The late economist Milton Friedman said, “Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.”
Friedman’s idea has been capitalized (good word in this instance) on to force policies that shift more power and wealth to the powerful and wealthy, with little benefit for, and often harm to, those truly in need (as well-documented in Naomi Klein’s “Disaster Capitalism”).
The late philosopher Fred Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ ”
The federal government proposes massive spending to address the economic fallout from COVID-19.
Let’s hope it favors Mr. Rogers (helping the people in need) over Mr. Friedman (providing another megadose of corporate welfare).
We can also hope that this crisis becomes a catalyst for many progressive changes. It has already proved the need for major health care reform and for a renewed respect for science in public policy.
Another idea that is “just lying around” is the Green New Deal — well, we can hope.