Category Archives: Medicare for all

Medicare for All

In Part I, we examined the creation of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) – an extension of the Social Security system – as a means of empowering Blacks, Native Americans, the poor and all Americans by endowing them with a minimum of financial security and independence, and by eliminating poverty. This is one of the major prerequisites for combatting racism and police brutality as well as other problems in our society, by shifting more economic power to the people and away from the oligarchs and corporations. Economic power and security is a main element in political power.

In this installment, we will propose a parallel system of health security through reform of Medicare and its extension to all Americans. Differences in access to health services also create differences in power within a society.  A private health care system that is tied to employment makes the employee unnecessarily dependent on the employer. Those who do not have or cannot afford health insurance are liable to have their assets liquidated by a single major illness.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the extreme inadequacy and inequity of the US health system. In no other major nation is it part of a system of the pursuit of wealth rather than the pursuit of health. How can we effectively fight a pandemic when the victims are required to pay for their protection from it?  Those who are unable to do so not only are untreated, but are spreading the disease to the rest of the population merely because the society is not covering the cost. This results in disempowering and rendering vulnerable those who cannot afford or may be ineligible for insurance. For the security and wellbeing of the all persons and for the nation as a whole, the US needs a national comprehensive free health service that covers all health requirements, including dental services.

It is well known that other nations possess national health plans that are without cost to the users, only to the taxpayers. Medicare would be such a plan if it were extended to all Americans and if the gaps and co-pays were eliminated. This would be easy to accomplish if it were not for the greed of the HMOs, insurance companies and pharmaceutical industries that are blocking and sabotaging such proposals.

Medicare already provides health care for Americans over 65 years of age and the disabled. That is a huge chunk of the national health care need, because these are the main users of health care services. Those who paid for their own insurance before they were eligible for Medicare may remember what their insurance premiums were before they turned 65.  Can you imagine what they would be if they didn’t have Medicare? A person 70 years or older could easily be paying $25,000 per year for medical services. The premiums for younger, healthier persons are a mere fraction of this amount, which means that extending Medicare to everyone is very affordable.

In fact, it results in a net national savings to Americans. The cost of Medicare for All is actually less than the cost of all the health insurance premiums that individuals and companies are currently paying for that same population. Or would be paying if all could pay or qualify for such insurance. And Medicare should be the recourse for such persons in any case. The national cost for uninsured is actually very high in terms of suffering, death, lost wages, productivity and emergency room charges that never get paid or are paid by the taxpayer.  Medicare for All is essential for empowerment of the poorest, weakest and most marginalized of our society, and it provides health security for everyone.

There are other benefits and savings, as well. Medicare for All makes employer-tied medical insurance benefits obsolete, saving employers a significant labor cost and obviating the need for the employee to change coverage when changing employer or during periods of unemployment. It is surprising that employers throughout the U.S. are not demanding Medicare for All.

From the Covid-19 Battle Can Come Unstoppable Citizen Power to Propel “Full Medicare for All” through Congress

Frontline healthcare, transit, and grocery clerk workers are too busy risking their lives helping and saving people exposed to the deadly Covid-19 pandemic to see themselves emerging as the force that can overcome decades of commercial obstruction to full Medicare for All.

These heroic, courageous, and selfless people are getting the job done, often without protective equipment and adequate facilities. Many of them get extremely sick or die from Covid-19.

Fat cat CEO’s are placing full-page ads elaborately praising their workers whom they regularly underpaid and disrespected before Covid-19. These bosses are now recognizing both the physical and moral courage it takes for these exceptional saviors to serve their communities.

What is emerging from this catastrophe is an exceptional class of millions of potential advocates receiving mass media coverage. Deeply personal profiles and first-person accounts of the pain and anguish they endure fills the news. They have experienced firsthand the perverse priorities of the profiteering corporate health vendors that are leaving tens of millions of innocent families uninsured, underinsured, and without paid sick leave.

Now shift the scene to the only obstacle to single-payer universal health insurance in America – the corporate indentured Congress. Out of 535 Senators and Representatives, 135 in the House already support H.R. 1384 full Medicare for All with free choice of doctors and hospitals. This much more efficient and comprehensive lifesaving system is far superior to our current profits-first morass. In the Senate, add another 30 supporters. With about 200 more converts for Medicare for All, a veto-proof passage is possible.

Now can come the steely determined Covid-19 workers with their national advocates representing all their skills and geographic regions, heading straight for Congress. In relays, day after day, observing CDC guidelines, they will find Congress mostly AWOL. These days Congress is only periodically present for pressing financial legislation. The frontline workers can push for Congressional hearings, floor debates, and then voting. No more lies, delays, distortions, or domination of members of Congress by the corporate crime complex. The legislators are directly told they work for the people, not the corporations pouring money into their campaign coffers.

These Covid-19 workers cannot be stared down or flimflammed. They have the decisive karma that veterans’ groups often have with Congress. They have seen more fatalities among their protectees in three months then the U.S. soldiers lost in the Korean and Vietnam wars (apart from the massive greater casualties on the native peoples). They have experienced the staggering pressures of their hands-on service from ambulances to intubations and the solitary deaths of their patients. While members of Congress huddle at home, they are shamed by the low-paid valiant toil of exposed grocery, public transit, and sanitation workers who don’t have the luxury of laboring remotely.

This new unstoppable non-partisan assemblage of Americans will have plenty of backup. Funding by well-to-do people will be forthcoming. Experts like Dr. Stephanie Woolhandler, Dr. David Himmelstein, Dr. Sidney Wolfe, Dr. Michael Carome, former Nurses Union leader RoseAnn DeMoro, who keenly understand the tactics of the medical corporatists, are on hand. So are the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) and many other consumer and labor groups.

The polls will expand from a present, majority of Americans, doctors, and nurses to even greater numbers backing universal health care coverage. Rising to greater prominence to lead the way in Congress will be the long-supportive Representatives and Senators energized and propelled by this new, relentless citizen dynamic demanding action now!

What should have been done over a hundred years ago, when Republican President Theodore Roosevelt proposed universal health care, should not be stalled any longer.

Not when 1500 to 2000 people lose their lives every week because they can’t afford to be diagnosed or treated in time, according to a new Yale study.

Not when an average of a billion dollars a day is taken by billing fraud according to a conservative estimate by the leading expert on such crimes – Professor Malcolm Sparrow of Harvard University.

Not when a minimum of five thousand people a week die from preventable problems in hospitals (not including clinics) as reported in a peer-reviewed Johns’ Hopkins School of Medicine analysis. Putting people before profits would lower that horrendous casualty toll substantially.

Not when numerous countries, including Canada, cover all their people at half the price per capita with better outcomes, free choice of physicians and hospitals, and peace of mind.

Not when documentation for fundamental change is so overwhelmingly at everyone’s fingertips (See: SinglePayerAction.org). Dr. John Geyman’s latest in a series of educational books by this sagacious practitioner and scholar – the galvanizing “Profiteering, Corruption and Fraud in U.S. Health Care” will be available very soon (See: johngeymanmd.org).

The Covid-19 pandemic and its bungling by Trump and Trumpsters leading to the loss of loved ones, the loss of patients, and the horrific experiences of frontline workers would pave the way to this long-overdue change. The humane laser-beamed arrival of workers, who have witnessed the tragedies caused by the pandemic will push Congress to provide Americans universal care and relief, from economic anxiety, dread, and fear. Americans deserve the same health care coverage enjoyed by people in every other western country.

Baby Boomers for Biden Recant Left Legacy

Former members of the leading Vietnam War-era peace organization in the US, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), recently circulated an open letter warning today’s young activists to – as the adage goes – do as I say and not as I did. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, these former leaders led the way in opposing the ravages of US imperialism and exposing what they called the “death culture.” Today, they are admonishing the new generation not to follow in their footsteps, but to go all out for what they call the “capitalist democrat” Joe Biden.

The big chill

When I was first becoming politically aware, these SDS folks were my heroes and mentors. They helped me break from the illusion that the USA was fighting for democracy and freedom, rather than imposing an empire where the US controlled 50% of the world’s wealth for only 6.3% of its population.

They were the ones – chanting, “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” – who pulled no punches, criticizing Democrats and Republicans alike for genocidal injustices. And they especially warned about “selling out to the establishment.” That was then.

Today, they are variously tenured professors, attorneys, or working at comfortable NGOs. Who would have known that they would change to raising money for multi-billion-dollar Democratic Party PACs? While I don’t for a moment begrudge them financial or social achievement, the shift from independent direct action to boosterism within the Democratic Party is unfortunate.

It should be noted that SDS originated as the student branch of the League for Industrial Democracy (LID), a nominally socialist but more accurately liberal anti-communist organization. In 1965, the LID elders told their youth counterparts to include an anti-communist clause in their manifesto. Those rising SDS youth told their seniors to take a hike back then.

In bed with the Democratic Party

Bernardine Dorn, herself an SDS leader and subsequently with the Weather Underground, comments that the open letter “has all the wrong content and tone of the elders lecturing young activists…[I]t is finally too pompous and pretentious, too in-bed with the Democratic Party.” And that is a sympathetic comment to “comrades I love and respect.”

The Democratic Party is not like a labor union, or like what a labor union is supposed to be with dues paying members democratically electing a leadership that serves their interests. Rather the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which is the governing body of the US Democratic Party, is, in fact, a private corporation. The DNC has more in common with a for-profit sports team. You are free to wear their paraphernalia and attend their games, but the team owners are the ones that make the decisions and reap the profits.

When the DNC was taken to court for violating its own rules treating voters unfairly, the DNC brazenly argued that they are a private corporation with no obligation to be fair, and won. As the court transcript shows, the DNC’s attorney said that cheating Bernie Sanders in 2016 out of the nomination was “the business of the party, and it’s not justiciable.”

