'We will not die for oligarchs' quarterly profit margin': Progressives reject effort to put corporations over public health

'We will not die for oligarchs' quarterly profit margin': Progressives reject effort to put corporations over public health
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Credit: Gage Skidmore

As President Donald Trump and business elites suggest the U.S. public should go back to work in the midst of the worsening coronavirus pandemic, the Twitter hashtag #NotDying4WallStreet went viral late Monday as progressives made clear they are not willing to jeopardize their own or their community's health to protect corporate profits.


"If we have to rent strike, general strike, whatever has to happen, we will not die for oligarchs' quarterly profit margin," tweeted progressive radio host Benjamin Dixon. "This system crashes without our participation. But they cannot force us to participate at the expense of our lives."

The hashtag erupted after Trump signaled Monday that he could move as early as next week to lift federal social distancing guidelines and encourage some people to return to work—even as the number of coronavirus cases in the United States continues to grow and the death toll rises.

"America will again and soon be open for business. Very soon. A lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting," Trump said during a press briefing Monday evening, ignoring dire warnings from health officials both within and outside of his administration.

Trump's call to send people back to work despite the threat to public health was echoed by Goldman Sachs senior chairman Lloyd Blankfein, who tweeted Sunday that measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 risk "crushing the economy, jobs, and morale."

"Within a very few weeks let those with a lower risk to the disease return to work," said Blankfein.

As progressive advocacy group Swing Left pointed out, other influential figures have since echoed Blankfein's recommendation, which flies in the face of health officials' calls to extend lockdowns nationwide.

Author and activist Eric Blanc wrote in Jacobin on Monday that "we have now reached the point where, according to some experts, only a five-week national lockdown can avoid a public health catastrophe."

"Yet the Wall Street Journal and the Lloyd Blankfeins of the world are proposing the exact opposite: ending lockdowns rather than extending them," wrote Blanc. "Even the limited governmental measures taken so far are apparently too much for Wall Street to stomach."

"Unless we take action, Wall Street may get its way," Blanc added. "Stopping Trump from scrapping our existing public health measures is literally a matter of life and death. We need to do everything possible to force the White House and its corporate backers to take the urgent measures that experts agree are necessary to prevent a public health catastrophe. Our lives are on the line."

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