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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/25/20

No, Donald Trump, Americans are not dying to work -- work may cause them to die

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From The Guardian

The president, the Republican party and their Fox News cheerleaders care only for corporate profit

Donald Trump
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Most of Europe and all 50 US states are in various stages of "reopening." But why, exactly?

The pandemic is still with us. After the first tentative steps to ease the lockdown in Germany -- the most successful large European country in halting the spread of the virus, thanks to massive testing -- the disease has shown signs of spreading faster.

At least Germany is opening slowly and carefully, as is the rest of the EU.

By contrast, the US -- with the highest number of deaths and most haphazard response to Covid-19 of any advanced nation -- is opening chaotically, each state on its own. Some are lifting restrictions overnight.

Researchers expect the re-openings to cause thousands of additional deaths.

Two weeks after Texas' governor, Greg Abbott, began reopening, the state experienced the single-highest rise in cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Since Nebraska reopened on 4 May, Covid-19 cases in Colfax county alone surged 1,390%.

Experts warn that Dallas, Houston, Florida's Gold Coast, the entire state of Alabama and several other places in the south that have rapidly reopened their economies are in danger of a second wave of coronavirus infections over the next four weeks.

Last Monday, Ford reopened its large North American assembly plants. On Tuesday, it closed and reopened its Chicago Assembly plant twice in less than 24 hours, after two workers tested positive for Covid-19. On Wednesday, Ford temporarily shut its Dearborn, Michigan truck plant after an employee tested positive, then promptly resumed operations.

So why "reopen" so abruptly, when Covid-19 continues to claim lives?

The main reason given is to get the economy moving again. But this begs the question of why an economy exists in the first place, other than to promote the well-being of people within it.

Both Ford plants are vital to the company's profitability, and that profitability is important to jobs in the mid-west. But surely the well-being of Ford workers, their families, the people of Chicago and Dearborn and others are more important.

A related argument is that workers are clamoring to return to their jobs. "People want to get back to work," Trump has asserted repeatedly. Fox News host Sean Hannity claims people are "dying to get back to work," seemingly unaware of the irony of his words.

Polls suggest otherwise. Americans whose jobs require them to leave home express trepidation about doing so: 60% fear exposing their families to Covid-19.

Many Americans must return to work because they need the money, but this doesn't have to be the case. Rich economies can support their people for years if necessary. During the second world war, America shut down most of its economy for nearly four years.

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Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

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