This same DNC again undermined Bernie Sanders’ candidacy in 2020, preferring to run a corporate Democrat favorable to their super rich donors and risk losing again to Trump. Now the authors of the open letter are preaching to the young activists that they have no choice but to fall in with those who screwed them. Or as the open letter states, to join with “solemn determination” their “high moral and political responsibility.”

Wrong historical lessons 

Peter Drucker, another former member of SDS, points out in his critique of the open letter that the letter’s favorable reference to early nineteenth century German sociologist Wax Weber is at best odd, but telling, for a letter addressing people who consider themselves socialists. Weber’s view was that revolutionary socialists were engaged in “dirt, muck, dung, and horse-play—nothing else.”

A favorite trope of anti-leftists, reflected in the open letter, is to blame the rise of Hitler on the failure of communists to unite with the socialists against a common enemy. In fact, what happened was that the socialists likewise would not unite with the communists against the fascists and instead chose to support the “lesser evil” of Paul von Hindenburg. In the 1932 German presidential race, Hindenburg ran against Hitler, won, and then turned around to appoint Hitler as chancellor in 1933. The rest, as they say, is history.

If we were to accept the open letter’s hyperbolic meme of Trump as a stand-in for Hitler, the historical analogy would be that today’s Democratic Party is not the socialists and certainly not the communists but would be Hindenburg’s party as the lesser evil to the Nazis. Once elected, Hindenburg dissolved the German parliament twice, approved the Reichstag Fire Decree suspending civil liberties, and signed the Enablg Act giving Hitler arbitrary powers.

For those worried about fascism being enabled in the US, recall that the Democrats militantly support the national security apparatus (e.g., CIA, FBI) and the Patriot Act. Even so-called progressive Elizabeth Warren calls of government censorship of social media.

Citing the lessons of Germany, the open letter summons an “all-hands-on-deck” effort to elect Joe Biden to prevent the “protofascist” Trump from winning. The situation, they exclaim, is dire for we may all end up in jail if Trump were to win.

In a follow-up to publishing the April 16 open letter, The Nation again plays the fear of fascism card if one strays from the confines of the Democratic Party. An April 28 article – “WTF Is Jacobin’s Editor Thinking in Voting Green?” – cries, “in a second term, Trump will double down on his fascist instincts.”

The Nation lectures the youth that you are “old enough to know better” than disregard the wisdom of your elders because, under a Republican, “progressives will spend the next four years fighting defensive battles.” The youth in their naiveite might ask, how would it be any different if the former Senator from MBNA wins?

In the real world, as Stan Smith notes, Trump “can’t even shut down Saturday Night Live.  Trump is a billionaire racist, sexist war-monger out to salvage the US corporate empire, nothing more, nothing less.” Joe Biden diverges mainly in having a smaller bank account and better table manners.

Politics for the pandemic

A more fitting lesson from the historical example of the rise of German fascism suggests the opposite of what the open letter advocates. The best strategy to combat the rightward trajectory of the two corporate parties is not to go all out and vote for the lesser evil. Especially with the COVID-19 crisis and the mechanisms of disaster capitalism, Naomi Klein warns their shared course to the right might well accelerate.

In 2016, the corporate Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton advocated lowering the Medicare qualifying age to 50 or 55. Yet Biden is to the right of Clinton’s position of four years ago, only conceding to lower the eligibility age to 60.

We are now in the midst of a pandemic, which demonstrates as never before the need for Medicare for All (M4A). The latest polls indicate a 69% overall approval rating with 88% of the Democrats supporting M4A. This support is despite the millions of “dark money” spent by the insurance industry against M4A. Biden, who had campaigned to cut Medicare and Social Security, vows he would veto M4A were it to come before him as president.

Voting for the lesser evil is encouraging a march to the right by making a step in the wrong direction. At a time when an independent progressive movement is needed more than ever, the sheepdogs of the open letter are trying to herd the new generation of activists into the Democratic Party.

The Era of Mass Strikes Begins on May 1, First Day of General Strike Campaign

On Friday, May 1, an ongoing General Strike campaign begins. This campaign could become the most powerful movement in the United States and reset the national agenda. It comes when the failures of the US political system have been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic, which triggered an economic collapse in a presidential election year.  The General Strike campaign will be ongoing with actions on the first of every month. Strategic strikes of workers, students, consumers, prisoners, and renters will also continue.

This new era of mass strikes builds on successful strikes by teachers, healthcare workers, hotel workers, and others.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the last two years, there has been the largest number of major work stoppages in 35 years with more than 400,000 workers involved in strikes in both 2018 and 2019. This continues in 2020 with a wave of wildcat strikes.

People must commit to an ongoing campaign of strikes starting now and continuing after the election. FDR faced more than 1.4 million people striking after he was elected, which forced him to put the New Deal and workers’ rights legislation in place. The next president should be subjected to continuous strikes with specific demands. Striking is the most powerful tool of the people. We need to learn to use it effectively.

United action magnifies popular power and shows those in power that they cannot ignore us any longer. You can participate by sharing this article with other people and urging them to participate. Follow and share the hashtags #CoronaStrike, #GeneralStrike, #MayDay2020, #GeneralStrike2020, and #PeoplesStrike.

Participate in Popular Resistance’s Zoom call on April 29, 2020, at 7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific to learn about what will be happening on May Day and how you can be part of it. Register at bit.ly/MayDayMeeting.

General Strike

COVID-19 exposes the fact that essential workers who provide food, healthcare, and deliveries to our homes are mistreated and underappreciated. Workers are underpaid and are not being provided with protective equipment or allowed sick leave. The COVID-19 rescue laws have given trillions in funding to investors and big businesses while leaving people and small businesses with crumbs. Twenty-six million people have filed for unemployment but states are not processing claims quickly and the COVID-19 rescue only provided an inadequate one-time $1,200 payment. Millions of the newly unemployed are losing their health insurance.

The #GeneralStrike has five demands:

(1) Protection from Covid-19

(2) Safe Housing.

(3) Living Wages.

(4) Medicare for All.

(5) Equal Education.

We would add a sixth urgent demand – saving the postal service.

The tactics of the General Strike will vary over time. During this initial phase of the COVID-19 virus, there will be car caravans, sickouts, and signs on windows supporting the strikes. People will use social media to show support for the demands. On May 1 and beyond there will be webinars on the strike and the issues raised by it.

With a campaign of strategic and general strikes very likely going on until 2022, people can take control of the country and put the necessities of the people at the top of the agenda. Jane McAlevey points to three areas where workers have decisive power. These include logistics, healthcare, and education.

  • Logistics includes providing food, delivery, transit, and other services that keep the economy functioning. Workers disrupting these areas makes the country ungovernable by creating economic dysfunction. 
  • Despite being essential, healthcare workers lack protective equipment and basics such as tests. Healthcare workers have stood against the dangerous so-called “Liberate” protests Donald Trump is encouraging to prematurely re-open the economy. Nurses have protested the lack of protective equipment and been fired for doing so. These acts of defiance must be supported as we also demand national improved Medicare for All so everyone has access to high-quality healthcare. We must build our public health system so never again will the country be unprepared for a pandemic.
  • Teacher’s unions have developed the model for all unions to follow, strikes for the common good. Teacher strikes have been successful because they have represented the interests of students and the communities where they live. Poverty, inadequate housing, brutal policing, and ICE raids undermine the ability of teachers to do their jobs. Making demands for the common good unites us to work for what we need.

Recently, there have been wildcat strikes. These can include a variety of work stoppages; e.g., people taking sick days, work slowdowns, work disruptions due to flat tires on delivery trucks, and other ways that prevent work from being accomplished. To follow strike actions, visit On The Picket Line or check out this interactive map of strike actions, or the “Dual Power” map by Black Socialists in America. Get in the loop and get connected at General Strike 2020.

Rent Strike

As unemployment reaches Depression-era levels, with one in six US workers being unemployed, and the government is unable to process unemployment benefits and is refusing to provide a basic income, people are unable to pay their rents. According to data from the Rentec Direct property management software platform, “The rent received by property managers in the U.S. by April 8 was 17% less than it was through the first eight days of March. Other data point to a similar trend. For example, data from the National Multifamily Housing Council found that 69 percent of renters paid their rent between April 1 and April 5, down from 82% in the same period in April 2019.” According to the New York Times, 40 percent of New York City tenants may have skipped their April payments.

In January before the pandemic, a Harvard University report found that nearly half of US renters are “cost-burdened,” meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, a quarter of renters—eleven million people—are “severely cost-burdened,” spending more than half of their income to make rent. There was already a housing crisis in the US. The economic collapse has magnified it

This economic reality is turning into an organized and growing rent strike against corporate landlords. Calls for an expanded rent strike on May 1 are growing. In Kansas City, Missouri, tenant advocates tweeted: “Highway takeover in an hour. We will have tenants spanning the state, every five miles, from Kansas City to St. Louis.” Tenant groups from South Carolina to Los Angeles called for a rent strike in May as have groups in Chicago, Milwaukee, PhiladelphiaDenverBloomingtonSt. Louis, and New York. Yesterday, Cancel the Rent car caravans were held in many cities. Rent strikes are building into a nationwide revolt with calls for rent strikes going viral in unlikely places like Georgia. How this will evolve? If tenants are made homeless, people will take over buildings to be housed, assets of landlords could be nationalized, and social housing could escalate.

