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5 Things the Government Must Do Now to Avoid Collapse and/or Revolution
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The COVID-19 medical and economic crisis remains mostly unaddressed by both the Republican and Democratic parties. They have only passed one piece of legislation that significantly helps workers: supplementing existing state unemployment benefits by $600 per week. Those additional payments expire in four months. Until then, many people who are out of work will receive about $1,000 a week. If the past is precedent, Congress is likely to renew the law.

Aside from expanded unemployment checks, the government has been useless.

Here are the essential, basic things Congress and President Donald Trump must do in order to avoid economic collapse, mass starvation, an epidemic of violent crime reminiscent of “A Clockwork Orange” and political unrest up to and including revolution.

They must do it now.

A universal basic income is the smartest, fastest way to stimulate the economy by keeping money flowing from consumers. Neither political party seems to care enough about the prospect of street riots to pass a UBI. But they need to do it yesterday to avoid catastrophe tomorrow. Flat UBI payments are unfair to people who live in expensive cities and states; the cost of living in my hometown of Dayton, Ohio, is half that of Manhattan. Weight UBIs according to living costs.

COVID Care

At bare minimum, medical treatment for COVID-19 and related ailments (bronchitis, pneumonia, etc.) should be free from a patient’s first test to his or her last breath in a ventilator. It should be free for everyone: insured, uninsured, homeless, prison inmate and undocumented worker, the last of which for an obvious reason: If an illegal immigrant contracts the coronavirus, he or she can transmit it to you. It’s to everyone’s advantage that everyone have access to medical care.

Theoretically, the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act does that. But not in reality. “Our health care system is a mess and the law does not explicitly prohibit charging you if you go to an out-of-network provider,” Time reports. “It also doesn’t address other ‘surprise billing’ problems.” Treatment for COVID-19 can easily run $35,000 or more. Not only should Americans not have to pay; they can’t pay.

Whether you go to your physician or urgent care or the ER, no one who suspects she has COVID-19 should be asked for her insurance card. Health care providers should bill the federal government.

No leading Republican or Democrat — Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi — wants to do this. Why? Because they’re stupid, crazy or both.

Draft the Immune

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are rolling out a pilot program of a testing kit that can show if you have been exposed to the novel coronavirus and thus have the antibodies to resist a repeat infection. Authorities are considering issuing “immunity cards” to citizens who have had COVID-19. The idea is that people who are cleared could return to work. So far so good.

The government should retool the Selective Service System to draft recovered COVID-19 victims to perform services needed to help people and restart the economy.

Ramp up Distance Learning

Parents, school children and college students in many cities are finding online instruction to be woefully inadequate at best. The most pressing issue is unequal access to the internet. This is a huge problem. Fortunately, it’s easily fixable.

ORDER IT NOW

There are about 75 million students in the U.S. Seventeen percent don’t have home internet access. That’s 13 million kids. A Wi-Fi hot spot costs $50 a month. A Chromebook is $300. Four billion dollars, roughly the cost of occupying Iraq for a week, buys a home computer for everyone who needs one. Ten billion a year covers Wi-Fi access. That’s the worst-case scenario; the government could get a volume discount.

Unfortunately, neither Democratic nor Republican politicians care about our kids enough to act.

Rent and Mortgage Holidays

Thirty-one percent of apartment dwellers failed to pay April rent. Expect that number to soar in May and June. Idiotically, the only relief offered by even the most progressive mainstream politicians is a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. Moratoriums end. Courts reopen. When they do, millions of people could be thrown out onto the streets.

Even if you don’t care about them, think about your own property values. During the 2008-09 economic meltdown, mass foreclosures left millions of homes empty. These eyesores dragged down the value of their neighbors’ homes. We really are in this together.

People who can’t pay their rent or mortgage shouldn’t have to. And at the end of all this, they shouldn’t bear the burden of accumulated debt, interest or late fees. Congress should declare a rent and mortgage holiday until the end of the crisis.

