Jamala Rogers

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed shameful corruption while most of us are fighting to defend ourselves from the deadly virus and maintain our households. We are seeing untold corporate and government power-grabbing. The theft of our tax dollars under the guise of support for working families and small businesses has proven to be a farce. With one week left in the Missouri legislature, the conservation forces are slashing and burning anything that doesn’t jibe with their agenda. 

This is why we must keep both eyes wide open—one on our personal situation and the other on their politricking. There’s still work to be done even as we shelter in place.

Congress has passed three separate coronavirus-relief packages at a total cost of more than $2 trillion. The CARES Act was supposed to pump $1.8 trillion into the economy by giving directly to individuals and small businesses. It was touted as the largest stimulus package in U.S. history. The first round of stimulus was the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP). Billions were sucked up by big corporations such as Shake Shack and the Los Angeles Lakers. Shake Shack was shamed into returning its $10 million. 

How these giants got their grubby hands on money targeted for small businesses demands an answer. This most immediate one is that Congress is taking care of its buddies. Small businesses are still struggling, and some will not survive the pandemic.

The Republican agenda has attacked social programs, reproductive rights, worker protections, small farmer security and political empowerment. It has divested our tax dollars from these programs to investment in corporate welfare in the form of abatements, subsidies, and other benefits at our expense.

If it was muddled before COVID-19, we can now see the advantages of having economic and social safety nets in place. Food stamps have been a Republican favorite for reduction of funds and an increase in restrictive eligibility requirements. Families desperately need this benefit now.

Medicaid supporters recently turned in over 350,000 signatures to get Medicaid Expansion on the November ballot. It would’ve been a great help right about now for many Missouri families in dealing with medical needs. 

In the last decade, Missouri has lost four of its five abortion clinics due to conservatives’ desire to control women’s bodies. Their plan is to drive all such clinics out of the state despite the fact the access to safe abortions is a law. They’re on a roll if we don’t stop them now.

The most sickening attempt of the Missouri Legislature comes in the form of destroying Amendment 1, a ballot initiative passed overwhelming by voters in 2018 to ensure fairness in the redistricting process and transparency in lobbying efforts.

Somehow, some way the people of Missouri must rise up and challenge the unjust, unethical and unfair measures that are being pushed through while we are pre-occupied with COVID-19. The Republicans don’t shame easily so we must be bold and creative in our collective responses to them.

What we must avoid at all costs facing a new world rife with restrictions on every aspect of our lives once the dust settles from the virus. This will not be the first time Republicans have re-arranged society during a disaster. We must be equally as savvy to maintain our ground and to advance an agenda that takes care of citizens in sickness and in health. This is our social contract as a civilized society.

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