Statement by Andrea Kirby on Reopening the Economy

Even while the Coronavirus unfolds daily across our lives, many officials are focused on reopening state economies and trying to get things back to normal. But what’s their normal?

Workers have been thrust into combat mode. We are called on to stand on the front lines. Maybe some expected to be called on as LIFE SAVERS: doctors, nurses, fire fighters, police and emergency techs. But not like this, without equipment. And others, such as bus drivers, factory workers, office workers, grocery store workers and other “essential workers” were never trained for combat situations. And they haven’t been given the weapons they need to survive. Yet, here we are, in combat. And what is happening to the people who are essential to our families? The youth and elderly are left home during this pandemic, yet are subjected to exposure every day when those of us essential workers return home.

The youth are being pushed in front of electronic devices for school but mostly as a form of entertainment as the days drag on. Only a few weeks ago, students were walking the halls, gearing up for prom, spring break plans. In a blink of an eye, it was stripped away. At first for most students it probably seemed fun, spring break a little early. But as the days and weeks passed, reality is settling in. For students as well as the older population, social interaction is a vital part of the development and stability of the brain. But they are isolated. For many students, working through high school provided income for them to go to college or begin a life on their own, but that has all been shattered.

Restarting or reopening businesses is going to happen because the class that makes its money off our work wants it to happen. But no governor, no president really explains how this can happen and the workers be safe. In a capitalist system, profit will always be put before lives.

This pandemic has let the cat out of the bag on all the social issues that have plagued the capitalist system that we live in, such as the health and economic disparities for black workers, the disregard for the health of migrants who produce the food eaten in this country, the lack of health care workers and supplies, lack of teachers in the education system, we could go on. Above all, the exploitation of those of us who do the work – the majority of the population. The wealth we produce goes to a tiny capitalist class.

Jumping to restart a system that put us in this deadly situation with Coronavirus is only going to continue the problem.

There are lessons to be taken from this crisis, and the first is that the workers were the ones who stepped up to the plate to care for one another, not Washington or Lansing. The hospital staff, the bus drivers, grocery store workers, etc. stepped up to make sure our communities were taken care of. People taking care of people, not politicians pretending to do something for our communities. We can also be the ones to make things work for us.

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