Rent strike organizers say, “We are banding together: folks who cannot pay and those who will join them in solidarity. We refuse to pay for the right to live. Many will have to choose between rent and food, and many won’t have enough for either. We will not sacrifice our lives to keep the market afloat, or to fill the pockets of real estate lenders and landlords…Together, we can transform this moment of isolation into a moment of shared strength, support and compassion.” Rent strikes are demanding:

  • Forgive unpaid rents and waive mortgage interest and defer mortgage payments for the months of April, May, and June;
  • Cease evictions of any renters and foreclosures on any homeowners during the full duration of the crisis — for at least six months;
  • Use their political power to call on public officials to support housing relief for the tens of millions of American workers who have lost their jobs.

The COVID crisis has magnified a reality in US housing — housing has been turned in a profit engine for the super-rich. Rentals have been corporatized and controlled by some of the wealthiest individuals in the world. The Action Network reports: “Companies like Greystar, Equity Residential, and Lincoln Property Company control the rents for apartments in every state in the United States, while billionaires like Sam Zell, founder and chairman of Equity Residential, and Barry Sternlicht of Starwood Capital effectively serve as landlords for millions of us. These enormous companies dictate the rent and home prices in communities across the country. “

As a result, polling shows that a majority of people across the political spectrum support canceling rent payments and suspending home mortgage payments during the coronavirus pandemic. By a margin of 22 percent, voters strongly favor suspending or forgiving rents, for those under 45 years of age, the margin is 50 percent.

Building Power For An Effective General Strike

We do not yet have the organization to conduct a massive General Strike and only a few unions are aggressive enough to conduct strategic work stoppages. We must use the General Strike campaign to build our power and learn how to strike.

The foundation of all movements is education. We must constantly work to educate people about what is going on around them. This means overcoming the corporate media, which reports from the perspective of major corporate interests and the two Wall Street-funded parties. Independent media and social media are areas of activism that must always be a priority.

Subscribe to our daily digest for ongoing movement news and choose articles to promote in your social media networks. Each of us should act with the intention to build our social media networks so we become an effective media outlet. If the tens of thousands of people who receive this newsletter behave as media outlets, we will change the national dialogue.

We must organize to bring people into the movement. Mass movements win, fringe movements fail. How do you organize?  Organizing is as simple as talking to people who are not yet part of the movement, listening to their concerns, and showing them how joining together we can solve problems. This requires the patient and steady systematic building of relationships in the community. Talk to your neighbors, participate in apolitical neighborhood email groups, and speak with those who deliver to your home.

In the workplace, talk to co-workers, form clandestine strike committees, and speak and listen to each other. Work stoppages can vary in form. Workers can use the tactic of “Work to Rule,” following often ignored workplace safety and other rules, resulting in a slowdown. The bosses will fight back, so this will not be easy. Workers need to build community support so bosses are isolated and the conflict is broadened.

There are also tactics for at-home workers where sickouts and slowdowns are easy to adapt. Workers can call in sick during the first week in May. Even mild symptoms can result in a day or two off work. With the stress of COVID-19 and the economic collapse, a ‘mental health day’ is needed for many.

Then, we must mobilize people. When people are in the movement, a union, or an organization, they are ready to be mobilized in mass action. This requires showing this is a strategic campaign, not one protest, but a series of escalating events that build and are focused on achieving change. We discuss how you can create a strategic campaign in the free Popular Resistance School, How Social Transformation Occurs, eight web-based classes and readings we urge you to use.

If you are not part of a union or organization, become an active supporter of their actions. Show up, join them, call the media, religious leaders or neighbors, and urge them to show up.  If you see a picket line, join the workers or bring food and beverages. See yourself as the media and report on strikes, share their stories, and use your social media networks. If a union organizer is fired, come to the aid of that person including highlighting the injustice, insisting the person gets their job back, and raising funds to support them. We can support local strikers through “GoFundMe” pages or join a local Mutual Aid team.

In the coming era of strikes, we must remember that an injury to one is an injury to all. Show solidarity with the general strike. Wear red on Friday. Display a strike poster in your window. Wear a red or black or lavender bandana. Change your Facebook cover image.

As the era of strikes builds and people develop the skills, confidence, and courage to exercise their rights, the potential for transformational change will grow in ways that we cannot yet foresee.

2020 Election Year Is An Opportunity For Transformational Change If We Embrace Our Power

Although we do not tie our organizing to the election cycle, the 2020 election is an opportunity for the people to set the agenda for the 2020s. We need to show that whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden are elected, the people will rule from below. We need to build our power to demand the transformational we need.

We are living in an opportune time, as has existed previously in the United States when many of the issues people have fought for have come to the forefront, but the two parties disregarded the people. Similar to the abolition movement in the 19th century and the progressive/socialist movement in the early 20th century, this is our moment in the 21st century for systemic changes that fundamentally alter our healthcare system, economy, foreign policy, environmental policy and more.

As Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson said in our recent Clearing the FOG interview (available Monday), the right-wing is using this time to push through their agenda of corporate bailouts, deregulation, and worker exploitation. If the left doesn’t organize and counter this, the country will continue on its current destructive path. The changes we want won’t come from the top. Both corporate duopoly candidate’s priorities are the wealthy investor class and big business. We are going to have to organize and mobilize for the necessities of the people from below.

Join our May Day General Strike Call on Wednesday, April 29 at 7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific to learn how to participate in the general strike from home. Click here to register.

Don’t Fall For The Illusion Of Democracy, Create Change

The reality that democracy is an illusion in the United States has been made much clearer in the 2020 election cycle. While Democratic voters supported the Sanders reformist agenda, Democratic elites, including the DNC and the Obama and Clinton teams, and members of the Progressive Caucus organized to stop Sanders and make Biden the likely nominee despite his terrible nearly 50-year political history of corporatism and militarism and his current incompetence.

Many people still feel trapped in the endless cycle of “lesser evil” voting that has driven a race to the bottom in the United States. Voting for either of the corporate parties reinforces their corporate-militaristic agendas and takes away the people’s power to force changes. Voters are taken for granted by both major parties who know their scare tactics work.

If there was any question, the handling of the current health and economic crises clearly demonstrates the duopoly does not work for us. As trillion dollars lifelines are thrown to big business and finance, people lack health care, protection of their homes from eviction, food, worker rights, and financial support. All of these could be provided easily and are being provided to people in other countries, many of which are poorer than the US.

Taiwan, China, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, to name a few, are responding to the pandemic effectively while the US is failing. They have public health systems with health workers and doctors embedded in communities. They are able to go door-to-door to check on people and provide advice, testing, and treatment. In the US, COVID-19 has become a top killer, killing more people each week than cancer, and nearly as many as heart disease, the two highest causes of deaths. These mass deaths are occurring at a time when the economy is virtually closed. If it were open, there would be hundreds of thousands, if not more than a million deaths.

The contradiction has never been clearer. The government does not serve the people, especially the working class, it serves the wealth-class. We will not vote our way out of these crises. However, we can learn from previous movements that had significant impacts on power holders.

Huey Long threatened a third party challenge against FDR in the 1936 presidential race. This helped pushed the enactment of the New Deal.

Lessons From History

This is not the first time in history where the two dominant parties have been out-of-touch with the necessities of the people. In those times, political movements organized and led from below by doing two things: (1) building mass social movements, and (2) putting the movement’s issues on the political agenda through third party campaigns.

Although third party campaigns cannot win in the manipulated presidential election, even without winning, third parties combined with movements have transformed the nation. Understanding how social transformation occurs is critical for those who feel trapped in the duopoly system. We discuss this in more depth in the sixth class of the Popular Resistance School. In our mirage democracy, voting doesn’t have much impact because the outcome of the election is predetermined in most states due to the Electoral College.

From the colonial era to the Civil War one of the most extreme forms of capitalism – owning people as property – dominated US politics. The founders of the country, slaveholders and businessmen, protected their valuable slave property by drafting a property rights constitution. This was reinforced by the two parties, the Whigs and Democrats, who prohibited discussion of the abolition of slavery in Congress. Chattel slavery was the most valuable business of the era — more than railroads, banking, and industry combined.

Throughout that time, there was a movement to end slavery. By the time the country was formed, Vermont had abolished slavery. Abolitionists kept struggling through protests, slave revolts, writing, and speeches. With Westward expansion, the contradiction of slavery escalated as the debate became whether new states would be slave states or free.

Abolitionists decided to enter electoral politics. They formed new anti-slavery parties and ran a series of candidates including former president Martin Van Buren, with the Free Soil Party in 1848, and former President Millard Fillmore, with the American Party in 1856. Like third party candidates today, abolitionists were called “spoilers,” but they persisted. The Whigs weakened to virtually disappearing and the Democrats divided. As a result, Abraham Lincoln won a four-way race with 38 percent of the vote and ‘ended slavery’, the first third-party president elected in US history

In other cases, third parties won without winning the presidential election by putting the issues of social movements into the national debate. This is how we achieved the 8-hour work-day, ending child labor, women’s voting rights, breaking up monopolies, gaining union rights, the minimum wage, unemployment, worker’s compensation, and massive public works projects as well as retirement security and more. The entire New Deal was built on the platforms of  the Progressive Party and Socialist Party in 1912 and 1928.

FDR did not come into office advocating the New Deal. It was political movements like the Bonus March of 1932  and 1936 that led to people receiving federal support. There were also protests by farmers and strikes by workers during his presidency. And, there was the threat of a third-party challenge by Huey Long on the Share Our Wealth ticket, which had thousands of chapters across the country. All of this pushed FDR away from his concern about deficits to massive spending on the New Deal before the 1936 election.

In the 1940s, as the union movement continued and the civil rights movement grew, the Progressive Party with Henry Wallace, FDR’s vice president, urged the end of Jim Crow laws and segregation in the South, the advancement of women’s rights, the continuation of many New Deal policies including national health insurance and unemployment benefits, the expansion of the welfare system, and the nationalization of the energy industry, among others.

