Americans, keep your eyes and ears open to learn about the type of system that values people getting back to work and to restart the economy while holding no regard for anyone who might die from the coronavirus pandemic.


First published in April 2020.


Since my first fear-based shopping experience, it was good to see that Trader Joes’s stores finally resorted to having only a certain amount of customers go inside while the rest of us waited outside in single file. And if there were any people who have spent the last few months arguing about how Bernie the evil socialist would bring us to bread lines, well, I’m sure they would have had a laugh.

One older gentleman waiting let his complaints known to the employee moderating the line outside, who mentioned it was an “insurance thing.” That sounds better than any reason that mentions the safety of workers, a concern that is becoming a bigger reality with each passing day.

It is 2020, and Trump’s beloved economy has come to almost full-stop. Even after extending the social distancing, he could not hide his disgust over America’s money not working for him.

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Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Briefing, 30 March 2020. / The White House

If Americans keep their eyes and ears open they can learn how big business has limits even if when it comes to faking something vaguely akin to compassion for its workers.

If you have been a worker and paying attention for a couple of decades, none of this is new. The only thing left to learn is how much our moneyed oligarchy can get away with this.

I have talked about the time I have served dead fish in a mall before. When I somehow had enough clout, I became a trainer. That is why I learned the caveat that there is only one reason why workers are not just arbitrarily fired.

Because it cost too much to train replacements.

Employers didn’t want to be the one to let you go and bear the responsibility of the cost, but they would try to put the pressure on in order for you to quit or get fired. That is what happened to me in the beginning.

Because I was far from a natural at my job, I was first regulated to the restaurant’s smoking section, which would be outlawed soon after, but not before I started getting sick from the smoke and (perhaps not coincidentally) caught a bad case of strep throat.

I’ll never forget the call I made to my bosses. The one I talked to was almost chuckling as he wished me well with a less-than subtle hint of sarcasm in his tone. Years later, this same type of response happened to me at another job. If this even happens to you once, you will think more than twice before you ever call out for a legitimate illness, let alone a “mental health day.”

There were several other insults to come before I finally quit. The biggest was when I started suffering stomach pains – pains so bad I couldn’t put off seeing a doctor. I was dumb enough to ask the on-floor manager if I could leave early. They said no. I was forced to wait a couple of hours in agony before I was able to get out just after the lunch rush (much to the irritation of the manager). Less than twenty-four hours later, I had several inches of my insides removed due to Crohn’s disease.

I called before the surgery. They seemed okay with it. I came back a month later. I lost so much money. They handed me a check for $138 dollars in ‘sick pay.’ Somehow, people thought I was out due to knee surgery.

I probably went back to work too early. It took me a year to recover physically and much longer to recover financially due to a string of bad events post-surgery that culminated with 9/11. My workplace was located in a building. No one wanted to go inside anything with more than one floor. If I hadn’t been offered a job through a friend, my time in the city could have ended in disaster.

In recent weeks, I have seen friends post information about how service workers can collect unemployment if they weren’t making a living wage at their job. After the planes hit the World Trade Center, no one provided either me or my coworkers with that information. No manager, no supervisor, no one. We were left to fend for ourselves and show up at our appointed shifts for no money.

During the 2008 recession, I heard people talk about collecting unemployment because it was better to do that than work a low-level job that did little more than waste your time. That kind of talk would disgust a lot of people I know. They would say, They should work anyway! Do anything!

So many working Americans are so knowingly deep into the ongoing scam of all-work/little reward that they don’t want anyone benefiting from a change in the system.

Remember last month when Bernie Sanders took center stage on the Senate floor? Four members of congress were concerned about just that, unemployed people making more they normally would while working a job that didn’t pay a living wage. Sanders had this to say:

“Oh, my God, the universe is collapsing. Imagine that! Somebody is making 12 bucks an hour, now, like the rest of us. Faces an unprecedented economic crisis with the 600 bucks on top of their normal, regular unemployment check might be making a few bucks more for four months. Oh, my word! Will the universe survive?! How absurd and wrong is that? What kind of value system is that?”

Overlooking the theatrics, Bernie knows exactly the value system at play is. It is the type of system that values people getting back to work and to restart the economy while holding no regard for anyone who might die from the coronavirus pandemic.

Sure, people might die, but peons can be replaced. Retraining a nation of workers after they get the idea that the government they slave for should offer something in return?

The cost of that in their eyes is unfathomable.🔷


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🗳️ Bernie Sanders










[This piece was first published in PMP Magazine. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: Chad Parenteau.)



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