The OH SNAP of 18% Unemployment in the Age of COVID-19

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Masks. Social Distancing. Neighbors yelling salutations across cul de sacs and apartment hallways. Grocery shopping in one direction. No gatherings of more than 10 people. Arbitrary rules in an unprecedented moment. As Thomas Paine declared, “these are the times that try men’s souls” (and all the genders sheltering at home).

Thanks to the COVID-19 response, civil liberties violations increase daily, but most people, in fear of their health or the health of others, are playing nice with the US experiment in totalitarianism as governors shut down businesses, ban elective medical procedures, close parks, schools and hiking trails, mandate shelter at home and threaten criminal charges on violators. 22 million people have lost jobs. Unemployment is set to reach 18%. The Federal Reserve reports the largest industrial production decline since the end of WWII. …


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Pearl Harbor, 12/7/1941

In an address to Congress on December 8th, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt described December 7th as “a date which will live in infamy.” The decimation of the US Naval fleet at Pearl Harbor led Congress to declare war against Japan and within days, Japan and its allies, Germany and Italy, were at war with the United States. For the next four years, the US fought European fascism on one front and Japanese imperialism on the other in a world war that ended when Truman ushered in the Atomic Age by dropping the A-Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On the same day as Roosevelt’s speech, prominent American folklorists deployed to the streets to capture immediate reactions to the bombing at Pearl Harbor. Alan Lomax, the head of the Library of Congress Archive of American Folk Song, sent a telegram to colleagues around the nation to ask “the man on the street” about their reactions to the attack. Ordinary people from housewives to janitors expressed fear, outrage and super patriotism about the attack on the home front. Six months later, the newly formed Office of War Information- a propaganda agency of the government- capitalized on this public sentiment, publishing pictures and materials that celebrated American patriotism. …


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The events of 1/6/2021 were incredibly horrible. Desecration and destruction of the United States Capitol is unacceptable. Period. The history and tradition embedded in the monuments and buildings make it sacrosanct to all who love this constitutional republic.

But, to all those holier than thou media talking heads, political leaders and pundits espousing the virtues of democracy and lamenting “this is not who we are as a nation,” quit with the false piety. Guess what? It is who we are. Protesters have been desecrating public monuments for months, so why the outrage now? Has defunding the blue made such a rapid impact that even the United States Capitol is vulnerable? And democracy? Twitter suspends DJTs account…CNN proposes the removal of Fox News from cable providers…Parler removed from Apple- This is democracy? …


The Economic Impact of a Plague

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Giacomo Borlone de Buschis, La Danse Macabres

Bizarre how pandemics alter the universe.

Exhibit A: The United States, April 2020
*Exhibit B: The US, September 2020

*A: The price of crude oil = negative $37.63/barrel
*B: September= roughly $43/barrel

*A: US total deaths from COVID-19 =17,229
*B: September=177,177

*A: US unemployment = 18%
*B: September=8.4%

*A: US debt = $25 trillion, 115% of GDP
*B: September=$26.7 trillion, 153% of GDP

If economic forces are the foundation of human action, YIKES. Trump’s suggestion to “Just stay calm. It will go away” is not reassuring.The question is when- and if- the economy will return in the aftermath of this nightmare virus. Despite the bleak state of the Union, history offers lessons about the impact of pandemics on the economic fabric of a society. …


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French scholar Michel Foucault captured the centrality of the body in the politics of oppression when claiming it as an “object and target of power, a field on which the hierarchies of power are displayed and inscribed.” Despite woman’s natural reproductive power, for most of western history a patriarchal culture appropriated the power over the female mind and body from women and dispossessed them of voice and control of their bodies. Only in the past fifty years have women in the United States gained political and social equality and control of the discourse about the female body. Both the power of choice and the freedom to express a feminist voice emerged out of centuries of activism. …


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Sadie Palmer Waters (1867–1900), Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, MO

In 1900 at the age of 33, Sadie Palmer Waters died in Versailles, France. A native of St. Louis, she lived in Paris from 1888 until her death as an American artist under the tutelage of Luc Olivier Merson. Merson, a French academic painter best known for his postage stamps and currency designs, was a member of the École des Beaux-Arts, and his influence shaped the style and acceptance of Sadie’s work. Her miniature portraits and illuminated, religious-themed paintings exhibited in Brussels, Paris, Ghent, London, New York, and in her hometown of St. Louis. …


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The death penalty. According to Amnesty International, 106 countries ban the death penalty, 8 allow it for war crimes, 28 allow it but have not killed a person in ten years and 56 retain active death penalty laws.

Globally, China is the master executioner, using the death penalty each year to kill thousands (the actual figure is unknown- it’s China). Iran is a few laps behind China with 250+ deaths and Saudi Arabia a distant third place, killing 184 people in 2019. Shocking? Yes, especially because only Iraq and Egypt finish ahead of #6, the United States of America.


A Cultural Fraction

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George Orwell said it best: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

America is a culture where people believe they can have what they want. If they fall on the right side of power, it’s possible. Scholar Lyn Weber argues race and gender as social systems that are “contextual power relationships…simultaneously expressed and experienced at both the macro level of social institutions and the micro level of individual lives.”

It is in the interaction of race and gender that reveals the socio-cultural and historical locations of power and oppressions.This is clear in the different cultural response to transgender versus transracial identity politics. Both are rooted in dysphoria, a state of dissatisfaction with the gender or racial identity aligned with the cultural prescriptions assigned to the biological and physiological characteristics exhibited at birth. Once a person expresses as transgender or transracial, the underlying genetics remain unchanged no matter the medical or psychological treatment. For example, if one identifies as male but genetically female, no matter the transition or surgical reassignment, DNA is unchanged. The same applies for transracial identity, but with accessible DNA tests, race is no longer bound by arbitrary categories like White, Black, Hispanic, Asian and so on. Genetic results can reveal a racial or ethnic make up that may not be visible. …


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Harvesting Tobacco (1941)

Art manifests the good, the bad and the ugly of history and humanity. The good can be in what is depicted, the bad in the origins and the ugly in the creator, with each of these aspects interchangeable. Art is subjective, and when context, intent, placement and purpose are viewed in isolation rather than as constitutive elements of a complex composite, art is often controversial.

Today, contests over the meaning and visibility of public art consume national attention. What is public art? Public art is any work of art purchased or created with public funds. During the New Deal — a watershed federal program implemented during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt- for the first time in United States history federally funded public art projects transformed public space across the nation. Federal money was dispensed to the states via New Deal programs and in one fell swoop, the expansion of federal power changed American politics. …


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Feminist icon Betty Friedan said, “Men are not the enemy, but the fellow victims. The real enemy is women’s denigration of themselves.” The war today is among women not against them. This is clear in the reaction to the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. On September 25th, 2020, The Nation labeled Barrett an extremist who ignored “the moral and ethical underpinnings of her faith when they conflict with the cruel requirements of conservative dogma.” A month later, minutes after her Senate confirmation, the National Organization of Women published a statement claiming Barrett as “groomed to overturn many of the important equality gains of the last 60 years”- namely the Affordable Care Act, abortion funding, LGBTQIA+ rights, and environmental protections. …

About

Mary Mac Ogden

Women are divided into two classes- those who are doing things and those who are not- Do something that makes you proud!

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