In this century, it was Ralph Nader in 2000 who first advocated single-payer, Medicare for all. Jill Stein ran on the Green New Deal in both her Green Party campaigns, after Howie Hawkins, the current leading candidate in the Green Party in 2020, advocated for a Green New Deal in a gubernatorial run in 2010. Every Green since Nader has criticized corporatism, the wealth divide, and Wall Street corruption as well as never-ending wars and US imperialism. All of these issues are advocated for by social movements and now have majority support. They are on the national agenda.

General Strike protests in Oakland (From CNN)

Building Popular Power in 2020

The quadruple threats of the pandemic, economic collapse, climate crisis, and nuclear war have changed the national dialogue.  Institutionalized racism is being acknowledged as black and brown people are disproportionately contracting COVID-19 and dying from it. Worker exploitation is starkly visible as essential workers are underpaid, lack paid sick leave and are mistreated with inadequate job safety. The fragile debt-riddled economy is evident as food lines grow with a record 22 million newly unemployed in the last month.

Many groups, including Popular Resistance, are urging a campaign of general strikes. A coalition has called for a general strike beginning on May 1 and has made specific demands. People are sharing information about how to conduct a general strike so people know what it takes and how a general strike would look.  Even before COVID-19, in the last two years, there were record numbers of strikes and now a wave of wildcat strikes is evolving.

Organizers of the general strike campaign are using the hashtags #GeneralStrike2020, #Coronastrike, #MayDay2020, and #StrikeForOurLives. There are many ways people can participate whether they are currently employed or not. If people refuse to pay their debts or rent, the financial system will collapse. And there are ways people can connect to the strike from home through social media.

Join our May Day General Strike Call on Wednesday, April 29 at 7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific to learn how to participate in the general strike from home. Click here to register.

People have power. We need to make the General Strike a campaign that continues throughout the 2020s. It needs to become the US version of the Yellow Vest movement. And, the strike can evolve with new disruptive tactics that force whoever is elected president to address the people’s issues.

This election, there is only one left-progressive candidate who will be on most ballots across the country, the leading Green candidate Howie Hawkins. If his campaign is heard, the agenda of the movement will be elevated. He is making progress to achieving federal matching funds, which would greatly amplify him and his strategy to unite the left will strengthen the challenge against the two parties.  Gloria La Riva is another left candidate running with the Party for Socialism and Liberation and Jeff Mackler is running with Socialist Action. Both will be on the ballot in some states. All three of these candidates are putting forward the agenda of the popular movement. We need to build a left party from the grassroots up. The two Wall Street-funded parties need to be challenged by a party that puts the planet and people first.

The Democrats have insulted progressives for years with corporate candidates because they think progressive-left voters have nowhere else to go. They need to see that voters have an alternative and are withholding their votes. They also need to see us building an alternative that is aligned with popular movements for economic, racial and environmental justice as well as peace.

There are more thought leaders standing up to the Democrats in 2020. This includes Krystal Ball of Hill TV’s Rising who has repeatedly criticized Biden and has not endorsed him, as has Sander’s press secretary Briahna Joy Gray. and the executive director of Justice Democrats, Alexandra Rojas. Multiple new media outlets including the host of the largest podcast in the nation, Joe Rogan, and podcasts with hundreds of thousands of listeners like Chapo Trap HouseKyle Kulinski and Jimmy Dore have all criticized Biden and said that they are unlikely to support him. The new media reaches millions of people and is challenging the old media narrative of pushing voters to ‘hold their nose’ and vote for unacceptable candidates.

Saying we ‘will not go along with your charade’ tells the political elites that people have minds of their own and will not be manipulated into voting for candidates who they know will sell out the people on behalf of the wealthy. Combining that with an ongoing campaign of general strikes in 2020 and beyond will show the political and economic elites that the people are taking power. The only path to victory is for people to organize and show we are not afraid to take action. It is time to embrace our power, not fear it.

Will America’s Corruption End on a Ventilator or in a Mushroom Cloud?

Little by little, Americans are understanding just how badly our government has let us down by its belated and disastrous response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and how thousands more people are dying as a result. But there are two other crises we face that our government is totally unprepared for and incapable of dealing with: the climate crisis and the danger of nuclear war.

Since 1947, a group of scientists with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists have warned us about the danger of nuclear war—using their Doomsday Clock to symbolize just how close we are to destroying human civilization on Earth. Over the years, the minute hand on the clock has gone back and forth, measuring the rising and falling risks.

Unbeknownst to most Americans, in January 2020, just before the Covid-19 crisis broke, the Atomic Scientists, who include 13 Nobel Prize winners and dozens of scientists and other experts, sounded the alarm that the double risks of nuclear war and climate change have now brought us closer to self-destruction than at the most dangerous moments of the Cold War. For the first time ever, they moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock beyond the 2-minute mark to 100 seconds to midnight.

“The world is sleepwalking its way through a newly unstable nuclear landscape,” they wrote, highlighting the New Cold War between the U.S. and Russia, plans to “modernize” their nuclear arsenals and “lowered barriers to nuclear war” as a result of new “low-yield” nuclear weapons. Arms control treaties between the U.S. and Russia that took decades to negotiate are being abandoned, removing restraints that were carefully calibrated to prevent either side from upsetting the balance of terror that made it suicidal to use nuclear weapons. What is now to prevent a conventional war from escalating to the use of “low-yield” nuclear weapons, or a low yield nuclear war in turn escalating to Armageddon?

On the climate crisis, the annual UN Conference of Parties (COP) in Madrid in December 2019 failed to agree on any new steps to cut carbon emissions, despite record heat, unprecedented wildfires, faster melting of glacial ice, and a scientific consensus that the commitments countries made in Paris in 2015 are not sufficient to avert catastrophe. Most countries are falling short of even those insufficient pledges, while U.S. CO2 emissions actually rose by 2.6% in 2018, after falling by only 11% under the Obama administration. Obama’s policy of using natural gas as a “bridge fuel” for U.S. power plants fueled a huge expansion in the fracking industry, and the U.S. is now producing more oil and more gas than ever before in our history.

Now the next COP in Glasgow has been postponed from 2020 to 2021 due to the pandemic, further delaying any chance of decisive action. Covid-19 is temporarily restraining our destruction of our own life support system. But this will be only a temporary respite unless we pivot from lockdowns to a COP in Glasgow that launches a global program to very quickly convert our energy systems from fossil fuels to green energy.

The Atomic Scientists wrote that both these existential dangers are severely compounded by political leaders who “denigrate and discard the most effective methods for addressing complex threats – international agreements with strong verification regimes – in favor of their own narrow interest and domestic political gain… these leaders have helped to create a situation that will, if unaddressed, lead to catastrophe sooner rather than later.”

It is the political leaders of the United States, not Russia or China, who have withdrawn from nuclear arms agreements, undermined the Kyoto Protocol (the only binding treaty to reduce greenhouse gases), rejected the jurisdiction of international courts, failed to ratify 46 multilateral treaties and systematically violated the UN Charter‘s prohibition against the threat or use of force.

The Republicans have been more aggressive in many of these policies, but Democratic leaders have also gone along with them, consolidating U.S. imperialism and disdain for international law as bipartisan U.S. policy. When UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told the BBC that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was illegal under the UN Charter, Senator Joe Biden, then Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, dismissed that out of hand. “Nobody in the Senate agrees with that,” Biden sneered. “There is nothing to debate. He is dead, flat, unequivocally wrong.”

The Democratic Party has now closed ranks behind Joe Biden as its presidential candidate, presenting Americans with a choice between two leaders from the two administrations that have governed the U.S. since 2009 and therefore bear the greatest responsibility for the current state of the nation. Biden has based his candidacy on the premise that everything was just fine in America until Trump came along, just as Trump based his 2016 candidacy on the idea that everything was great until Obama came on the scene.

Most Americans understand that our problems are more entrenched and systemic than that, but we remain trapped in a closed political system that presents us with limited choices between leaders who have already proved unable to solve our problems, even when the solutions are well-known or obvious and have broad public support, like Medicare For All.

When it comes to war and peace, the American public wants to keep the U.S. out of wars, but leaders of both parties keep fueling the war machine and stoking dangerous tensions with other countries. The Russiagate fiasco failed to bring down Trump, but it succeeded in unleashing a propaganda blitz to convince millions of Americans, from MSNBC viewers to Members of Congress, that Russia is once again an irreconcilable enemy of the United States and a threat to everything Americans believe in. In the hall of mirrors that is American politics, Democrats now hate Russia more than China, while Republicans hate China more than Russia—although the Biden campaign is now vying with Trump to see who can be more hostile to China.

Bipartisan hostility to Russia and China is only helping to justify the Pentagon’s pivot from “counterterrorism” to its New Cold War with our nuclear-armed neighbors and trillions of dollars in spending on new weapons that make the world more dangerous for all of us.

With almost no public debate, Members of Congress from both parties quietly rubber-stamp every record military budget placed in front of them. Only 8 Senators (4D, 4R) and 48 House Members (41D, 6R, 1I) dared to vote against final passage of the outrageous $712 billion 2020 Pentagon budget. The Trump administration is fully committed to Obama’s plan to spend at least a trillion dollars to “modernize” the U.S. nuclear arsenal, which the Atomic Scientists warn is taking us closer to nuclear catastrophe than ever. Of this year’s Democratic presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders is the only one who routinely votes against record military budgets, approving only 16% of military spending bills since 2013.

