One Problem Ending? Another Yet To Be Faced

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We may be finally nearing a solution for the current version of the pandemic facing this nation. A vaccine is being distributed across this nation, and if there are enough doses, and enough people are convinced it is safe to take, then it may be possible to begin relaxing the constraints felt by many across this nation. Felt by many, but by no means felt by all people. For there are still significant numbers who remain convinced that all of the past year represented a mere distraction orchestrated by shadowy forces intent on bringing in a new world order under the pretext of a global pandemic.

Such a view was represented in Washington this past Saturday when the newly elected representative for Virginia’s 5th Congressional delegate spoke before people who were holding yet another demonstration in favor of Trump’s claim of winning the election. He said, “It’s a serious virus, but it’s a virus. It’s not a pandemic,” said Good (R). Now one may quibble about semantics, but the degree of ignorance in his comments remains incomprehensible to me and to many who have recognized the dangers of viral spread since the beginning of this epidemic. Congressman-elect Good mentioned how good it was to see so many people rejecting the tyranny of the mask and showing their faces in public. I swear that far too many people in this nation will not recognize the seriousness of this medical situation unless we have someone going through our streets with a cart, calling “Bring out your dead”.

The voters in the 5th Congressional District had a choice in the general election, but also had a choice in the Republican primary. For in that election, the incumbent Denver Riggleman was defeated. Congressman Riggleman had the audacity to conduct a same-sex wedding while in office, and for that sin, he was expelled from his job. Bob Good, who was the athletic director at Liberty University, then faced Dr. Cameron Webb, who serves as a hospitalist at the UVA hospital in Charlottesville, and teaches at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. And, horror of horrors, Dr. Webb happens to be African-American. Can’t have that. So in a district that stretches along the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge parkway, from the Potomac to the North Carolina border, the voters rejected someone who has personal knowledge and experience in dealing with health matters, and selected a Republican instead who would follow the current President over the precipice.

But then, this is the conundrum that we face in this country. We are seemingly a nation that refuses to acknowledge the value of knowledge, and instead insists upon fealty to a single person as head of a party that is increasingly intellectually bankrupt. Though we have now seen the risk of turning over the reins of government to someone who disdains competence, still we have a significant percentage of this nation that refuses to give any credence to any statement coming from the government. Well, we do not live in a world where we can pull up our drawbridge and retreat to our island stronghold. Britain is trying that and in a couple of weeks, when the reality of Brexit hits them, they will soon wish they had never cast a vote to leave the EU. Maybe we can learn from their mistake, and from the mistakes we’ve lived through over the past four years.

We know that the world is now interconnected in ways inconceivable a few short decades ago. Supply chains for international corporations require seamless transfer of materials and funds across national borders. Any disruption of those flows increases the overall costs. In essence, we’ve traded lower-skilled jobs, for lower inflation for the nation. That has resulted in economic losers in many rural and ex-urban regions, where the current strength of the Republican/Trump party now resides. But the discussion about whether we are willing to pay higher prices in order to move manufacturing back to the US has not happened. And on the Progressive side, we’ve not discussed how consumers will respond to paying higher prices for fast food, and pizza, and child /elder care if we institute a higher, livable minimum wage. Face it, part of the bargain we have made over the last several decades is we’ve traded lower prices for the loss of economic security for the lower class of workers. Whether it is the displacement of main street retail for the low prices of big box retailers, or whether it is an assembly operation that can be done for $0.25 less by an overseas supplier, this nation has willingly chosen the lower price.

Maybe we have gained a slight awareness of the value of local enterprise through the course of this pandemic. Personally, we have made the choice to forego any chain restaurant during this time, and spending our dollars on takeout or outdoor dining at truly local restaurants. But we are only one small bit in the economy even of the small town we live in. We are long overdue on having a discussion about acceptance of higher prices in exchange for better economic conditions at the domestic level. Until I see a political party willing to discuss this, I won’t take any efforts they make as being serious efforts to improve the economy.