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With upwards of 30 million Americans unemployed, some economists are laying out bleak predictions about how many jobs will return and what will be left of them.

"It took us ten years—between 2009 and 2019—to create 22 million jobs. And we’ve lost 30 million jobs in two months," says NYU economics professor Nouriel Roubini in an interview with New York Magazine. "When they start slowly rehiring some of them (not all of them), those workers are going to get part-time jobs, without benefits, without high wages. That’s the only way for the corporates to survive. Because they’re so highly leveraged today, they’re going to need to cut costs, and the first cost you cut is labor," he added.

Meanwhile, insane MAGA hats and small businesses owners who are understandably concerned about their survival due to a lack of adequate assistance from the federal government are calling for the Governor to prematurely lift lockdown orders. But, for the umpteeth time, who is going to patronize these newly open shops? Nobody who doesn't want to spread a deadly disease, which is still ranging across the country.

The hard but obvious answer here is we all need to stay home and demand that our representatives pay us for doing so, but we'd all have to demand that. The reason why Trumpian Republicans won't is because they don't know what work is in the sense that former U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine means it in "What Work Is." You can find the poem in his book, which is also called What Work Is, available at local bookstores.

A few notes:

• Some context: As he describes in an interview with the poet Kristen Dupard, Levin drew the material for "What Work Is" from his own life experience. He grew up in a Detroit-area working class family. His dad died young, and so everyone in the house needed to work. One day he saw the Ford plant was hiring, and so went to stand in a long line at the employment office just before 8:00 a.m., when the doors were set to open. The doors didn't open until 10:00 a.m., and Levine said the bosses did that on purpose. They only wanted to hire the most desperate people, the people whose labor they could more easily exploit. "You're passing the serf test," as Levine explained it. By the time he got to the desk to speak with the recruiters, Levine said he was so angry about the indignity of enduring the "serf test" that he went off on the middle-men.

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• In the poem, Levine seeks to dignify the workers who Ford is treating inhumanely. He does so with rich, knowing descriptions of the dudes standing in line, one of whom looks like his narrator's brother:

You rub your glasses with your fingers,
and of course it’s someone else’s brother,
narrower across the shoulders than
yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin
that does not hide the stubbornness,
the sad refusal to give in to
rain, to the hours of wasted waiting,
to the knowledge that somewhere ahead
a man is waiting who will say, “No,
we’re not hiring today,” for any
reason he wants.

• But rather than just publish a bad Bruce Springsteen song glorifying the blue collar laborer, Levine takes a turn inward, and he realizes, through the story of his brother, that work is something different than toiling in a factory or waiting in line to toil in a factory. Real work is performing the thousand daily thankless tasks of loving others. In the narrator's case, he doesn't really know what work is because he's failed to show love to his brother, who he loves despite his brother's love for German opera. (Levine was Jewish, and so was likely not fond of the Führer's favorite composer, though of course the Nazis don't get to have Wagner just because they liked him.) It's this definition of work—this inability to actually love and care about people you don't know by not planning virus parties at the state capital—that evades the Trumpists.

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