covid-19 sci-fi: remember when the stimulus checks hit?

s/o to a great convo with leo that inspired many elements of this.

19 april 2024

i remember it like it was yesterday, that first week people’s covid checks hit. people were psyched. so many of my friends were like “wait… i can just pay my bills and then do whatever i want? holy shit.”

and of course, all of the usual chatter happened in the media. all those stupid question headlines where the answer is almost always no.

“stimulus checks land: will anyone want to go back to work?”

“without bosses, who will do anything ever again?”

“corporations concerned about work force when economy reopens.”

ok so maybe those are a little slanted from me but you get the gist.

it just became SO clear. watching 45 talk about “reopening the country” and “reopening the economy” was really just code for “starting up the extractive engines of capitalism again.” we had been in shutdown for three months. everything that was actually essential was happening. it was all the non-essential stuff that 45 wanted re-opened.

for sure, there were things that were close that needed to be reopened… like schools. but after EVERY parent in the country learned how much harder being a teacher was, the schools people wanted in fall 2020 were really different. but i digress…

the stimulus checks opened up a ton of possibility. i remember i had one conversation with a friend about that first headline “will anyone want to go back to work?” we both agreed the answer was an obvious no, haha. but what we realized was shifting is that people began to see more possibilities with what they did with their time. with so much time taken up by wage-labor, people didn’t really have space-time to think about what they’d do if they didn’t have to. but the great pause showed many people where their passions intersected their community needs and with the gift of more time for those few months, people really dove in.

and, of course, there were people who didn’t do shit. what came to light though is that those folks were mostly not doing anything already. all those c-suite execs got exposed because it became clear they didn’t have anything meaningful to contribute directly to people’s real lives. and the amount of money they were draining from the world got real clear real quick! there were definitely people at the other end of the wealth spectrum who didn’t do anything, too. but in the end, not paying people at the top massive salaries was the real win. and high wealth and low wealth folks who didn’t “contribute to the economy” were WAY outweighed by the gifts people brought to bear when they didn’t have to worry about getting their basic needs met. teaching, care work, making art, creating experience, farming, making medicine, love making, it all takes up so much time now! what did we even do before the great pause…

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