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What has been done & what is needed still | Covid Analysis 2

Tierra y Libertad. Oaxaca de Juárez.

With regard to Mexico’s socio-political economy, it’s important to talk about what is currently happening in the United States, as so much of the social, political, and economic events of the two countries have profound effects on each other (Lozano). The situation in the United States has turned into an absolute disaster, with either nonexistent or misleading leadership from the national government, a major lack of testing, and unavailability of necessary resources for protection of medical staff and treatment of the disease itself. An enormous sector of society has been left without an income, unable to pay their rent or basic services, and the economic stimulus package recently approved by the government has hardly begun to cover the needs of “every-day Americans” (Bokat-Lindell). Although the current state of public health and the economy serves as a grave warning and model for preparation (and what not to do), very few people are using the United States as an example to evaluate and question the measures being taken by the Mexican government.

The stay-at-home orders adopted by the majority of state governments are only effective for a small portion of the population: those who have the luxury of staying within the comforts of their homes, the economic stability to stock up on food and other necessities, and the privilege to work from home or go on paid sick leave. Overwhelmingly, those who are already most vulnerable to complications of the coronavirus are those who are unable to follow the stay at home orders: poor communities, which, in the United States, means disproportionately black and brown populations who have the least access to adequate healthcare, running water, healthy food, and housing and job security (Democracy Now!). People of color also make up a majority of the workforce which has been deemed “essential” and are therefore at a higher risk of infection, but are not being granted necessary protections or even the right to paid sick leave, nor do they make enough money to leave their jobs and still be able to pay the bills (Democracy Now!).

The popular economic relief measures pursued by the federal government have largely been an expansion of unemployment benefits, rather than measures that would protect the job stability (and therefore healthcare access) of the general population. According to The New York Times Editorial Board, “[a] number of European countries” have chosen to prioritize employment by compensating up to 90 percent of workers salaries during the lockdown period, including those entirely unable to work and whose jobs have been reduced to part-time. These countries are “freezing their economies” to avoid suffering a more extreme economic downturn caused by overwhelming percentages of unemployment: “people who lose jobs, even if they eventually find new ones, suffer lasting damage to their earnings potential, health and even the prospects of their children” (“Why Is America”). Instead of helping workers hold onto their jobs, and therefore ensuring, in many cases, their entire family’s access to healthcare, the United States has opted for allowing a level of mass unemployment never-before-seen in the history of the nation, and compensating those affected–if they’re able to submit an application to the overwhelmed system–with only about 50 percent of the national minimum-wage in unemployment benefits (“Why Is America”, Apuzzo).

Trump’s one claim-to-fame in this mess (and what he hopes will get him re-elected) is his personal signature on the stimulus checks that will be sent out to “every” working American who makes $99,000 a year or less (“Why Is America”). The problem is that the one-time only $1200 “land-lord bail-outs” aren’t even close to what the estimated need of the public is, and aren’t available to many of the people who need it most (students, people whose economic situation has changed from last year to now, unhoused folks who didn’t file taxes last year, etc.) (“Why Is America”). Countless media outlets and experts have called the multi-trillion dollar stimulus package a “slush fund” for corporate bail-outs, with billions of dollars available to mega-corporations (without the necessary oversight) and only a third of what experts estimate is needed to support small businesses and the general public (the small business fund has already run out of money) (“Why Is America”).