Re-Imagining Economics: Lessons from COVID-19

With 38 million unemployed Americans and with fewer and fewer holding health insurance during a time of pandemic and with that pandemic offering a kind of X-Ray on the shadow dimensions to our culture—dimensions of class and race and poverty and hunger and underprivilege and overprivilege—it seems that our post-corona times will call for an immense tsunami of imagination.  Re-imagining the way we do work and education, health care and politics, religion and—surely—economics.

Photo of cash and scrabble letters, originally posted on flickr by the account 401(K) 2012.

A few days ago I heard a report on NPR that was discussing how much to charge for a vaccine for coronavirus should one come available.  I was genuinely astounded to hear the “expert” say that the price had to be far more than the cost to the manufacturer in order to make sure other suppliers would be properly “motivated.”

“WHAT?” I shouted out loud to myself in the car!  “You mean saving the human species and our many cultures (and economics systems I might add) are not sufficient “motivation” for creating a vaccine?  One also has to make a financial “killing” on it?  And in the process no doubt exclude the poor and disadvantaged from access to it?”

Facebook profile picture created to help promote the issue of net neutrality. Photo created by

The following day I received two notices posted on the internet.  One told of how the HHS secretary, Alex Azar, at a congressional hearing in February when asked whether a Coronavirus vaccine would be available and affordable to all Americans  replied that the government “can’t control that price because we need the private sector to invest.”  

In addition the issues of net neutrality and internet freedom are more important than ever during a coronavirus when, for example, the poor are being told to get on line to educate their children.  But even if the poor have a computer, access to the internet is another matter.  On Indian reservations, so hard hit by the coronavirus, often 90% of the residents do not have computers and on-line access.

Phone screen showing that the phone has encryption software on it. Photo by Dan Nelson on Unsplash.

Recent decisions by Ajit Pai, the head of FCC, makes it less and less possible for the poor to access the Internet because he has killed net neutrality and therefore access to the internet.  We now know that fraudulent comments flooded his public hearing on net neutrality and a cover up ensued.  The good newsis thatThe New York Times just won a major lawsuit that will force the FCC to open up a new comment proceeding and provide facts on why the previous net neutrality proceeding was bogus.

At the previous hearing Pai and his powerful backers refused to allow firefighters to offer their comments on the danger of repealing net neutrality.  These firefighters, stymied by Verizon while battling wildfires, know the stakes for ensuring public safety via ready access to the internet by everyone.

One has to ask: What motivates such indifference to human suffering?  To be continued.

See Matthew Fox, A Spirituality Named Compassion

See Matthew Fox, Original Blessing and Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for The Peoples of the Earth

Banner Image: Young person sitting on shopping cart and reflecting. Photo by Julia Coimbra on Unsplash.

Queries for Contemplation

During difficult times of coronavirus, unemployment, multiple deaths and climate change contributing to dams breaking and more, can you still pray the news? 

How do you do that?  How do we best put admonitions like “love thy neighbor” into action?

Recommended Reading

Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

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10 thoughts on “Re-Imagining Economics: Lessons from COVID-19”

  1. Avatar

    This topic is very top of mind for me today, thank you. I just listened to this week’s “On Being” interview that Krista Tippett did with Jacqueline Novogratz who recently published her book “Towards a Moral Revolution.” I pray for an emergent shift in our way of envisioning a healthy economy – one that will open us to Well-Being as our success factor, not profit for the 1%.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      And we too, Susan “pray for an emergent shift in our way of envisioning a healthy economy…”

  2. Avatar

    Pope Francis today recommended getting into nature with all its beauty, creativity and wonder. I am practicing that. I created a Spiral in our back yard and walk it multiple times a day, receiving peace and inspiration from Holy Spirit and Pacha Mama.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Thank you for your comment David, and may God bless you as you walk your Spiral path!

  3. Avatar

    This is looking more and more like a path into the Great Depression. It would be good to remember that out of that terrible time came things like Social Security, the WPA which sponsored so much art and beauty, and the CCC which built buildings and walls in parks, that still stand today. The destruction from the current way of doing things can be used for renewal, if we have the will. If we do not, then destruction will continue, and only death will be the result.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Thank you Sue for your comments. It is true that unemployment is now at the lowest it has been since the Great Depression but the head of the Federal Reserve assures us that our country will not fall as low it did in the Great Depression. Hopefully some good will come out of this, as Social Security and the other things you mention did during the Great Depression! It is time for what Matthew calls the Via Transformativa. It is time to transform ourselves and society at large!

  4. Avatar

    Somehow I am not surprised at the government’s response re the corona vaccine. I have long contended that this country is run by Big Oil (thus the EPA), big Pharma (and thus the FDA) and the NRA (so much for gun control). We really do need a revolution in this country, because if profit is our motivation for all, we are doomed. We need Mother Earth, but She doesn’t need Humanity. It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature—there will be a very big price to pay (and we are paying it now!).

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Elain, that was a very perceptive observation that you made. We do need a revolution and a New Reformation (the title of one of Matthews’s books). We who are connected to creation spirituality agree with you that “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature” and there will indeed be “a very big price to pay (and we are paying it now!).” I encourage you to read (if you haven’t already) Matthew’s book, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ” where Matthew shares his dream of the Earth. Thank you sooo much for your comments and may God bless you!

  5. Avatar

    The other day I said I was a pessimist ?
    And yet
    Reading & reflecting on the daily meditation ,does help that pessimistic in me I love reading the comments
    Love you all
    Stay safe

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Billy, I too have a tendency to be pessimistic but as you are finding if you meditate on the meditation each day, though they acquaint us with the problems of this world, they also point us in the direction in which we can work to transform the world as we walk the Via Transformativa.

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