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Imagine What Could Have Been and What Could Be?

Sick people, lacking paid leave, couldn’t afford to stop working. Others who lost their jobs lost their health insurance, too. White-collar workers on lockdown discovered they were counting on people without health care to endanger themselves by delivering food. Poor children began falling behind in school because their parents couldn’t afford internet access. African Americans in states like Louisiana began dying in numbers out of all proportion to their share of the population. The coronavirus was a serious blow. But it quickly became obvious that America’s pre-existing conditions had left the country far weaker and more vulnerable than it should have been.

I began with the words James Bennet, editorial writer for the New York Times, wrote April 9th because his paragraph succinctly covers circumstances I would have summarized to begin this article. Moreover, Bennet says nothing I did not know long before the pandemic. I hasten to admit that I was far from alone; many other persons were, are privy to this information: the millions whose plight it is to live in these circumstances; social workers, teachers and others who work in urban and sometimes rural communities, many “service” workers. But like me, they have no power to improve life for more than a few persons at a time and often only temporarily. The researchers could not make Donald Trump not cut their budget for the study of disease and pandemics. Evidently, neither could Congress. Or in the midst of the wheeling and dealing, Congress selected a greater good, most likely saying, “We can’t get it all.” The people with power return to their safe environments as the powerless continue suffering in their unsafe environments.

As Trump lavished hyperboles on the economy before the virus, the economy he takes credit for, I knew it was not great from a great many of us. No one asked the person rising at dawn and/or working until after midnight, “How are you faring in this economy?” No one asks the person who works two, three jobs to live, support a family comfortably. The people at the top made hundreds of thousands of dollars that they could choose to spend or save; the people at the bottom continued their trudge in drudgery choosing whether to pay rent, mortgage or utility bills, skipping meat or purchasing more of the not-so-lean ground beef, not looking at vegetables. Many persons in the position of going to college or have children going to college had to defer their and their children’s college or vocational school plans. Would any in the higher and high echelons of government have guessed so many Americans would need food, need food so soon? Could anyone have imagined so many food banks could be emptied so quickly? Recently our leaders have heard how many of us live paycheck t