The COVID-19 pandemic affected nearly everyone on the globe, bringing with it a great deal of suffering and significant changes in the way people work and live. Despite the initially dismal US response to the pandemic, we are now among the most vaccinated countries on earth. All across the country, restrictions are relaxing, masks are coming off, travel is resuming, and people have begun returning to normal.
Unfortunately, “normal” in the US is a dire situation to begin with.
As bad as COVID was, it also brought with it several silver linings. The scope and horror of the situation forced us, for the briefest moment, to prioritize something other than profit. The rich weren’t immune to COVID-19. A far-right Republican government temporarily instituted an eviction moratorium and student debt relief, issued stimulus checks, and expanded unemployment benefits. Some essential employees received pay increases. Those who were able worked remotely, reconnecting with their families, clearing up the roads, and allowing nature some respite from our constant hustle.
For a while, it seemed like some of these changes might become permanent. Pundits and politicians seriously discussed universal basic income and student debt forgiveness. As we realized society is only as healthy as the least-healthy among us, the need for a Medicare-for-All system became apparent. Businesses explored more flexible work models, and some made work-from-home permanent.
Now, there is no “new normal.” Instead, we are rushing back to the old normal as quickly as possible.
Disabled protesters outside Senator Mitch McConnell’s office are removed from their wheelchairs and kicked off the premises for voicing their opposition to Trumpcare.
Millions of Americans celebrated last week when Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act seemingly hit a brick wall. After weeks of backroom deal-making, renegotiations, and demonstrations by committed healthcare activists, three Republican senators defected from their party and pushed the latest vote to 51-49 against repeal. President Trump is already working with some senators to revive the effort, but there is a simple reason Republican healthcare reform hasn’t gone well: it has nothing to do with healthcare. Continue reading →
Putin and Trump Matryoshka dolls. Image taken from Politico.
The number one political scandal in Washington, D.C., continues to be President Trump’s campaign and cabinet’s association with Russia. A steady trickle of salacious, but ultimately inconclusive, headlines has dominated the D.C. press ever since the election. Each new testimony and new detail, however minor, is treated like a bombshell. But even if the worst possible scenario between Trump and Russia is confirmed, it will still be among the least of his crimes. Continue reading →
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders pickets with Iowa workers last week. As a senator, Sanders also recently introduced legislation that would guarantee paid vacation time to full-time workers.
Today is Labor Day, a day on which millions of Americans will enjoy a luxury that, sadly, is rarely afforded to them: a day off from work.
Unlike some holidays, there’s little ambiguity about what Labor Day represents. It’s a day that first gained momentum, and eventually legal status, in the late 1800s. Organized labor had been fighting bloody battles with factory owners and police to help end the injustices of the Gilded Age, and Labor Day was set aside to recognize the contributions of those workers to America’s success.
Now, workers have their holiday, but also face the very real prospect of a return to that Gilded Age. Wages are stagnating, hours are increasing, benefits and pensions are disappearing, and union-busting is back in full force. And all of this is happening at a time when GDP is expanding and the wealthiest Americans are the richest they’ve ever been. Continue reading →
In his “Jammin’ in New York” special, George Carlin holds up a glass of water and asks the audience if it’s safe to drink. An immediate, unanimous chorus of negative responses warns him that it’s not. Carlin takes a drink anyway and lets the crowd know he was only setting them up: “Everywhere I go I say, ‘How’s the water?’ Haven’t gotten a positive answer yet. …It amuses me that no one can really trust the water anymore. And the thing I like about it the most is it means the system is beginning to collapse.”
Not unlike the fear of local water, opposition to vaccines is a manifestation of the public’s growing distrust of institutions. It’s reached such heights that vaccine skeptics have been given their own derogatory nickname: anti-vaxxers. Continue reading →