The website worldometers.info has a real time tracker for cases and deaths, and as of March 5 there are 3,356 deaths worldwide. The ripple effect of these deaths is rattling the entire world. Governments are panicking, people are afraid, and businesses are teetering on the edge of their razor thin margins.
There’s a huge sell-off in the equity markets which is spiking the price of gold that you can read here. Entire sectors of the economy are being impacted. American Airlines advised on March 3 that they are suspending international and domestic flights in several cities. You can read the update here. American airlines isn’t the only airline suspending flights. Alaska airlines, JetBlue, Delta, and United have all suspended some of their flights. You can read about it here.
Due to the fear around the Coronavirus the U.S. stock market has lost over $6 trillion dollars of value since the end of February. You might be thinking so what. Only Rich people and corporations own stock. Not so fast. Quartz magazine reported in September of 2019 that approximately 52% of Americans own stocks. However, it is important to note that the majority of ownership for the middle class is due to the popularity of index and mutual funds (which makes investing easier and safer) and the increased popularity of 401(k)-type retirement plans.
Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Adobe pull out of more conferences as the coronavirus continues to spread. This has a trickle down effect that impacts hotel workers, food providers, housekeepers, Uber and Lyft drivers, airlines, restaurants, etc. If these large sectors are being impacted, how long will it be until the effects are felt by everyone else? How long will it be before there are layoffs, then recession, or worse?
This impending disaster could be much worse than a pandemic. This has the potential to escalate out of control very quickly. But this is an opportunity to address a major lie that all of us have been led to believe for the last 40 years.
If you refer to Figure 1 below, you will see what we’ve been led to believe. The corporations and the rich pay high taxes that are soaked up by the people below. The relationship is presented as if it is parasitic. The solution? Lower taxes on the top. They earned it and don’t owe it to anyone. The relationship from their point of view goes in one direction.
In actuality the relationship is exactly like Figure 2. Corporations and the rich pay taxes into a system that subsidizes the people towards the bottom of the triangle. But, and this is a huge but, the people on the bottom spend their income to perpetuate the wealth of the few at the top. That’s why the shape representing the people is a triangle. As you move to the top where there is more wealth, there are fewer people. As you move to the bottom (less wealth and income) there are more people. The foundation of the triangle can continue without the top, but without the foundation the top comes crashing down.
Which brings me to the ultimate and only solution to deal with the Coronavirus. The rich and the corporations have to pay whatever amount of money is necessary to fund the research for a cure, and they have to fund giving away that cure for free!
That’s right. I said free. I’m sure this proposal would cause the members of the top 1% of income earners to use another four letter word that begins with the letter “F”. Let’s face it. They aren’t going to do this willingly. But everything is on the side of the other 99%. Without the bottom 99% the top 1% ceases to exist. They need us. All we have to do is start acting like it.
The top 1% has continued to pay lower wages, pay fewer taxes, invest in less infrastructure, and work people harder and harder for less. This moment has presented us with the opportunity for a paradigm shift that is sorely needed. This is the time to demand that the few at the top who have trillions of dollars of wealth, that they have earned from hundreds of millions of us one dollar at a time, share their wealth to save their customers. Not customers, their fellow human family without whom their wealth would never have been accumulated, and without whom their wealth will be worthless.
We must take this moment to remind those at the top of their responsibility. In so doing we will save each other. Once the rules of the relationship between the top, middle, and bottom are rewritten, everything else will transform. Let’s hope that we won’t need to storm the gates with torches and pitchforks to obtain their acquiescence, but let’s be ready if we do.