This is a clear example of why it is not only prudent but ethical and imperative that we use this pandemic to push a robust social safety net. These pandemics are likely to get worse and shutting down countries because of runaway infections several times a decade will destroy every economy. And we know who pays the price for that.
All it took was a pandemic of potentially unprecedented scale and severity and suddenly it’s like we’re turning into Denmark over here.
In the last few days, a parade of American companies that had long resisted providing humane and necessary benefits to their workers abruptly changed their minds, announcing plans to pay and protect even their lowest-rung employees harmed by the ravages of the coronavirus. ...
And after the journalist Judd Legum pointed out its long history of fighting sick-leave policies, Darden Restaurants, which runs several restaurant chains, including Olive Garden, said that its 170,000 hourly workers would now get paid sick leave.
It wasn’t just sick leave. Overnight, workplaces across the country were transformed into Scandinavian Edens of flexibility. Can’t make it to the office because your kid has to unexpectedly stay home from school? Last week, it sucked to be you. This week: What are you even doing asking? Go home, be with your kid!
Then politicians got into the act. The Trump administration — last seen proposing to slash a pay raise for federal workers and endorsing a family leave policy that doesn’t actually pay for family leave — is now singing the praises of universal sick pay. “When we tell people, ‘If you’re sick, stay home,’ the president has tasked the team with developing economic policies that will make it very, very clear that we’re going to stand by those hard-working Americans,” Vice President Mike Pence said on Monday, offering the sort of rhetoric that wouldn’t be out of place on the pages of Jacobin.
And wasn’t it almost funny how everyone and their doctor was suddenly extolling the benefits of government-funded health care for all? When the Trump administration told Congress that it was considering reimbursing hospitals for treating uninsured Americans who contracted Covid-19, Republicans who had long opposed this sort of “socialized medicine” were now conceding that, well, of course, they didn’t mean it quite so absolutely.
Social Security above poverty levels, Medicare for All, robust sick leave, subsidized child care, and leave when society asks you to stay home should form the bedrock of our social safety net. For those who think we cannot afford that, understand that economies are human-made and it is for us to design a system that puts humanity first. There's no scarcity of basic resources just greed by a few.