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Made to Fail

From healthcare, to unemployment insurance, to exercising the right to vote, the COVID-19 crisis has affected every part of American life. The rampant employment. The social unrest in American cities. It's pulled back th
10/5/2020

Chapter Seven: Sold Out in Maine

Season 1, Ep. 7
The Paycheck Protection Program was co-written by Maine’s very own Republican Senator Susan Collins, and it was signed into law as a means for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees to pay their workers and keep operations running during the pandemic. But, a loophole written into the program allowed for several major chains to receive millions of dollars in PPP loans from the same finite bucket of money, leaving crumbs for small businesses who followed the strictest of rules. Those loans, which made up a $349 billion stimulus effort were exhausted after just two weeks.The loophole is one reason that small businesses got so little when it came to the PPP loans, But then, there’s also the fact that banks were administering these loans. As banks were deciding the fate of businesses everywhere and making big profits, businesses all across the country were closing their doors and laying off workers. By April 23, more than 30 million people across America had filed for unemployment. This number has continued to rise. But that same month, in April, the S&P 500 and the Dow had their best months since 1987. The stock market was rallying...Why on the one hand did we see so many businesses close and massive job losses one day and see the stock market soaring the next? What does it mean that we have consistently seen both of these trends throughout a global pandemic? The links in our economic system that ensure when businesses profit, the people who work for those businesses profit as well, are fundamentally broken.
9/14/2020

Chapter Five: Polluted in Arizona

Season 1, Ep. 5
In May of 2020, the Navajo Nation made national headlines with the highest per capita Covid-19 infection rate in the United States, outpacing New York City. Frontline Navajo workers, many of them relatives and neighbors of those infected, rushed to save the most vulnerable. Already, residents of the Navajo Nation face higher rates of preexisting conditions. The grim situation highlights the historical failings of the US government.Over 150 years after the treaty signing between the Navajo Nation and the federal government, the latter has attempted practically every method to siphon resources away from the former. This is especially true when it comes to water, a basic human right, that’s been contaminated on Navajo land for decades. After struggling with the repercussions of this contamination (the Navajo Nation has one of the highest cancer rates in the country) today, it’s estimated that between 30 and 50% of Navajo families live without access to clean running water. The infamous scorched-earth campaigns of the 1860’s never really ended. It’s just taken a global pandemic to expose that truth to the rest of us.This is only one of the environmental injustices on the reservation, and unfortunately, these injustices are not unique to the Navajo Nation. In fact, most vulnerable communities in the United States face them everyday. And the connections between the environment, race, and the Covid-19 crisis are fatal.