To mitigate the hardship on landlords and lenders, real estate and other taxes should be waived during the same period. So should utilities like gas and electricity. Congress should consider a tax credit for property owners. Banks should receive Federal Reserve funding at zero percent.

So far, no mainstream politician is talking about this.

A War Holiday

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of the United Nations is calling for warring parties in the world to lay down their arms for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war,” he said, emphasizing the fact that war makes it hard for humanitarian assistance to reach victims of the coronavirus.

War is a tremendous waste of lives, resources and money that could be better spent elsewhere, and that has never been more evident than today. Yet at this writing, President Donald Trump has ordered the U.S. Navy off the coast of Venezuela in a classic demonstration of gunboat diplomacy. His administration is continuing former President Barack Obama’s benighted proxy war in Yemen. American drones are slaughtering innocent people in Somalia.

This is all monstrous BS and should stop forever, but at minimum, wars of choice can wait until the end of the coronavirus crisis. Yet here again, neither party has endorsed the secretary-general’s idea.

 
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  1. I can sum this up for anyone who doesn’t feel like reading:

    Free shit, more free shit, compulsory government service, and debt forgiveness (i.e. even more free shit)–in a nutshell, the 2020 Democrat party platform on steroids, with “COVID-19” tacked on to lend it a patina of credibility.

    Never once were the bleeding obvious solutions mentioned–doing away with the MSM fearmongering and government lockdown and letting people get on with their lives.

    But would you expect anything more from a pudgy faggot liberal hack like Ted Rall?

    • Agree: Bill Jones
    • Disagree: Ann Nonny Mouse
  2. Thanks, Ted Rall. Good ideas all. I could add that when new technology gives us automation and throws people out of work UBI should be automatic. If due to technology no-one needs to work, that sounds idealic. Everyone living in luxury with no need to work. Why hasn’t it turned out that way? UBI or UI is so, so fundamental! Again, why? Why do we have exploitative rather than compassionate rulers?

    It will be amusing to see how the indoctrinated nutcase One Born Fried comments on your proposals.

    • Agree: RadicalCenter
    • Replies: @HuronZephyr
  3. anonymous[245] • Disclaimer says:

    Even if one accepts every other word, what’s with this blurt?

    The government should retool the Selective Service System to draft recovered COVID-19 victims to perform services needed to help people and restart the economy.

    Which services? What informs the premise that people wouldn’t perform them otherwise? Who are the yo-yoing Jo-Jos that the author, like Horton the elephant, would conscript? The sentence just sits there in the middle of a column, like a goofy, third beer pronouncement in a freshman dorm.

    Mr. Rall was apparently added to the roster to replace the comparably lightweight Tom Engelhardt. He adds nothing but cutout ideological balance to the website.

  4. BuelahMan says:

    When did Rall become a Socialist?

    • Replies: @Fidelios Automata
  5. @Ann Nonny Mouse

    Rulers are exploitive rather than compassionate because they lust for power, especially power over others. They also lust after money, never realizing that once their coffers are full, a few more nickels aren’t going to materially improve their lives or deliver more power.

    We live in a perverse world, where money can be made by hurting others rather than helping them.

    • Replies: @Ann Nonny Mouse
  6. You make a good comment about the utility of UBI and why it needs to be implemented now.

    However, if you increase UBI payments according to cost of living in high-cost areas, people will be motivated to move out of a low-cost area into a high-cost area in order to get higher UBI payments, thus further pushing up housing and other costs in the high-cost areas.

    • Agree: RadicalCenter
  7. The neoFabians of nakedcapitalism are adamant that UBI won’t work – in that oligopolistic employers will use it to depress labor rates. “You get $1200 a month, so why can’t you go into $30K debt to be our franchisee for 20% of the net net of our franchisor overhead?” They want a government job guarantee, which would match labor supply to demand and increase the reservation wage. (You also need the bedrock labor rights of ILO Conventions 87 and 98 but Soros’ old ol’ lady is not going to tell you that.)

