The beginning of 2021 is but an extension of 2020 – a chaotic stretch of time that feels like everything and nothing is happening. Joe Biden is not only the successor of the only US president to be impeached twice, but he is also the president that will have to enforce a nationwide mask mandate, make a futile effort to reopen schools, and direct the rollout of over 100 million vaccines.
That’s just the stuff that Biden said he would prioritize in his first 100 days speech. He failed to include other urgent issues such as demilitarizing/restructuring the police, cancelling student debt, restoring the endangered species act, eating/taxing the rich, and housing the homeless.
Part of Biden’s 100 day plan includes raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. This is not enough for some cities such as Oakland, LA and San Francisco where rents average from $1,900 to $3,500 per month. The Fight For 15 began in 2012. Adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage should be at least $17.00 per hour, and that does not factor in the rise of cost of living.
The corona crisis has brought structural issues to the nation’s attention while simultaneously preventing us from making progress. Disadvantaged students are failing due to no or poor internet access at home. We will soon see vaccines funded by the government when medical care costs are at an all-time high.
The pandemic showed us that we can make a drastic shift in a short period of time. If we can get most people to wear masks and stop physical contact, we can convert our transportation systems to green energy. We can establish a universal basic income for those in poverty. And we can staff police stations with mental health professionals and de-escalation teams.
Joe Biden cannot just return things to a pre-Trump era. Even if Hillary Clinton had won back in 2016, the US would still have been built on a foundation of capitalism and white supremacy. We need to move towards a society that puts people and the planet first, not money. We need to get ready for a cultural revolution.