As a nation, we’ve been sick for a long time — sick with a disease that has been hiding in plain sight: national insecurity. It took the coronavirus pandemic to make us accept that diagnosis and start to work on a cure.
National insecurity is a disease with many symptoms. It has already infected the people in our nation who:
- Do not have access to healthcare
- Cannot afford healthcare, even if they have access to it
- Do not have sick leave, paid or unpaid
- Cannot afford to take time off from work
- Do not have health insurance
- Do not have child care
- Depend on a local school system to help feed their children
Who are these people? Here are just a few examples:
- The people who take care of our seniors in nursing homes, assisted living centers, and memory care centers
- The people who assist us after surgery, support us when we have chronic health conditions, and allow our parents to age in place
- The people who take care of our children
- The people who serve us in restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, dry cleaners, big box stores, and small shops
- The people who clean our homes and businesses
- The people in the gig economy who drive us where we need to go and deliver our takeout orders
- The independent contractors who actually fulfill the promise of next day delivery
- The actors, singers, musicians, dancers, authors, painters, and sculptors who enrich our lives with art and entertainment
These are the indispensable people who make our economy work and our everyday lives possible. These are the people who give joy and meaning to our experience.
The fact that they suffer from insecurity is not new.
What is new is that we are finally paying attention to people who suffer from insecurity. We finally see them. They are real. They inhabit the same world we all inhabit.
What did it take for us to see them?