A Personal Plea: We Are In This Together

Today’s post is a short personal plea. If this virus has taught us anything, it is that we are all connected, we each impact one another, and in these times, we need each other. Let the best of each of us rise to the occasion.

Near the end of this post you’ll find an inspiring video describing the work of Frances Perkins, Labor Secretary under FDR. She was the architect of Social Security, minimum wage, and the 40-hour work week. We all need inspiration, and we will try to offer it in each of our posts.

Thank you Retake readers. As of this morning, you’ve made 96 donations to the Navajo-Hopi COVID-19 Relief Fund. Click here to read last Friday’s article about the explosive spread of the virus. To Donate: Click here. Let’s get past 100! And Thank You!

Can the Virus Bring Out Something New & Better?

To a significant degree, the ethos of America has been formed by an inherent pride in the individual, that we are best as a nation when each of us independently strives to succeed and to each their just rewards. This perspective puts the individual at the center and, in its extreme, results in a Darwinian survival of the fittest.

It has also morphed into a neoliberal principle, that the individual and by extension the private sector can and should be responsible for solving all of our problems, and that the collective of people or our government should play no role in any of this. As Ronald Reagan once put it, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’ ” But, of course, that’s nowhere near the scariest sentence. Try: “The hillside behind town is on fire.” “The subway system is flooded.” “Your test came back positive.” “There are no ventilators.” These are the words most of us fear.

When faced with a bungling government response, one could conclude that Reagan was right and that the largely white male corporate “heroes” that Trump assembles at his campaign rally / press conferences are the answer.

I am taking from this virus a very different lesson. Government at its worst should indeed be feared, and our current government has so abandoned us that we are now experiencing an extraordinary level of anxiety, fear, and death. We do not fear the words, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” but rather, “I’m from the government, we’ll have ventilators soon. Maybe.” Or worse, “I’m sorry, ma’am, we simply didn’t have a ventilator for your husband.”

We should not judge the potential of good government by the current manifestation of the worst expression of government this nation may have ever experienced. Government at its best assembles resources and distributes them justly, for the benefit of the many, and especially with an intent to support the most vulnerable. It acts in the interests of the many. In the absence of such a governmental response, we have our state and local government and we have ourselves.

If ever any event has taught us the fallacy of the absolute virtue of the individual, it is the coronavirus. We individuals are so utterly dependent upon so many others. We depend on those grocery store clerks, standing 3 feet from us, taking our cash, breathing our air, but doing so to deliver us the food we need. Before COVID-19, most of us rarely gave a thought to these checkers and now they are heroes, heroes upon whom we absolutely depend.

We rely on so many others in our daily pursuits and coronavirus has made that abundantly and poignantly clear. Right now, more than anything, we need each other to honor the shelter in place for as long as needed. When checkers, pharmacists, emergency response personnel, nurses, and doctors are risking their lives every minute, it is incumbent upon all of us to do all we can to shorten their exposure.

We also need to learn from this, and the lessons learned need to motivate us. We need to remember the difference between good government and what we are experiencing right now. In a time of crisis, FDR rose to the occasion; Trump has not, and we need to do all we can to ensure he exits his throne in January 2021.

If you need more evidence of the importance of good government, take a look at the video below, from true heroes, our hospital nurses and learn just how badly our current government is treating them.

No, the words we should fear most are not: “‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’ But rather, “I’m here to limit government. You’re on your own.”

We need each other to get through this, and then we need to come together to create a government and public systems that are just, sustainable and sufficiently resourced and ready to meet the challenges ahead.

Below is a ten-minute video that outlines how Frances Perkins, the first woman member of a US Cabinet, was the architect of the New Deal and the creator of Social Security, the minimum wage, and the 40-hour work week. The video is from Democracy Now! in 2008, in the context of the last recession, and it is so pertinent now. No, Mr. Reagan, government when in the hands of the just can do much for all of us.

Hang in there. Our country can do better than this.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne



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3 replies

  1. The ‘government’ is not the enemy of the people. The Civil Service is full of competent, loyal, hard working folk who know how to do the right thing. Just like most employees of a company are actually the ones who know how to run the company, and do the work.

    The political apparatus ensconced inside government is the enemy.

    The Constitution is a poorly written, ancient draft document that should have been modified 40 times by now. Why was this not done, and written into the document in a concrete manner?

    Because those who first wrote it knew that it had to be vague and flimsy because few (Franklin and Adams being two) really wanted anything different than the business as usual of the kings and corporations of merry olde England.

    There is also a reason that ‘we, the people’ is in the Preamble. Because it is not law, but only propaganda.

    There must be a revolution, a turning over of government here, that upends the political cabal that parades around like dukes and earls and squires and knights. What is a politician and an election?

    It is an elaborate beauty contest/attack dog fiasco in which the basest of human emotions are manipulated like pawns on a chessboard. Once elected, the citizenry have virtually zero control of that mutated being so recently entrusted to manage the public’s business. So it is, in truth, not the public’s business at all.

    We must plow under the political system, using its remains as fodder for compost. That is revolution. That means we the people must rewrite the document that never was, and finally make law out of lawlessness.

    With this virus, we quickly see how little it takes to rattle the foundations of the corporatocracy. If capitalism cannot have serfs to make things that serfs also buy, the elite cannot stay enriched. The Roman Senate called their citizens a mob because they knew that if not distracted and entertained, they would get too close and personal with that Senate, and see it for what it really was.

    What do the politicos want to be reopened? The stores, bars, restaurants, gas stations full of guzzling cars, so consumerism can once more intoxicate the masses. And the empire of oligarchs can be saved, once again. Right now, their empire is hanging by a thread, because they are so greedy, and inefficient, and incompetent, that even with all their advantages, their businesses and financial strongholds are about to crumble.

    They need us. We do not need them. Yesterday I published a ten-point plan for survival. It is by no means complete. But it begins with not only removing the politicos, but turning under and composting the mechanisms that give them carte blanche to continue gaming the system.

    This dis-ease will not just go away. It is a parasite feeding on a weakened populace and its institutions. That is how Nature works. It is massive arrogance and fear that would assume one species, in 500 years, could acquire the power or knowledge to end an entire planetary system.

    Fear and arrogance create extremism. Be prepared. And keep helping each other. Avoid selfishness. Think. Research. Plan. Communicate. Act.

    Mick Nickel

  2. Just a brief note of thanks for this great post of today. Hope everyone is keeping safe. KSFR’s morning news show said that, as a percentage of population, Santa Fe County is not doing as well as Bernalillo County. So we all need to do our part to ensure that social distancing is taking place. Wishing everyone safety and continued good health through this crisis.

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