Hard Rain, Falling

Infection spreads, pontification too. Some is smart and helpful, some is disgusting.

With all the interruptions of so-called normality, have you noticed that fundraising to your inbox is interminable? And are you suddenly seeing ads for devices that will make work at home not only easier, but fun? Ain’t greed grand?

More, in the now uninterruptible, incredibly repetitive, sometimes informed, sometimes ignorant, sometimes tearful, sometimes joyful, sometimes castigating, sometimes celebratory flood of articles naming, addressing, minimizing, maximizing, combatting, or navigating Coronavirus, is anyone actually still reading what is being written? Oddly, I have also noticed that related articles are getting longer and longer, almost in time with spreading incidence. Is it that folks just have more time to write? To read? Is it that folks are worried they won’t soon be able to write? Strange days.

One thing I do recommend reading is the message from Bernie Sanders which by now is probably all over the Internet. It puts forth ideas for addressing the Coronavirus crisis and the soon to ensue economic crisis now, not later. And it is becoming increasingly evident that there is suddenly massive support for innovative ideas. Sanders urges people to send in reactions, ideas, etc., to help refine and fill out the plan, and I think folks should do that. Why not?

The plan outlined is excellent and hopeful. It is exemplary though also entirely expected and welcome that Sanders and the campaign are taking up the immediate challenge.

One thing I wondered, reading the ideas. Isn’t going to a doctor or a clinic much less to a hospital to get a test about the quickest way to spread the virus? And isn’t the same true for shopping for necessities or medicine at stores?

So might we need drive through testing without chance of spread, as compared to going and sitting or standing somewhere with folks who may be ill.

And might we need home delivery of needed items – food, etc., and perhaps even items for dealing with being sick with it – on the same logic as above.

Now to be sure, providers like Amazon and Walmart are going to be eager to deliver needed supplies to grow themselves even larger, and even to wipe out so-called brick and mortar venues completely, if they can. Hell, hard as it may be to imagine, they may even temporarily raise wages improve work conditions to chase the windfalls to be had by ramping up their workforces with new hires. But clearly strengthening these private firms is not optimal. So what about nationalizing or at least exerting temporary government control over Amazon and Walmart, and over other major pharmacies, and of course over drug and medical equipment producers who are greedily eyeing potentials for super profits? And then what about the government imposing price controls on all these critical actors, to expand delivery of essential purchases, but also to impose improved basic salaries, unionization, temporary hazard pay, plus to greatly improve work conditions, all permanently, to enhance morale, improve commitment, and enlarge creativity as a basis for successful new hiring, and to lift and empower workers going into the future.

I hear there is an extreme and threatening shortage of hospital beds. Since hotels and motels won’t even have to be emptied for them to provide space for hospital beds, how about taking them over for exactly that purpose? And how about moving the homeless off the streets and into the otherwise empty hotels as well? Hell, at the rate things may proceed, how about releasing at least all non violent prisoners and housing them in vacant hotels too? These are all steps the would create change to reduce suffering now and persist into a better future. Of course that is precisely why they will be hard changes to win against corporate and political elites, but also very much worth winning.

And won’t the need for greater security and increased morale soon apply to all health workers, including military and police drafted into that work – and aren’t public school teachers suddenly potentially available as well? So again shouldn’t there be guaranteed improved wages and conditions for them, too, permanently. And if the military can help with constructing temporary hospitals, okay, what about their helping, later, with building low income housing? How innovative. The soldiers concerned to defend and enlarge national well being would actually be doing so.

Finally, it will require tremendous pressure to win and implement the Sanders plan much less additional features even remotely like those proposed here as well as others that will be proposed in days to come. A petition won’t inspire enough support nor deliver sufficient pressure. Calling people out to march, demonstrate, and engage in civil disobedience could raise sufficient pressure but at the unacceptable cost of spreading the disease. I wonder if there are different approaches that might work at a time of increased receptivity to change.

What about a massive refusal to pay taxes…that would have power, but there is already a 90 day postponement, I am told.

Or how about some kind of massively visible display of anger – perhaps everyone simultaneously wearing black, or better, green. But wait, if we are in our residences how is such a choice visible? Maybe in every window?

In short, I don’t have any good tactics to suggest. The pandemic imposed constraints are severe. We need activism that pressures political and economic elites but that doesn’t congregate people, that realizes people staying home are not visible, and that doesn’t appear callous or inappropriate and thereby alienate more support than it wins.

Minds more creative than mine will hopefully come up with better ideas for active participation that so raises costs for elites that they give in to radical programmatic demands.

Okay, returning from commenting on Sanders’ plan to this brief article, I don’t want to waste any of your time by offering you my own version of redundant denunciations of Trump, or of the Democratic Party establishment, or of the rich and powerful for being as delusional, corrupted, cowardly, and vile as they are.

But then, if not repetition of condemnation, what is worth saying as a writer, or worth promoting as a publisher, for that matter?

Well, on the one hand, the same things as before the crisis. Generalized vision and strategy, for example. And then I think in addition to that and to Sanders’ programmatic ideas and call for reactions, perhaps also reports of people finding ways to try to organize, or to offer mutual aid, or to fight for desirable interventions, or even to personally keep themselves afloat, entertained, productive, or learning for themselves or for others.