On this and many other issues, Sanders has dared to say what Americans know but no major party candidate would say before: that our neoliberal emperors sit stark naked on their thrones, tossing sacks of money to their friends as they rule over an obscene empire of corruption, inequality, war, poverty and racism.

In dogged defiance of American conventional wisdom, Sanders built a political movement based on real solutions to the structural problems of American society, directly challenging the powerful interests who control and profit from the corrupt status quo: the military-industrial complex; the prison-industrial complex; the medical-industrial complex; and the Wall Street financial complex at the heart of it all.

Sanders may have lost the Democratic nomination, but he successfully demonstrated that Americans don’t have to be passive in the face of a corrupt political system that is leading us down a path to self-destruction. We do not have to accept a dysfunctional for-profit healthcare system; ever-worsening inequality and poverty; structural racism and mass incarceration; an overheated, dying natural world; or a military-industrial complex that fears peace more than a nuclear apocalypse.

A political system that is structurally incapable of acting for the common good, even when millions of lives are at stake, is not just failing to solve our problems. It is the problem. Hopefully, as we struggle to emerge from today’s tragic pandemic, more and more Americans are understanding that healing our sick, corrupt political system is the vital key to a healthy and peaceful future.

The Decade Of Transformation Is Here: Remaking The Economy For The People

The pandemic, economic collapse and the government’s response to them are going to not only determine the 2020 election but define the future for this decade and beyond. People are seeing the failure of the US healthcare nonsystem and the economy. The government was able to provide trillions for big business and Wall Street without asking the usual, “Where will we get the money?” However, the rescue bill recently passed by Congress provides a fraction of what most people need to get through this period. Once again, a pandemic will reshape the course of history.

Last week, we wrote about the failings of the healthcare system and the need for a universal, publicly-funded system. This week, we focus on the need to change the US economic system. The economic crisis in the United States is breaking all records. The class war that has existed for decades is being magnified and sharpened. The failings of financialized, neoliberal capitalism is being brought into focus at a time when people in the United States have greater support for socializing the economy than in recent times.

This Thursday, there was a record 3.3 million applications for unemployment, an increase of three million from the previous week, but on the same day, there was a record rise in the stock market. This contradiction shows the divide between the economic insecurity of the people and investors profiting from the crisis. The 11.4 percent increase in the stock market on Thursday was the largest increase since 1933 while the record rise in unemployment was 40 percent higher than ever recorded. Projections are for 30 percent unemployment this quarter, which is five percent higher than the worst of the Great Depression.

The response to the economic crisis reveals who the government represents. While people’s economic insecurity grew, the government acted to primarily benefit the wealthiest. This realization should spur an uprising like the United States has never seen before. Perhaps the most dangerous to the ruling class is their incompetence has been exposed. As Glen Ford writes, “The capitalist ‘crisis of legitimacy’ may have passed the point of no return, as the Corporate State proves daily that it cannot perform the basic function of protecting the lives of its citizens.”

Disaster Aid: Crumbs For The People, Trillions For The Wealthiest

Congress unanimously passed a $1.6 trillion coronavirus disaster aid bill this week. This is almost equal to the 2009 Recovery Act and the 2008 Wall Street rescue combined. Democrat’s votes were essential to passing the bill so they could have demanded whatever they wanted. This bill shows the bi-partisan priority for big business.

The bill is too little too late for people who have lost their jobs and for small businesses that have been forced to close. The law includes a one-time $1,200 payment to most people. This payment will arrive after rent and other debt payments are due for a US population with record debt. Congress does not understand the economic realities of people in the United States. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz explained what was needed saying, “The answer is we need no evictions, no foreclosures on all properties, and the government should guarantee pay.” In addition, credit card companies should also put “a stay on interest on all debt.”

When COVID-19 first began, we pointed out that the US healthcare system was not prepared to respond and showed the problems of putting profits before health. The COVID-19 rescue bill did not pay for coronavirus testing or treatment. Millions of people who lose their jobs will lose their health insurance, demonstrating why healthcare should not be tied to employment. Adding to health problems, the law did not increase the SNAP food program for the poor.

Roughly one-third of the funding goes to direct payments to people, unemployment insurance for four months, hospitals, veterans’ care, and public transit. Two-thirds go to government and corporations. Adam Levitin describes the law as “robbing taxpayers to bail out the rich.”

Congress allotted at least $454 billion to support big business in addition to $46 billion for specific industries, especially airlines. Some of these funds will also bail out the fossil fuel industry. According to the way the Federal Reserve operates, they will be allowed to spend ten times the amount Congress allocated to support big business, $4.5 trillion. Jack Rasmus writes that the Federal Reserve had already “allocated no less than $6.2 Trillion so far to bail out the banks and investors.” He summarizes the disparity: “Meanwhile Congress provides one-fourth that, and only one-third of that one fourth, for the Main St., workers, and middle-class families.”

Trump shows the disdain government has for the people and its favoritism for big business and investors as he objected to paying for 80,000 life-saving ventilators because they cost $1 billion while the government provides trillions to big business and investors. Governors and hospitals are issuing dire warnings of what is to come, but the federal government is not listening.

Economic Collapse Shows The Need For Transformational Change

The economic collapse is still unfolding. The US is already in a deep recession that is likely to be worse than the 2008 financial crisis and could develop into a greater depression if the COVID-19 economic shutdown lasts a long time.

Already, the crises, the government’s support for Wall Street and its failure to protect the 99% are creating louder demands for system change. We need to put forward a bold agenda and agitate around it to demand economic security for all. As Margaret Kimberly writes, we are entering a period of revolutionary change because we know returning to normal is “the opposite of what we need.” Or as Vijay Prashad says, “Normal was the problem.”

While the urgent health and economic crises dominate, the climate crisis also continues. The climate crisis already required replacing the fossil fuel era with a clean and sustainable energy economy and remaking multiple sectors of the economy such as construction, transportation, agriculture, and infrastructure. Now, out of these crises, a new sustainable economic democracy can be born where people control finance, inequality is minimized and workers are empowered, along with creating public programs that meet the necessities of the people and protect the planet.

The US Constitution gives the government the power to create money; Article I, Section 8 says: “The Congress shall have power … to coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin.” Congress needs to take back that power so the government can create debt-free money. Currently, the Federal Reserve, which was created by Congress in 1913, is the privately-owned US central bank that produces money and sets interest rates. It puts the interests of the big banks first. The Fed can be altered, nationalized or even dismantled by Congress. Its functions could be put into the Department of the Treasury.

Monetary actions need to be transparent and designed to serve the necessities of the people and the planet. Money should be spent by the government into the economy to meet those needs while preventing inflation and deflation. In this way, the government would have the funds needed to transform to a green energy economy, rebuild infrastructure, provide education from pre-school through college without tuition, create the healthcare infrastructure we need for universal healthcare and more.  In addition, through a network of state and local public banks, people would be able to get cost-only mortgages and loans to meet their needs.

Moving money creation into the federal government would place it within the constitutional system of checks and balances where the people have a voice to ensure it works for the whole society, not only for the bankers and the privileged. This could end the parasitic private banking system and replace it with a democratic public system designed for the people’s needs as Mexico is doing.

Globalization must be reconsidered. Corporate globalization with trade agreements that favor corporate power is a root cause of this global pandemic. We need trade that puts people and the planet first and encourages local production of goods. This includes remaking agriculture to support smaller farms and urban farming using organic and regenerative techniques that increase the nutritional value of foods and sequester carbon.

What we need instead is popular globalization – developing solidarity and reciprocity between people around the world. We can learn from each other, collaborate and provide mutual aid in times of crisis as Cuba and other countries are doing now.

As businesses are bailed out by the government, they could be required to protect and empower workers. Workers’ rights have been shrinking since the 1950s as unions have become smaller and more allied with business interests. The right to collective bargaining needs to be included as a requirement for receiving government funds. For large public corporations, workers should be given a board seat, indeed the government should be given a board seat and an equity share in any corporation that is bailed out. For smaller businesses, as they reopen, it is an opportunity to restructure so worker ownership and workers sharing in the profits become the norm.

The US needs to build the economy from the bottom up. The era of trickle-down economics that has existed since the early 80s has failed most people in the United States. The government needs to create a full-employment economy with the government as the employer of last resort. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives US infrastructure a grade of D+ requiring a $2 trillion dollar investment that would create millions of jobs. The Green New Deal would create 30 million jobs over ten years according to the detailed plan put forward by the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins.

The coronavirus disaster aid includes a payment to every person in the US earning under $70,000. While the one-time $1,200 check is grossly insufficient, it demonstrates the possibility of a universal basic income. This would lift people out of poverty and protect them from the coming age of robots and artificial intelligence that will impact millions of existing jobs. The evidence is growing that a basic income works. A World Bank analysis of 19 studies found that cash transfers have been demonstrated to improve education and health outcomes and alleviate poverty

The United States economy is in a debt crisis that demands quantitative easing for the people. Personal, corporate and government debt is at a record high. While the economic collapse is being blamed on the coronavirus, the reality is that the pandemic was a trigger that led to a recession that was already coming. The US needs to correct those fundamentals — massive debt, a wealth divide, inadequate income, poverty — as part of restarting the economy. Just as the Fed has bought debts to relieve businesses of debt burden, it can do the same for the personal debts of people. We should start by ending the crisis of student debt, which is preventing two generations from participating in the economy. While we make post-high school vocational and college education tuition-free, we should not leave behind the generations suffering from high-priced education.

Rise-Up and Demand Change

To create change, people must demand it. Even before the coronavirus collapse, people were demanding an end to inequality, worker rights, climate justice, and improved Medicare for all, among other issues. In the last two years, the United States has seen record numbers of striking workers. The climate movement is blocking pipelines and infrastructure and shutting down cities. Protests against inequality and debt resistance have existed since the occupy movement.

