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FROM MY CORNER: Extinction Alert?

Howell Hurst Corona Virus, Economy & Finance, Homelessness, Humans, People, People Politics

The Corona Virus holds the potential to be an extinction event for the human race. I do not categorically claim it is that. I assert only it holds that potential. Such phenomena in the past have devastated civilizations. It is simple fact that 90+% of all species have gone extinct.

The present problem is not the virus itself. The problem is the limited intelligence of human beings. We are not as smart as we think we are. And our egos and appetites are at least twice as big as they ought to be.

Reports are being broadcast now of people who did not believe in the virus, would not wear masks, have lost both lungs, or have died from other virus-related consequences.

Where I live on the Monterey Peninsula local mayors, city councils, chambers of commerce presidents, and media owners have refused to document how many hundreds of workers have been unemployed and without income for four months.

I contacted many of these leaders asking that they determine how many of our unemployed may literally be facing eviction from their rentals or  foreclosure on their homes. No one seriously responded. They all let the question slide off, unanswered.

If hundreds, or nationally millions, are indeed evicted or foreclosed on, this will greatly enlarge the potential to spread the virus onto the wider population. Homeless people cannot self-isolate. While this possibility exists, the capitalist consumption urge to sell and buy things continues.

Nationally, millionaires have clearly co-opted much of the funds from the Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Plan. These funds were specifically designated for real small and minority businesses. Instead, pending national legislation designates that “Small Business” means any company with less than 300 employees.

That compromises the intent of the plan to assist minority and tiny personal businesses. Locally, our wealthy owners of businesses meet this guideline. Nonetheless, the richest acquired the lion’s share of funds.

A large local vineyard and winery, a Hollywood Star’s resort hotel, our famous local version of Coney Island: Cannery Row – even the Catholic Church got funds.  All of these received major loan/grants from the SBA’s PPP plan.

However, while this co-opting of funds occurred, no one in the local political power structure would consider helping determine how many of our local unemployed might be facing eviction from their places of residence.

Consider: If the millions of Americans who have been without jobs and income for four months were to be evicted, many might become homeless, cast onto the streets of our communities. This would make them, and all of us who are still housed, increasingly susceptible to the virus.

The history of plague and other viruses has documented that major proportions of populations can and do die in such a situation as we are now facing.

In our present time our capitalist profit motive is motivating the legitimate powers-that-be and the key financial powers to focus not on the virus, but upon reopening businesses. Yes, we would all like that to happen. We all want unemployed workers to get back to work. But that will essentially be irrelevant if we allow the virus to spread wider.

Three life-sustaining things are required right now.

      1.  We all must remain housed, so we can isolate ourselves.

      2. We all must be able to acquire food.

      3. We all must be able to acquire medical attention.

All other consumption can and should be considered of secondary importance. All landlords can and should be required not to evict people. Their own financial obligations can and should also be put on hold. Paying all business bills immediately is not the issue. Keeping people alive is the issue. Bills can be paid later. After the pandemic has been brought under control.

This virus is an existential matter. This tiny invisible virus is a killer. It is relentless and devious in its permutations.  We had better take it far more seriously than we are doing.

As I write, our national Senators and Congressional members are leaving for the weekend. They are not yet taking the situation seriously enough. They are playing too loose with the virus. What is the real issue?

Are we humans going to be smart enough to view this situation with the gravity required?  Are we capable of retreating from our self-absorbed appetite for consumption and profit, and focusing on what will resolve the virus problem? That is the real issue.

And the answer is far from clear.

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