Okay, so I will try that last, as foreign to my inclinations as doing so is. I am living in an apartment, in a large complex of hundreds of units covering many acres, where each unit is self contained with a small kitchen, a reasonable living area, and one or more nice bedrooms above. There is nothing higher than a second floor. Units are side by side, not one above another. Parking is visible from and around each unit. Walking around the whole complex’s outer boundary takes about a half hour and one sees every car that isn’t out and about.

I have signed up for and begun eating nutri system diet food that comes in monthly installments. It is cheap and I assume healthy. It precludes nearly all need to shop. It takes barely more than 5 minutes to prepare each meal, and if I go slow, maybe 15 minutes to eat one. There are no dishes to wash. So meals take under a half hour all together, or under an hour and a half a day. Not cooking is a loss, not eating all I want, and as tasty as I want, is a debit, but overall it seems like a good option, and not solely for me. But each time I eat, I wonder what are the circumstances of those working to provide my truck delivered sustenance.

I am lucky that I can work at home. Indeed, for me, that isn’t even a change. But it is depressing to cull my email and lots of media for content for ZNet. That is also not new, but it is greatly worsened by the crisis coloring the content and imposing isolation. Preparing RevolutionZ’s podcasts is much better, morale wise, except when I contemplate how few will listen, but even doing both ZNet and RevolutionZ tasks, and taking a daily walk or two in the barren parking areas outside my residence, there is a lot of time left, and with sleep increasingly difficult, a whole lot of time. On those walks, I see growing numbers of cars parked each day, a kind of anecdotal parking place graph of people’s growing social distancing commitment. A good sign in bad times, I guess.

I happen to like TV and movies, so that watching, sometimes engaged, sometimes outraged, often made half comatose, uses up some time. And I like reading thrillers and science related books, so that takes some more time and is a bit less coma conducive. But many days there are many hours left. What to do, what to do?

Write about Coronavirus? No, wait, save perhaps this foray into that realm, I have no medical training and so have little to offer. Write about economic or social vision and strategy, which is a staple for me? Well, maybe, but it is getting hard to self motivate. Who is going to read about that, now?

So I think for the extra time I am going to try to learn something new in some of my off hours, perhaps some new software tool, or whatever, and to write something longer term, perhaps book length – see how time may explain lengthening articles – for after the deluge. And for creativity, I will try to motivate myself to keep tweaking, and maybe more than tweaking, the screenplay I have written, all the time hoping someone in the industry will think it worthy, of which there is, however, near zero chance.

And so here comes my recommendation. Everyone who may read this already knows to wash after being out, to stay sensibly away from others, and, better, if possible to not even go out, and to meanwhile pursue some useful and even creative activity to keep spirits up, loneliness, stress, and even insanity at bay. But I am also going to repeatedly email and call – but not instant message, that’s just me – some folks I know, and keep trying to do it, even if they claim they have no time for it. So that they – and I – are not atoms, each individually isolated, each bouncing off nothing but nearby walls, each trying to avoid drowning in the Hard Rain or to avoid the reports of it inundating us while waiting for light after the deluge.

And, oh yes, listening to music for part of our lengthening days may well be better than watching TV and perhaps even better than reading novels for keeping oneself not just awake, but alive. Hmm. Maybe I do have another non redundant Corona related article in me, perhaps a playlist…anyone got any suggestions?


  1. avatar
    Michael March 20, 2020 8:43 pm 

    Ditto Michael and the three others who have commented at this time. I am busy at home for the most part, gratefully I am in contact with some friends and professional people in three Latin American countries, thanks to the internet-computer.

    In addition, I have talked to some immigrant friends who are still going to work in the area where I live, they have so much work and the need for income. I am concerned for them.

    At the very least, if we can, this time of confinement, indeed, can be a time of thinking more about what we can do now and in the future for all the reasons Michael suggests and implies. (I don’t have the clothing, but I actually like the idea of wearing black or green as a message.)

  2. avatar
    maryellen March 20, 2020 3:06 pm 

    So true, Rick! ZNet is a treasure where I go to each day for guidance, resolve and wisdom and much more. I’m happy to learn of Michael’s day to day. Some of us around Boston are working on building neighborhood hubs for mutual aid. Well, I’m some distance from Boston, on the southcoast near Rhode Island. But I have many colleagues and fellow activists there. We are using Zoom daily to figure out how to continue our work. Some of us are working on Sen. Markey’s campaign. He has been so good on nuclear weapons and the environment and now that he is being challenged by the centrist and IMO annoyingly self-serving Joe Kennedy we’ve stepped up to try to protect his seat.
    For me the videoconferencing has been a savior- it feels good to use this technology to continue organizing although I know I the nagging sense of dread just underneath is hard to ignore.

  3. Rick Goodman March 20, 2020 1:26 pm 

    And a suggestion. Please send emails or call your Senators and your Representative and ask that they shape the economic stimulus package so that it benefits people and not corporations (ZNET readers can improve upon this message, I am sure). In my volunteer work with faith communities we are told that the Congress is not hearing much from people about how to shape the stimulus. Thanks. Rick

  4. Rick Goodman March 20, 2020 1:20 pm 

    Thanks Michael. Thanks for keeping ZNET going, as this is a daily place I go to for analysis, understanding, and challenge. I then usually find something to act upon after I read ZNET.

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