On Why going back to work right now NOT a good idea

Ok, so there is the obvious – you could get or spread COVID as an asymptomatic individual. DUH. This is a fact. A very important one. Arguably the most or only one. And while that is already a super serious reason why. It’s not the only one.

 

Either I’m terribly misinformed about how economies work (I do hold an MBA) or there is something I don’t understand. The way I see it, if we go back to work now; we will be perpetuating an unbelievably broken system here in the United States.

 

The United States of America. The “Greatest” country in the world.

 

Everyone’s saving’s is dwindling. Retirement (based on the stock market) is disappearing by the day. People are losing their healthcare and benefits. Our citizens would rather risk their lives and the lives of their brethren to go back to work for some cash BECAUSE they want to live and feed their families.

 

BUT shouldn’t they have made enough in living wages to be able to save for a rainy day or year? To have their retirement savings in a protected place that can’t just dissipate overnight? Shouldn’t our taxes cover more basic things that nearly every other developed country already has like healthcare, childcare, higher education, eldercare, maternity leave and some reasonable time off???

 

If we go back and just make it all “normal” again now, we’d be going back to what is broken in the first place. Right? It’s broken.

 

It’s not broken because of the Democrats. Guess, what? It’s not broken because of the Republicans either. It’s not because of the Chinese, or the immigrants, or Nancy Pelosi. It’s a broken system. If now isn’t the time to fix it, when the heck is?

 

Other countries have figured this out. Other countries that are NOT communist or socialist. First world developed countries with fewer homeless, no worry of mass shootings, universal healthcare, educated citizens, and almost no worry about being put out on the street because their country was shut down for you know… a world wide pandemic.

 

When I was in 3rd grade we had the Reagan/Mondale election. I lived in Brooklyn and New Yorker Geraldine Ferraro was the Vice-Presidential candidate. I was growing up in an Italian immigrant household with some REALLY old-world standards where women were like children – “to be seen and not heard”. I didn’t have any beliefs at the time about Democrats or Republicans. However, I did see the injustice of the genders, even at the age of 8. I wanted Mondale to win because I wanted to see the first female vice-president of the United States and show my father that women were just as worthy as men.

 

Mondale/Ferraro did not win. But I was conditioned to learn in my Catholic school that the United States was the greatest nation in the world, and that we were lucky to live here. When my immigrant Italian father ever heard these words (the US being the best country in the world), he would fly off the handle about how untrue that was because it could only be Italy that was the greatest. Benito Mussolini and only Mussolini was where it was ‘at’ in my father’s mind. So I learned pretty early on that it was all in the perspective of where you were growing up and what kind of teacher you had that shaped what you thought about what was “the best” or not. I learned there was no best. Perhaps that is what gave me an open mind.

 

Fast forward to now. I know, like myself; many Americans have grown up learning and even wanting to believe that there is nothing better than the great ol’ U S of A. I kind of sort of half believed it myself until about 7 or 8 years ago when I started researching and learning about how the United States compares to other developed countries in areas I was beginning to have clinical stress in.

 

My stress and burn out was brought on not just from the PTSD I very later learned I have from growing up with child abuse and domestic violence, but particularly from being a female and SQUEEZING into the various expected roles of amazing wife, mother, daughter, employee, sex goddess, volunteer, church goer, giver, nurturer, saver of all human AND non-human kind– while dancing backwards in high heels (in a shapely 36/24/36 body of course complete with stockings and a dress) … making dinner, creating a new fabulous sweet treat for all the bake sales, rocking it at work, putting the kids to bed every night with bedtime stories (AND baths, well brushed/flossed teeth, full tummies of nutritious homemade meals with the perfect balance of treats after dinner and in their handmade lunches in the fluffiest of sheets and cleanest of soft pajamas), playing tooth fairy by having some perfect amount of cash on hand, having that same exact amount of cash to pay for allowances and snacks/field trips at school AND after-school daycare in perfectly labeled envelopes for the kid’s teachers and care givers tucked away in their backpacks (which of course contained completed & checked homework with the dozens of papers that came home each night filled out by hand and signed).

 

…. Only to then hop into bed wearing something provocative to make sweet love to my husband – all while miraculously never being tired or needing some “me” time to regenerate when it seemed like the children, the childless women, and all men of the world had no such expectations.

 

We were supposed to be superwomen helping those groups while never complaining about the unequal pay or time off… IF of course any time off was left after watching or picking up sick children from school or day care… or burning up vacation time because it snowed and yeah… I was unable to get out of my driveway even if I went out there with the snow plow (if I was lucky enough to have one) or the shovel myself because the STREET itself had not been plowed. The female usually stays home because worldwide, but even more so in the United States; since women make 88 cents to the dollar on men- it only makes sense who should stay home with sick kids or when it snows and the childcare centers are closed (you know… if you are able to drive out of your street that is).

 

Yes – as female working parent in the United States VERY luckily making a good portion of income above and beyond what it cost to put the children in childcare when it wasn’t closed, I was tired and ticked. It seemed so incredibly unfair.

 

AND… And… and… I’m supposed to be one of the “lucky” ones.

 

How about all the single mothers with no help?

 

The dual couples who work 5-6 jobs between BOTH parents and can hardly afford to put food on the table or pay the rent?

 

The employees who don’t have health benefits (as my parents [hence me] didn’t when I grew up) or affordable health benefits.

 

What happens to the kids of those parents???

