Posts Tagged ‘new normal’

My intention, this week, was to find something good about our current situation, a silver lining, if you will. I figured we could all use something hopeful, a spot of calm in troubled times, but then a series of quotes from Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) crossed my desk and I got completely derailed.

Regarding the House bill offering federally funded paid sick leave, Senator Johnson felt that:

“[This could lead to] incentivizing people to not show up for work . . . we have to keep things in perspective and we got to keep our economy.” (source)

Regarding the media reportage of COVID-19, his opinion is:

“COVID-19 [is] obviously devastating to somewhere between 1 and 3.4 percent of the population. But that means 97 to 99 percent will get through this and develop immunities and will be able to move beyond this. But we don’t shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die on the highways. It’s a risk we accept so we can move about. We don’t shut down our economies because tens of thousands of people die from the common flu.” (source)

I don’t say this often, and I don’t say it lightly, but I say it now and I sincerely mean it:

Senator Ron Johnson: Fuck You.

First, your opinion of Americans and our work ethic is appalling, and in complete contradiction to facts on the ground. The American worker has been steadily increasing productivity for decades, while real wage growth has been flat. We have a fair portion (8%, in 2013, according to the Census Bureau) who work more than one job, a figure the “gig economy” has only made worse. And while every population has a segment that would shirk, if given the chance, America has the fifth highest productivity level in the world. I wonder that your hard-working Wisconsin constituency doesn’t take this as a direct insult to their character.

Second, while you are correct in that COVID-19 only kills 1–3.4% of its victims, let’s put that into perspective. It’s a good bit higher than the “tens of thousands” who die of flu or in traffic accidents. In fact, as experts predict, if we see a 70% infection rate in this country, that’s 150 million people with the flu. At a one-percent mortality rate, that’s 1.5 million deaths. That’s almost more than all the people who die of the flu, accidents, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease combined.

Please explain to me how we’re going to “keep our economy” without interruption or effect when half of us are laid up with COVID-19. Please explain to me why this is “a risk we accept so we can move about,” when these deaths are not just numbers on a page, but our spouses, partners, parents, and children. Please explain how your intentional downplaying of the dangers, the risks, and the tragedy that comes with your failure to act helps us “to keep things in perspective.”

Senator Ron Johnson, do us all a favor: Sit down and shut the fuck up.



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