Coronavirus, wearing masks, evictions, quarantine, food handouts, businesses closing, poverty… I’ve had enough of it.
As this awful year draws to a close, I’ve had enough.
I’ve had enough of COVID-19 and of how I can’t visit friends or eat in a restaurant without the risk of spreading the virus. Enough of people refusing to make small sacrifices, such as wearing a mask or attending events like church services virtually, so that all of us together can save our neighbors’ lives. And I’ve run out of patience for people whose idea of “freedom” extends no further than their own skin, who believe their right to go around shedding droplets for ideology’s sake trumps the right of the rest of us to avoid getting sick when we reluctantly hurry out of our homes to buy food or go to work. We could have controlled this situation a lot sooner if people cared about the common good as much as they do about their own vanity. Maybe we’d be free to hug those friends and relatives right now, but here we are.
I’ve had enough of a culture so brutal that the only imaginable way for people to support themselves is to risk their lives during a pandemic at a job that may or may not exist anymore. Defenders of the capitalist status quo tell me that no other system has lifted so many people out of poverty, and that there is no better way to distribute the goods and services we all need than by selling them to the highest bidder. If that’s true, why are more than a third of American adults in danger of being evicted soon? Why have eight million more Americans fallen into poverty since May? Why are they lining up in huge numbers for food handouts or having to steal food? Kids are asking Santa for money to pay family bills. If the United States is the greatest country in the world, surely we can do better than this.
I’ve had enough of a system that chews up the natural world and spits it out in the form of trash in our oceans, carcasses of migratory songbirds that starved to death, and a growing number of “natural” disasters. As people cut down forests in the quest for ever more resources, they release new pathogens that may spawn the next pandemic. It’s all connected. And the sooner we confront these interrelated circumstances, the better our chances to reduce suffering during the hard times to come.
I’ve had enough of those who have far more than enough, continuing to suck up the wealth of those who don’t. While the pandemic has impoverished Americans for months, America’s 651 billionaires have collectively gained more than a trillion dollars. Consider Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and one of the world’s five centibillionaires. While nearly 20,000 front-line Amazon and Whole Foods employees contracted COVID-19 this year (“thank you, heroes!”) and workers have had to queue up for food donations, Bezos’s already-vast personal fortune grew by almost 80% to a stunning $203.1 billion.
I’ve had enough, and so have a lot of other Americans. Activists in Los Angeles are re-opening state-owned vacant houses with bolt cutters and drills for people who need shelter. Other communities are organizing rent strikes, outdoor encampments, legal assistance, and mutual aid collectives. Obscene wealth and tax breaks for the elites have not “trickled down” as promised, but something else might help. Remember, fear of the immiserated working class turning to Communism is what inspired robust welfare programs in the post-war United States, funded by progressive taxation. Keeping wealth in circulation, along with strong unions, is what built the middle class of the last century. Countering the perceived resurgence of Communism with stories about bread lines and poverty won’t scare anyone who’s experiencing such conditions here and now, in Trump’s America.
I’ve had enough. Haven’t you?