Communities Are the Front Line Defense

So you want to start a revolution? Well you know, you may as well get in line behind COVID-19.

That’s not exactly how that song goes, but the meaning is the same as the U.S. government is forced to bail itself out again 11 years after its biggest bailout in history during the 2008 Great Recession. Congress just this week produced $2.2 Trillion in immediate bailout funds to help individuals, health care institutions, hospitals and businesses, both small and large, but what it won’t produce is real structural change our country so badly needs in order to keep us from playing the same old tune. This new pandemic is exposing our nation’s inabilities in manufacturing to produce even a simple protective mask in volume; a problem that’s been in the making for over 40 years.

The U.S. has been downsizing its manufacturing capabilities by outsourcing millions of jobs overseas, primarily low wage countries, to seek bigger and bigger profits for corporate executives and their shareholders. Meanwhile, American workers have seen their real wages decline to the point that many have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. One of the reasons COVID-19 spread like wildfire throughout Seattle’s nursing homes is that many low-paid nursing home staffers work second jobs at other homes so they spread the disease more quickly. That’s unacceptable. Bad faith measures taken at all levels of government for decades have decimated our local and state health boards who’ve been operating at skeleton staff levels for years and are now overwhelmed by this latest crisis. Meanwhile for-profit hospitals and their multi-billion dollar investors operate them by decreasing the amount of beds that would have been available for a crisis in order to increase “occupancy” instead of “vacancy” for the sake of better profits.

Neighbors helping neighbors, communities supporting local businesses, and donations of food and medicines reaching the needy, disabled and poor amongst us.

With lock-down measures across many parts of the country, science based stay-at-home orders like Ohio’s are providing Americans with an opportunity to re-discover what truly makes us exceptional, particularly at the community level. Neighbors helping neighbors, communities supporting local businesses, and donations of food and medicines reaching the needy, disabled and poor amongst us. This crisis is highlighting the good within us all and the self-sacrifice we’re willing to undertake to help one another. 

Now, it is up to our leadership to do the same; instead of simply throwing money at the problem and wishing it away, our communities need long-lasting, sustainable solutions that give them food security, fix educational failings, produce living wage jobs, remove environmental hazards, cure our healthcare and build our infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities.

The U.S. will be forced to spend trillions more and very soon because of this latest crisis, but we the voters, can hold our leaders accountable this time around to ensure we are prepared for the next crisis. Ohio can lead the way by joining other states to demand the U.S. government do the following with the next round of bailout funds.

Removing The Long-term State Debt

Removing long-term state debt (not issuing more) will free up capital for state investment purposes, providing money for Ohio to incorporate a public state infrastructure bank that will provide needed funds for our local communities, increase funding for local mass transit, funding for state-run health facilities to address mental health needs and replenish the depleted public employee retirement funds that will help recruit younger workers for needed public service.

Ohio, like other states, could issue the call for national purposes, a real debt forgiveness plan for People, a long-term energy plan that builds new grids relying on new sources of clean, renewable energy lasting lifetimes, new information highways reaching every rural corner in all states and true, affordable lifetime healthcare. All of these will put our communities in a better position to take on pandemics like COVID-19. We must act now to finally smash, once and for all, the broken record that plays the same old song. Going forward we can write brand new lyrics for a brand new age.