#QuarantinedThoughts — Irony

My first experience of receiving universal income will be in the United States. Now isn’t it — as Alanis might say — Ironic?

I’m among the millions of Americans waiting for a check from the Federal Government, although I have tried to give them my bank details since I’m really not keen on having Donald Trump’s autograph, as much as that might be hard for him to believe.

For so many years I’ve struggled to explain to baffled Yankees the fact that Socialism does not equate to a penchant for burning money, eating children, and curtailing all their cherished liberties such as eating fried foods, watching endless adverts on television, or even owning a gun.

But it did mean — and they could never really quite wrap their head around this — that if and when I got sick, my first thought was unlikely to be “how much is that going to cost me?” There’s a very good reason why the Breaking Bad plot only works in this country…

And if I really wanted to mess with their heads, I told them about the conversations I’d had with some friends in Finland, about the reasoning behind the idea that you could/should provide every citizen with a certain amount of money — enough to meet their essential needs — pretty much with no strings attached, but perhaps excluding the very rich.

Which is exactly the solution America’s come up with to stop the country collapsing under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic and the economic shut down that followed.

Funnily enough, I don’t see that much brandishing of pitchforks against that “free money” either. Which makes me wonder if this crisis might actually prove to be a catalyst to finally shake up what passes for a healthcare system in this country.

The argument against it might be that there won’t be any money left in the kitty to set anything like that up, specially after COVID-19 is finished wreaking havoc among the population and finally runs its course.

On the other hand, the National Health Service was born in a post-war Britain, at a time when rationing was still in place and the country was in ruins. It was born out of a desire to build a worthwhile foundation for a better society among its ashes.

Decades later, this same NHS is saving the United Kingdom, making a real difference in the country’s ability to respond to the pandemic. It’s not perfect, by any means, but it is still light years ahead in terms of standard of care from what most Americans could hope to afford.

Who knows, perhaps a more equitable society might rise from the fundamental disruption that this nation will face. Socialism in the true sense of the word — not some 1984 brand of Communism, but simply a fairer distribution of wealth in society that does not see nearly half of all the country’s wealth going to 1 percent of the population, and 90 percent of families share out only one quarter of that pie. Stranger things have happened, and it’s likely to get curiouser and curiouser before we’re allowed out of the house once again.

#QuarantinedThoughts is a random series of ramblings and reflections brought about by a mild case of cabin fever. The author currently resides in an Oregon field with her bewildered British husband and “The Red Headed League” a family of Staffordshire Bull Terriers named after Sherlock Holmes characters.

Technology writer for FastCo, Quartz, The Next Web, Ars Technica, Wired + more. Consultant specializing in VR #MixedReality and Strategic Communications

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