In the United States, people like to say that everyone is responsible for themselves, and many Americans consider a welfare state to be socialism. But now that the corona pandemic is overthrowing everything, the lack of social security is plunging many into the abyss.
More than three million new unemployed in just seven days – fifteen times a normal week, four times the previous record: If anyone else was wondering what the economic and social upheavals the coronavirus is causing in the United States, then he has the answer now. Millions of people lose their jobs, their jobs, their economic existence. And unlike in Germany, nobody can rely on a social network that prevents them from falling into the bottomless.
Even worse, those who are laid off in the United States are often not only without a job, but also without health insurance. Unemployment assistance is only available for a few weeks and only to a limited extent. If the mostly scarce private reserves are used up, poverty threatens.
After long attempts to trivialize, the government has recognized that the corona crisis poses the greatest challenge for the country’s economy and rudimentary social system in almost 100 years. Accordingly, hectic attempts are now being made to replace the missing social network with a bundle of individual measures. Unemployment benefits are expanded, adults receive $ 1,200 from the tax office, and companies that do not lay off do not have to pay back government loans.
All the decisions make sense – but they cannot replace a missing basic structure. Despite the agreed $ 2 trillion aid package, there will continue to be millions of people in the United States who have no health insurance, no sick pay, no unemployment benefits. Many corona-infected self-employed and contract workers will continue to work because otherwise they risk ruin.
The lack of a real social system in the USA is the downside of what many Americans understand by freedom. According to this reading, those who have the freedom to found a company, choose a profession, become rich also have the responsibility if the company goes bankrupt, the job ceases or the account is overdrawn. Against this background, even illness is a private matter, perhaps the person concerned indulged in vice or was simply not pious enough. Why, it is thought, should the state, the general public, vouch for such wrongdoing?
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The corona virus now reveals the entire absurdity of this thought construct. It doesn’t ask how much money you make, who prayed how often, and what decisions someone made. It affects millionaires and poor swallowers, ascetics and hedonists, Christians and atheists. Nobody is sure, even if you try to follow all the advice of the experts, it is not up to you whether he or she is infected somewhere. The virus makes healthy people sick, kills workers and destroys livelihoods. Who, if not the state, should be challenged in such a situation?
Politicians who demand continued sickness pay, basic AOK health insurance, a reasonable minimum wage, or rules for dismissing workers are often insulted in the United States as socialists. The corona virus now makes it clear that when we talk about a minimum level of social protection, it is not about socialism. It’s about a human right.