Tale of Two Cities: wealthy and tech workers stay at home while poor front-line essential workers risk their lives

​On April 20th two different headlines in the Seattle Times illustrate this widening wealth divide: (1) Rich Americans activate New Zealand pandemic escape plans and (2) Coronavirus cases skyrocket among homeless shelter population in King County, death reported at quarantine facility

I continue to hope that the residents in King County, Washington will wake up and set aside their intellect and work together to stand up to the corporate oppression of poor and low-income people and people of color. A few protested in Olympia on May 1 and joined with the national rent/mortgage strikes nationally. A General Strike is set to occur on June 1. 

As Seattle Mayor Durkin reminded me in a interview she gave, “Hope is not an action.” I thought that line sounded a bit strange, but the more I thought about it, the more it really resonates with me, “Hope is not an action.”

An article about the increasing likelihood of civilization’s collapse was written a year before the vicious COVID-19 disease surfaced. Several causes were identified: climate change, environmental degradation, inequality and oligarchy, complexity, external shocks and randomness/bad luck. One of them, Inequality and Oligarchy, defined inequality as: “wealth and political inequality.” They can be central drivers of social disintegration, as can oligarchy and centralisation of power among leaders.

The wealth divide in King County is huge. The two richest men in the world reside in King County. The poverty rate is 9.7% (24.7% of the African American community live below the poverty line.

This not only causes social distress, but handicaps a society’s ability to respond to ecological, social and economic problems.

The field of cliodynamics models how factors such as equality and demography correlate with political violence. Statistical analysis of previous societies suggests that this happens in cycles. As population increases, the supply of labour outstrips demand, workers become cheap and society becomes top-heavy. This inequality undermines collective solidarity and political turbulence follows.

BBC Future: Are we on the road to civilisation collapse? February 18, 2019

We have been in quarantine for nearly 7 weeks. (Stay Home, Stay Healthy WA March 23 Order).

49 states are in various stages of reopening, even though none have met the original CDC guidance of 14 days of declining infections and 14 days of death declines. We need people to stay home to stop the spread. We need politicians to stop “forcing” people to return to work UNTIL the employer has a written plan approved by the local public health officer and full testing and tracing capability exists for all workers. To-date front-line workers have been going to work and their employers are not providing adequate safety policies and PPE. These employees are endangering their lives, we need to provide Americans basic re-occurring income to meet their immediate needs in this time of public health and economic crisis. Tyson plants have been ordered to stay open by presidential orders.

Basic income, also called universal basic income (UBI), citizen’s income, citizen’s basic income, basic income guarantee, basic living stipend or guaranteed annual income is a governmental public program for a periodic payment delivered to all on an individual basis without means test or work …

Sad for me to witness King County friends, allies and residents that I know not supporting essential workers locally, and remaining silent while the worst offender, Amazon, headquartered in our community oppresses and endangers the lives of its warehouse workers. Comrades on Staten Island and in Minnesota have risked their livelihoods striking Amazon’s warehouses to shine a light on their unjust treatment of low wage workers. France has acted and regulated Amazon’s poor treatment of its workers. Not Washington State. Not King County. Guess there is just too much wealth here to comprehend and or care about the role of society to care about the well being of poor and low income people beyond occasional charitable donations?? 

Amazon’s own occasional donations (computers for Seattle low income students after a month of inability to learn online) seem to provide the multi-billion dollar corporation and its CEO, the wealthiest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, social justice “permission” to not need to protect its essential low income workers who cannot work from home with PPE, social distancing and paid sick leave. Lest us not forget that the Amazon corporation pays no income tax and contributes zero to our WA State safety net. 

Within the last four weeks during this pandemic, Jeff Bezos bought a home in CA and one in NYC.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if instead of buying yet another residence to sit vacant for months each year, Bezos instead invested that $40 million on the safety of his front-line employees who are paid minimum wage and who he is actively trying to prevent from organizing to unionize. And now Bezos is on track to be the world’s first trillionaire. Ugh. Why does money have to be hoarded this way by individuals? Last time I checked, people needed people to survive.

The window is closing to advance systemic change. Let’s Have a Plan.

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