Hello, ND United!
Even though the majority of us are still serving the public remotely, I’ve been thinking lately about what our post-COVID-19 world will look like and what lessons we will have drawn from our shared experience. I am a believer in the adage that great struggle can bring about great opportunity.
In my view, it would be a mistake to revert to our pre-coronavirus lives without a serious examination of our national priorities. This experience has exposed very serious inequities based on race and income in our American society, just as the Great Recession did. This time, I pray that we take this opportunity to put in place policies that lead to a more equitable society.
It has been heartening to see social media highlighting the heroic efforts of teachers and public employees going the extra mile to provide vital educational and public services to our kids and the public at large. We have taken great care to let our frontline healthcare workers and first responders know that they are appreciated beyond words and have referred to them as “essential employees.” This is all very good.
But how do we show this appreciation post-Coronavirus? All these folks will still be essential, after all. Forty four percent of workers in the United States are low-wage workers. These are the men and women who stock our grocery shelves, work in our warehouses, prepare our meals, care for our aging parents in nursing homes and process our foods. These 44 percent of American workers are the backbone of our economy. Yet, they are low-wage workers. They are among the 40 percent of Americans who, according to a Federal Reserve study, cannot handle an unexpected $400 expense. These are the men and women who often do not get sick leave, paid time off, health insurance, or a living wage.
The causes of this inequality are too many to go into in this space. Suffice it to say that generations of well-intentioned people have managed to kick this can to where we find it today — right in front of us. When we emerge from this national nightmare — and we will — let’s be sure to seize the opportunity to make a more just society.
Franklin D. Roosevelt said in 1944, “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.” I believe that to be true. If we do the right thing and implement policies and practices that benefit the men and women upon whom we all depend, we will create a United States of America that is stronger and more full of promise for all of us.
Stay strong, ND United! And thank you for everything you do every day!