The projected outcome of the coronavirus outbreak continues to get more grim. All countries are preparing as best they can for the inevitable influx of critically ill patients.
In the USA the social experiment we have engaged in since the mid 20th century, of primarily giving healthcare only to those that are working, is about to be put to the test. We’re about to find out that this public health crisis can’t be handled by the for-profit healthcare system that has long been touted as the most efficient and the best in the world.
In a recent public address the President declared that this is a war. If this is a war, the truth is that we have no ability to fight this war. We’re fighting a nuclear weapon with stone knives. We’ve cut funding for weapons research, we’ve severely limited the amount of soldiers we can put in the fight and those we do have are ill-equipped to fight. We knew this threat was out there, but we’ve ignored the problem almost completely. Even doctors in the UK where they have an actual public health system are lamenting the lack of resources they have to fight the virus. Where does the USA stand in that regard?
The USA has around 28 million uninsured. If and when those people flood emergency rooms the costs of a private system will come due and they will be apocalyptic.
USA healthcare coverage is tied to employment. As of now, even before the peak of the virus, there are mass layoffs from industries that have been forced to close or those that have experienced severe drops in demand. People in the USA without jobs in most cases have no access to healthcare. Even those with access often face massive financial burdens due to the arcane nature of how coverage works.
We must face the fact that in a war for the health of the USA we’ve budgeted only to defend the richest people in the country.
Why the coronavirus should have everyone rethinking paid sick leave.
The coronavirus issue has me thinking about paid sick leave from new perspectives. I never approved of people not getting paid sick days, but now I’m honestly wondering how and why the hell we ever let it get like this.
It’s been well documented at this point that anything less than an N95 mask doesn’t really do much to contain the spread of a virus and I’ve yet to see anyone at any restaurant wearing one. Sometimes you see food preparation done by people with surgical style masks on, but that’s just a bunch of smoke and mirrors. They might not cough or sneeze directly onto the food, but it’s not preventing them from spreading virus around or preventing them from contracting it.
Essentially, every time I go to a public restaurant I’m now going to be thinking about all the sick people that are probably working their shift because they can’t afford not to and how I’m probably getting virus laden food all the time. Why would anyone ever want to go out to eat knowing this fact? How did we get brainwashed into thinking this was a great idea? I’ll pay another 50 cents or $1 for a value meal if it gets people paid sick leave, but profit is really not the issue since McDs had net income of $6.025B in 2019 and bought back $30 billion in stock from 2013-2016.
And yet you can still find in first page search results for “walmart stock buyback” a media outlet rising to the defense of Walmart and Apple for their stock buybacks. The defense being that the companies that do the most buybacks also have the biggest capital investments as well.
Walmart, for its part, said last year it would buy back $20 billion in stock. Yet the company has invested at least $10 billion annually for the past three years in an effort to meet head-on competition from Amazon
Did they invest $10 billion in making sure their employees aren’t coming into work sick all the time?!
Great, this time, during a massive pandemic, people can stay out sick, but how about when flu season rolls around again? Why do people have to endure sick employees spreading disease everywhere because the company is too cheap to pay people for when they inevitably get sick?
How is this logical for a business looking to be efficient anyway? Sick employee comes in, doesn’t work as hard because they feel like crap, they end up infecting other employees they are working with and customers as well. Now you have a group of workers that are feeling like crap and coming in to work and not working as hard and you have customers that won’t be coming in to shop at your store or eat at your restaurant because they are sick.
So, not only are we getting harmful diseases because of corporate greed, not only is our food being contaminated by corporate greed, we’re paying more to solve any issues resulting from those situations, because of corporate greed!