Coronavirus and the Fragility of the U.S. Economy

Nancy Folbre
29 March 2020

The Roosevelt Institute organized a twitter chat on Friday, March 29th and invited me to participate, along with about twenty other people (under the hashtag #ProgressingAhead).

As a twitter newbie I found it a bit chaotic, like a video game I’d never played before. But the melee did help me clarify my thinking on some big issues. The first question they posted: “In striking ways, the #COVID19 crisis has exposed the fragility of the US economy and the immense power disparities built into our social contract. How is this fragility showing up in the ways that #coronavirus is affecting our economy?

My three tweets in response:

Extreme inequality reduces the supply of trust and solidarity. Pandemic increases the demand for trust and solidarity. Market forces can’t resolve this mismatch, and market-centric economics misleads.  Similar problem with climate change…

No good deed goes unpunished. Altruism is compulsory for some, optional for others.Care workers become cannon fodder. The commander-in-chief praises their bravery and assures them they are going to win the war because he is such a great leader.

Women represent a disproportionate share of both paid and unpaid care workers. They are often the caregivers of last resort. And they don’t generally charge by the value of the unit of care provided. And we wonder why they make less money than men?

The last question:

“How do we make changes—both in the immediate response to #coronavirus and the long-term recovery—that build toward economic resiliency and inclusivity once the economy and health crises stabilize?”

My final response:

Build trust and solidarity, bring inequalities based on gender, race, ethnicity and citizenship into the policy discussion, strengthen progressive coalitions.

I won’t share other people’s responses here because that feels like appropriation–but there were a lot of good ones. You can find them on Twitter if you search on the hashtag #ProgressingAhead.

One comment on "Coronavirus and the Fragility of the U.S. Economy"

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    Kim Weinstein

    Love your responses and the illustration!

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