Sunday, August 16, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Lori Fox writes that the COVID-19 pandemic reflects a fundamental break with what had been business as usual - making it essential that we both grieve what's behind us, and work on developing what comes next:
Things aren’t going to go back to “normal.” There’s no “normal” to go back to.

More importantly, this pandemic has kicked open the factory doors of our culture and allowed us to see how the sausage is made: on the backs of the people whose labour, time and bodies we deem to be worth at or around minimum wage, but without which we absolutely could not – cannot – make it through this crisis.

Current conversations around the “safety” of going back to work right now are simply not for the lower classes. While many middle and upper class people worked from home, working class wage earners – grocery store clerks, delivery drivers, food and agriculture folk – continued on as “essential workers,” dispensing and producing the goods and services on which our entire culture runs, all the while risking continuous public exposure. They went to work – and continue to go to work – because they have to, and will continue to have to, even as we see infections spike, something we should prepare to happen, given what we are seeing in other nations, such as Germany and Australia.
The destabilizing effect of this pandemic has laid bare the economic inequality on which our society functions. Class disparity, the resistance to universal income, systemic racism, the militarization of the police and the rhetoric of the current political climate are not the result of the pandemic; they are the endgame of capitalism. We’ve merely paused the machine long enough to see them clearly.
(W)e might ask if the world we have lost is really as good as we remember, if it was serving the life we hoped we would have. I’m working class. I’ve experienced homelessness and poverty. I’m queer. I’m non-binary. I’m female. I know – have known for most of my adult life – that in this world some bodies are worth more than other bodies. Some lives are worth more than other lives. Some happiness is worth more than other happiness.

What we are seeing, now, in this crisis, is a perfect distillation of that, of the ways the world before did not serve – did not care about – everyone equally. This is a chance to rethink that; perhaps not only can we not return to the world before this, but maybe we don’t really want to.
...Even if we did all agree to go back to the way things were, they can never actually really be that way; the illusion has been dispelled.

So go ahead and grieve now. Think carefully. Fill in the holes the world before has left.


Be good to your neighbours and friends. Take care of them as best you can. Don’t let them go without, if it’s possible. We’re going to need each other more than ever.
- Meanwhile, Madeline Leung Coleman comments that Yun Ko-Eun's The Disaster Tourist anticipates the plight of workers told they're essential while continuing to be exploited. And Bruce Livesey discusses how the richest few are only getting richer thanks to the pandemic, even as nearly everybody else is struggling just to tread water.

- Andre Picard writes about the need to have at least some means for children to be back to school this fall, while acknowledging we need to do everything in our power to ensure the health and safety of kids, teachers and families alike. Theresa Kliem and Alicia Bridges report on the lack of any mention of ventilation issues in the Saskatchewan Party's instructions for a return to school. Amina Zafar follows up to find plenty of parents and experts worried about that glaring omission, while Kristin Rushowy reports on new polling showing the preferences of Ontario's parents. And Derek Turner points out the increased uncertainty and risk for substitute teachers who are expected to deal with different cohorts of students from day to day.

- Finally, Doug Cuthand writes that any solutions to Saskatchewan's suicide crisis among Indigenous peoples need to be based on community control, rather then merely reflecting the portions of settler-centred consultations that fit with the Saskatchewan Party's political plans.

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