America's professional class—and the big companies that employ them—are doing just fine. They can continue to advocate for lockdowns because, other than the occasional cancelled brunch, they are barely affected by the closures that have shuttered city centres and disemployed people across the country.
America's professional class and their corporate employers make sacrifices on their own terms, while dictating that everyone else do as they are told. Americans in the service and hospitality sectors have been left out in the cold, unable to earn a living because of government shut downs and corporate layoffs, all while being told they are selfish for wanting to work.
In The New York Times, Eve Peyser wrote that "While the wealthy and the highly educated haven't entirely escaped the soul-crushing effects of the virus... they have also been, on the whole, getting richer." She notes that "it has become clearer than ever that you don't have to be a bad person to live in an immoral system."
There's one thing missing in this analysis, and it's this: The immoral system in which these people are living is one in which they are complicit. In fact, they helped create it, fully and intentionally. They profit from it financially, and in their moralizing over the sacrifices, and the lie that we are "all in it together," they profit from it spiritually.
When companies were told to close, and to send staff home to work, America's professionals complied. They went home. They took up their laptops, made space on the dining room table, set their Amazon Prime accounts to automatic reorders of toilet paper, and got to work.
Amazon is doing great, by the way, as are those who have simply tightened their circles, brought their kids home to study remotely with the help of robust Wi-Fi networks, and moralized as to how necessary it is for us to all do our part.
Many other big corporations are sailing through the pandemic with ease as well. Despite layoffs and closures, or maybe because they are so quickly able to shed payroll, major companies are able to decrease spending, increase profits, and share tidy sums with shareholders—who are undoubtedly sitting home working remotely.
Findings published in the Washington Post revealed that "Between April and September, one of the most tumultuous economic stretches in modern history, 45 of the 50 most valuable publicly traded US companies turned a profit." These profits come at the cost of many Americans' livelihoods. WaPo reported that "at least 27 of the 50 largest firms held layoffs this year, collectively cutting more than 100,000 workers."
In discussing the economic recovery in the wake of coronavirus-inspired shut downs, the Wall Street Journal wrote that "well-educated and well-off people, businesses tied to the digital economy or supplying domestic necessities, and regions such as tech-forward Western cities," are "By and large," "prospering." But that "On the bottom arm are lower-wage workers with fewer credentials, old-line businesses and regions tied to tourism and public gatherings. They can expect to bear years-long scars from the crisis."
The wealthiest, comfiest Americans, in sitting home, buying Pelotons so they don't have to risk life and limb going to the gym, are not doing their part, they are not sacrificing at all. America's upper class, the class that can work from home with little to no disruption, who have ample space for their kids to set up virtual learning classrooms, who order deliveries of all their essential and worldly goods, are not the ones making real sacrifices, but they are the ones setting policy.
We hear from this class that the government should do something to help, that it's on the government to provide for these people, and even that they are willing to pay more in taxes to facilitate a public-welfare state. Peyser, in her Times op ed, concludes from the massive sacrifice disparity that the wealthy should simply give more to charity, and that the government really should do something to help.
America's lowest wage earners are the sacrificial lambs of coronavirus shut down policies. They are the ones who are unable to feed their families while being told that we are all in it together.
We are not all in it together. Those who are wealthy, prosperous, educated elites, are showing their true colors. So long as they are fine and well-cared for, they simply don't care what happens to anyone else.
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