Coronavirus: an opportunity to change course.

Daily news reports highlight areas of our society on which we should have focused well before disaster struck:

HEALTH CARE: the heroic efforts of thousands of healthcare workers cannot fill the gaps we have accepted for decades: uninsured and under-insured families; the high costs of hospitalization and prescription drugs; the evident imbalance between ever more specialized physicians and primary care/family practice physicians.

EDUCATION: the dedication of thousands of teachers and professors cannot fill the gaps between technology haves and have-not; traditional models for financing education at all levels, especially tertiary education, widen those gaps and discourage innovation in developing and delivering instructional programs.

JUSTICE: we have known for sometime that too many Americans, especially males from minority communities, are incarcerated; the privatization of prisons is a significant factor in our reluctance to do what criminal justice experts and many law enforcement officers recommend we do.

ECONOMICS: the practice of gauging economic success by employment rates and stock market numbers blinds us to underlying factors. The number of filled jobs does not tell us how many employed people are actually making a living wage. The stock market does not tell us which companies that report strong earnings are heavily leveraged or poorly managed.

ENVIRONMENT: the current trend, including the rescue passage passed by Congress, suggests a commitment to subsidize environmentally harmful activities (coal-mining, fracking, drilling in fragile ecosystems, packing thousands of passengers on cruise ships) rather than supporting the industries of the future.

If we stay the course, we will miss the great opportunity of the 21st century to prepare this country to thrive in the future and to lead globally.

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