Our Oppressors Are Stealing Our Vaccines

COVID vaccines have moved from theory to fact in the United States. Supplies are limited for the next few months, and that has interest groups jockeying for their spot in line. Two groups don’t have to jockey very hard because their receipt is a foregone conclusion: politicians and cops. Neither deserve them ahead of other groups.

Politicians Need a Motivator to Not Do What They Just Did

I see the politician-first argument. We need a government. If politicians die, there could be chaos. This argument is bullshit. Politicians got us into the COVID pandemic, and worsened it for almost an entire year. 300,000 people are dead from a mostly preventable disease. We are already in chaos. Since January 2020, our elected officials have known about COVID-19. Higher-up officials probably knew in December 2019. These assholes spent a year doing nothing, selling stock, discouraging masks, and giving Americans a measly $1200 for 9 months of economic contraction.

Before you claim that this is a Republican problem, the Democrats haven’t had a very vigorous response to one of the greatest threats in a century. These are not normal times, yet the Democrats are running a normal playbook. They treat Republicans like class allies rather than people with whom no agreement is possible. A Republican can’t threaten your constituents' lives in the morning (deny COVID aid) and hug you in the afternoon at a confirmation hearing. Examples like these show how out-of-touch elected Democrats are.

Even in situations where Democrats are judge, jury, and executioner, their response has been dogshit. New York has a Democratic governor and Democratic legislature, with a 66% Democratic majority. Governor Andrew Cuomo was elected with 65% of the vote. Cuomo, a hero of brunch liberals, refused to enact strict measures early, when they could have cut the death toll in half. He did jack shit to help elderly prisoners. “Cuomo, rather than putting the needs of New Yorkers first, chose to tack hundreds of cloth masks on a wall as a monument to himself.” And so on.

California is just as fucked as the rest of the country. Governor Gavin Newsom is a Democrat who won 62% of the vote. The state assembly is 75% Democratic. Without question, the American response to COVID has been hampered by Republicans at the national level. But at what point, nine months after COVID hit big here, do our Democratic states take ownership of their Democratic failings? Are they in office to win elections (explaining their refusal to take strict measures and alienate voters)? Or are they in office to help people?

A US map from Cvid ActNow. Risk Levels are listed, with 'severe outbreak' and 'active or imminent outbreak' at the top. Most of the US is 'active or immiment', while the southwest (CA, NA, UT, AZ) and select other states in 'severe outbreak'. VT and HI are the only states 'at risk of outbreak', the middle of the scale. No states are lower on the scale.

As of this writing, only Vermont and Hawaii are not in an ‘active or imminent outbreak’.

All this to say, elected leaders do not deserve a COVID vaccine ahead of others. They’ve failed at their jobs. If they wanted to be protected from COVID, they should have made tough choices months ago to prevent its spread. I’ll describe who should get a vaccine first at the end.

Cops Would Only Use a Vaccine to Brutalize Us More Efficiently

Cops enjoy a privileged position in global society. Fully describing them is beyond the scope of this post, but here are two links to sink your teeth into. With 987 videos of police brutality against mostly-unarmed protesters just this year, one has to wonder how many “good apples” there are to balance out the bad ones we can see with our own eyes.

No cops have gone on strike in support of protesters or George Floyd. However, Buffalo police officers did find it appropriate to resign from the emergency response team in protest. The injustice that finally crossed the line was the suspension of two police officers who pushed a 75-year-old unarmed man to the ground, cracking his head. Cops do not protect us.

With COVID specifically, cops have dropped the ball in the same way politicians have. We pay their salaries. We elect the politicians who are supposed to regulate them. We should be holding them to a higher standard, but they can’t even meet the baseline standards expected of everyone else.

To recap:

  1. Cops say their job is so dangerous that they accidentally murder Black people in seconds. Repeatedly. Was Tamir Rice “challenging” the Cleveland officers who killed him within 2 seconds? “For me each traffic stop is a potentially dangerous encounter.” Yet there is no discussion of how we might make those traffic stops less dangerous. Minorities are not safe from cops in this country.
  2. Cops suit up for war while our doctors wear trash bags. No police department I’m aware of has ever donated their masks to local hospitals. Instead, they use their riot gear to protect themselves from the chemical weapons they fire on legal gatherings at a peaceful violin vigil.
  3. Cops refuse to wear masks, spreading COVID to the people they supposedly protect.
  4. Cops seize masks meant for the community while not enforcing any specific law.
  5. COVID is the leading killer of cops this year. While cops live in pants-shitting fear of unarmed protesters, they ironically don’t give a fuck about COVID. A toxic macho culture has divorced cops from being able to accurately assess risks. If cops can’t understand objective scientific truth, how do we expect them to properly handle themselves in an ambiguous active shooter scenario?
  6. Cops help spread COVID in prisons by refusing to advocate for a prison draw-down. For example, nonviolent offenders could be converted to house arrests. In theory, prisons are to reform prisoners. The punishment is supposed to match the crime. But during COVID, people are effectively sentenced to death for non-capital crimes. Curiously, although many reforms around COVID and prison populations have been proposed and enacted, I can’t find a single one that was proposed or advocated by police. Even in Philadelphia, where one could argue this occured, police made an about-face while cases were still ongoing. Police made the anti-American choice that nonviolent crime was worse than COVID deaths. If that were true, “bad checks”, specifically cited in the original no-jail order, would be punishable by death. Cops are going way outside the bounds of American society and have nobody to reign them in.
  7. Cops jump to the front of the line for a vaccine or close behind. You can’t arrest COVID. Every arrest is potentially a COVID spreading event, and the cost of that should be weighed against the cost of the arrest not happening.

Other groups deserve a vaccine more

I’m not an expert in this field. We should listen to the experts. But we need to hold our experts to ethical standards. Politicians and cops simply should not be prioritized. More lives would be saved by prioritizing health workers, grocery workers, teachers, PPE manufacturers, food growers, COVID researchers, and so on.