COVID-19 — Do more than wash your hands

Pamela L. Gay, Ph.D.
9 min readMar 4, 2020

As I watch the COVID-19 virus boil up in hotspots scattered around the globe, I look around at the US and realize that 40 years of presidential economic decisions that favour profit over people have set us up to struggle as a nation. From lack of affordable health care, to lack of major factories we can repurpose to fit current needs, we have set ourselves up to see people avoid doctors and spread disease while our health systems are crippled by lack of basic goods and equipment. These issues have their source in Reagan’s deregulation of healthcare and the economics of Clinton. To get through the coming COVID-19 outbreaks, we must do more than just wash our hands; we must prepared to help one another when social systems fail us.

A hand washing station in an abandoned building.
credit Tama66

Back when I started college in 1992, I was an international relations major in James Madison College at Michigan State University. As part of our election-year course work we read the latest books by Paul Krugman and Robert Reich, respectively Bush & Clinton’s economic advisors. This had 3 out-of-the-classroom effects on me. The first impact was perhaps silly. I was so impressed by Paul Krugman’s book that the next time I was in Boston visiting my boyfriend at MIT, I emailed Krugman to ask to meet. He was heading off on a trip himself, but we overlapped at Boston Logan airport. We met in the terminal, he signed my book & we talked econ. The second impact was life changing. I discovered I hated understanding economics — understanding that what is best for the rich also destroys the working class — that I switched to astrophysics. Yes folks, the fact that it is beneficial for a factory to kill rather than maim drove me to astronomy. The third impact is the one that is actually relevant here. In reading these books, I decided that my 18 year old, Massachusetts democrat, socialism-loving self was going to vote for Bush because I wanted to live in Paul Krugman’s economy instead of Reich’s. We didn’t get to see Paul Krugman’s 2nd-term future. Clinton won.

The thing that terrified me about Reich’s book, “The Work of Nations,” was a call to offshore industry to other nations and transform our nation into what would today be called a nation of thought-leaders. In his vision, we would innovate, lead, and industry would go elsewhere. His argument was, we needed to increase the education of our population & if we are…

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Pamela L. Gay, Ph.D.

Astronomer, technologist, & creative focused on using new media to engage people in learning and doing science. Opinions & typos my own.