The Covid-19 Pandemic and Class Structure

I found a heart-felt, well meaning and useful email sitting in my inbox this Easter Sunday about starting a victory garden to help alleviate some of the emotional and financial stress of Covid-19. At the end of the email Lucy Schlesinger of Urban Monk, gives this trite little tidbit.

“Every family could use a win right now. The coronavirus doesn’t see wealth, circumstance, morality, age, or race – it is affecting everyone.”

Lucy Schlesinger

That just made me want to barf in disgust.

The pandemic affects different classes and races far more than she cares to think about. The poor and disenfranchised are suffering much more than wealthy folks.

Black meat packers in Louisiana are getting sick in much larger numbers than the 13 percent of the US population that African Americans represent.

Thousands of farmworkers are being exposed to the virus because they cannot afford to take off from work.

The wealthier classes call out for delivery safely from their cushy digs, or they can drive out to their summer enclaves and even grow food if they need to. 

While “the masses” of us who do not own land or homes have no recourse.

Delivery drivers, grocery workers, food processing and shipping workers and farm workers are not given leave of absence pay. 

Nor do most of us have any savings to last for even one week without a job, much less 6 or 8 more weeks when things get back to semi-normal. Most people who cannot afford to go without a paycheck because they need to eat next week. Many people are taking up delivery positions, and app jobs with Uber, Doordash, Instacart and Amazon Prime.

And when many people go back to work when the stay at home order is lifted their jobs will be gone with far fewer choices for work if any. 

The choices will be for much less pay than before. Lower paying warehouse jobs and blue-collar jobs for giant corporations that will be taking the place of small businesses that have closed down will be the only choice for many poor folks while wealthier people will still have their jobs, positions, partnerships or businesses.

Millions of small businesses will not recover from this and people will be forced to work as wage slaves doing meaningless jobs that have no real social value and that give them no reason to go on living.

Millions more will be homeless in the coming years because all the systems we had set up to help those in trouble have been long dismantled.

We might as well just use what little national aid money is left to set up some nice final supper and self-mercy-killing-drive-throughs for those of us who can’t stand the thought of being smelly and homeless for the rest of our lives. 

Just leave the key to the car and the combo to whatever storage locker for what is left of our belongings with the intake caseworker.  Then we will eat our last supper and have ourselves put to sleep and turned into soilent green for the new victory gardens.