Feeling Helpless? Fight It! (Covid-19 News Issue 3)
Feeling Helpless? – Fight It!
We all know things are going to change because of COVID-19. We don’t know what or how much, but we all know some things are not going to be the same. We are worried about our health, and the health of our loved ones, and we are worried about our jobs. Are we going to have students to teach this summer term? Will we get back to something closer to normal in the Fall? The answer to questions like these depends on what happens in the next few weeks. Will the virus be slowed, halted, contained, or will it spread and intensify? If the virus slows due to social distancing, and even to changes in temperature, perhaps we will see economic recovery. China has already begun to reopen Wuhan for business.
We can hope, but we should also plan, and we should plan for the worst. The Canadian government is proposing significant economic supports to get people through a tough year. If you are anticipating need up ahead because of unemployment or reduced employment, you might consider calling your regional MPP to tell him or her you want to see robust government aid and assistance. Now is the time when people can discover what it means to have a government armed with the powers of the purse, and now is the time to communicate your need and your support of measures designed to alleviate it. Speak up! In these pages, if nowhere else. Speak up! Our government has massive resources and powers, but it has not been in the habit of using them for a long time. Now it must, and it can, but we must demand that it does. We must look to the power we have granted government to help us all, and you can help make this happen simply by speaking. You do not have to be helpless as long as you have a voice, but you must use it.
History shows us that when a nation decides it is endangered, it can fight, and its powers are almost unimaginable. Large numbers of people working together have performed marvels, and we can do it again. Our problem now is partly a political one. We have lived so long with weak do-nothing governments that we have forgotten what they can achieve. Under ordinary circumstances, we do not want governments to exercise their full powers, but these circumstances are not ordinary, they are increasingly desperate, and we need government to remember what it can do and do it.
This means we may have more restrictions in our lives, less opportunity to do whatever we want whenever we want, fewer chances to chase our own advantage in a free-for-all free market. For instance, instead of ordering my groceries online for home delivery (which I did yesterday at the cost of a $15 delivery fee), I might have to pick them up doled out to me by a smiling (or not smiling) soldier from the back of a truck. Will it come to that? Maybe not, but if it does, it does, and it will mean everyone gets enough and nobody too much. During the Great Depression, it was noted that under military essentials distribution, some sectors of the population gained weight and some lost it, but nobody starved. We have no idea how bad this might get, but if it gets as bad as it could, you will see powers and achievements beyond anything our world has managed in a long time. Smallpox and polio were defeated, and tuberculosis beaten back, by human genius and enlightened social organization. We will do it again, and we will all eat and sleep safe until we do.
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Sign the Petition!
The Workers Action Centre, $15 & Fairness and others are leading a petition for HELP for ALL workers. https://workersactioncentre.org/covid-19-demand-h-e-l-p-for-all-workers-now/. While the CERB benefit is a welcome relief for many, others will be left behind. We need confirmation of supports for migrants, employed social assistance recipients, EI exhaustees and students seeking work, undocumented workers, temp agency workers with low pay and others. No one is safe until everyone is safe!
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