- 24 Apr 20
The truth is that poverty is a key determinant of who gets Covid-19 and who doesn’t. In a cruel twist on the old adage that "it's the rich wot gets the gravy" it is a crystallisation of rampant inequality – which will only be eliminated, when the pandemic passes, if people are willing to fight for it...
The poorer you are, the more likely you are to contact Covid-19.
No surprise. Poverty and poor health have always gone together. But there’s still something shocking about the coronavirus figures. The best/worst example comes from the epicentre.
The five New York postal districts with the highest levels of positive tests for coronavirus are the five with the lowest average annual income, $26,708.
The five districts with the lowest levels of positive tests are the five with the highest annual income, $118,061.
The pattern is repeated everywhere. The notion that “we are all in this together” doesn’t stand scrutiny. Nor is there any basis for believing that we are bound to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis into a better world.
Figures from the morgues and sidewalks of the world show that people of colour are far more likely than white people to perish in the pandemic. White people tend to have better-paid jobs, more space to live in, cleaner air to breathe, more accessible medical services. Their pre-existing conditions give them an edge when it comes to survival
For the best chance of coming safely through the Covid-19 pandemic, be a rich white person.
It’s widely acknowledged that the crisis has thrown these glaring inequalities into sharp relief. And it seems widely believed that this new understanding will be reflected in a post-pandemic re-shaping of society. The assumption is that this will come about because everybody now accepts that it’s right that it should.
It’s especially emphasised that nurses, hospital porters, delivery drivers, care workers, supermarket shelf-stackers and others in previously unremarkable, low-paid jobs are in fact key workers upon whom we all depend. So they’ll be cherished and properly paid and treated in future. You think?
PREPARE FOR ACTION
The moral case for radical change is unassailable. But where has morality ever gotten us?
Does anyone seriously believe that once social distancing is no longer needed, governments in Washington, London, Dublin, will tell us they now see the world in different light and will double the minimum wage?
Will the bosses of Amazon, Tesco etc. move instantly to guarantee decent pay, pension rights, job security?
Will employers voluntarily recognise trades unions?
Will the gig economy be done away with?
None of these things will happen unless there’s a fight to make them happen.
Trades unions and political parties which style themselves “progressive” should be spelling out now what they’ll settle for and what they won’t, once the Covid-19 emergency is over, and urging their members and supporters to prepare for action if action proves necessary, which it will.
We should be using Facebook, Zoom, Twitter and all other available social media to organise for the future.
Don’t doubt that the bankers, the top echelon of the civil service, the security chiefs, the bosses of society generally, in close coordination with their pals in the political world, are getting ready even now to fight to preserve their own position in society.
The rest of us should be ready for them.
• Pic of Donald Trump in the Oval Office: where has morality ever gotten us?