The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the ever-worsening divide between the ultra-wealthy and everyone else. While the class divides that threaten global political stability have existed long before the pandemic broke out in early 2020, the ramifications of the disease and the worldwide response to it have illuminated just how large the division has become between different classes.
In this article, we’ll discuss how COVID-19 has exposed rampant inequality in the West and, indeed, throughout the world and how it threatens to make the conflict even worse.
“Essential” vs “Non-Essential”
While the concept of maximizing social distancing through the forced closure of all “non-essential” businesses – i.e. businesses that are deemed to not be absolutely necessary to human survival – is a good idea from a scientific standpoint, it has disastrous implications for class relations.
How does an employee or a small business owner feel to learn that they are “non-essential.” Is there income not essential to their own well-being and that of their families?
To make matters worse, the government has done little to help workers and small business owners as they struggle through the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. In fact, the coming financial pain of the working class may exceed the pain experienced nearly a century ago.
Bailouts for the Wealthy, Peanuts for the Masses
Congress recently passed, and US President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion giveaway to big business while leaving the average person with almost nothing to survive during the crisis.
So far, Americans have received a paltry $1,200 each from the federal government – in many areas, not even enough to make rent for a month.
The Poorest Have Lost Their Incomes
The hardest-hit sectors of the economy just happen to be the workplaces of the poorest Americans among us. Millions of Americans work minimum-wage jobs in stores and restaurants in the service sector, which has largely been shut down except for grocery stores, liquor stores, and other “essential” businesses.
These service job workers already lived hand-to-mouth before the crisis, simply making ends meet on a paycheck-to-paycheck basis. Now, with no work and little help from the government, they find themselves in a terrible financial position.
The ways in which social inequality is set to worsen due to the fallout from the pandemic are only beginning to be fully understood. It is not a stretch to speculate that we may see riots on the streets shortly if the plight of the working poor is not addressed.