Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

COVID-19 is a class issue

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This useful article argues that the Irish Government needs to call off the March 17 St Patricks’s Festival in Ireland, where hundreds of thousands of people will gather together, and spread the CoronaVirus, which will bring down many people with CoVid-19 Illness.

The failure to take any of these measures could be disastrous. Not only would it leave our entire society vulnerable to the spread of infection due to working people having no choice but to work, but it would leave the most vulnerable in our society hanging out to dry whilst depriving us of an absolutely essential resource for fighting this crisis – healthy frontline medical staff. The price of putting profit above people is simply too high.

Change the system

It is a price that would, firstly, be a product of government inaction in order to protect the interests of the capitalist establishment it represents, but the ultimate cause would be the severe neglect and abuse of our health service, already stretched thin. In South Korea, where they have 12 beds per 1000 people, they are running short on beds due to the spread of the virus. Ireland has 3 beds per 1000 people – the numbers speak for themselves.

Now is the time to start taking the necessary action of establishing a single-tier universal healthcare service: where the most vulnerable in our society are taken care of, that is properly staffed and properly funded, with enough beds and free to access. In that process we need to take the private hospitals into public ownership.

The public health crisis is impacting the entire planet, and already we are seeing significant economic impacts starting in China and rippling outwards, potentially leading to a global economic crisis. The Eurozone, of which Ireland is a part, is already projected to enter into a very deep recession. It has been reported that upwards of 30-50% of the Irish population is likely to get sick (Sunday Business Post, 8 March 2020) and 40 to 70% of the global population within a year, which would be akin to a huge global general strike. Profits would massively fall, causing panic in the markets and likely capital flight. 

In this case, we must stand utterly opposed to any and all job losses, pay cuts, or attacks on conditions which the establishment will attempt to impose on us in the aftermath of the crisis. If businesses claim that these are necessary measures, we must absolutely reject that logic. They must open the books, and if they are unable to continue operating then they should be taken into democratic public ownership.

The crisis created by COVID-19 is a symptom of a fundamentally sick capitalist system. If we want to head off the worst effects of the crisis and protect ourselves into the future, the system must go.
— Read on www.letusrise.ie/featured-articles/covid-19-is-a-class-issue

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