The novel coronavirus pandemic has changed things overnight. We have seen the leaders in some countries react reasonably well to the crisis whereas leaders in other nations, particularly the U.S., reacted less well. President Trump horribly failed the U.S. population, but our political/economic system also played a key role in the disastrous reaction.
For example, our badly flawed approach to health care differs from that of all other advanced nations. Tom Mayer’s Peace Train column last week addressed this system in some detail. We have a mixture of private medical care insurance tied to employment, then public Medicaid for the working-age population and public Medicare insurance for seniors. Under this approach, particularly due to the costly and wasteful private portion of the system, an estimated 87 million were underinsured or uninsured in 2018. Other advanced nations have a national system that covers everyone at a far lower cost and with better health outcomes on most measures.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 22 million workers in the U.S. have lost their jobs and, as a result, also lost their health-care insurance just when the coverage was sorely needed. This pandemic clearly demonstrates that the U.S. needs to join the advanced nations with by using a public system that emphasizes the health of its population instead of the profits of a wasteful and cruel private health insurance-based system. To help bring about this necessary change, go to Physicians for a National Health Program or Health Care Now or Public Citizen.
The U.S. also has a safety net with huge holes. These holes lead to the richest country in the world having a homeless crisis even before the pandemic. The number of homeless is likely to grow enormously during and after the pandemic. Other public programs that aid vulnerable populations and the unemployed are underfunded and people face a very hard life lacking security. The Poor Peoples Campaign is working to change this horrific situation and it needs your help.
The U.S. must finally live up to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The first part of Article 25 deals with security and states:
“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”
The U.S. has clearly failed its people by not complying with these articles that it helped draft.
This pandemic also makes clear that our security does not come from the military alone. We must reduce the excessive and wasteful military budget, welfare for the arms industry, that comes at the expense of the domestic budget. This unnecessary military spending takes money from the safety net, from environmental protection, from education, from efforts to alleviate the effects of the climate catastrophe, etc. Among the many groups working on reducing military spending are the Arms Control Association, the Friends Committee on National Legislation and the Rocky Mountain Peace & Justice Center.
Finally, we must force real action on climate change. Unless we do, younger generations will have an extremely bleak future. The Green New Deal introduced in Congress offers a beginning to change things, but it is only a first step. Two of the many groups working on alleviating the climate catastrophe are The Climate Mobilization and 303.org.
If we work together with others and stay engaged, we can change the U.S. profit-driven system into a system that puts the welfare of people first. Become engaged, otherwise positive change won’t happen.