Governor Kristi Noem says we “should” think innovatively and entrepreneurially; I’m happy to oblige.
The Republican-controlled Senate is having trouble getting its poop in a group on tackling the current public health and economic crisis.
The government could train America’s newly unemployed to sanitize hospital equipment or to deliver food to the elderly and the immune-compromised. Child care for hospital workers on the front lines is desperately needed. Through a new public works program, corps of people could carry out infection control in nursing homes and other high-risk facilities — or workers of all kinds could be taught how best to protect themselves. There could even be a network of individuals tasked with making phone calls to combat loneliness for people in nursing homes and prisons while they’re unable to receive visitors [editorial, “Stop Saying That Everything Is Under Control. It Isn’t,” New York Times, 2020.03.17].
A new Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps could respond to the current public health crisis; it could also invest its sweat and toil in longer-term action for the health of the entire country and planet:
In cities, the formerly jobless could get to work making coastlines more resilient against future storms and floods. Tending community gardens in dense city areas could help alleviate the urban heat-island effect. And federally hired workers in the South could plant mangrove trees along the water, protecting against erosion as they suck up carbon dioxide, as part of a broader push to plant those Trillion Trees the Trump administration seems so keen on. Workers in the Permian Basin could clean up and reclaim decommissioned rig sites as nature preserves. There’s a multitude of ways we could employ workers to make agriculture more resilient to increasing temperature fluctuations—while simultaneously making it emit less, or even turning it into a carbon sink [Kate Aronoff, “Green Jobs Are the Answer to the Coronavirus Recession,” The New Republic, 2020.03.18].
We may need to mail everyone making under six figures a coronavirus check for immediate economic support. But for long-term economic stability, we need to keep people working. Come on, Senators Thune and Rounds: act like Republicans! Quit haggling over your current insufficient recession-response package, pass it to the White House, and get to work on the real deal, the New New Deal, in which you invest our precious resources in paying Americans to do more than buy price-gouging toilet paper, to instead learn, work, and build a better America.