On the assumption things don’t get so bad that we descend into anarchy, those of us with protected incomes have a much better chance than those who don’t of coming out of this thing financially intact, but also physically intact. Covid 19 doesn’t actually target the poor, but the more privileged among us have a better chance of surviving it, and a better chance of dodging the bullet in the first place. This is almost a tautology, since were this not so, what would be so privileged about being privileged?
Nevertheless, if the death toll gets high enough, and the economic fallout dire enough, I suspect these differentials are going to motivate a whole lot of rethinking what counts as distributive justice in the developed world. For example, it just might tip the debate in the U.S. over single-payer health care. It’ll certainly put a damper on Americans’ opposition to big government. And it might engender a cultural shift as well. America’s obsession with the Kardashians will start to feel as obscene as it’s always been.
In short, Covid 19 may prove to be, if not the great leveler, then at least a leveler. My Bolshevik grandmother will be high-fiving from the grave. As will I, though hopefully not from the grave. And just as long as things don’t get too level. After all, it wouldn’t be privilege if I didn’t resent losing it.