Profits, Pandemics, People and Racism

Dr. John Warren
Dr. John Warren

by Dr. John Warren

The number of people testing positive for Covid-19 in this country has now exceeded 3 million, and is increasing. Unlike the rest of the world, we have not been able to get control of this virus and not because we don’t have the ability. The real reason is that we have placed money over the loss of human life. There is a rush to reopen businesses, like the return to bars and dine-in restaurants; the relaxation of freezes on rents and evictions although people can’t work; and the forcing of people in some industries, like meat processing plants where, in spite of the high number of worksite infections, people are forced to put their lives at risk, work to save their jobs and their company’s lost profits.

The whole idea of “reopening” the economy dominates the White House and many of the states with the highest number of infections. This conversation has become, for some, more important than the lives being lost daily.

The 130,000 plus lives lost in this country, with a daily infection rate that has exceeded 50,000 people, still does not seem as important to many as the idea of “reopening” businesses in spite of what is now a known risk. The emphasis on money appears to have become more important than the pandemic itself.

The people dying each day are being reduced to statistics outside of their personal families and loved ones. When one also looks at the elderly and people of color as the ones disproportionately dying, and the failure of the federal government and some of the states to make provisions for the needed additional supplies to help our healthcare workers on the frontline, it becomes clear that some have decided that those dying are “expendable” and, therefore, not a loss.

Now racism has entered the picture. Racism makes it easy to place profits ahead of people. Racism makes it easy to blame the pandemic for the loss of life and not our own prejudices. Racism makes it easy to be more concerned about ourselves than those we put at risk by not wearing a mask when asked to do so.

The inscription on our currency should be changed from “In God We Trust” to “In Money and Profit, no matter what the cost.” Perhaps when death hits those who think their businesses and personal rights are more important than the lives of those around them, people might once again become more important than profits, the pandemic and racism.

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