    But why do you have to choose? We can have UBI AND job guarantees. We got worthless shit F-35s AND worthless shit littoral combat ships AND worthless shit floating petri dish nuclear subs, lots of ’em! All free as the Haldol that medicaid gives you. So give us more of that monopoly money and we’ll make you plenty of worthless shit.

    • Replies: @eD
  8. MB says: • Website

    There is only one thing government “needs” to do.
    Stand down/shut up/”open up” the economy.
    As in get out of the way of the rest of us.

    But anybody that wasn’t glued to the electronic version of Plato’s cave with the corresponding illiterate and innumerate goo for brains already knew that.

    My apologies to the same.

    Cheers, Mr. Rall.
    Don’t quit your daytime gig just yet.

  9. Jmaie says:

    To mitigate the hardship on landlords and lenders, real estate and other taxes should be waived during the same period.

    That will take care of (in my case) 17% of monthly outlay, is it assumed that as a landlord I must be rich and therefore can afford to take the hit?

    • Replies: @anonymous
  10. eD says:
    @6 Put their heads on sticks

    The neofabians of nakedcapitalism are, increasingly, idiots. The effect of a ubi (I would prefer it take the form of an income guarantee but everyone seems to want fixed cash payments) would be the same as a minimum wage. It would make taking low wage jobs pretty much pointless. Yes, people could still be scammed into taking those jobs with promises of promotions or income streams that don’t happen, but people can be scammed out of their income or savings now, and there is nothing preventing using existing anti-fraud and consumer protections to handle this.

    The best argument that I’ve seen against a ubi or something similar is that a tyrannical government can require its subjects to do all sorts of disagreeable things in return for the income, and use that as an exercise of control. This is true, but there is nothing preventing tyrannies from being tyrannies through the good old fashioned methods of shooting or starving people or threatening them. We already have government cash payments now and so far the federal government has not threatened to not pay people social security if they behave badly. If they ever do so, I don’t think the solution will be to abolish social security.

    With the health emergency revealing that most jobs in this economy are “non-essential” (make work) the case for a ubi has only strengthened.

    • Replies: @Kim
  11. eD says:

    I have a good deal of respect for Ted Rall, and these are all sensible ideas that I expect that commentators on this site will oppose due to tribalism (Venezuela must be destroyed!).

    However, this is incremental stuff that is pretty out of sync with the headline. I don’t think any government will collapse or be overthrown if it doesn’t ramp up distance learning.

  12. anonymous[245] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jmaie

    Yes, you tote a gunnysack with a big $ on the side. Goes with your long, curled mustaches and black stovepipe hat.

    He’s a cartoonist.

  13. Daniel H says:

    At this point, I welcome collapse and revolution.

  14. Daniel H says:

    Rall, if you are not talking about ending all immigration immediately, if you are not talking about dismembering Wall Street you are not talking about anything constructive.

  15. @Seymour_Buhtz

    I strongly disagree with your nasty attitude towards the author. BUT:

    Doing away with MSM fearmongering, and MSM actually promoting things like the Syria war for the lucrative drama and tragedy, simply means prohibit advertising by mass media. That doesn’t impact on freedom of the press.

    Particularly on the Web. It came to Google free at a time when Internet experts held that it would unethical to use it, the Internet, to advertise, that advertising on the Net was spam.

    Okay, today it’s safe to allow advertising in physical newspapers, but not on the Web. A problem, I admit, is that the Web is anarchy, no country has jurisdiction over it, and we like it that way.

    And corporate mergers. Prohibit. Demerge all traceable past mergers. They are mostly about swallowing up the competition. And mergers create giants of such huge size that they are hugely damaging socially, all for the benefit of a tiny, tiny few who do it only for power, because they would never, ever, be able to spend all of their existing wealth.