Now, with the economic collapse, protests are increasing. It’s Going Down reports: “with millions of people now wondering how they are going to make ends meet and pay rent, let alone survive the current epidemic, a new wave of struggles is breaking out across the social terrain. Prisoners and detention center detainees are launching hunger strikes as those on the outside demand that they be released, tenants are currently pushing for a rent strike starting on April 1st, the houseless are taking over vacant homes in Los Angeles, and workers have launched a series of wildcat strikers, sick-outs, and job actions in response to being forced onto the front lines of the pandemic like lambs to the slaughter.”

Workers at the Fiat Chrysler Windsor Assembly Plant walked off the job over concerns about the spread of coronavirus. Pittsburgh garbage collectors refused to pick up trash because their health was not being protected. Chipotle employees walked off the job and publicly protested the company for allegedly penalizing workers who call in sick. Perdue employees in Georgia walked off their jobs on a production line over a wage dispute and management asked workers to put in extra hours without a pay increase during the pandemic. Some Whole Foods workers announced a collective action in the form of a “sick out,” with workers using their sick days in order to strike. In Italy, wildcat strikes erupted to demand that plants be closed for the duration of the virus. Postal workers in London took strike actions due to the risks of the virus.

The pandemic requires creativity in protest. Technology allows us to educate and organize online, as well as to protest, petition, email, and call. There have also been car marches, public transport drivers have refused to monitor tickets, collective messages have been sent from balconies and windows. People are showing they can be innovative to get our message across to decision-makers. We can also build community and strengthen bonds with mutual aid.

If the ownership class continues its call to re-open the economy despite the health risks, the potential of a general strike can become a reality. When Trump called for returning to work the hashtags #GeneralStrike and #GeneralStrike2020— calling on workers everywhere to walk off the job — began trending on Twitter. Rather than a strike against one corporation, people would strike across multiple businesses and could also include a rent and mortgage strike as well as a debt strike. The coronavirus has shown that essential workers are among the lowest-paid workers and that they make the economy function. We also understand that if people refuse to pay their debts or rent, the financial system will collapse. Understanding those realities gives a new understanding of the power of the people.

A general strike, as Rosa Luxembourg described it in 1906, is not ‘one isolated action” but a rallying call for a campaign of “class struggle lasting for years, perhaps for decades.” A general strike could take many forms, including a global day of action. Before the current crises, we saw the decade of the 2020s as a decade of potential transformational change because on multiple fronts movements were growing and demanding responses to an array of crises. Now, the triggers for the economic collapse could also be the trigger for transformational revolt.

We are all in this together. We are all connected and share a common humanity. If we act in solidarity during this time of crisis and in this decade of transformation, we can create the future we want to see for ourselves and future generations.

The Decade Of Transformation Is Here: Remaking Health Care

We’ve been writing for a while that the 2020’s would be a decade when multiple crises would come to a head and we would have an opportunity for major transformations if we were organized to mobilize and demand them. The current coronavirus pandemic, economic collapse, and falling oil prices are three events that are creating such opportunities. Each crisis shows the glaring shortcomings of healthcare, economic and environmental policies that are failing the people and planet. Nobody could have predicted that the crises would happen so quickly, but here we are.

Now, we must act on two levels. First, an immediate response to the pandemic that is rapidly infecting and hospitalizing people and could lead to more than one million deaths in the United States and to the global economic collapse triggered by the COVID-19 virus that is bringing the economy to a standstill with rapidly rising unemployment and resulting in a deep recession or even a depression. Second, we must make structural long-term changes to redesign our systems so that everyone’s basic needs are met, the planet is protected and we end gross inequality.

Response to the pandemic and economic collapse are already showing change is possible. As part of what may be nearly a $2 trillion stimulus, even Republicans are urging cash payments to most people in the form of a short-term universal income, providing businesses with financing so they do not go bankrupt, and the government taking an equity share of large industries that seek financial support. Prisons are releasing inmates, police are arresting fewer people, and evictions and water and power shutoffs are being stopped. It is our responsibility to push for what we need and to ensure these crises are not used to put harmful policies in place.

Single-payer healthcare systems are better equipped to respond to epidemics

Advocates for a universal single-payer healthcare system in the United States have warned for years that we are ill-equipped to handle a pandemic. The COVID-19 crisis is making it very clear that our healthcare system is failing us. We’ve also raised awareness that the United States has the highest number of preventable deaths compared to other wealthy nations, even though we spend the most on health care. Now that the epidemic can impact everyone, leaders are taking notice.

President Trump announced that testing for COVID-19 would be free. He also stated that there would be no co-pays for treatment but the insurance industry was quick to say they had not promised that. Politicians are pushing for our public health insurances, Medicaid and Medicare, to pick up out-of-pocket costs for care that would otherwise prevent people from seeking treatment.

Countries that have universal single-payer healthcare systems are handling the COVID-19 pandemic much better than the United States. They already have a system that offers free care and they have the authority and communications networks in place to rapidly deploy health professionals and resources to areas of need and to build healthcare infrastructure to meet the demand. We have a single-payer healthcare system in the United States, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Suzanne Gordon and Jasper Craven of the Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute write that:

Because the VHA is a highly coordinated system, agency staff have begun rejiggering its supply chain to get necessary equipment to hospitals in hardest hit areas, and have started setting up command centers to assist with this national emergency…. Already, VHA staff have embedded with the Centers for Disease Control and are largely running the country’s 65 emergency coordinating centers. The department has also deployed nurses to screen American soldiers coming home; built a website landing page to inform veterans of updates through the crisis; restricted non-essential hospital visits across the country; and instituted strong protective measures at their nursing homes, which are much better staffed and safer than their private sector counterparts.

This is possible because the VHA is a national system that is government-funded and not for profit. They already have a telemedicine infrastructure in place so people can receive ongoing care from their homes. Staff are salaried so they can easily shift to provide care where needed, unlike many private doctors who are only paid if they can bill insurance companies. Dr. Mike Pappas, who practices in New York City, reports that health professionals in the non-VHA healthcare system are facing critical shortages of tests, protective gear, medical equipment, and hospital beds.

The United States has been very slow to react to the crisis. HHS Secretary Alex Azar was informed about the COVID-19 virus on January 3. China only became aware of it in late December, and it was not until January 7 that Wuhan researchers determined a new virus was causing disease, so the US became aware almost immediately (One of the often-repeated lies of the Trump administration and US media is that China was secretive about the virus when in reality, the US was informed as China was still figuring out what was occurring). Not only did health officials know, but US intelligence reports from January and February warned about a likely pandemic. Yet, here we are in late March and we are still unsure how widely the virus has spread.

Fixing our healthcare system

Our fragmented, unequal and for-profit system is the problem. The pandemic is illustrating that health is a national security issue. Healthcare doesn’t belong in the private sector where profit is the priority instead of health. Our for-profit system is resulting in the closing of 30 hospitals a year and the reconfiguring of community hospitals to be profit centers that specialize in care that brings in money rather than the general care communities need. This is why we lack sufficient beds to handle the pandemic and have to rely on people to self-isolate to slow the rise of infection in order to avoid overwhelming our system.

Our for-profit mentality when it comes to pharmaceuticals is also hurting our health. The US is spending a billion dollars to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. This should be made available for free to everyone in the United States; it should not be a profit center for a private corporation. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that spending on prescription medications is higher in the US, per capita, than in any other country in the world. Drug companies are among the most profitable US corporations and spend more on marketing than research. Five out of the six highest profiting US companies were pharmaceuticals.

Lee Fang reports in The Intercept that price gouging is being encouraged by investors, writing, “Over the past few weeks, investment bankers have been candid on investor calls and during health care conferences about the opportunity to raise drug prices.” The Hill reports, “A CEO of a Georgia-based hospital on Wednesday said the supplier of a protective mask critical for health care workers treating COVID-19 patients is charging $7 for the masks that typically cost 58 cents.”  The US Public Interest Research Group  Education Fund said it is tracking prices of medical supplies and found a package of 320 Lysol disinfecting wipes that usually cost $13.57 were priced at $220. Another listing offered Purell sanitizer that normally sells for $7.99 priced as high as $49.95. Nearly one in six masks and hand sanitizers sold by the retailer saw their prices jump at least 50% in February.

This all shows a need for a publicly-financed, universal healthcare system in the United States such as national improved Medicare for all or a national health service modeled on the VHA. It also demonstrates the need to nationalize the pharmaceutical industry and control the prices of goods required for personal protection.  In Spain, the government seized control of private health care providers, including privately run hospitals, to manage the demand for treatment for patients with COVID-19.

In the immediate term, we need to do what other countries have done:

  • Make widespread screening and testing free to everyone.
  • Isolate people who are infected with COVID-19 and test their contacts.
  • Provide treatment free of charge. The government should pick up the cost of any care that is not covered.
  • Increase domestic production of necessary items such as protective gear, medical equipment, medications, and supplies.
  • Do bulk purchasing of necessities such as protective gear, medical equipment and medications by the government that are provided at low or no cost to health facilities and coordinate the transportation of supplies to where they are needed.
  • Create places for isolating and treating patients such as reconfiguring hospitals and unused buildings.
  • Mobilize health professionals who are not providing direct care, such as those who are in administrative positions or are retired, to provide care.
  • Hire and train people to conduct screening, testing, and data collection to identify and communicate with people who have come in contact with infected persons or who are in areas with high numbers of cases and to run hotlines where people can get information.
  • Coordinate food programs in communities so that all people are able to eat. This could be done in coordination with local farmers, restaurants, schools, and meals on wheels programs.
  • Provide immediate housing to all people who are unhoused so they can self-isolate.
  • Release all prisoners who are vulnerable because of age or underlying health conditions or who have committed nonviolent crimes.

