Curtain Raiser

Adopt a Healthcare Worker, Colltalers

The oil industry ‘moved with breathtaking speed‘ to seize the moment, says respected environmentalist Bill McKibben about the outbreak. And so did the whole fossil-fuel complex and their Congress acolytes. And Big Plastic. And an entire cottage conspiracy net that’s freaking out people to death.
But no matter how billionaires may trivialize it, a million of anything is a lot. This threshold of coronavirus cases in the world was vanquished, with no signs of relenting. And yet, it’s Trump’s knuckle-headed decisions, the breakdowns, and vile profiteers what really is making it all much worse.
Some Americans may think they’ve got the answer for the crisis: to buy another gun. Either incentivized by far-right radio talkshow hosts, or by that insane rationale that they’d be able to go to war with the world’s most powerful army, people are lining up to get ‘ready’ for a dystopic future that could come about exactly as a result of their thoughtless behavior. Wanna bet how many feet of distancing they stand from each other in those lines? Don’t.
COVID-19, the respiratory infection caused by the new coronavirus, has lodged some impressive records, and that’s without counting victims or even cataloging the businesses that may have to fold for good. It’s been hard, for instance, to imagine a rebirth for the restaurant industry, which has been plagued for ages by labor violations, wage theft, waste, and plain, old-fashioned corruption. Servers, cooks, and kitchen help are out of luck.
Since the 1980s, the U.S. has moved from manufacturing hub to a finance and services-driven economy, and by a record of technological invention. The latter is hardly true now as brainpower required for scientific breakthroughs comes from access to higher education and smart immigration.
As a result, most of the 13 million-plus restaurant and bar workers are out of jobs they most likely won’t be able to return to. Part of the relief package passed by Congress last week was supposed to provide immediate help to them, the small-business owners employing them, and to countless little eateries that contribute

to life in the mainstream U.S.A. But Senate Republicans and the president were rather in it to aid those industries listed above.
Thus $500 billion of the $2 trillion funds have already been attained by the Trump administration to aid poorly-managed airlines and big polluters – and likely, his reelection campaign – while Treasury has announced that the stingy, one-time $1,200 checks will start being issued in weeks. Possibly.
Leaders of social movements to fight for the poor, such as the Rev. Dr. William Barber, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and others are calling for a Truman Committee-like to supervise the distribution of funds, so they won’t solely benefit big corporations. But Trump, of course, has refused to even acknowledge that anyone but him has the power to demand accountability over this so-called free slush fund.
He has had a big hand from the established media, which insists on printing every lie and misinformation he has uttered about the coronavirus, covers live his infuriating ‘daily shows’ as breaking news, and won’t challenge his excuses to diffuse blame. Despite the catastrophic conduction of this crisis and a horrified body count, the president has managed to even raise his ratings among supporters; it’s what he spends most of the time talking about.
The crisis has affected the entire world in similar ways, but results vary according to who’s in power in each country. Sadly, most Western societies have been led in the past few years by an elite of incompetent leaders, if not downright authoritarians, and we won’t get anywhere under their watch. It’s a devilish logic, of a world where windfalls make the rich richer and the poor, well, they don’t ever get windfalls, to begin with, only bills to pay.
The first native Brazilian was diagnosed with the disease, sounding the alarm that the virus may wipe out whole indigenous populations before any help is forthcoming. It certainly won’t come from President Bolsonaro who’s under a threat of a coup orchestrated by the same forces that helped land him in Brasilia in 2018, by outlawing then front runner ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. So it’s been the volatility of current politics in Brazil.
In the staggering leadership vacuum, some are coming up with needed but unfortunately out of scale solutions. Thus for each lampost sign, advertising illegal sales of likely counterfeit N95 masks, the ones every medical worker should be given dozens every day to properly care for the sick, there’s a friend of a friend making simpler masks to give it away. Or volunteering to aid neighbors, even with no idea whether they’re immune or not infected.
For every bit of misinformation by the Cheater-in-Chief, there’s a ship full of medical supplies crossing the ocean, sent by goodwill nations to those in need. The U.S. is out of this noble loop, though, and American firms are still exporting the very supplies U.S. hospitals and healthcare workers are in desperate need of. Worse, Germany and France have accused the U.S. of diverting supplies headed to their countries by outbidding the original buyers.
That’s a form of cruel piracy. Back in January, the Trump administration had refused life-saving masks offered by the World Health Organization and other countries because, as it turned out, it was trying to have them produced to be used exclusively in the U.S. and sold at a profit to other nations.
When a 6.5 earthquake struck Idaho last Tuesday, its second most powerful ever, rattling roadways and wrecking people’s nerves, a lot was reported about its aftermath, damage to property and a sense that it shouldn’t be happening at all. But one word was missing from the coverage’s vocabulary: fracking, the highly-pollutant and unsettling procedure of injecting water and chemicals to extract gas from the shale, hundreds of feet below ground.
Producers are careful to mud the water, so to speak, about the link between fracking and earthquakes or environmental destruction. Try googling it and the first non-corporate study about the connection appears only after several screens. They call it ‘natural gas’ for a reason, and it’s one that can kill us.
For years, the black market for exotic species has boomed, driving some to extinction. As the endangered pangolin is being seen as a possible source for the outbreak, along with bats, there’s a new, convincing argument against traffic: they may carry viruses the human body has no defense against.
Another week of this season in hell is upon us and while the virus still rages, the planet has had a reprieve but till when? Will we emerge from the pandemic more determined to fight climate change and income inequality? Time will tell but our odds depend heavily on whom we’ll vote to lead us.
Every day, at 7 pm, New Yorkers, and maybe other citizens everywhere, lead a round of passionate applause to healthcare workers and first responders who’re risking their lives to care for strangers. While we’re clapping, let’s remember who’s forcing them to work under these conditions, besides their own conscience: corrupt politicians, profiteers, merchants of death, smugglers. Take down their names and we will hold them accountable. Stay at home. WC


2 thoughts on “Curtain Raiser

  1. Colltales says:

    Indeed, Micheline. I hope you’re keeping yourself healthy in the company of a few people you love most. Cheers


  2. We don’t have masks and other protective gear, but in a pinch, we do what we can. This virus is mostly unknown and extremely aggressive. Stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

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