BALLARO: America's healthcare infrastructure has been exposed by coronavirus disease


Column: Thoughts from the LX

Anthony Ballaro is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in classics and public health. His column, "Thoughts from the LX," runs on alternate Thursdays.
Anthony Ballaro is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in classics and public health. His column, "Thoughts from the LX," runs on alternate Thursdays.

While it might be bad in China, we do not have to worry about coronavirus disease (COVID-19) because the United States has healthcare infrastructure.

It was four weeks ago when I heard my friend say that while we were waiting for a weekend bus at the Scott Hall bus stop. I must have grimly chuckled when I heard that.

There seems to be no shortage of hot takes, news clips and Twitter tags about the novel coronavirus. Or rather, there seems to be no shortage of misinformation, lies, propaganda and gaslighting.

I remember the wasteland that was Brower Commons on March 11, the last day of in-person classes at Rutgers. I remember two inebriated daygers who were throwing pizza at each other while screaming in the stir-fry line. It seemed like a new rock bottom.

Dayge, /dāj/, verb: a portmanteau of day and rage. To day drink. To get “lit” on a Wednesday, in the middle of a pandemic.

I remember dodging a big vodka-smelling smooch from a tipsy residence hall neighbor. Everyone seemed to want one last going out party, one last drink, one last mistake before the semester ended. 

If you have not seen the exploits of non-native Floridian spring breakers across your TV screen, you must be living under a rock.

Why were people doing this? Why were people risking catching the virus and bringing it back to their grandma or their little cousin on chemotherapy? Why were people so closed off from the truth?

It would be easy to say these people were selfish, stupid, immoral and admonishable. It would be easy to call the man who hoarded 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer to price gouge cruel and greedy. 

It would be difficult to admit that these problems were only the natural result of a failed political and economic system. 

When an executive of a country flip-flops from calling COVID-19 another flu to a global pandemic, then demanding the country be open by Easter, there is a problem at hand.

When there is a leader who runs a nation more like a corporation than country, it is no surprise when he suggests reusing facemasks thanks to some “very good liquids.”

If the gap between classes was not obvious before, this country is now hitting the third rail. When eight teams of millionaire basketball players can get immediate access to tests that are somehow scarce in what is supposedly one of the most economically prosperous nations in the world, there is a problem.

Why is socialized healthcare the boogey-man on cable television when America is the most dangerous place in the developed world to give birth? 

Why is Medicare For All reproachful when Italians have life expectancies 4 years longer than Americans? 

We must ask ourselves: “Who deserves better healthcare, those who need it or those who can afford it?"

When establishment Democrat Hillary Clinton comes out of the woodwork to say that implementing socialized policies is the equivalent of offering “chocolate milk” to fifth graders, there is a clear disconnect between the values of this country and its people.

Pondering this, I come back to look over my friend’s claim that America has a developed healthcare infrastructure. 

Where are the COVID-19 tests for people that cannot afford a private jet? Where are the face masks that are not doused in mystery liquids to cut costs? Where is the health insurance for the single mother who works two minimum wage jobs 60 hours a week that cannot even dream to pay for the bill for one night at the hospital when she already struggles to make ends meet for rent?

It is time for a reality check.

The only thing scarier than a wet market is a free market.

Anthony Ballaro is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in classics and public health. His column, "Thoughts from the LX," runs on alternate Thursdays.

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