Surviving the Pandemic: A Rant

Since we're in the midst of a global pandemic, I figured I should write my thoughts on it. This is a strange moment in world history that I hope we'll all never experience again, so keeping some record seemed prudent for future me to look back on.

Working from Home

It's day ? of working from home. Yup, I've already lost track of the days. I started working from home a handful of days before my company asked us all to do it as well, so I think it's been about three weeks? All the days blend together now.

Maybe it's a good thing I'm not keeping track. My mind has embraced this "new normal" of working from my apartment.

I will say, working remote is difficult if you're not set up for it. I'm in a 309 square foot studio apartment right now, so there's little space to work with. My desk was already pretty packed, so it took some re-arraigning of everything in my apartment and expanding the desk (it has "wings" that can swing up) to its full size.

And now that I got a new plant today (I realized I needed some nature in my house to stay sane. More plants will definitely follow!)

My current desk setup

So now that I'm set up at home, working feels pretty normal. It's not much different than working from an office. The thing I miss most is being in the physical presense of people. The random conversations that happen throughout the day when you pass by friends and co-workers now have to be a deliberate effort in the online WFH space.

Worrying About the World

If you know me, you know I wear my heart on my sleeve. Seeing all the suffering caused by the pandemic, both physically and economically, really gets to me. I've made sure to turn down my news consumption, because things keep getting worse.

And I can't do anything about it. Well, I can't do anything more than continue to "socially distance".

A silver lining of this whole thing is that I am performing a civic duty for playing video games, reading, programming, or snoozing at home!

But other than staying home, I can't help. My skillset as a programmer is more or less useless, outside of contributing to some COVID-19 reporting projects, but all the websites with that information I voraciously consume about the virus already exist.

So I just chill at home, reading books, learning new programming languages, and playing a lot of video games (like Animal Crossing, which came out at the perfect time!).

Acknowledging my privilege hurts. My life is fine, outside of a little bit of new loneliness, but so many are facing the worst times of their life. I didn't do much to deserve the cushy life I have right now. I can do my job from home. I get paid enough to live comfortably in one of the more expensive cities in the US. I am not currently worried about losing my job (although we'll see how things develop over the next few months!)

But then I see the numbers of people losing their job (3.3 million just applied for unemployment benefits!), and with the average person not being able to handle a $1,000 emergency, we are not prepared for this as a country.

I constantly have a rage smoldering inside for the policies and laws that enabled us to reach this point.

For example, since we've tied healthcare to our jobs, all these folks being let go in the service industry will now lose the very thing that would economically protect them if they got the very virus they lost their jobs over!

It's absolutely bonkers.

I can't believe we haven't joined the civilized world in guaranteeing healthcare as a human right. We should go further, and introduce an economic bill of rights that guarantees housing, healthcare, food, and even internet acceess for all. In a modern society, we shouldn't be gatekeeping the foundational benefits of living in a society.

Right now people are literally making the decision to go to work sick or be unable to buy groceries next week. And a lot of those people are the ones making our food, cleaning our buildings, or facilitating other in-person services.

Do you want to get sick because someone was forced to come to work in order to feed their family? Or would you rather we have guaranteed paid sick leave so sick people will stay home while sick, and flatten the curve so fewer people die.

Even from an economic incentive perspective, making healthcare part of compensation reduces worker power to move to new jobs that they might excel at even more than their current one. Imagine the prosperity we could unlock if we allowed for a more fluid and free workforce! Removing healthcare from the equation would allow more people to find the jobs that fit them best, increasing productivity and job satisfaction.

And what happens for people who need treatment for COVID-19? It's gonna cost a ton, especially for severe cases. We will save people's lives, but then burden them with the weight of un-payable debt. It's asinine. People will literally forgo regular medical visits (which keep you healthy!) because they can't afford them, which leads to worse, more expensive health outcomes down the line.

We need universal health care now. We needed it 50 years ago when many of our allies were setting up similar systems.

COVID-19 is laying bare all the failings of our country.

I truly hope we wake up as a nation and learn from this tragedy. Right now, we all need to get through this together, but just as importantly, we need to consider the type of world we want to live in when this is all over. Hopefully it's one full of compassions towards individuals, and not, as MLK Jr. put it, our current system of socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for the poor.

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