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Coronavirus as a catalyst for change


In Spain the situation generated by the Coronavirus is disturbing.  The government, backed by the Constitution, has declared a “state of alarm”: bars and restaurants have closed, you can only go out for working, getting food or meds at the pharmacy, or walking your dog, and always alone.  Police cars patrol the streets to ensure these orders are followed. Public transport works at 25%.  These measures designated with the term “confinement” are supposed to be aimed at slowing down the spread of infections, which, however, increases daily.  The Catalan president, Mr.  Torra, his vice president, Mr. Aragones, the president of Madrid, Mrs. Ayuso, the equality minister, Irene Montero, and Pedro Sánchez’s own wife have been infected.  Academic activity is interrupted,  university has closed.  Despite all this, a large number of workers are forced to work in contact with the public, or outdoors: supermarket cashiers, delivery men, construction workers, who, despite the “state of alarm”, are exposed daily to contagion.  It is a dystopian situation.  If it is prolonged, I think that there could be a regression to the first stages of the industrial revolution,  the times of Dickens.  There will be more unemployment (many factories are closing), more poverty, the welfare state, without the resource of raising taxes, will be in danger.  But perhaps, as Naomi Klein argued regarding the climate change, the crisis could have a positive aspect, that of forcing society to make changes, to become safer, simpler and more egalitarian. As a first step I believe that  workers at risk should be subject to regular check-ups and their activities reduced to what is essential. A pity that our politicians do not seem to include this idea in their plans. The first decision of the socialist president Pedro Sánchez has been to arrange loans valued at two hundred billion euros “to guarantee the liquidity of the companies.”

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