7 Lessons We Need to Learn From Covid-19

 

Maybe it’s wishful thinking to declare the pandemic over in the US, and presumptuous to conclude what lessons we’ve learned. So consider this a first draft.

1. Workers are always essential

We couldn’t have survived without millions of warehouse, delivery, grocery and hospital workers literally risking their lives. Yet most of these workers are paid squat. Amazon touts its $15 minimum wage but it totals only about $30,000 a year. Many essential workers don’t have health insurance or paid leave.

Lesson: Essential workers deserve far better.

2. Healthcare is a basic right

You know how you got your vaccine without paying a dime? That’s how all healthcare could be. Yet too many Americans who contracted Covid-19 got walloped with humongous hospital bills. People with chronic disease, Black Americans and low-income children were most likely to have delayed or foregone care during the pandemic.

Lesson: The U.S. must join the rest of the industrialized world and provide universal health coverage.

3. Conspiracy theories can be deadly

Last June, about one in four Americans believed the pandemic was “definitely” or “probably” created intentionally. Other conspiracy theories have caused some people to avoid wearing masks or getting vaccinated, resulting in unnecessary illness or death

Lesson: An informed public is essential. Some of the responsibility falls on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms that allowed misinformation to flourish — and on the government for enabling them.

4. Wages are too low to get by on

Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck. So once the pandemic hit, many didn’t have any savings to fall back on. Conservative lawmakers complain that the extra $300 a week unemployment benefit Congress enacted in March discourages people from working. What’s really discouraging them is lack of childcare and lousy wages. Lesson: Raise the minimum wage, provide universal childcare, strengthen labor unions and push companies to share profits with their workers.

5. Remote work is now baked into the economy

The percentage of workers punching in from home hit a high of 70% in April 2020. A majority still work remotely. Some 40% want to continue working from home. Two lessons: Companies will have to adjust. And much commercial real estate will remain vacant. Why not convert it into affordable housing?

6. It’s past time for a wealth tax.

The combined wealth of America’s 657 billionaires grew by $1.3 trillion – or 44.6% – during the pandemic. Yet billionaires’ taxes are lower than ever. Wealthy Americans today pay one-sixth the rate of taxes their counterparts paid in 1953. 


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Lesson: To afford everything the nation needs, raise taxes at the top.

7. Government can be the solution

Ronald Reagan’s famous quip – “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem” – can now officially be retired. Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” succeeded in readying vaccines faster than most experts thought possible. Biden got them into more arms more quickly than any vaccination program in history.

Furthermore, the $1.9 trillion Democrats pushed through in March 2021 will help the US achieve something it failed to achieve after the 2008-09 recession: a robust recovery. 

Lesson: The federal government did not just help beat the pandemic. It also did more to keep the nation afloat than in any previous recession. It must be prepared to do so again.

About The Author

Robert Reich

Recommended books:

Capital in the Twenty-First Century
by Thomas Piketty. (Translated by Arthur Goldhammer)

Capital in the Twenty-First Century Hardcover by Thomas Piketty.In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past, says Thomas Piketty, and may do so again. A work of extraordinary ambition, originality, and rigor, Capital in the Twenty-First Century reorients our understanding of economic history and confronts us with sobering lessons for today. His findings will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.


Nature's Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature
by Mark R. Tercek and Jonathan S. Adams.

Nature's Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature by Mark R. Tercek and Jonathan S. Adams.What is nature worth? The answer to this question—which traditionally has been framed in environmental terms—is revolutionizing the way we do business. In Nature’s Fortune, Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy and former investment banker, and science writer Jonathan Adams argue that nature is not only the foundation of human well-being, but also the smartest commercial investment any business or government can make. The forests, floodplains, and oyster reefs often seen simply as raw materials or as obstacles to be cleared in the name of progress are, in fact as important to our future prosperity as technology or law or business innovation. Nature’s Fortune offers an essential guide to the world’s economic—and environmental—well-being.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.


Beyond Outrage: What has gone wrong with our economy and our democracy, and how to fix it -- by Robert B. Reich

Beyond OutrageIn this timely book, Robert B. Reich argues that nothing good happens in Washington unless citizens are energized and organized to make sure Washington acts in the public good. The first step is to see the big picture. Beyond Outrage connects the dots, showing why the increasing share of income and wealth going to the top has hobbled jobs and growth for everyone else, undermining our democracy; caused Americans to become increasingly cynical about public life; and turned many Americans against one another. He also explains why the proposals of the “regressive right” are dead wrong and provides a clear roadmap of what must be done instead. Here’s a plan for action for everyone who cares about the future of America.

Click here for more info or to order this book on Amazon.


This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement
by Sarah van Gelder and staff of YES! Magazine.

This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement by Sarah van Gelder and staff of YES! Magazine.This Changes Everything shows how the Occupy movement is shifting the way people view themselves and the world, the kind of society they believe is possible, and their own involvement in creating a society that works for the 99% rather than just the 1%. Attempts to pigeonhole this decentralized, fast-evolving movement have led to confusion and misperception. In this volume, the editors of YES! Magazine bring together voices from inside and outside the protests to convey the issues, possibilities, and personalities associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement. This book features contributions from Naomi Klein, David Korten, Rebecca Solnit, Ralph Nader, and others, as well as Occupy activists who were there from the beginning.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.



This article originally appeared on Robert Reich's Blog

 

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