COVID-19 put the lie to one of our most enduring myths: the fragility of the economy.
For so long, we’ve been told that our “free market” [sic] economy requires slavish devotion. Any law, any trend that might lessen the pressure of nose on grindstone would cause jobs to shrivel up and our country to fall into ruin. We must open every square inch of land to drilling for oil! We must lower taxes! We must not regulate anything that might reduce our ability to purchase and dispose of toxic trash (AKA: flat-screen TV’s, gaming consoles, all-plastic appliances, automobiles)! We must force everyone to work, work, work more, more more!! Anything less than this is socialism and will see us all shuffling glassy-eyed in uniform grey outfits (ironically, to factories to do work, but see in this scenario, it’s unfulfilling drudgery, instead of the uplifting expression of individuality that it is to toil in the beautiful dungeons of our shareholder overlords).
And then COVID happened.
Suddenly, there was a higher priority than our economy. And while people started demanding to be let out again to make restaurant and cruise ship workers cater to their every whim almost as soon as they were “ordered” (in fact — asked, meekly) to stay home, it lasted long enough to form a kind of grand experiment. I’m here to report on the results.
The sky didn’t fall. The earth did not crack open. The economy — for all the seeming force of its natural laws — did not stop. In fact, it raged on.
True, it was propped up, with cheap cash and stimulus after stimulus; but that only proves the point. The economy is not a natural force. It is a collection of practices and policies created by us, and we can change it if we want; and it can run perfectly well by rules that are other than the ones we have come to accept and expect since the days of Saint Reagan.
We need to change those rules, because we have another higher priority. As I type this, a huge swath of the southwestern United States sits under a massive heat dome that shows no signs of dissipating. I haven’t checked my favorite climatologist apologist’s blog to see if he’s explained it away, but all-time high temperatures and a 1,200-year drought before the onset of summer seems to drive home the arrival of global warming with an emphatic exclamation point. None of this is unexpected. Anyone acting surprised is disingenuous in the extreme (heat).
Likewise, now we know — thanks to COVID — that anyone who says we can’t do anything about it because: economy, is just plain wrong.