In the long term, we need to demand that we do not go backward. This includes creating a universal, publicly-funded healthcare system that is free at the point of service, nationalizing the pharmaceutical industry, building more healthcare infrastructure so all people have access to care within a reasonable distance, expanding and paying for medical education – especially for people in low-income communities, treating housing as a human right by converting existing empty homes and apartments into social housing and changing our legal system to minimize the use of prison as a punishment.

We can make the 2020’s a decade that completely transforms our healthcare, economic, and environmental systems and more. Now is the time to be bold in demanding what we need to uphold human rights and protect the planet. Many groups are putting forward demands for changes they need. We’re posting them on Popular Resistance. And we will continue writing about transformative changes to our economic and environmental policies in the next newsletter.

The US Is Not Prepared For Coronavirus: We Need To Take Action

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is in its very early stages in the United States so it is too early to predict its full impacts. The World Health Organization reports that COVID-19 has stricken more than 86,000 people around the world, killing nearly 3,000 and has spread to at least 60 countries. The global march of COVID-19 looks unstoppable.

On Friday, three new patients in California, Oregon and Washington State who had not traveled outside of the US were diagnosed with COVID-19, suggesting community transmission in the US has begun. The first death in the US happened this weekend in Washington State. The Times reports that “flawed test kits distributed to states by the CDC and strict criteria initially used for identifying potential cases may have slowed detection of the virus spreading within communities across the country.” The virus is likely to spread to every corner of the nation.

The economic impact of the COVID-19 virus, which has already wiped out $6 trillion in global wealth, $4 trillion in the US, is beginning to take effect. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones index closed down nearly 360 points on Friday. The index has dropped more than 14% from a recent high, making this the market’s worst week since the 2008 global financial crisis. Europe’s economy is already teetering on the edge of recession. If COVID-19 becomes a global pandemic, economists expect the impact could be much worse, with the US and other global economies falling into recession. The White House is considering tax cuts and pressure on the Federal Reserve in response, but these are not likely to provide relief.

The real issue is health. COVID-19 will be a challenge for the fragmented US health system where tens of millions of people do not have adequate access to healthcare. The US is poorly prepared for an epidemic. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates the flu has resulted in between 9 million to 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 to 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 61,000 deaths annually since 2010. And, that is not an epidemic like COVID-19 could become. COVID-19 has a 2 percent death rate, 20 times higher than the influenza virus.

If the virus spreads, it will highlight the danger of healthcare inequality in the US as millions of people without insurance will delay seeking care and spread the disease to family, neighbors, and co-workers. The profit-driven system will make access to medicine expensive and out-of-reach-for many. And the lack of paid sick leave will make it impossible for workers, particularly in the service sector, to stay home and avoid infecting others. The demand for National Improved Medicare for all and other necessities must be stronger.

At a news conference at the Washington state Department of Health’s Public Health Laboratories on Tuesday, Dr. Satish Pillai of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention joined other health professionals to discuss what they know about the first confirmed U.S. case of 2019 novel coronavirus, discovered Monday in a Snohomish County resident. At left are Washington state Health Secretary Dr. John Wiesman and Gov. Jay Inslee. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

The US Is Not Well Prepared For A Viral Epidemic

A 2019 report by CSIS Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security found “the United States remains woefully ill-prepared to respond to global health security threats.” The report predicted what is occurring now in our globalized world: ” Outbreaks proliferate that can spread swiftly across the globe and become pandemics, disrupting supply chains, trade, transport, and ultimately entire societies and economies.”

The report recommended building the response to global health pandemics at the National Security Council and other agencies, increasing investment in preparedness, producing vaccines and other measures. Rather than heeding these recommendations, the Trump administration has done the opposite. In May 2018, Rear Adm. Tim Ziemer, the head of global health security on the White House’s National Security Council, left the Trump administration,  one day after an Ebola outbreak was declared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This was part of the entire pandemic response chain of command being removed.  Also in 2018, Trump fired Tom Bossert, homeland security adviser responsible for coordinating the response to global pandemics. His job has remained vacant.

While Trump has made serious errors, the 2019 report points to successive administrations writing, “Over several successive administrations, the White House has seldom exercised sufficiently authoritative, high-level leadership, creating acute threats to U.S. national interests when dangerous outbreaks occur at home and abroad. U.S. programs on global health security are fragmented, scattered across diverse executive agencies, and not clearly prioritized.”

The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board  of the World Health Organization and World Bank found the threat from pandemics “is growing, and the world is not prepared.” In  October 2019, the Global Health Security Index concluded that “collectively, international preparedness is weak.”

This week, National Nurses United sounded the alarm that the US is not prepared for the spread of the COVID-19 virus. They point to many problems including the lack of health care workers. In one case at the UC Davis Medical Center, a “patient admitted to the facility on Feb. 19 has now led to the self-quarantine at home of at least 36 RNs and 88 other health care workers.” One case resulted in 124 health professionals being unavailable.

National Nurses United is conducting a survey of registered nurses across the country on hospital preparedness and will be releasing those results next week.  Preliminary results from more than 1,000 nurses in California are worrisome:

  • Only 27 percent report that there is a plan in place to isolate a patient with a possible novel coronavirus infection. 47 percent report they don’t know if there is a plan.
  • Only 73 percent report that they have access to N95 respirators on their units; 47 percent report access to powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) on their units.
  • Only 27 percent report that their employer has sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) stock on hand to protect staff if there is a rapid surge in patients with possible coronavirus infections; 44 percent don’t know.

Inadequate training and equipment are already a serious problem. A whistleblower reported that a dozen workers were “improperly deployed” to two California military bases receiving Americans evacuated from coronavirus-impacted areas. They were given neither training nor protective gear for handling the possibly high-risk patients. The whistleblower alleged that HHS officials shot down her concerns and on February 15 threatened to fire her if she did not accept a reassignment. The workers who may have been exposed to the coronavirus were able to travel freely among the public, the complaint reportedly said.

The New York Times did an in-depth analysis of how prepared the US is for a coronavirus outbreak and found many areas of vulnerability including critical shortages of respirators and masks.  They note that a 2005 CDC report estimated that a severe influenza pandemic would require mechanical ventilators for 740,000 critically ill people. The US only has 62,000 full-featured ventilators available in hospitals across the country. They also report there could be acute shortages of health workers to operate ventilators and care for patients, hospital beds, masks, and other protective equipment.

Because of shortfalls, some hospitals are making provisions for rationing including removing some patients from ventilators to make way for others presumed to have a better chance of survival. Further, plans would limit access of some patients “from critical care or even hospitalization during a peak pandemic based on criteria such as their age or an underlying chronic disease.” Of course, rural and poor communities will be impacted the most by lack of resources.

The US has a total of 6,146 hospitals with 924,107 beds. There are 36,353,946 admissions annually. In rural towns across the US, communities are in crisis due to hospital closings. There have also been hospital closings in urban areas.  The Times reports Gary Cox, the Oklahoma health commissioner, said reopening rural hospitals that had closed in recent years was an option under consideration and the state was also exploring the idea of using recreational vehicles to house people who have tested positive for the virus but do not need hospital care. The DoD and CDC have approved at least 15 US military bases as quarantine camps.

Another major problem area is the accurate communication of information. The CDC has a 65-page manual on how the agency should communicate during a health crisis, which includes sharing scientific information “in an open, timely, and appropriate way.” But, the White House has taken over communication around COVID-19. The Washington Post reported that a government employee faced retaliation for raising concerns about unsafe assessment of potentially-infected individuals. The New York Times reports that public communications about the virus from CDC scientists will need “clearance.”  Anthony Fauci, a senior NIH official and physician-scientist, had to cancel several television appearances after the vice president gave him a gag order.

COVID-19 Demonstrates the Need for Improved Medicare for All

Universal access to healthcare through National Improved Medicare for All (NIMA) would make a tremendous difference in both controlling the spread of the virus as well as making sure people receive the treatment they need. Today, more than 27 million people in the US do not have insurance.  Tens of millions more are underinsured – 45 percent of working-age adults, or 87 million people, were either underinsured or had no coverage for at least part of the last year.

People with inadequate insurance have financial barriers to healthcare. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports the average deductible among covered workers is $1,500 for an individual and $3,000 for a familyTwenty percent have high deductible plans that cost $3000 for an individual or $5000 for a family. Half of US adults say they or a family member put off or skipped some sort of health care in the last year. Even for people who obtain insurance through the Affordable Care Act, the average deductible is $4,000.

As a result, even if you are among the small percentage of the population that has very robust health insurance, you are at risk for getting COVID-19 because people with symptoms will not go to the doctor to be tested and treated because they fear the risk of bankruptcy. Healthcare costs are the major cause of bankruptcy in the United States with 530,000 bankruptcies annually linked to medical illness.

The signs of COVID-19 are highly non-specific and include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and viral pneumonia. A diagnostic test is a key tool in determining whether someone has the virus along with clinical observation, the patient’s medical and travel history, and contacts. At the low end, the cost of the test is $250, and at the high end, it’s $1,500 or more.

The case of a Miami man shows why underinsured people will not seek healthcare. He had viral symptoms and went to be tested. He tested negative but received a bill from his insurance company for $3,270.   He would be responsible for $1,400 of that bill, but the insurer required additional documentation: three years of medical records to prove the flu he got didn’t relate to a preexisting condition. This individual is typical of many people in the US. He earns about $55,000 a year working for a medical device company that does not offer health insurance. He purchased an inexpensive policy that cost $180 per month for a limited plan.

