Extra! Extra!: People Are Rising to the Occasion with COVID-19, Many Governments Not So Much

This week’s COVID-19 news roundup sheds light on what’s going on with the stimulus package and how governments are using this moment to consolidate power. And we continue to have the same old fights around reproductive rights, immigration and health care.

The Fight Over the COVID-19 Economic Relief Package

Himani: I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that even in a crisis like no other, somehow the Republican party and the corporations who line their pockets are more concerned about ensuring their continued financial solvency at the expense of workers and taxpayers. It’s disgusting that big businesses in the airline industry — which have been turning a huge profit for years — want taxpayer money to get them out of the hole they squarely put themselves into. They decided to run tight margins and make risky financial decisions so investors and CEOs could make a massive haul at the expense of their workers. And now they want taxpayers to come in and save them? Not without some guarantees that the money’s going to go to workers and only to the workers.

Senate Republicans continue to play games. In at least one iteration of their alleged stimulus package, they put forward a plan for paying Americans, while excluding many, many people who needed that money the most. Over the last few days, they’ve continued to push proposals that offer bailouts to corporations with no oversight. Democrats aren’t having it and blocked two procedural votes.

Meanwhile, Trump is getting ready to end social distancing measures just so he can reopen his resorts and clubs, regardless of the human cost.

Why Do the Airlines Need a Bailout?

Republicans Found a Way to Mail Checks and Still Screw People Over

The Senate Impasse over the Massive $1.8 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus, Explained

Before Trump Called for Reevaluating Lockdowns, They Shuttered Six of His Top-Earning Clubs and Resorts

How COVID-19 Is Disrupting Democracy

Himani: Around the world, governments have started using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to delay the inconveniences of democratic rule (namely have to give up power when they are, in one way or another, voted out). Unfortunately, I think we’re just seeing the beginning of these types of authoritarian measures.

The challenging thing about a situation like this, though, is that I do believe we need governments to step in and tell people and corporations what they should and should not be doing to mitigate the spread of this pandemic. If we had clearer direction – based on facts and science (ie testing and contact tracing) – then we wouldn’t be morally shaming each other when we interpret poorly-defined “recommendations” about social distancing differently. And at the most basic level, I think that Trump and governments around the world should be requiring companies that have the capabilities to manufacture masks, ventilators and hand sanitizer. The problem is, how many governments can actually be trusted with this kind of power?

Where the Virus Muzzles the People

Russia May Delay Putin Vote as Coronavirus Threatens Political Agenda

Just About the Last Person to Trust With Additional Power Now Has a Lot More

Himani: Instead of spending the time governing, here are some Senate Republicans that sold their stocks weeks ago after they learned how devastating the COVID-19 pandemic would be for the global economy. Yay, kleptocracy!
Sen. Kelly Loeffler Dumped Millions in Stock After Coronavirus Briefing

Senate Intel Chair Unloaded Stocks in Mid-February before Coronavirus Rocked Markets

Reproductive Rights

Ohio Orders Halt to “Nonessential” Abortions in Preview of Battle That Could Go National

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Uses Coronavirus Pandemic as Excuse to Ban Abortions

Immigration

Construction of US-Mexico Border Wall Proceeds Despite Coronavirus Pandemic

Health Care

Why the Push for a Quick Coronavirus Vaccine Could Backfire

Lupus Patients Can’t Get Crucial Medication After President Trump Pushes Unproven Coronavirus Treatment

Himani has written 17 articles for us.

13 Comments

  1. Someone wrote on Twitter that she’s glad that our head of state is a scientist (Merkel has a doctorate in physics) and even though I wouldn’t have voted for her, at the moment I couldn’t agree more.
    As an outsider, I have a question:
    Are there plans to boycott US companies that don’t pay workers sick leave? Or to stay home in a show of protest when trump ends the curfews prematurely? Are there any kind of plans?
    Would Canada have capacities to help NY, take a few critical care patients off of their hands? It’s not too far, is it?

    I just don’t know what to say. What’s happening politically in the US is outrageous, unspeakable, unimaginable, and I just want to say that I am so, so sorry. I hope all of you are safe and healthy and in good spirits nonetheless.
    I mean, staying home and rewatching Harry Potter is suddenly a political thing to do, so it’s already a win? Lord of the Rings? Critical Role?
    xoxo

    • What the hell is a non-essential abortion anyway? Like anyone would get an abortion just for the fun of it? And it’s not like it’s a time sensitive procedure… /s

      That Slate article on checks was very informative – because I had totally missed that.

      Also interesting in the abuse of power section: Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister (and aspiring dictator) of Hungary is using this crisis to move further away from democracy. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/23/hungary-to-consider-bill-that-would-allow-orban-to-rule-by-decree

      And to exit on a something small and kind if funny. Stores in the Netherlands may be open, with certain regulations. Non-essential stores in Belgium have to be closed. On the border there is a town called Baarle-Nassau with one of the most insane borders ever. (It has several enclaves in enclaves.) There are stores that are directly on the border, so currently half of the store has to be closed while the other half can stay open. https://twitter.com/palpeet/status/1242507278739214341

      Stay safe everyone.

    • Hey @amidola I don’t know if there are plans underway to boycott companies, etc. but I imagine that sort of thing will come around. Before all of this, I know people (myself included) were doing things like boycotting Amazon and such, and I’m sure that will continue during these times. The main thing I’ve seen is mutual aid.

      I can’t speak for Canada but I’m operating under the assumption they do not have equipment to spare. I don’t know about how the virus is spreading in other parts of NY state but the Canadian border is about 7-8 hour drive from NYC, so I don’t really consider it all that close? Unless we’re planning to fly people over? I’m not really sure.

      I feel like what’s happening around the world is atrocious and appalling, to be honest. The US certainly isn’t doing a great job of it, though…

      • Oh, I’m actually awed by what is happening around the world.
        How the Chinese sent supplies to Italy and wrote “We’re all waves from the same ocean” on the boxes, long before they were in the clear themselves.
        In the medical Community every scrap of information is publicized and shared across all kinds of papers and social media. All major news outlets have dropped their paywalls, communication providers are upping their data packages for free, a lot of apps and programs are giving out codes, free content, new at home stuff,etc. Most of all, I can’t believe that people are actually staying home, keeping their distance and hanging in there.
        It’s a great rush of solidarity and doing the right thing.
        I think it’s the more important to call out countries and politicians who are trying to abuse any and all power at the moment, don’t get me wrong, but the mantra I’ve heard and the one I feel lived in the streets is “We’re all in this together.”
        And I don’t know how much the people in the US have been following what’s been going on elsewhere, but we’ve been keeping checks on you! You’re not alone, we’re here.

    • Thanks @freakazoid1980 – I will check out the piece by Harari.

      On my better days, I sometimes imagine how, despite how truly horrifying and tragic this moment is, this could be the time we shift the entire global economy to a Green, non-capitalist economy grounded in labor protections and environmentalism. This could be that moment! But I know I’m setting myself up for major disappointment when I fantasize about that for too long…

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