What is making us more sick, Corona or the pandemic of money?

Reflections while in quarantine

My wife received a phone call from her manager. “Where are you?” the manager said.

“I’m not coming back to work. Remember I told you Friday? You agreed by saying doing what is best for you. I filled out the health and safety forms and submitted my request to work from home. We have two teammates in our department diagnosed with Coronavirus. The office is not safe.” My wife responded.

“Well, you didn’t receive a phone call stating you can stay home and because of that I will have to input your time as leave without pay.” Her manager replied.

My wife works for the Internal Revenue Service. Her office made local Kansas City news last week for the lack of care the government is taking in respect to insuring the safety of employees. For several weeks the IRS headquarters in Kansas City has not had sufficient amounts of hand sanitizer or sanitation wipes. Regardless of several employees being diagnosed with the Coronavirus-19, the government is stating that employees have to report to duty, but some have the option to stay home if they fear for their safety, but will have to take leave without pay or use their sick and/or annual time.

Like so many others, my wife and I are nervous as to what the next few weeks are going to look like. If she was to report back to duty, would she contract virus because her job is displaying an indifference for her life? Me having a heart condition, if I contract COVID-19 how will our insurance respond? Her not going to work, leaving us less one income, will we be able to make our mortgage payment? Will we have enough money to buy food for a family of four? During last years sixty-day government shutdown, we went without that additional check — -an ordeal we are still financially rebounding from.

Fortunately, there is a lot of optimism right now and the best in many people is shining through; however, the systems vested with governing our society are failing. Whether it being business, financial sectors, healthcare, or government — -we are seeing the vulnerability and issues play out in real time. We are not prepared.

Being unprepared for such a global crisis may simply be because we never expected such a situation to happen, at least not at this level. But I believe the reason why this pandemic has swept the globe is because of the lack of unity as global citizens. When news first broke of COVID-19, I recall many people stating it was a problem in China. To this date, the President of the United States insist on calling it the “Chinese virus” — — displaying disrespect, racism, and xenophobia.

Our division as nations and lack of true cooperation is why we are ultimately suffering. But in the spirit of keeping it real, we were suffering as a global community long before #DaRona (black social media reference) showed up.

Stock markets crashing, stores closing their doors, students at every level are now to be home schooled and through this we are seeing the stark differences of social and economic class.

In the United States, the ultra rich are paying for private coronavirus lab test, taking private jets to secluded beach homes as an effort to escape the path of the virus, not realizing they may be spreading it further. They are hiring concierge doctors to monitor their health, and spending hundreds of dollars per day with private school headmasters assigned to tutor their children.

Maybe I am being a hater because I can’t afford such luxuries, but what I know is the rest of us are being denied test because our President rather protect the optics of his administration and self-interest versus doing what is best for his countrymen and the world.

The middle class who makes at least $100k in salary may be able to afford time off while things are being figured out. Those considered low income are being let go from their jobs. Come April 1st, nearly half a million Americans will likely still loose government assistance programs such SNAP during a time when they need it the most — -ultimately putting a large segment of Americans into a further spiral of struggle.

There is a strong indication that white people of America will have access to COVID-19 treatment, while black and brown people, who will likely be impacted the hardest, will not be able to receive treatment because they cannot afford it.

Financial stimulus and bailouts for industries is not going to be enough. While suspending mortgage payments, enacting foreclosure moratoriums, and halting accruing interest on loans is a nice gesture, what happens once life is normalized again? More people are going to be placed into an even worse financial burden as many entities are going to balloon payments.

The people who are let go from their jobs, will they be able to get a new job quickly? Likely not because we will be waist deep in yet another great recession. People in need of healthcare, will they be able to afford treatment or will they have to suffer because either their insurance doesn’t cover the cost or they are simply without the financial means to pay?

The 12 million or so children who do not have internet access at home or who may go hungry because they are not receiving breakfast and lunch from school anymore…what does their future have in store?

Civic leaders are scrambling to do their best to slow the pandemic in their direct communities, panic is setting in, and all the while there are a lot of people who will have very clean asses and another group who will wish they invested in a bidet.

At every fabric of our current civilization, someone is profiting off of another person’s need and/or misery.

The common denominator is money.

What if money was no longer an object? What if we no longer needed a job to pay for the basic necessities of life? What if everyone had access to quality shelter, safe communities, education, healthcare, food and water? When I say everyone, not just Americans, but the whole human race.

