Apr 20, 2020
Protests erupted in ten states, April 16—supposedly spontaneously—calling for an end to the stay-at-home orders. Trump greeted them with a Tweet-storm: “LIBERATE MICHIGAN,” “LIBERATE VIRGINIA,” “LIBERATE WISCONSIN.”
The demonstrations were hardly spontaneous, paid for and organized as they were by the right-wing of the Republican Party, including multi-billionaires like the DeVos family of Michigan.
But they certainly were directed to working people, those of us stuck at home, without a job—in most cases, without an income. Twenty-two million of us had struggled for hours, even days to get through to state unemployment computers just to register. How many million more weren’t able to connect? Almost half of us didn’t have $400 put aside to deal with a sudden emergency—before this very big emergency suddenly hit.
Yes, we were feeling a little stir-crazy, the hundred million or so of us who have kids home from school, cut off from teachers and all the facilities schools provide, including breakfast and lunch. The hundred million of us or more scouring stores to find something as basic as toilet paper, not to mention hand sanitizer, 70% alcohol and bleach.
Trump, facing an election, was attempting to divert attention away from his part in the enormous criminal responsibility for this public health disaster. Nothing was done to prepare for the spread of the virus, even after medical scientists warned it would strike with catastrophic consequences. Instead of directing resources to prepare, Trump pretended there was no problem, one month, two months, even stretching into the third month before he admitted anything. Then he claimed his administration was on top of it, that it would have 27 million tests by the end of March. In fact, as of April 15, only 3.5 million could be carried out. Many more than 27 million are needed, but the federal government, given responsibility to stockpile such supplies, still doesn’t have them.
So yes, Trump has shown himself to be responsible for the catastrophe. He is the reason public health can do nothing now to protect people, except shut down everything.
But Trump is not the only one responsible. Democratic administrations also cut back spending on public health. Nor is Trump the only one serving himself with these protests. Hiding behind Trump’s call to “open it up,” are big industrialists, big finance, big bankers, mega-real-estate developers, all of whom have been rolling in a money stream coming from the government. Suddenly, their glorious money stream was being cut off. So was their chance to make a profit off of our labor.
They are the ones ready to endanger OUR health, OUR lives, so THEIR money stream can resume. They benefitted yesterday from public money that should have gone to public health. Today, they want to send us back to work, knowing there still are no preparations for doing it safely.
Public health scientists made clear what is necessary so the lock-down can be eased:
1) At least two weeks in which the real number of new cases goes steadily down.
2) Enough testing to know what the real number is and who really is infected.
3) Enough people trained in public health to find all the contacts of people whose tests show they have the virus.
4) Enough facilities so people with the virus can be quarantined safely, so they don’t spread it to their families, close neighbors and workmates, which is how it spreads today.
5) Enough hospital facilities to treat all those seriously impacted by the virus.
6) Enough protective equipment so that all those working, not only on the front lines, but in all the jobs that might open up, have some assurance of coming home each day without being infected.
Not one of those six requirements has been met today. Not one is close to being met.
That’s why demonstrations are being organized today, to convince us—despite everything medical science says—that we want to go back to work.
No, what working people want is, first of all, to be guaranteed a regular, decent income, no matter what is happening, whether at work or not. What we want, when we go back to work are safe and sanitary conditions. What we want, those of us who are essential, is to work right now under sanitary conditions.
What we need is to LIBERATE ourselves from this capitalist society that pushes for profit at the expense of everything else.