Workers Matter And Government Works: Eight Lessons From The Pandemic

The New York Stock Exchange building.

Image Source: Unsplash

Maybe it’s wishful thinking to declare the pandemic over in the US, and presumptuous to conclude what lessons we’ve learned from it. So consider this list a first draft.

1. Workers are Always Essential.

We couldn’t have survived without millions of warehouse, delivery, grocery, and hospital workers literally risking their lives. Yet most of these workers are paid squat.

Amazon (AMZN) touts its $15 minimum wage, but it totals only about $30,000 a year. Most essential workers still don’t have health insurance or paid leave. Many of their employers (including Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, to take but two examples) didn’t give them the personal protective equipment they needed.

Lesson: Essential workers deserve far better.

2. Healthcare is a Basic Right.

You know how you got your vaccine without paying a dime? That’s how all health care could be. Yet too many Americans who contracted COVID-19 got walloped with humongous hospital bills. By mid-2020, about 3.3 million people had lost employer-sponsored coverage, and the number of uninsured increased by 1.9 million. 

Research by the Urban Institute found that people with chronic disease, Black Americans, and low-income children were most likely to have delayed or forgone care during the pandemic.

Lesson: America must insure everyone.

3. Conspiracy Theories can be Deadly.

Last June, about 1 in 4 Americans believed the pandemic was “definitely” or “probably” created intentionally, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Other conspiracy theories have caused some people to avoid wearing masks or getting vaccinated, causing unnecessary illness or death.

Lesson: An informed public is essential. Some of the responsibility falls on all of us. Some of it on Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR), and other platforms that allowed such misinformation to flourish.

4. The Stock Market isn’t the Economy.

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