 

… Well no one is home after school as soon as the child is old enough let themselves in the door. So those youngsters may not do their homework to par (IF they do it at all). They may entertain shady friends in that parentless house, are potentially malnourished, consider dabbling with drugs or gangs… and then end up exactly as their parents because no one was there to help them get up off the ground and into college (NOT as if their parents could afford it). Total disclaimer – my folks were not able to pay for college either, I put myself through with the tiniest of “benefits” (14k) from joining in the military and then through sheer blood, sweat and tears at work through loans.

 

These same people without affordable health care couldn’t go sit on a therapist’s couch to complain or get treatment or obtain medication for their suffering… all that is around are some street drugs to help cope. COPE meaning having the wherewithal to get up out of bed and go to work again the next day. This would be in an attempt to set an example for their children. These children seeing that this is the best life has to offer.

 

These are the “other” people we don’t know who experience this. Well if you are reading this you know me, although I didn’t have it that bad. They are the people out there rallying in the streets to go back to work right now because they don’t know any other way to make money and don’t understand that it shouldn’t have to be this hard just to live when the world have enough for everyone to be comfortable.

 

“These people” (and allow me to include anyone) shouldn’t be victim to non-livable wages, little to no healthcare, barely affordable childcare, zero paid leave after giving birth, shoddy if any vacation/sick time, and then at the end of it all be expected to pay for college, their parents in elder care, retirement and SAVINGS, you know – in case there is a worldwide pandemic and the planet shuts down. And if you are a woman – all that and more!

 

When you think about it, it’s amazing anyone is still standing.

 

What I learned during my own personal burn out is shown below in charts & links I pulled up just today. I learned these things and I wanted to shout them from the rooftops. I don’t understand why I or anyone else isn’t marching on Washington! But at the same time, who has time to march on Washington when you need to get to soccer practice, viola lessons, make dinner, help with homework, do the bedtime routine, write a presentation for work and get ready for the next day (laundry, lunches, processing mail/paperwork, making coffee, setting out kid clothes, looking at the insanely packed calendar and plotting out strategies to fit all these ‘very important’ things in) all after working a full day that starts 1-2 hours before leaving the house for the actual paid work. I was lucky if I had time to take a shower, let alone shave my legs.

 

COVID is teaching me that those things were NONSENSE. Who cares about soccer or practice or lessons? It’s not like my children were going to be professional sports stars or musicians. Why couldn’t the grocery stores provide healthy types of lunchables so I didn’t have to spend precious minutes daily and on the weekends preparing meals that weren’t going to cause diabetes or heart disease later in life. We have all the information, knowledge and technology there for those things, so why was I or anyone going crazy trying to keep up??? Why is more expected of women? It’s not said out loud but don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a woman out there who doesn’t know what I mean whether the men in their lives believe this or not.

 

This is the greatest nation in the world according to my education and the belief of the majority of Americans. I’m asking from a purely curious perspective… How is this U.S. capitalist thing working out for you?

 

I’m going to repeat what I wrote above:

 

Everyone’s saving’s is dwindling. Retirement (based on the stock market) is disappearing by the day. People are losing their healthcare and benefits. Our citizens would rather risk their lives and the lives of their brethren to go back to work for some cash BECAUSE they want to live and feed their families.

 

BUT shouldn’t they have made enough in living wages to be able to save for a rainy day? To have their retirement savings in a protected place that can’t just dissipate overnight? Shouldn’t our taxes cover more basic things that nearly every other developed country already has like healthcare, childcare, eldercare, maternity care and some reasonable time off???

 

Other countries have figured this out. Other countries that are NOT communist or socialist. First world developed countries with fewer homeless, no worry of mass shootings, and almost no worry about being put out on the street because their country was shut down for you know… a world wide pandemic.

 

This isn’t to be mocking. But if you obtained your education in the United States and have a high school diploma, you should be able to read these charts and link to these sites.

 

Poor living wages

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Lowest retirement benefits

 

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Healthcare Costs vs General Health

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Unaffordable child care

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Horrific vacation time

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The ONLY developed country without parental leave after birth (this one bothers me the most)

 

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If you still disagree and believe in our system and our version of unfettered capitalism… then I hope you aren’t one of the protesters because if everyone has an equal opportunity to make it if they try, then you should be trying a new job in a new type of economy? Why hang on to the dusty old illegitimate pre-COVID experience now?

 

I believe these protestors wouldn’t be on the streets believing COVID is a world-wide scam or a threat to their personal liberties if they weren’t worried about their livelihoods. Only desperation could possibly lead a rational human to believe that.  And how well is a governmental system really working if their citizens mistrust it so much that they are on the streets rallying against that government’s efforts to help them and save them from dying. If we are really a well organized first world country, we should be banding together as citizens with the government to find a more rational solution. One that doesn’t believe that those “other people” [insert party opposition(s) of your choice] don’t care, are heartless idiots or don’t want to work.

 

What I learned in my 26 years in the workforce working with data and Systems Redesign is that is not the people who are broken, but the system they are trying to work in that is broken.

 

It’s not us or them. It’s the system that is malfunctioning. Running back into the workplace at this moment will keep it broken AND risk overwhelming the healthcare system with too many people and too little resources. It’s time to look past the immediate needs of the moment and plan for a better tomorrow as a unified country. Demanding living wages, equality for women and minorities, and taxes that pay for meaningful benefits.