Maybe it’s because I’ve been paying too much attention to the news. Or maybe it’s because I’m still steaming from getting the boot from my gig job. Or maybe it’s just because I feel what I’m seeing happening in this country is insane.
Whatever it is, I’m absolutely livid.
We locked down for weeks to get a plan in place to get COVID-19 under control but no plan materialized. Testing still does not keep up with the growth in cases. There is no national mask mandate. When I drove to Florida to pick up Buddy I saw far more people in Georgia and Florida not wearing masks than I do in Alabama. The difference? The governor of Alabama has put a mask order in place. Neither Florida nor Georgia have.
We’ve learned that many of the so-called small business loans actually went to some big corporations. Mega-churches. Sports franchises. And that some of the businesses that got loans that were meant to keep employees on the payroll didn’t, yet those loans will still be forgiven. One business owner in Florida used his $4 million loan to buy a Lamborghini.
We’ve heard the federal government doled out contracts for testing supplies and PPE to companies who had no experience in that market. We heard of small soda bottles being converted into test tubes and of N95 masks that weren’t delivered or were of questionable quality. When the federal government couldn’t provide states with needed protective equipment, states ordered their own only to have the federal government confiscate the orders and distribute them to brokers who sold the supplies for twice their actual worth.
And let’s not forget all those already-rich people who are making a killing right now off the stock market that is being propped up by the Federal Reserve. Despite increasing unemployment and underemployment in the country, the markets keep soaring higher and higher. Are you profiting from that use of your tax dollars? I’m sure not.
But let’s not get angry about all that. Let’s focus on people who were making an extra $600 a week on unemployment.
Yes, I know some people on unemployment are making more by not working than they did when on the job, but let’s not forget the reason they aren’t working is because of a pandemic, not because they are lazy. Some aren’t going back to work because they lack child care. Some are vulnerable and can’t afford to get sick. Others can’t afford to go back to a job where they barely got by when things were good and now their wages and hours have been cut. Thanks to a Congress that seems clueless about the plight of many Americans, Americans have lost that extra help and are getting that piddly little amount doled out by states to the unemployed- that is if those Americans qualify for the safety net and the state gets them approved. Some states are still struggling to respond to the large number of unemployed constituents.
As sad as those stories are, there is yet another population of Americans who are hardly mentioned at all. They are the people who kept working through the pandemic, but for fewer hours and less money. Contract work dried up. Journalists have been laid off or furloughed. NPR reporters took a salary cut. Reporters at Alabama papers were furloughed for a week at a time. State and local governments are struggling to provide needed services at a time when revenues have taken a huge hit due to courts not being in session and fewer sales tax dollars coming in and are facing the possibility of mass layoffs.
We have Americans who cannot afford to pay their rent. Their COBRA insurance. Their utility bills. We have Americans who are grieving the loss of family members and friends to COVID. We have people who have not seen their elders in nursing homes and assisted living centers for weeks or months. Those among us who thrive on being around others and the healing power of touch are withering away at home alone, away from their family, friends, co-workers, church families.
Despite the utter failure of our federal government to take action to curb the spread of COVID in the United States, our president has the support of almost 40% of the population, or almost half of white men and over one-third of white women. Which is to remind us that the only reason we got into this mess is because the electorate allowed it to happen.
We wanted our confederate statues and flags. We wanted abortion to be illegal. We wanted to stop immigrants from entering the country either legally or illegally. We wanted to allow white men to discriminate against anyone who wasn’t a white male without consequence, and we wanted to give white women who sold their soul to the patriarchy a privileged position while the majority of women suffered under the weight of misogyny. We wanted white people to be able to call the police on persons of color for such mundane things as sitting in Starbucks or enjoying a public park. We wanted our police departments to allow “a few bad apples” to injure or kill Black men, and instead of holding the officer accountable we wanted to justify the officer’s actions because the victim once smoked marijuana or went to jail. And we believed all this was OK because we did it in the name of Jesus.
In high school physics I learned that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Not sure Newton was thinking about pandemics when he came up with his third law, but this pandemic is the perfect foil for the human race that has overpopulated the earth and misuses all of her resources. We can’t just ignore it, throw money at it or take a pill and make it go away. We have acted for decades like a bunch of spoiled brats and now that we’re faced with something that’s more cunning than we are we pout and cry about the unfairness of it all. I personally don’t see it as unfair at all; I see it as Nature pushing back.
So will we learn from these times and resolve to never allow it to happen again? Probably not, but maybe we’ll get handed our ass for a few generations. Or maybe Nature will finally do us in. Maybe that’s what we deserve.