Did Anything Fundamentally Change in 2021?

Featured Image: A picture of a 1942 “Pic” magazine I own, with a title that is absolutely timeless.

This time last year I wrote a post called “Nothing Will Fundamentally Change in 2021“, and for the most part, I was right. And we all should have expected it, since Biden said it himself.

I had mentioned that Biden getting into office was not going to change much, and I think most of what he has done has gotten us back to the “normal” we had before Trump, and we have barely moved forward. He may have gotten troops out of Afghanistan, but only after wasting 20 years and 2.3 trillion dollars, with deaths of 2,500 US troops and over 100,000 Afghans, including civilians, and the Taliban regained power anyway. He may have rejoined the Paris Climate Accord, but such incremental change has been enacted to avoid climate catastrophe, as we’ve seen with record heat waves, hurricanes, snow storms, earthquakes and tornados that will continue without major changes. He may have extended student loan payments, but he sure as hell isn’t going to forgive them. He may have given away free vaccines but our healthcare system is still a huge scam, and the COVID-19 pandemic has now become an endemic because we continue to value profits over people over and over again.

Speaking of COVID, we’re still averaging about 1,000 deaths per day, with a total of over 50 million cases and over 800,000 deaths (just in the US). We’ve been able to fully vaccinate over 61% of the US population and globally 57.4%, however, “low-income” countries are far behind at 8.3%, meaning new variants could emerge at any moment (and they already have) making our vaccine weaker and weaker. And yet the CDC just decided to halve the quarantine requirements so your employer can force you back to work.

I also talked about the Black Lives Matter protests, which have opened the public’s eyes and now they refuse to close again. With more publicized trials, it gives us hope that justice can occasionally be served. Derek Chauvin, who knelt on the neck of George Floyd (whose death sparked justified protests across the country) received 22.5 years in prison. Kim Potter, who shot instead of tased Daunte Wright, killing him, was also found guilty of manslaughter. Three men in Georgia were convicted for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, after hunting him down while he was merely on a jog. We can only hope that with more publicity in these cases, and more public outrage, that justice will continue to be served, and not shoved under the rug as it has time and time again. 

Something changed in the American people this year though, and I think we weirdly have the pandemic to thank for that. There have been so many strikes this year and it’s giving me the warm and fuzzies. Kellogg‘s workers went on strike and got an agreement that included cost-of-living wage adjustments and a raise. John Deere workers went on strike and got 10% raises. A single Starbucks voted and won their union. These victories and many more are showing everyone that it’s possible to change the unfair capitalist system that the pandemic proved was not only unsustainable but downright inhumane. We can’t keep letting people get so rich they can fly to space while their employees live paycheck to paycheck.

And everything I said in last year’s post remains the same:

“We must stay engaged in our communities and in politics, or things like Trump’s victory and George Floyd’s death will happen again. When we turn a blind eye to injustice, it doesn’t make it go away. It festers and grows until it is us, too, that face the injustice. Don’t stop paying attention to the news because you got your vaccine, or because Biden is in office.

You must remember how your elected officials treated your community in a time of crisis; did they push for a stimulus check and unemployment benefits? Remember how your employer treated you and your coworkers; did they offer more PTO to settle your affairs, or did they chastise you for not getting childcare when daycares were closed? Remember how your local police reacted to the Black Lives Matter movements and protests; did they march with you, or did they throw tear gas in your face and fuel to the fire?”

Going into 2022, we must stay vigilant and we must demand change. Start a union, protest, vote in the upcoming midterm election, and someone’s gotta throw a shoe at Biden or something to get him to enact the change we so desperately need.

Bonus Content:

Go watch that new movie on Netflix “Don’t Look Up” — it’s a great allegory for climate change as well as the pandemic. And please, listen to the scientists. 

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