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Pandemic Shock

In the COVID-19-driven time warp of the past 90 days, politics, economics and public opinion have changed drastically.

Important aspects of social behavior seem to have improved—less non-essential travel, less consumption, more family focus, reduced greenhouse gas pollution (17 percent less worldwide in early April), increase in demand for healthy, home-cooked foods, appreciation for nature, mutual aid, social solidarity and more attention paid to the plight of farmworkers, small farmers, healthcare workers and food chain workers.

Unfortunately, other impacts of the pandemic are quite negative, in fact catastrophic: widespread anxiety and fear, extreme political polarization and economic meltdown, including a massive number of bankruptcies of small businesses, with 40 million workers unemployed in the U.S. alone.

In addition, the federal government, led by the White House and Senate Republicans, abetted by corporate Democrats, has relaxed pollution, environmental and food safety standards, and handed out multi-trillion-dollar bailouts, with little or no government oversight, to the fossil fuel industry, corporate agribusiness and Fortune 500 corporations—instead of providing sufficient resources for those businesses, farmers, workers, families and individuals who most need help. 

As Arundhati Roy suggested early on in this crisis, historically, pandemics have served as "a portal, a gateway between one world and the next." How we walk through that portal, whether we choose to imagine another world—and fight for that world—is up to us.

Read Ronnie's essay of the week: 'Pandemic Shock: Digital Dictatorship or Green Recovery?'