To the Editor:
The recent pandemic has exposed some deficiencies in our current system. For example, millions of people have lost their jobs and therefore lost their medical insurance when they may need it most. Others may put off going to the doctor because of high deductibles which could be fatal.
Trump fired the pandemic response team two years ago after they predicted a respiratory virus originating in China would cause a world wide pandemic, the exact situation we are in today. That saved a billion dollars. It has cost 2.2 trillion dollars so far. Trump was penny wise and dollar foolish and his error cost many lives. We could have been prepared, instead we are floundering without leadership.
Will we continue privatizing profits in good times and socializing the costs when things turn bad? Will we continue welfare for large businesses that don’t pay their taxes while complaining about the small amount spent on food and education for needy children? Who wins from Trump rolling back milage standards on vehicles? Do we want dirtier air and higher fuel costs even though car manufacturers can easily meet prior targets?
Most of our problems can be easily solved. The problem is not the inability to find solutions, it is unwillingness to do what is necessary.
Inequality can be decreased by raising the minimum wage and increasing taxes on the wealthy to pre-Reagan rates, a time when the economy was doing better. The answer isn’t to get a better paying job. The low paying jobs need to be done and the people doing them deserve to make a living.
Yale School of Public Health published a study in Lancet showing Medicare for all would save 450 billion dollars and 68 thousand lives per year. It would provide more choice of providers and cover everyone even through job loss or pre-existing conditions.
Coronavirus is the focus right now, but it will seem like a Sunday school picnic compared to climate change the coming years. We know what needs to be done. The will and leadership are lacking.
According to Cornel West, professor of philosophy at Harvard, there are currently three viable political factions in America. 1. Neo-fascist gangsters, Trump’s minions who are willing to follow “Dear Leader” and ignore his lies, crimes and incompetence. Their belief is, what is good for me is good. 2. Neo-liberals, traditional Republicans and traditional Democrats who support rule by wealthy elites. They limit the discussion of ideas to what will maintain the status quo. They worship markets and extractive capitalism. 3. Neo-populist progressives or social democrats, who believe in democratic rule, worker’s rights, strong safety net, level playing field, environmental protections and think in terms of the common good.
Which will we choose? We will end up with the government we are willing to work toward. Each of us must decide what is worthy of our effort. We don’t want to go back to normal, normal wasn’t working.
Dr. Bryan Van Gorp