Why Don’t They Care if We Die from COVID-19?
It seems clear that those with the power to ensure public health do not care if most of us live or die. Election week, the U.S. broke the world record for new daily cases for three straight days with 133,000 new cases of COVID-19. According to scientists and public health experts, the federal government could have prevented many of the over 235,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19 if it had nationally instituted masks, social distancing, testing, and contact tracing. So too could the poverty pandemic have been prevented. Tens of millions of people are out of work and struggling to afford adequate food and to pay their rent. Researchers found a 15 percent drop in poverty from April to June, explained almost entirely by the stimulus package. That poverty rate reversed after the stimulus lapsed, with millions more people impoverished than before the coronavirus crisis.
Why don’t they care if we die? The ruling class faces a problem that the COVID-19 death crisis can help them solve. Millions of Americans are being thrown out of the economy because jobs are increasingly being replaced by digital technology, such as computers, apps, artificial intelligence, robotics, and other forms of automation. This is transforming society, creating a social revolution. Struggling to survive, we turn to the government to demand that we and our children be allowed to breathe.
Automation has been underway for a while. In 2019, Brookings Institution estimated that more than 25 percent of U.S. jobs would be automated by 2030. The pandemic has led to increased automation, and many of these lost jobs aren’t coming back. A recent report by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve found that during the pandemic, workers whose jobs can be done by machines suffered more layoffs per capita than those with jobs not easily automated. People of color were especially harmed, probably due to their concentration in service jobs. COVID-19 has forced companies to limit human contact, resulting in hotels replacing people with self-check-in kiosks, meatpacking plants deploying slaughterhouse robots, and warehouses utilizing disinfecting robots. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission went cashless and laid off 500 toll workers. Why would they bring these jobs back? Robots and computers cost less than human workers. They don’t need health care and don’t demand rights.
The pandemic poverty our people are experiencing gives a glimpse into a world with few jobs: increased poverty, hunger, evictions, and homelessness. The people are coming directly up against a system of private property that withholds basic needs if you can’t pay. And without jobs (or living wages), we can’t pay! The people seek a solution to get what we need. The rulers seek a solution to keep controlling the wealth of society.
Former presidential candidate and tech entrepreneur, Andrew Yang, argues that the solution for technology’s elimination of jobs is to provide citizens with money to cover their basic needs.
Yang built his campaign around “The Freedom Dividend” — a $1,000 per month “universal basic income” to lessen the impact of technological advances on workers. He writes, “When the next downturn hits, hundreds of thousands of people will wake up to do their jobs only to be told that they’re no longer needed.” Yang also writes, “I love capitalism” and states that this is the only way to save it and prevent revolution.
The new class being starved by the lack of work wants more than $1,000 a month and is fighting for it. The movements to cancel rents, mortgages, and student loans are part of the struggle for a solution. Our class is fighting for the right to survive in a world of abundance being unfairly controlled by a tiny ruling class. The George Floyd rebellion is part of this revolutionary motion. Its fight to end institutionalized racism goes beyond police murder to the demand that governments use police funds to provide housing, food, healthcare, and other basic needs. The mass voter turnout to defeat Trump was also part of this revolution. Over 102 million Americans cast their votes early, breaking records. Millions of young people have voted, many reporting they are driven by racial inequality, gun violence, and climate change. These struggles represent the fight to transform society.
Advanced technology is replacing jobs and ending the capitalist system. This same technology in the hands of the new class can create a social and economic paradise where humanity and the earth come first, where we can protect our health and tend to all our basic needs. United, the new class can transform society into one where society’s wealth benefits all.
Published: November 9, 2020
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The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011