Statement on the Coronavirus Pandemic Response
Comrades and Fellow Workers,
This time of disruption is unlike anything most of us have ever experienced. We urge everyone to remain calm and to take care of comrades, family, friends and neighbors. Now more than ever we need solidarity. The COVID-19 pandemic has produced, and will continue to produce, a multitude of different kinds of needs and vulnerabilities. Before it ends, many of us will be affected in one way or another, and only the support of our communities will get us through.
The devastating shortages of essential medical supplies and testing components in the wake of the COVID-19 virus outbreak lays bare the fraud of both the U.S. ruling establishment’s ‘national security’ budget priorities and the allocative efficiency of the capitalist economic order. Just three months after approving a $738 billion appropriation for the Pentagon, the US capitalist parties now preside over a cataclysm of rationed ventilators, healthcare workers reliant on homemade face masks, and millions of laid-off workers facing impending loss of health insurance coverage at the very time of greatest need for medical care.
With near unanimous approval from both the Democratic and the Republican parties, the US congress has responded to the crisis with a massive corporate bailout encompassing a $500 billion general slush fund for the largest banks and Wall Street firms, while comparatively providing only a mere third of that amount for hospitals, equipment, food assistance, and other public services. So-called stimulus payments to individuals are no more than a cost-saving device meant to blunt the sharper edges of a potentially crippling economic depression.
As the second such Wall Street bailout in little over a decade, the ruling establishment has dispensed with any concealment of the fact that the modern epoch of late capitalism is held together by a framework of social insurance for the ruling class and brute austerity for the working class. Whatever may befall those who work for a living, any interruption to the realization of surplus value through the standard process of labor exploitation is assured to be compensated from the share accumulated by the public treasury.
As with the looming climate crisis, the prevention of catastrophic casualties and economic collapse in the wake of disasters of such scale necessitates the working class’s wresting of political power and establishment of a democratically planned economy with production and investment tailored to consumer use and sustainability, rather than maximizing the quarterly profits of an oligarchic stratum with no independent regard for emergency preparedness or public welfare.
Of most immediate urgency in responding to the present pandemic, we demand:
• Complete nationalization of the U.S. healthcare system, pharmaceutical industry, and major producers of medical and personal protection equipment. Universal testing and free medical treatment for all in need, and direct coordination of resources between all hospitals and medical care facilities. Any vaccine and pharmaceutical treatments for COVID-19 must be made freely available worldwide without patents.
• Closure of all non-essential workplaces for the duration of the outbreak with full pay for all workers affected. Mandatory issuance of personal protection equipment, hazard pay, and 100% worker-retention of all business profits for all workers in essential industries. Universal paid sick leave and quarantine leave at full wages or salary.
• Suspension and voidance of all rent, mortgage, household utility, internet service, and mobile carrier service payment obligations for the duration of the public health crisis.
• Requisition of hotels and unoccupied buildings for conversion into both hospital facilities and emergency housing units for the homeless and residents of high-risk dwellings.
• Termination of the crippling economic sanctions on Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, and other countries. Cancellation of all debt owed by developing countries and elimination of all structural adjustment programs imposed on borrowing countries. Redirection of the military budget to the coronavirus response and economic security for the working class and unemployed.
• Release of all immigration detainees, nonviolent prisoners, and prisoners awaiting trial. Halt all raids, arrests, and field investigations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
• Nationalization of Amazon and all major firms receiving public bailout funds for economic stabilization.
Passed by the National Committee April 11, 2020