I get it.
I finally get it.
Bear with me.
Folks talk about re-opening the economy and argue, efficiently, how the chances of people dying are low. People also lay claim to the point that people are suffering at the moment due to mental health issues and raised domestic violence.
But above all people couch this conversation in terms around freedom.
I get it. I do. It’s a persuasive argument. And many people who make this argument are -not- fools by any means. They recognize that there is inequality out there and racism and a hundred other evils that make life difficult.
It’s the framing that gets them.
(It does occur to me that this is similar to the process that sees many intelligent people get sucked in by cults. Just note that this is probably a correlation, not necessarily a root, and therefore causative, process)
From their frame, opening up the economy must seem like it’s opening up options. It provides people more latitude and more ways to achieve the goals of a sustainable life.
From my vantage, here in the lowlands, without means, it looks far more like a hostage situation.
The term “re-opening” means “you’re on your own”. It means the government-in-crisis infrastructure is off the hook. The government-of-old infrastructure comes back on line.
And that infrastructure is -horrible-.
The vast majority of people are living paycheck to paycheck, often paychecks to paychecks (2+ jobs) and not doing it well. Do they “live better than poor in the past”?
Well, it’s not hard to get a nice material thing. You can probably buy that third-best mega TV from your Uncle Joey’s second best friend’s cousin Bob. But that won’t prevent the landlord from trying to evict you a couple of months from now when your work suddenly cuts your hours (to make year-end profits look good) and the landlord’s raised the rent.
And liquidating everything won’t get you near the cash you need (where do you think you got that discount TV from?).
The government-of-old won’t touch you because, hey, you need to prove X, Y, Z, fill out omega->alpha zed forms, show up for all the interviews and, hey, don’t you have savings you should liquidate? It’s going to take 3 months up to a year to get any reasonable help, IF the system is not overloaded (it’s always overloaded).
So the government says the Economy is Open! Businesses will have to cut positions because they don’t want to be sued if an employee gets sick / dies. People will be afraid to come in due to potential infection. Stores will close. Those businesses who were offering hazard pay will rescind it to save money.
I say this as if this is a thing that will happen. It’s not. It is a thing that is already happening.
To the people I care about, the majority, they have no choice. They will have to find ways to make a living, more and more dangerous ways as the old avenues close up. Their mental health will be even more at risk as the options close up. Domestic violence will continue to climb as one partner vents their frustrations re: work at the other.
Instead of options, “Opening the Economy” is a hostage situation: the vast majority of citizens WILL work regardless of whether it will cost them their life. Or they will be made homeless and left to sicken and starve.
Imagine going to work where you know the paycheck won’t cover everything, you ask a customer who is violently coughing to cover their mouth and they spit on you. Because some feel it’s their right to abuse workers because “The customer is always right.”
The people arguing for freedom will not be affected by that. Their fate doesn’t change. This is not to say that there are no impacts on the freedom-framers. There are. However, they are not the same parameters as the rest of us. They are not life-threatening.
So, the person who serves them that latte at the end of the day? Hostage.
The cleaning crew at the gym? Hostages.
Shipping you stuff from Amazon? Hostages.
The way this cycle is broken is by people who have that flexibility talking power to the government. To force them into helping people until the crisis has -clearly- passed, and that means the emotional component of fear as well.
Only through action do we push our way through this and towards an uncertain but better future.