COVID-19 is a crisis of public health. But it is also one of labor, housing, care, education, the carceral system and our environment. It is a crisis of a system that already failed to deliver safety and health for a majority of Americans.
Working-class people, already in crisis, will suffer the worst effects of the pandemic and our economic collapse. Last year, the Federal Reserve surveyed Americans and found that 40 percent—140 million people—would have trouble coming up with $400 in an emergency. COVID-19 is that emergency, and it has brought millions more into crisis. More and more people are being asked to come up with money they don’t have: for nursing home stays, medical bills, rent, food. More and more people are being asked to make choices among essential goods—even when they need all of them to survive.
Covid-19 is also an opportunity. Some features of the recovery plan have delivered versions of what organizers have wanted for decades: Expanded unemployment compensation; guaranteed paid leave; government reimbursements for hospitals treating uninsured patients; moratoriums on evictions; the accelerated release of elderly and juvenile prisoners. All of these, however insufficient to meet current and future demands, are signals that the government can do what we always wanted it to do. We could have always kept people in their homes; we could have always freed our people. We need to discern these signals from the noise around them—to turn those brief flares into durable sources of light.
As candidates for the Pennsylvania state legislature, we have heard from our future constituents about their needs. As organizers, we have also worked for years with social movements that have sought to lay the groundwork for an equitable and sustainable future. This platform draws on both kinds of work: we are amplifying the needs of our constituents and the demands raised by organizations such as Put People First–PA, Amistad Law Project, Abolitionist Law Center, and the Our City Our Schools coalition. It is a response to what we need now, and it is a plan to guarantee and save our future.
Love, health, solidarity,
Rick Krajewski & Nikil Saval