• Michael Boulware Moore

Of, By, And For The People?

Updated: May 22, 2020

This COVID-19 crisis is challenging the nation in profound ways. It needs to cause us to rethink our priorities around the American people. Let me set the context:

As of today, 1.25 million Americans have tested positive for the disease; up 22,404 yesterday. 73,211 Americans have perished to date, with 2,457 dying yesterday. Last week, The Washington Post reported that the U.S. death rate will more than double by June 1. The majority of Americans - to varying degrees - are fearing for their lives, yet other Americans are, apparently, only fearing for their capital gains.

It's really quite perplexing to watch these folks in power try to tap dance with human lives to accommodate their rich business friends to open up the economy when scientists tell us it WILL kill more people. According to CNN, by this weekend, 43 states will begin to at least partially reopen; this while new cases are still growing in 20 states. They are, basically, making the conscious decision to sacrifice human lives to indulge business interests.

Frankly, this seems insane; yet another example of 'capitalism gone wild,' not surprisingly with a racial angle to it. Why can't we think about the human impact more broadly and expansively?

Since Reagan and trickle down economics, corporations have used their influence to reduce their tax burden. Today, only 9% of total tax revenue comes from corporate taxes.

85% of total tax revenues come from the American people, from personal income and payroll taxes. To be clear, this is money from everyday Americans. You and me. IF this is a nation "of, by, and for the people" - and our money is paying for just about everything - then what better time to spend the peoples' money on the people?

We can spend billions (of taxpayer money) to bail out businesses - the banking industry or car companies from 2008 come to mind. This has the impact of not only protecting jobs, but also of preserving capital - which is largely outside of public hands. So, effectively, the American people saved the stock value of the super wealthy. When do the American people get a break?

There is an appropriate program now helping companies and organizations get through this crisis, but what about the people? Why the profound blind spot about simply returning (even more of) the peoples' money back to them at a time when they need it most?

I guess the calculus on - by all accounts, prematurely - opening the economy is that the largely black and brown folks who are disproportionately dying represent a worthwhile sacrifice to get consumer dollars flowing back into American businesses.

There's an enormous uphill battle in getting government to refocus their attention on the American people - who are their ultimate bosses. This coronavirus crisis is shaking things up in all kinds of ways though. Let's hope that it nudges the people back into rightful focus - because so many are suffering so much. Please don't be disappointed in me that I'm not holding my breath!

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