The coronavirus doesn’t discriminate between rich and poor. In March 2020, Madonna (whose net worth has been estimated at over half-a-billion dollars) infamously labelled COVID-19 the “great equaliser” in a bizarre video filmed while she was submerged in a bath of rose petals. The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, has used the same term. Are they right? Or is the pandemic hitting the poorest hardest?

What do our readers think? We had a comment from Miguel, arguing that the coronavirus pandemic is “not about rich or poor” and that we should “stop talking about money” and instead speak about lives.

To get a response, we put Miguel’s comment to Raj Patel, academic, film-maker, and best-selling author of books including The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy and A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet. What would he say?

For another perspective, we also put Miguel’s comment to Leo Williams, Director of the European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN), a network of European anti-poverty NGOs, grassroot groups and organisations active in the fight against poverty and social exclusion. What would he say?

Well, for the European Anti-Poverty Network it’s really clear that the crisis does affect everyone. But we do know, at the same time, that it hits the poorest and the most vulnerable the hardest…

Our members give us some very clear examples of this. We have FEANTSA, for example, which is the European Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless. They give very, very clear examples of the impact that COVID has on homeless people; if you’re homeless, for example, it’s just impossible to follow confinement rules because you don’t have a house, so you’re obviously more likely to be impacted by the illness than those of us who live in houses. They also face particular difficulties of having public homeless shelters being closed down, closed public services – such as toilets and soup kitchens, etc. – but also being fined by police for being on the streets during the crisis as well, which obviously they find it very difficult not to be, not having somewhere to call their own.

We can look at asylum seekers as well. So, for example, we hear a lot from our colleagues in our national network in Greece and our European member PICUM, the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants, who talk about camps of 20,000 asylum seekers on Greek islands who are obviously particularly vulnerable to the pandemic at the moment because the hygiene situation is so precarious…

And our member in Lithuania, for example, has told us about those in precarious jobs in Lithuania (though this is seen throughout Europe; we’re seeing millions of people throughout Europe simply losing their jobs). And our colleagues [in Lithuania] are particularly worried about this because minimum income support in Lithuania, for example, is only 100 euros a month, so people simply cannot survive on that kind of money.

So, for EAPN, it’s hard to think about not talking about money, because poor households simply have fewer resources and fewer options for coping with the crisis. So, it’s really necessary to keep talking about income. Because if you’re already struggling to make ends meet at the end of the month, where’s the capacity to manage these extraordinary expenses in this time, for extra care, for household support, for extra meals, or to compensate for school meals which aren’t available?

For us, it’s crucial to keep talking about money, and it’s impossible not to during this time of the crisis because it really is a crisis which highlights the class divide, and it really is hitting the poorest hardest.

Is the COVID-19 crisis hitting the poorest hardest? Or should we stop talking about “rich and poor” during the pandemic? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: BigStock – (c) jarino47; IMAGE CREDITS: Williams (c) Rebecca Lee, EAPN
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20 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    Come on guys what type o question is this? What ever comes along the poor always suffer more than the rich, or at least the real rich not those that live on credit up to their necks.

  2. avatar

    It’s hitting the overpopulated the most, poor people tend to migrate to cities and cities are dirty, over populated and unsuitable building and planning are given to house more people constantly. We need to accept that over population and mass migration to Western countries will lead to even more of this on the future. For example you can pack 8m people into London, twice the population of the whole of England at the time of the black death, and not have any consequence. TB, a previously eradicated disease making a come back, expect more

  3. avatar

    Mind about Europeans first…

    • avatar

      Mind your own business before telling other people to first care about you basically

    • avatar

      answer to debating Europe. I am a tax payer European business is mine too

    • avatar

      Mine too though

  4. avatar

    No its hitting us all equally! thats what I realised when I watched the “Imagine” video by celebrities inside their multi million dollar mansions, who are suffering terribly from being confined in houses with pools, in-house cinemas and gigantic gardens…

  5. avatar

    How can you ask such senless questions ?

  6. avatar

    Everything hits the poorest hardest.

  7. avatar

    All crisis hit the poorest hardest!
    Should the gouvernements make the richest contribute much harder this time to overcome the crisis? That’s the question.
    Delete, hide or report this

  8. avatar

    Losing their jobs0 yes! absolutely…the poorest – the elderly, the homeless, the refugee, the kids in shelters places…..

  9. avatar

    What a question….is that the EP level?.

  10. avatar
    Catherine Benning

    Is the COVID-19 crisis hitting the poorest hardest?

    What utter nonsense. Especially coming from the USA. Those who live with no National Health Service at all, most not knowing what it is to have one or even what an NHS is. They believe it is something called ‘Communism.’ Except when their citizens find their way to the UK to use ours, that is. Funded by our tax payers.

    The disease does not discriminate in its devastating war on the people of the planet. Other than some being more badly affected than others. However, if you are comfortably off, then being able to cope both financially and to access good carers makes the ability to remain functioning with a home and employment and to not face disaster once well, gives an entirely different perspective for the afflicted and their future.

    Here is a simple example, one family member runs her own ‘therapy’ business, although well paid, she has to continue to meet all her outgoings without assistance or income. The Landlord wants his rent, the grocer wants his bill paid, gas, electric and so on. No one gives her a holiday on her outgoings, yet they all want theirs on time, they fortunate enough to receive holidays on theirs. Yet she in lock down cannot continue seeing her clients, so no income at all.

    Another relative works for a high flying PR style company, he works from home via his computer. He find he is doing very well indeed. No commute costs, eating at home much cheaper and better, his overheads paid by his company and he being adored for his wonderful ability. His income being greater as a result.

    These are two doing well. For the poor and infected it is totally destructive to their future life. Homelessness a real possibility. Other than her age, Madonna is surely joking.

    However, I see we in the UK already have the story of white man is not so badly affected by the virus as are the ethnic. And as a result, the ethnic must be given more assistance than those with lighter skin. Oh, really. And where is the evidence of that? The last time I read on who was more affected by nation, Africa looks as if it is suffering the least amount of infection and death. Does this only happen to ethnics living in Western countries whom the virus decides to inflict more heavily?

    Of course expect that to suddenly change with no proof given numbers. The world aid organisations will make sure their disaster cut comes through for some new boys toys like, private jets and heavy shopping in Paris, for the dictators. Not to mention the private bank accounts well funded by our wall to wall TV adverts begging endlessly to send your money for clean water they still don’t have managed to provide. Let alone suggest boiling the water under a fire before drinking it, as a meantime method of not poisoning your system.

  11. avatar

    Pandemic hits the Sociaty. This is a form of control

  12. avatar
    Social biped

    any crisis hits the poorest hardest!

  13. avatar

    who has been getting bailed out by governments and got paid for not working though…?! not CEOs, thats for sure!

    • avatar

      LOL, you cannot be serious?? CEOs literally steal from their employees at the best of times. employees do all the actual work to produce a product or service and then people who “manage” keep so much of the profit?= Im not saying CEOs shouldnt make more than normal employees, bc they do have a lot of responsibility, but the gap between CEO wages and normal worker wages is too large. and if CEos fuck up, they certainly shouldnt be paid huge profits – its just plain stupid.

  14. avatar

    For sure, during the actual lockdowns, poorer families had to stay crammed together in way smaller apartments, and were often way further from green outdoor space. And also poorer people often work hours that makes it really diffilcut to also homeschool children and so. Pandemic made equality worse!

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