We like to refer to the U.S. as the strongest nation in the world. But this crisis has revealed how deeply fragile we are. In a nation in which millions lack healthcare, millions more lose it when they lose their jobs, 40% of the country has less than $400 in savings and
...a if you lose your job here, you receive a tiny, unlivable fraction of your income, Americans and our society are clearly much more vulnerable to the kinds of big threats we are likely to face in the future than are the citizens of any other developed country in the world.
If you had your savings in the stock market and were about to retire, that's not going to happen. Most Americans reach age 65 with less than $50,000 in savings. Most don't have pensions. Social security can't meet the minimum basic needs of life.
The minimum wage hasn't risen in 40 years. Average wages have remained stagnant for all but the richest among us. Our government has systematically shut down programs that provide care and support for people and those that might protect against pandemics like this.
This was not a surprise. This was warned about. The president's own economists warned him of the financial consequences of such a crisis. His national security team warned him of the national security consequences. The public health community has expected this for years.
And yet, as at Pearl Harbor, the attack our leaders knew was possible came and we were sitting ducks. And if Trump and the GOP remain in power not a single one of these sources of our weakness, these sources of the profoundest sort of human suffering, will ever be corrected.
To the contrary, even as these crisis continues they are attacking our already weak healthcare system, seeking to stop Obamacare, seeking to stop coverage for vital health needs, depriving the neediest of care, rewarding the richest, ignoring the truth.
They promote the idea that government is evil, that less government is better for the people, the deliberately weaken our institutions, they don't appoint qualified leaders and in some case, appoint no one at all. They came in promising to dismantle "the administrative state."
Their party has promoting these dangerous, inhumane, foolish ideas for years--since Ronald Reagan and before. And we are now seeing as acutely as before the human toll, the economic toll, the national security toll all this takes. We will be doing emergency spending...
far beyond that universal health care would have cost us for many years, beyond the cost of decent unemployment benefits, beyond the cost of restoring the promise of dignity in retirement, beyond the cost to our society, beyond the cost to our standing in the world.
We have long known our society--with its grotesque inequality and institutional racism and sexism--was broken. But now we are seeing a new degree of how badly broken we are. The question will be, what lessons do we take from this. Will we address on the momentary problems...
...of the crisis or will we invest in a stronger, more humane, more resilient society? Will we learn and grow? Or will the ultimate victim of this crisis be our country, once strong, brought to its knees by greed and short-sightedness?
You can follow @djrothkopf.
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