We fight pandemics with the government we have. Too bad.

In the UK, “he United Kingdom’s Conservative Party unveiled a plan to keep British workers paid and employed for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. The Tory proposal would effectively cover 80 percent of sidelined workers’ salaries, while forbidding employers who accept the government’s help from laying off staff. The policy closely resembles one implemented by Denmark’s Social Democrats, except that Boris Johnson’s wage-replacement rate is slightly more generous than the Danish left’s. Although the Conservatives have a well-earned reputation for sacrificing Britain’s vulnerable on the altar of deficit reduction, even they recognize that social welfare must take precedence over budgetary concerns in the context of a historically sudden and deep economic crisis. On Friday, Tory chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that there would be no limit on the funding available for covering workers’ wages.”

In the US, the Republicans aren’t offering anything that generous, or that will guarantee firms that get money from the government don’t just lay off workers anyway (it could, however, be great for corporations). Trump wants to end social distancing as soon as possible so the economy can restart. And Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick told Tucker Carlson that if 70somethings have to die as a result, that’s okay — he’s in that age range and he’d gladly do it to keep the economy running for his grandchildren (left unsaid was that in his position, he’ll have considerably better care than millions of people, and that the economy is increasingly shitty for people who aren’t rich).

I remember when Republicans denounced Obamacare because it would set up “death panels” that would ration healthcare and condemn seniors to death. I’m sure we’ll see the same outrage now … oh, who am I kidding?  This is what we have taking point in the pandemic. It’s in Republicans’ own interest we have neither mass deaths nor economic collapse, but their opposition to government actually helping ordinary people runs to deep. God help us all.

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