Tag Archives: COVID-19

Remember 2020

“It is the loss of that long memory which deprives our people of the connective flow of thoughts and events that clarifies our vision, not of where we’re going, but where we want to go.”  ~Utah Phillips, US labor organizer

It took us 102 years to forget the Spanish Flu epidemic.

It took us only 76 years to forget FDR’s call for universal health care.

It took us fewer than 52 years to forget LBJ’s war on poverty.

We are still in need of affordable health care. We still have poverty. And economic inequality and equal opportunity for all are further away today than when FDR or LBJ made their calls on the national conscious.

Yet we may be closer to obtaining the goals of both of these administrations than we think.  As the quotation from Utah Phillips implies, we need to know where we want to go before we can get there. The TRUMPID19 Pandemic (formerly referenced as COVID-19), coupled with a uniquely vigorous (although for too many, disappointing) primary process, helped to reveal where many of us want to go.

Affordable healthcare enabled our Party to regain the US House and played a role in expanding our majorities in the Oregon legislature. It is a unifying issue. One barrier was the issue of employer-based health insurance. Prior to two weeks ago, it was difficult to envision a transition from our current employer-based system to a public option or universal care. With millions now unemployed and their health insurance either already curtailed or about to be, it seems like there is an opportunity to address this issue.

Likewise, as millions of us who live one paycheck away from crisis during normal times, are plunged into a world where the next paycheck has become an unknown, the public debate on expanding unemployment insurance to match the rest of the developed world, funding medical leave and forgiving student debt has taken a very positive turn. Our own Board of County Commissioners has enacted protections against foreclosures for victims of TRUMPID19 who cannot afford to pay their mortgage or their rent.

The complete mishandling of this pandemic by the White House has proven the Reagan statement that has guided conservatives since 1980 to be a lie.  As Governors fight each other for needed medical supplies and more than 5,000 of us have already died, we know that “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help” just isn’t true. To the contrary, the nine most terrifying words in the English may well be:   “I’m from the Government, and I have no help.”

Prior to the 1980s, both parties supported raising the minimum wage, expanding help to those in need and protecting workers’ rights to decent work. Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act and created the EPA in 1970. Our own Senator Hatfield was a co-sponsor of a bill to expand the right-to-strike.

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COVID-19 and Climate change: A Convergence of Crises

“Never waste the opportunity offered by a good crisis.”
— Niccolò Machiavelli

What appears to be the hallmark of the COVID-19 crisis at the peak of the curve, that place where fatalities are highest, is lack of capacity within the health-care delivery system.

We have seen it in Italy. We are seeing it in New York.

The Governors of both Oregon and Washington are taking extraordinary measures to prevent this scenario here by constructing temporary care facilities in tents on soccer fields and at the Fairgrounds in Salem. These needed actions do raise a question. Why are we so unprepared for situations where emergency care is crucial for survival?

We live in an earthquake subduction zone. Significant portions of our population reside in Tsunami Inundation Zones. Every major city in the Willamette Valley is within the impact area of a dormant volcano and an air-quality inversion area. The devastation caused by major forest fires is no longer a distant memory of a prior generation.

Yet in order to address this pandemic, we are forced to build temporary field hospitals. We do not have sufficient ventilator capacity in the state, and local health-care organizations are seeking volunteers to sew safety masks for providers. The forces that created this situation are neither new nor unique.

In 2006, Lord Nicholas Stern, economist, issued a 700-page report on climate change on behalf of the United Kingdom. In it he cites that climate change is the result of the greatest market failure in human history. The logic now-a-days is well accepted by most. If modern managers of most corporations can avoid a cost, they will. This is not new. For decades

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