What if our dependence on money, control, and power were mitigated by providing universal access to all? Would this end hunger? Could it stop wars and modern day slavery? Would our global climate improve? Could this be the start to end hate and bigotry?

I truly believe so.

In the wake of this pandemic, our physical bodies are being challenged and our way of living is changing, but through it all I believe there is an opportunity for us to evolve our global society. We have a chance to do better. The only cost is to do away with the concept of money.

Money is not the root of all evil, our obsession with the power and control money offers is.

Money itself has no value, yet without it we currently cannot survive. In many parts of the world, if you want access to quality shelter, safer communities, food, medicine, clothing, even water…you have to buy it from someone or some entity. If you are not buying directly, you are paying a tax premium to have access to it. This was made the norm a long time ago.

While the concept of money has been around for about 3000 years, the modern capitalism movement is only 400–500 years old. It was during the 16th and 17th century that merchants thought it was a good idea to buy foreign good for cheap and sell them at a high mark to make a profit. During this time Great Britain was hungry for dominance and control so the nation set out and waged war on nearby countries in an effort to amass more money and control resources.

This system splintered the feudal trade markets of the time, creating the world as we know it today. Our current society is still ruled by the concept of absolute power and dominance being associated with wealth.

Today, wars are still fought over control of land, which always ties back to being in control of some natural resource that someone put a value to. Modern day slavery is taking place in regions of the world rich in coco beans, coffee, diamonds, and tea — -all for someone to profit from.

Money has a very real and permanent effect on how we coexist today. It influences the perceived value of a community and it’s desirability. Money impacts the health and safety of people and is the sole motivator that is leading to the extinction of wildlife and forests.

With the unprecedented rate of technology advancement, our knowledge and understanding of the world, and the various needs in communities across the globe — -this pandemic, with all of the grim it is causing, is an opportunity to evolve our civilization. We have a chance to evolve from a consumer capitalist society to one that is fully focused on collaborative consumption, built on empathy.

This idea of collaborative consumption and empathetic economy is not an idealistic plea for a Utopian society. We have everything needed to build a very practical society that is advanced in technology which serves our needs as humans — -a civilization focused on bettering the earth while simultaneously making our daily lives more efficient.

Human beings are the only species on this planet that consume more than they need to survive. At some point in the past we have allowed our intelligence to become our greatest weakness, but that doesn’t have to continue to be our way.

Money is the barrier to our imagination and the possibility of evolving our civilization. There is a fear of automation, artificial intelligence, and other advanced technologies because a large segment of society may lose their jobs or feel ill-prepared for such a transition. If money was not needed to have access to the basic needs of survival i.e., food, water, shelter, and safety — -we could leverage technology and science to make our lives more pleasurable.

Looking at secondary needs, if money was not needed, more people could have access to better education, a learning experience which focuses people on solving and addressing the needs of our global community, void of schools that are underfunded or people becoming a slave to student loan repayment.

In America, money/finances remains to be the number one contributor to stress. Research shows that stress has a direct correlation to the health and life span of a person’s life. What happens once we remove the stress?

Everyone will have the opportunity to spend time with their loved ones longer. Parents have the opportunity to be more present in their children’s lives because they are not working overtime, double shifts, or bound to long hours in the office to make ends meet.

I wonder if money was no object, would we have had a treatment or cure to COVID-19 by now? My assumption is somewhere along the line of developing a cure: someone has to be paid for their time, materials have to be purchased, or some entity/government is devising a way to make a profit as a way to control the treatment. If money was no object, researchers and scientists could work faster to solve this problem for the betterment of mankind.

We are a society enslaved by capitalism, power, and control. The way this pandemic is crippling our global economy, our communities will likely fall victim to a recession or global depression. Regardless, we have an opportunity to start fresh with a new way of living, one which is focused on freedom. We have everything we need with respect to technology and resources that can positively impact our world. What we are running short on is the willingness to do things differently.

Sitting here in quarantine, reflecting on the pandemic, I ask myself could we afford to build a better world? Technically, yes. But the better question is, are we ready to relinquish money and do what is necessary to provide an opportunity for everyone to advance? That I am not so sure of.

I would love to hear your thoughts. If money was no object, do you believe the world would be better? Do you feel this is something our global community is willing to achieve? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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Louis Byrd is also Chief Visionary Officer at Goodwim Design, a hybrid design studio developing technology solutions that positively impact culture and people.

Tea Lover | Creative + Engineer | Director of Experience Design @VMLY&R | Chief Visionary Officer @ Goodwim Design | Woke before it was a trend!

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