has brought out the best in millions in this country, summoning cooperation, consideration, and compassion on a grand scale. But all those who are exhibiting these fine traits are hampered by the class that rules the nation and its politics. The worst example of this is the president, himself. President Trump started out, taking his cue from his advisors at Fox News, declaring that the virus was no worse than a cold and that seasonal flu was worse by far. His do-nothing attitude at the beginning of the pandemic may have been partly because of his belief in the nonsense spewed by the commentators at Fox or it more likely was because he just didn't know what to do. His close ally, radio hate-monger Rush Limbaugh, also told his vast audience of “dittoheads” and the president, as well, that coronavirus was no worse than a common cold. These are Trump's experts in the medical field.

In recent days, Trump must have been anguishing over how to rid himself of the real medical experts and epidemiologists like Dr. Anthony Fauci, without seeming to take revenge for their contradicting him and his medical blathering at his “press briefings.” So far, the closest he has come has been to have other public health experts at those briefings, at least those who agree with him or are willing to fawn over him and support his babble, without Dr. Fauci. Until Trump is willing to take the advice of the public health and epidemiology experts, he is content to visit vicious epithets against reporters who ask him about his early statements about Covid-19 and what he is now willing to acknowledge. It's an unreal world that he inhabits and it only leads to catastrophe, and he doesn't seem to mind that he will take the country down with him.

Anyone who calls him to account is an enemy and the nation's once free press is, to him, all “fake news,” unless they agree with him (think Fox News). He's very sick, but don't think he doesn't know what he is doing. His game is to convince a majority of the electorate that all of the nation's institutions are fake and not to be trusted. Like the confidence man that he has been all his life, he has wormed his way into the collective mind of a significant portion of the people and convinced them that he is right and the only way out of the morass he has compounded is to put their faith in him. Trump is not so much intelligent as he is clever. He is clever, but he is not wise.

The coronavirus that he so desperately tried to minimize when it first was identified as a mortal danger to the entire planet is principally the result of globalization: Of finance, of economics, of manufacturing, of migration, of travel for pleasure and education. The space that Americans are trying to maintain as individuals during the worst of the virus was in a sense maintained between and among countries and their peoples, until cheap air travel and other means of breathing in each other's air came to be. And, that's in a literal sense. Global intercourse happened long before humans and their societies were able to deal with the outcome. In fact, outcomes were the last things that were on the minds of consumers (that's what the world's peoples in developed countries have become), who spent their lives buying up clothing, cars and trucks, electronics, and just about anything else that can be produced cheaply in any country but their own (especially the U.S.).

For Corporate America, cheap labor and the lack of environmental regulation greased the skids for a mass exodus of the nation's manufacturing capacity that had developed to be the world's biggest and best after World War II. Globalization of economies could be marked from that dynamic period after the war, during the resurgence of labor unions, which had remained quiet during the war years. After that period, workers wanted to share in the wealth of the nation and, therefore, began to use the federal laws that encouraged union organization. Organized labor, as an institution, was a beneficiary of of the industrial dynamism and grew as the national economy grew. Unions made their accommodations with the ruling class, such that they were allowed to flourish and their members were thrust into the middle class. Since then, Corporate America's war on workers and their unions has resulted in the significant reduction of the power of workers to participate in their government as an institution.

Still, many unions have managed to provide their members with the significant benefit of complete health care coverage through private insurance and, when the late Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced in 2003 H.R. 676, Expanded and Improved Medicare for All, the unions that had negotiated good health coverage for their members were reluctant to endorse Conyers' proposal. H.R. 676 calls for creation of a single-payer health care system, which would provide every resident health care free of charge. In effect, the one institution that represents the working class holds the same view as Corporate America, which has fought relentlessly against universal health care for all. In this fight, the corporations (insurance companies and others in the medical-congressional complex) and the 1 percent have limitless money to fight single-payer.

This is where cooperation, consideration, and compassion need to come into play to fight the natural greed of a capitalist economy, in which the only reason for corporations' existing is to make a profit and pay shareholders and CEOs and their minions. Any capitalist will tell you that without embarrassment. Even though corporations and the rich cannot be expected to do the right thing (even when there's a profit involved), the working class needs to make every attempt to become united in the fight against not only coronavirus, but against the worst instincts of the ruling class. And, what workers should be fighting for is the discovery of some common ground, regardless of the separation and division that is sowed by the rich, whose leading divider is none other than Trump. Working class unity, regardless of surface differences is what is needed. The nation will come out of this pandemic and crisis of leadership, but what results on the other side of it will depend on the unity and solidarity of workers everywhere. It will be an opportunity to change the inequality in income and wealth, in the lopsided economy, in a broken political and electoral system, and a society that leaves millions on the margins, often without hope.

Medicare for all would have saved us much of the suffering and misery that we have experienced in this pandemic. This president and the other rich always will take care of themselves, but they use workers' money to do it. It's time for a government that benefits everyone...years past time.

The National Catholic Reporter, in its March 24 issue, editorialized: “We've reached the point in the fight against coronavirus, this awful and unseen enemy, that lays bare the truth that the evangelists of self-sufficiency and libertarian excess bow before a false god. May the lesson be indelibly inscribed on the minds of the generations soon to move into positions of leadership. We need one another.”

The editorial continued, quoting a sermon of Martin Luther King Jr., who preached, “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” The editorial continued, “We've recently been served an enormous helping of each, except that in this case the stupidity can't even be categorized as conscientious. It is wanton. We're learning how dangerous it is when clueless leaders alienate and demean expertise and dedicated service. That President Donald Trump insists on labeling the pandemic the 'Chinese virus' merely wraps ignorance in racism.”

Individuals and groups display cooperation, consideration, and compassion, but America as a nation, at this time in its history, is very stingy with those traits. Only the solidarity of the working classes will change that and fix the country so that it is actually run by the people and for the people. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.

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