COVID 19 and collectivism

Ed Yong explores various ways in which the U.S has failed to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, and during this exploration, reveals several ethical dilemmas and issues that was either highlighted due to the pandemic, or arose in the midst of responding to the pandemic. Issues such as the president’s lack of awareness and immediate action and the health care system not being funded properly can be thought to be caused by the country’s lack of care for the health care system, and their view on health care as an individual responsibility rather than a collective good.

Other issues, such as more cases of COVID 19 occurring in prisons and nursing homes due to a weak and vulnerable system can be seen as an ethical issue, as the system may be seen as directly endangering the health of the individuals located within the system, and thus violating their basic human rights to be protected and receive the minimal health care treatment that could prevent obvious and easily preventable spread of the disease.

Lastly, the article focuses on how the already existing inequalities within the United States, such as health care systems not being readily available for black patients due to Jim Crow influenced policies that purposefully distance health care treatment from these people, or the Native Americans who are unable to enact basic disease preventing actions such as washing hands or receiving sanitization due to a lack of water source.

I believe that all the issues discussed above are fundamentally caused by the deeply rooted individualism and a lack of care for the common good which is necessary when dealing with issues such as health care. By arguing for the emphasis on the common good, I do not necessarily mean that the U.S should completely except collectivist ideologies proposed by people such as Karl Marx or Hegel, which emphasizes the need for a sovereign state and control of the population by the government, as this would fundamentally diminish the freedom and autonomy that Americans are able to have today.

Although a full outright control of people’s actions by the government with the intention of giving the best health care would be ideal for solely steepening the COVID 19 curve, I believe that instead of relying on the power of the state, such as how China utilizes by manipulating the media in order to maintain a good reputation, we should rely on our rational mind and the good will that we have towards the people that are part of the society. Perhaps, it may be useful to consider this common goal to provide health care and prevent the disease in terms of Kant. But even in an individualistic sense, it is in the best interest of individuals to act collectively in order to prevent the spread of COVID.

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