    • Replies: @Ann Nonny Mouse
  16. anon[359] • Disclaimer says:

    Waaaaah!

    Late Boomer / early GenX has-been radical cartoonist who got fired from the LA Times scribbles manifesto on somewhat obscure web site telling government what it must do now because reasons.

    LOL!

    The only thing more irrelevant than Teddums Rall’s ravings? His comments section.

    “I made a STATEMENT! In ALL CAPS! Pay attention to ME!”

    Internet: the world wide vanity press.

  17. SafeNow says:

    “Why? Because they’re stupid, crazy or both.”

    There are two other factors. First, our political leaders, and bureaucrats, are corrupt. Second, there is the “Abilene Paradox.” This is the psychological mechanism (taught in business schools) in which a group of people, acting as a group, take a preposterous action that no member of the group would agree to individually.

  18. @Ann Nonny Mouse

    I should have said, also ban advertising on television. If you are looking for a product so need an ad, go and buy the paper.

  19. @BuelahMan

    I think Rall’s always been a socialist of sorts. I’m disappointed to learn how much of an authoritarian he’s become. Draft the immune, my arse!

  20. @Seymour_Buhtz

    This no way solves the problem. The real problem is always the same……who runs and controls everything; THE JEWS. Usury, compound interest, hedge fund games and scams, money for everything that they run. Thirty-eight billion for Israel….are you missing something here? The only way is to change the system. We don’t have Capitalism. We have Corporate Fascism. And who controls all monetary pathways? The JEWs!

    Kids don’t need more computers, hot spots, and other nonsense. They need to learn how to read, do basic math, and use critical thinking skills. The education system in this country (guess who runs it) is nothing more than Bolshevik Indoctrination.

    Your approach is liking trying to fix a hand grenade wounds with little band aides. Guess what it looks pretty but all the patients still die. And we are the patients!

  21. joe2.5 says:

    ” Authorities are considering issuing “immunity cards” to citizens who have had COVID-19. The idea is that people who are cleared could return to work. So far so good.”

    More kool-aid. “So far so good” my bottom. We don’t know if the disease confers immunity, never mind that there are antibodies and there is a preliminary observation, untested definitively, that patients do not in general catch the disease again (in which conditions exctly?), but that is far from being a clear proof of immunity. What is known from related viruses is that some do not raise effective immunity, others keep changing so that the immunity is good mostly for a year or less… So we don’t even know that a vaccine can be effective. So there’s no “good” yet, just feelgood talk by politicians (and political MDs.)

  22. Renoman says:

    You forgot “Kill all the Rich People”. Wealth inequity is the big trouble.

  23. Kim says:
    @eD

    UBI = cashless society = end of right to the fruits of one’s own labor/slavery

    The goal of the pandemic has been the same as it is with every faux emergency: more centralized power. And nothing will centralize as effectively as UBI/the end of cash.

  24. I can’t believe I’m saying this,but some of these ideas are good. Idealistic, but good. It’s too bad thought that Call makes no mention of the cure for Covid, hydroxychloroquine plus zinc. And instead goes with the immunity card and other clap trap. still, I’m in shock to agree with something Ted Rall wrote.

    • Replies: @dfordoom
  25. @HuronZephyr

    Commenting on the author’s previous article about a needed new political party I pointed out that today using a random number generator election by lot, representatives chosen by chance, would be low cost and safe. That would mean they were not people who lusted for power but found themselves in power by chance but weren’t going to be chosen by chance a second time. No re-election. Not career politicians. Then we would have compassionate rather than exploitive rulers.

    You make the case for election by lot very forcefully. Thanks.

  26. dfordoom says: • Website
    @restless94110

    It’s too bad thought that Call makes no mention of the cure for Covid, hydroxychloroquine plus zinc.

    Isn’t it more of a possibly useful treatment that may have side-effects worse than the disease? So that in practice it might not be useful at all. Maybe that’s why he didn’t mention it.

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