Protect people’s health and well-being as Covid vaccine arrives
Written by: John G. on 29 April 2021
As Covid-19 vaccines roll-out and border isolation services resemble dykes with odd leaks, business and some parliamentary leaders and business bosses call for people to ‘learn to live with the virus’.
The pandemic crisis has entered a new phase, with business and government attempting to go on the attack to assert business interests against the people’s.
In this phase big business and its government target overcoming the people’s achievements in protecting health and economic well-being across the country.
They work to remove restrictions protecting health that interfere with business operations and profits. They have started to remove government supports that have kept people in jobs and out of poverty, and small businesses in operation despite dire conditions continuing to strike people in many sectors, like parts of tourism and university education.
Plans to open up international travel, limit Covid safe restrictions to a bare minimum, bring in vaccine ‘passports’ to unrestricted travel and activity, are touted amidst calls for there to be ‘balance’ between health and economic concerns.
The community is scolded by advocates from the Prime Minister to Ansett boss Alan Joyce and for widespread concern to protect people’s health. We are told to ‘learn to live with the virus’.
What they really mean is ‘learn to die with the virus’. They are happy to take risks with our health so they can return to ‘normal’ operations and profits.
They pursue steps away from protecting people’s health and economic well-being. They push for acceptance of people becoming sick as outbreaks become the norm, and we again see people dying as well as the growth of poverty and intensifying economic crisis as government support is taken away.
Business and government want profit-making including government austerity to shake off the shackles people have demanded and achieved to protect people’s health and well-being.
In the process of controlling the virus, with elimination of community transmission despite Federal government resistance, restrictions on people’s interactions have become less necessary. The virus has been eliminated in the community outside of border isolation centres, treating hospitals and sporadic outbreaks.
It is a triumph of democracy. The people and their interests have generally led the way until now. It is a remarkable achievement of the people’s struggle, with support and guidance from medical scientists, against Federal Government, big business, sectoral advocates and a number of people drawn into anti-scientific frauds.
It is not a time to drop our guard as medical experts and the economically battered attest.
Reject business calls for people to ‘Learn to die with the virus’.
The situation in Australia and the world generally is characterised by volatile economic and social conditions
As the Covid-19 pandemic hit, economic crises and failures of the domestic capitalist system’s governments at various levels saw government and big business vacillation. Their system of neoliberal economic (ir)rationalism, imperialist globalization and exploitative greed unravelled in floods of unemployment, poverty, food queues, small-business collapses, unpaid rent and mortgages.
People were devastated and as they came to grips with what was happening. People were outraged.
Here, Federal Government leaders were poorly placed to stand against people’s emerging demands for protection from the virus and support as the capitalist system of employment was crumbling for 5 and a half million Australian workers, 40 odd per cent of the workforce.
Those leaders had failed in their responses to the catastrophic fires of 2019-20, faced a crisis in the aged care system, had been exposed for false accusations and abuses of impoverished social welfare recipients in the Robo-debt scandal. They oversaw and stood accused of various corrupt rorts in a wave of electoral opportunism. They stood exposed while 4 in 10 Australian workers faced the devastation of unemployment, with many just one payday from poverty and homelessness.
They baulked at the outrage that welled up amongst the hopelessness facing the working class and small business.
The fear of the people’s wrath at the collapse of their system in the face of the epidemic spurred their opportunist hides into actions inconceivable in their neoliberal-small government, surplus budget, government-debt free ideology.
Trillions were spent propping up the failing system. Government opened its vaults and borrowed trillions. Federal Government spending on supports for people and small business amounted to $250 billion last year. It amounted to about 12% of economic output in Australia. More was spent on big business with hundreds of millions handed to banks, airlines, and others in addition to JobKeeper payments. JobKeeper support went to business, sustaining millions in the workforce.
Unemployed social security payments going to a third of the workforce were more than doubled to be above the poverty level for the first time in living memory. Banks were handed $120 million in exchange for suspending small business and mortgage loan repayments. Housing evictions were to an extent banned and rent reductions flagged though generally only partially implemented. Laws criminalising trading while insolvent were suspended to allow small business to continue through difficulties.
Queues at Centrelink and food handouts were slashed.
The Covid-19 pandemic emergency, the job crisis of March-April 2020, the fire, flood and storm disasters of 2019-2020 have exposed intensified contradictions within Australia.
As the first panic of the crisis faded in the middle of 2020, tensions blew up between imperialist determination to maintain production for profit with their catchcry of ‘learning to live with the virus’ and the people’s determined action to look after people’s health and well-being, rejecting ‘learning to die with the virus’ for the profit system. It found expression in support for state government leaders standing against Federal Government demands.
Commonwealth /State Government tensions were driven to unseen heights by the people’s demands to protect the people. Neoliberal austerity policy was thrown to the dustbin by some of its greatest advocates under the demands for people’s economic well-being to be secured in the new conditions demanded by the people.
Tensions in Australia reflect the world situation
Contradictions between the imperialist powers and oppressed nations have intensified in the pandemic. The major imperialist powers have exercised vaccine monopolisation, enforcing intellectual property rights to restrict use of technology in vaccine and medicine production to the big imperialist pharmaceutical monopolies, imposing monopoly pricing on vaccines and medicines.
Not only poor nations of the third world have been affected. Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and many European countries find themselves denied deliveries of vaccines as the US, and the UK monopolise them. Even French and German access has been limited.
Meanwhile the virus rages and has reached new heights in many parts of the globe, particularly in developing countries, India is a terrible tragedy, joining Brazil in the authorities’ neglect of the people’s health. New waves of disease have hit many countries including Indonesia and New Guinea. The virus is penetrating areas Covid free for the last year like Fiji’s recent outbreak. Many countries are seeing new waves of growing case numbers and death while they scramble to loosen the imperialist powers hold on vaccines.
At the same time people are scrambling for necessities of life. Poverty stalks the globe. Improvements in people’s economic situation achieved this century are being lost in many parts of the globe. It is not unusual to see countries’ economic output down 10% for the year. IN India the PEW research Centre has estimated 32 million been driven from the middle class into hand -to-mouth existence last year. How many more have had their improvement taken from them as the present wave of disease and death besieges South Asia.
All this has alarmed people across the globe.
The basic contradictions of imperialism are sharpened. Contradictions between the people particularly the working class and significant sections of small business, and the imperialist rulers of the country and their government administration stand out. Among imperialist powers themselves, there are contradictions notably between the US on one side and China allied to Russia on the other, as well as tensions between the US and Europe, which Biden is striving to ease. The Covid crisis with its health and economic aspects, including vaccine hoarding and enormous debt burdens, sees tensions between the imperialist powers and oppressed nations rise to new heights.
It leaves the world more volatile. It recalls the developments around the wave of struggle in the wake of the Dot-Com and global financial crises with the Arab Spring, the Occupy Movement and many other outbursts of people’s struggle. People’s resistance to capitalist attacks in past crises found its feet over time, maturing over a period of 18 months to two years.
People resist attacks on health and well-being
People generally are alert to the dangers and yearn for people’s health to be protected, and their economic well-being to be secured. The attacks by business and government confront widespread resistance.
The response is straightforward: protect people’s health and well-being.
Keep people healthy, in jobs, small businesses operating, support hard hit sectors like tourism and universities, ease the burden on families and single parents with free childcare, more support of aged care, and keep people out of poverty by restoring the full welfare supplement.
Times of great tensions are times of great changes and struggle.
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