"Decades of neoliberal austerity will make it harder to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, more than ever, we must rebuild our social safety net and forge a New Deal for public health."
I equate "neoliberal austerity" to authoritarian, predatory, capitalism. It's austerity for the 99% and socialism for the 1%. it's about maximizing economic, social, racial, and environmental INEQUALITY. It's about praising the 1% when they use their 'chump change' to make the news for feigning generosity after investing their unwarranted tax breaks.
"At every step, a rapaciously profit-driven health care system and an austerity-ravaged state will make this virus harder to manage.
" ... It will spread unchecked, from human to human and across our social gradients, unless we create social immunity, woven of the ways we interact and care for one another. But what kind of social immunity can we build in a body politic that has been ravaged for decades by neoliberal policies?"
As we are witnessing, the 1% will get what they need, like testing for the virus and medical care to save their life, while the 99% may die while waiting for what they need.
“We have known since the work of Rudolf Virchow, who studied typhus in Upper Silesia in the mid-nineteenth century, and Friedrich Engels, who studied the conditions of the English working class, that we create conditions that make people sick, and that those who lack economic, social, and political power typically bear the greatest burden of disease. “
As we’ve also seen in other nation states, there are more humane ways of dealing with a pandemic that sees no borders.
“The new majority of Americans who see universal health care as a core responsibility of government demand a new politics of care. They seek a new order that, instead of perpetuating the virulent inequality and exploitation of late twentieth-century capitalism, makes justice a core feature of our health care system. “ Justice will come with a more democratic economic system.
There have been other attempts to create a more just health care system. Prior to Obama’s ACA attempt to expand health care and Johnson’s 1965 addition of Medicare and Medicaid to Roosevelt's Social Security act, there was the 1946 Hospital Survey and Construction Act, also known as the Hill-Burton Act, that eventually led to the construction of 6,800 facilities in 4,000 communities. Unfortunately, those communities typically avoided African American neighborhoods as their location was decided by the states.
"Hill-Burton introduced many ideas in health care financing that are still in use today. Chief among them is that hospitals receiving federal monies are obligated to provide free or subsidized care to a portion of their indigent patients. U.S. non-profit hospitals (still the vast majority) must demonstrate evidence of 'community benefit' to maintain tax-exempt status. Providing care to the uninsured is one of the most common ways to meet this obligation.
"Another idea rooted in Hill-Burton is federal-state matching, meaning that federal appropriations must be matched by dollars from states, which is how Medicaid is financed.
"Hill-Burton also has a poorly remembered dark side: Because of its provenance as a bipartisan law named for a Northern Republican (Sen. Harold Burton of Ohio) and a Southern Democrat (Sen. Lister Hill of Alabama), the law codified the idea of "separate but equal" in hospitals and health care facilities.” This “separate but equal” part of the law was overturned in 1963.
History like this shows government can do good things and we need to return to that kind of government that builds infrastructure for the common good. Predatory capitalism, or economic neoliberalism, has been letting that public infrastructure rot while replacing it with private infrastructure that only benefits them and abuses the rest of us - to hell with the common good.
We were differenct and more caring and we could be even better! We could create a more democratic economic system that will restore, protect and empower our democratic political system.
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