Defending our communities in the era of the Trump Epidemic: Our demands
The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was confirmed on January 21st in Washington state. There is no good reason why the US became the epicenter of the world coronavirus pandemic. The colossal spread of the epidemic in the US is directly the result of policies of the Trump Administration. In May of 2018, Trump closed the White House pandemic office (National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense). On January 3, the director of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Robert Redfield, received a call from a counterpart in China describing a lethal respiratory illness that was sweeping Wuhan. The Trump administration was immediately notified.
Later that month, Trump refused to request the readily available test kits from the World Health Organization (WHO) and insisted that the CDC, whose budget he tried to gut, make their own kits. These kits did not work, and Trump’s FDA waited over 5 weeks to approve an “accelerated policy” for rapid testing in the US. A lack of available tests and personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as many other acts of White House incompetence and malfeasance have crippled the response to this crisis. The number of cases and the death toll has reached horrific proportions. Trump has diverted needed resources, prevented preparedness, spread sometimes deadly misinformation, threatened his opponents, and campaigned for his election in the fall. He has done little else. Trump owns this virus.
In the broader context, the healthcare for profit system that we are forced to live under, is business as usual gone off the rails. Millions are losing their health insurance and the open enrollment period has ended for the Affordable Care Act. For years public health has been underfunded, hospitals have been closed, and hospital bed capacity has declined from 1.5 million beds in 1975 to 925,000 today. Millions have been subjected to rationed care with, at times, deadly consequences even before the epidemic. Now the full consequences are upon us, made qualitatively worse by the sociopath in chief. As people are dying, the Congress and the Federal Reserve are enriching Trump’s class to the tune of a potential 6 trillion dollars, with the support of all the Democrats and Republicans.
Working people, poor folks, oppressed social layers, migrants, and prisoners are bearing the brunt of the casualties. In the existing racist society, folks from oppressed nationalities are dying in disproportionate numbers. We must not allow the epidemic to become a situation where the wealthy are bailed out and the rest of us are thrown under the bus. As a basis for defense of our communities, the Boston May Day Coalition has put forward the following demands:
1. The Federal Government must immediately construct emergency hospitals and expand production of medical and protective equipment!
2. The Federal Government must immediately mobilize all available resources to provide universal healthcare and free COVID-19 testing for all who reside in the US!
3. The Federal Government must fund a massive public works program at union scale wages to construct universal guaranteed housing, hospitals, daycare, and other facilities providing vital services for all residing in the US.
4. Workers currently functioning in the economy must be given hazard pay for the sacrifices they are making.
5. All undocumented residents must have access to driver’s licenses and be granted immediate legal permanent resident status.
6. Bring home all US troops from abroad and immediately end the blockade of Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, and North Korea.
7. Cancel all medical debt, student loan debt, and credit card debt!
8. All emergency services must prioritize folks from oppressed social layers.
9. The Federal Government must fund a massive program to produce mass transportation, energy conservation systems, ecologically sustainable agriculture, and convert the economy to renewable energy sources to drastically reduce the production of greenhouse gases.
10. Defeating the COVID-19 virus must not become a power grab against privacy and civil rights. We demand a national moratorium on mortgage payments and evictions for the duration of the virus.
11. The present profit driven food system promotes excessive sugar, salt, and alcohol in our diets which undermine our health and our immune systems. The Federal Government must immediately fund mass distribution of nutritional supplements to help build up the immune systems of all US residents.
We must form mutual aid organizations to look after each other, as the state is clearly not taking care of us.
Boston, April 13, 2020.