On this episode of Social Distance, the Atlantic staff writer Olga Khazan gives advice on the moral considerations of grocery-store purchases and talks about the political consequences of low-wage workers being classified as “essential” in this crisis.

Listen to the episode here:

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Here are some highlights from the interview:

  • “These workers are starting to rethink the way that society treats their jobs. Everyone—from Instacart to Amazon to Whole Foods—is saying, Can you pay us more? If we’re so important—if we’re essential and we have to come in and everyone is relying on us, should we be paid maybe slightly more than $15 an hour?
  • “I think it’s going to be difficult to claw back some of these worker protections after this is all over. It’s going to be hard to tell someone, Oh yeah, that time you had COVID-19, you could have called out for two weeks and gotten paid still. But now that you have the flu, feel free to just come in and cough on everyone. I think it’s going to be difficult to put the genie back in the bottle.”
  • “There’s a lot of admiration in America for the rich, and a lot of sociologists and people who study class believe that this might start to be a [turning] point. The successful businessmen are holed up in their basements and the cashiers are the heroes of society. I wonder if we’re going to see a change in the way we see poverty and wealth in the U.S.”

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