STRANGE FRUIT OF INJUSTICE

Raw

You wouldn’t know we’re in COVID-19

News programs air continuous coverage of

Protests

The whole country watched a man beg for breath

Beg for life

Murder

Huge crowds together in COVID-19

Solidarity

I count four days, I think

Night after night, day after day, throughout the country

Crowds

Destruction, fires, white supremacists

Pollution of peaceful prophetic voices

Huge voices

The crowds, unemployment, economic disparity

Injustice

400 years

In the midst of a movement

In COVID-19

Words fail

Riots

More words called out, called for

Repentance

Reform

Regeneration

Peace

No peace, no justice

Capitalism, Socialism, and COVID-19

In the Unites States, there is pressure to reopen.  And some areas are reopening in ways that disregard the advice of medicine.  For instance, in Wisconsin, bars are open with patrons partying shoulder-to-shoulder, swizzling beers and shots.  Wisconsin is a laboratory for the rest of us.  If everything goes well, so much the better.  If Wisconsin shows a peak of new COVID-19 cases, then the medical experts were right.  I gamble sometimes, but I wouldn’t gamble as Wisconsin is.  But the real issue is, why this desperation to reopen?  I think that the answer is in political systems.  And it comes down to a test of capitalism versus socialism.

The pressures to reopen in the US are driven by economics.  People are out of money.  The US government redistributed wealth in the form of a one-time check for $1,200.  For most Americans, that wouldn’t even cover one month’s rent.  Then there are electric bills, cable and internet bills, phone, and food–just to name a few expenses that an average household owes monthly.  So Americans are desperate.  It wasn’t cabin fever that led to armed protests in Lansing, Michigan.  It was desperation driven by economic deprivation.

In France, which has a more socialistic government than the US has, people receive nearly 90% of their work salary as a government subsidy.  I haven’t seen protests in France to reopen.  Neither have I seen them in Canada, where residents can apply for a monthly $2,000 check.  Let’s assume that cabin fever is about equal in the US, France, and Canada.  We see that in France and Canada, cabin fever hasn’t driven people to protest.  The US society is based on capitalism.  Also, the US has a strong tradition of individualism.  That means if you are a white-collar worker, you can work from home and keep your high income.  But if you are a blue-collar worker, it is probable that your income derives from the very workplaces that are shut down during the pandemic.  President Trump has used an executive order to force meat processing plants back to work.  And he hasn’t insisted that proper safety protocols be implemented.  He just wants to eat well.  He has the power to use executive authority to produce COVID tests, to help identify which workers are a threat to others.  But he hasn’t used such an executive order.  For the protesters in the US, money is driving them to risk their lives and to go back to work unsafely.  And for workers in meat processing plants, where safety protocols are not being implemented, Trump is ordering them back to work.  In France and Canada, the national government has set in place safety measures for the whole country to observe–the familiar shelter-in-place orders.  This has not happened in the US.  Trump thinks that such a national policy is socialism.  His capitalistic ideology leads him to encourage the country to open without federal guidance.  “Vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back,” Trump bragged.  The US is careening toward a desperate COVID-19 spike in a few weeks, as it opens economies unsafely.  While France and Canada have kept their numbers down and are instituting a graduated, staged reopening.  That is the difference between capitalism and socialism.  And it is playing out as unsafe and safe reopening plans for the respective political systems.