NIMA would ensure that every person had access to necessary tests, care, and medications including a coronavirus vaccine when one is developed. The government is going to invest at least $1 billion in the development of a vaccine but Health and Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar, said they could not ensure it would be affordable saying, “we can’t control that price because we need the private sector to invest.” Azar served as the top lobbyist for Eli Lilly before becoming president of the drug company’s US operations in 2012. Azar earned nearly $2 million during his last year at Lilly at a time when the cost of its drugs went up significantly; e.g., insulin sold by the company more than doubled in price The actions of Lilly during his tenure resulted in a lawsuit filed in 2017.

Azar is emblematic of the pharmaceutical industry, one of the most profitable sectors of the economy. He is one of many people on President Trump’s coronavirus task force who has conflicts of interest due to ties to for-profit healthcare. Another task force member is Joseph Grogan, a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences before he joined the Trump administration as director of the Domestic Policy Council.  Gilead announced last week that it would be starting two clinical trials of an antiviral drug that could be used to treat the virus and the company’s stock price surged. Of the task force’s 16 members — 17, if you include Vice President Mike Pence, only four have any training in science or medicine.

Another member of the task force, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, said the coronavirus virus created business opportunities as it “will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America.” The first action of Pence, who leads the task force, was to go on the Rush Limbaugh show to praise the actions of President Trump and to reassure the financial markets. It is evident from Pence’s actions and the make-up of the commission that the response to COVID-19 is more about politics than health.

When a public health system like NIMA is put in place, then other policies change. Employment policies would make a tremendous difference in stopping the spread of the virus. A study of 22 countries by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found all countries offered at least nine sick days with full pay, the US does not require any paid sick time for workers. On average, Americans who do have paid sick days are entitled to up to seven days per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, nearly four in 10 workers—43.5 million people—don’t have any paid sick leave.

Research shows that flu rates fell by about 40 percent in US cities that mandated sick pay. People who cannot stay home when they have symptoms spread illness to co-workers, customers, and others they come into contact with. People in the US want paid sick leave and family leave, but corporate America blocks it. With the potential of COVID-19, the country will pay a heavy price for that greed. The US and other nations have implemented mandatory 14-day quarantine measures for returning travelers and residents who may have been exposed to the virus in China. Without sick leave, how will workers tolerate being quarantined?

The Fate Of COVID-19 In The United States Is In Our Hands

COVID-19 is expected to be widespread in the United States by mid-March. Without competent leadership and a universal healthcare system, it is up to us to take action in our communities. One of the simplest things to do is to make sure people are aware of how the virus spreads and how to protect themselves. It is spread by droplets that land on surfaces when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus can stay alive for several days on surfaces. If someone touches a contaminated surface and then touches their mouth, nose or eyes, they can become infected.

We should all avoid coughing or sneezing openly. Use a tissue or your clothing if that’s all you have. Wash your hands frequently. Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes. Stay in if you have symptoms of a cold and avoid people who have cold symptoms. Contact your doctor if your symptoms worsen. While most people who contract COVID-19 will recover from it, the death rate is much higher than the flu virus, which has already killed 14,000 people in the US this season, and so we must do what we can to limit its spread. People who are older and have compromised health are the most vulnerable. Check the CDC for up to date information.

We must also be prepared for a possible recession. It is time now to reach out to others in your community to make plans for mutual aid to reduce the suffering that will occur. This time, it may be much worse because we have high debt and a weaker economic foundation. But together, we can get through this and use it as an opportunity to demand more such as National Improved Medicare for All, public banks, a stronger social safety net and diversion of military spending to transition to a green energy economy.

NOTE: The article was edited on March 2, 2020 to reflect that while President Trump has consistently proposed major cuts in funding to the CDC, Congress has not approved those cuts. However, prior to President Trump, plans were put in place to cut grants to states and local areas for disease management.

Fake News, False Democracy and Phony Economics

The growing popularity of an American social democratic presidential candidate who calls himself a democratic socialist has revived every anti-humanity distortion of the past, emanating from the tiny minority ruling our country through its servant class of professionals in media and politics. Newer and more bloody mythologies about supposedly existing socialisms are expanding on the incredible death tolls supposedly inflicted by previous attempts at achieving the common good by confiscating the wealth of royalty and the rich in nations where free markets were supposedly destroyed by savages who felt that one thousand people and one thousand loaves of bread meant they should be distributed one to a person. That was instead of being owned by a capitalist and sold only to those who could amass the market forces to buy bread by creating private profit for the investor-rulers who owned the bakery.

Every attempt at creating a socialist let alone communist society has incurred the bloody violent wrath of the capitalist world, beginning with the Paris Commune of the 19th century, extending to the Soviet Union and China in the twentieth, and continuing to the present when truly electoral democratic attempts at revolutionary transformation in places like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Bolivia are met with external warfare in the form of sanctions and foreign financing of internal opposition reducing populations having finally achieved balanced diets for the first time in their lives to not only scrounging for survival but living under threat of military invasion for doing so.

While this minority created imperial policy that views the world as subject renter and American wealth as royal owner will soon be replaced by real democracy if it doesn’t destroy everything in its process of failing, attempts at creating what is called a “sharing” economy are made by well meaning souls trying to take the merchant relationship away by replacing it with person to person deals, as in the ancient markets which offered humanity a place to bargain as equals. But making a deal with someone at a flea market or neighborhood swap doesn’t really amount to a social change, just as a private non-profit hardly transforms market forces. The non-profit results from massive tax write-offs for the rich making donations that insure their system remains strong, and the innocent personal bartering that takes place among well meaning people is no comparison to a truly collective worker owned democratically controlled enterprise. We might as well claim that McDonalds is “sharing” its burgers and fries with us, as Tesla is “sharing” its autos, General Dynamics “shares” its weapons, and documented pharma and undocumented dope dealers “share” their drugs. The market still rules and it remains under the ownership and control of minority wealth, with the number of dollars they command at a peak never before seen in the history of humanity. The Roman Empire’s wealth amounted to chump change compared to the trillions of dollars owned and controlled by a tiny handful of global, mostly American billionaires.

A philosopher teaching the social values of the capitalist market and calling them democratic is like a pimp teaching social values of the sex market and calling it love, or an economist doing a cost-benefit analysis of dating that skips the expense of dinner and a movie and gets right to the rape. Under the control of such market forces, unless you are the philosopher, the economist or the rapist, ultimately you get screwed. Unfortunately, it is most of the world that has been criminally abused, but rising populations of workers are demanding and taking action for radical change to transform reality before it transforms all of us into lonely souls screeching and tweeting “me-me” while all collapses around “us”.

A real sharing economy will be cooperative, not competitive, involving majority social behavior, not individually imposed anti-social-ism promoted as beneficial for all when it only rewards some at the expense of the many. And too much that passes for “progressive” politics is like the “progressive” tax system which takes far more from the vast majority while rewarding the ruling class of fantastic wealth all manner of deductions, write-offs and constitutionally sanctioned criminality that makes them richer and the rest poorer. That is regressive, not progressive, using words that have nothing to do with the actions, which speak much louder. We need radical economic changes like a 20-hour workweek at a $20 an hour minimum wage, free public transit, worker owned and controlled businesses, public banks, health care for all, and far more. At cries of “how can we afford that? made by the innocent and ignorant under the control of their slick manipulators, try this: Stop spending trillions on war and instead spend it on life. Duh? But, all those jobs will vanish. How will those workers survive? With better jobs that serve humanity – their “identity group” – the environment, and their personal and social lives. Double duh?

We can defend our nation, if such is needed, with a truly defense force that does not involve spending hundreds of billions to place our military in foreign locales. We can save lots of transportation dollars by staying the hell out of other people’s national, political and economic business unless trading with them on a fair, non-superior market forces arrangement but one that treats everyone as having the same rights of pursuit of life and liberty, but in reality instead of just rhetorically.

If we truly mean to aid foreign people in a time of need, we can do it the way Cuba does by sending doctors, nurses and medical equipment at a time of plague or disease, and not the way we’ve always done it by sending bombs, guns and bullets to help prevent looting. And to the really ignorant bordering on stupid charges that we can’t afford to offer our entire population health care under public control because taxes will have to increase: For the rich? Of course. But even if working people see a tax increase of $500, and a health care expense decrease of $1,000, unless their education has exclusively been at private schools, they can see that represents a savings of money, not a loss.

Attempts to transform economic reality have always been, at their core, to establish a class free society of truly equal citizens, with no survival aspect of life denied anyone because it is not affordable. The shame of people living in the street in a society that spends trillions on war and billions on pets should relieve us of any fear of a judgmental, righteous, vindictive Old Testament god. We’d have been wiped out by such a deity, with holocausts, earthquakes, tsunamis and worse until he-she-it was finally rid of us. But our problem is not a deity, nor even the corona virus, which may be a threat to some of us, but  the capitalist virus is a threat to all humanity.

The Sanders campaign is the American equivalent of the growing global demand that ends the hypocrisy of calling minority electoral rule of the rich by the name democracy and using media and political hired help to plant that idiotic notion more deeply into public consciousness.  It wont work anymore. Real democracy means choosing the greater good, not the lesser evil which is the usual choice for the minority that has voted in the past. Hopefully, a majority will show up at the polls and vote for humanity in the majority, contradicting the minority shapers of what passes for conscious reality and beginning the transformation of the nation, in accordance with what is going on all over the world, from a selfish, anti-social and anti-human environment, to one of mutual aid, social justice, peace, and for the first time in human history, rule of the majority. The beginning of that pro-social democracy is dependent on the end of anti-social capitalism.