• As the President-elect prepares to take office amid a global pandemic and a worsening economy, he must also face—and address—the broken political and economic system that we laid out in our previous episodes. 

    While Made to Fail showed us how the conservative project has hurt our institutions, in this new era we have the opportunity to rebuild those broken institutions. What has been made to fail can and must be restored to succeed.

    Made to Fail host Elliot Williams recently moderated a virtual panel to hear the Roosevelt Institutes’ bold ideas to transform our economy. The event featured President & CEO,  Felicia Wong, Director of Climate Policy, Rhiana Gunn-Wright, and Managing Director of Corporate Power, Bharat Ramamurti. 

    The panel’s discussion centered around how the Biden-Harris administration can create a democratically accountable and effective government that will work for everyone.

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  • When COVID-19 began to burn across America, the hospitals of Madison, Wisconsin weren’t ready. They weren’t ready to meet the needs of the patients -- collapsing in the emergency room, dying while awaiting ventilation -- but they also weren’t ready to meet the needs of the doctors. And the nurses. And the custodial staff.

    The front line workers who were forced to wear the same dirty masks, shift after shift, as more and more COVID-19 patients poured through the doors, gasping for care.

    It didn’t have to be this way, and it might not have been, if Wisconsin’s once-mighty unions still held the power to organize and fight for the rights of essential workers. But years ago, the state’s conservative politicians deliberately dismantled organized labor. So when crisis came to the Badger state, workers had no one looking out for them. 

    And then they began to get sick.

    This country’s employment infrastructure was made to fail -- but failure doesn’t have to be the ultimate fate of American workers. Because unions made this country strong -- and in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need them to make the country strong again.

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  • The Paycheck Protection Program was co-written by Maine’s very own Republican Senator Susan Collins, and it was signed into law as a means for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees to pay their workers and keep operations running during the pandemic. But, a loophole written into the program allowed for several major chains to receive millions of dollars in PPP loans from the same finite bucket of money, leaving crumbs for small businesses who followed the strictest of rules. Those loans, which made up a $349 billion stimulus effort were exhausted after just two weeks. 


    The loophole is one reason that small businesses got so little when it came to the PPP loans, But then, there’s also the fact that banks were administering these loans. As banks were deciding the fate of businesses everywhere and making big profits, businesses all across the country were closing their doors and laying off workers. By April 23, more than 30 million people across America had filed for unemployment. This number has continued to rise. But that same month, in April, the S&P 500 and the Dow had their best months since 1987. The stock market was rallying...


    Why on the one hand did we see so many businesses close and massive job losses one day and see the stock market soaring the next? What does it mean that we have consistently seen both of these trends throughout a global pandemic? The links in our economic system that ensure when businesses profit, the people who work for those businesses profit as well, are fundamentally broken.

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  • In just North Carolina alone 10 hospitals have closed in the last decade, with 7 of those hospitals closing in the last 5 years. 

    For the hospitals still in operation, it's not just coronavirus that has the staff overworked and on edge...it’s the entire medical system. Many of North Carolina’s hospitals are rural hospitals, serving those on the lower end of the economic spectrum. For people living in these parts of North Carolina, it’s the only medical and emergency care for hours. 

    The pandemic has forced a halt to elective procedures and surgeries, disrupting the already thin cash flow. Many are preparing for the worst. 

    But that’s not all. Low income and rural communities have some of the highest risk pools for coronavirus on top of the litany of other medical needs of these areas. Beyond the hurdles of just getting to a hospital lies a much deeper problem people across the country are struggling with.How will they pay for this?

    Poor residents, with low access to care, a crumbling medical infrastructure, a spreading global pandemic, and to top it all off, an administration that’s pretending the pandemic doesn’t exist. Our medical system was Made to Fail.

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  • During the week of the Republican National Convention, the Hub Project and Roosevelt Forward hosted a live-stream launch event to elevate the stories of Americans across the country, call attention to the conservative policies that got us to where we are today, and offer a way out of this crisis. 

    Secretary Julián Castro joined Made to Fail host Elliot Williams, President & CEO of Roosevelt Forward Felicia Wong, President & CEO of the NAACP Derrick Johnson, and President of Community Change Dorian Warren of Community Change in conversation about the conservative movement’s decades-long effort to deliberately undermine America’s key institutions.

    The discussion centered around how conservative ideology has intentionally gutted America’s social safety net, corrupted our institutions, and made the government unaccountable to the American people.

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  • In May of 2020, the Navajo Nation made national headlines with the highest per capita Covid-19 infection rate in the United States, outpacing New York City. Frontline Navajo workers, many of them relatives and neighbors of those infected, rushed to save the most vulnerable. Already, residents of the Navajo Nation face higher rates of preexisting conditions. The grim situation highlights the historical failings of the US government.

    Over 150 years after the treaty signing between the Navajo Nation and the federal government, the latter has attempted practically every method to siphon resources away from the former. This is especially true when it comes to water, a basic human right, that’s been contaminated on Navajo land for decades. After struggling with the repercussions of this contamination (the Navajo Nation has one of the highest cancer rates in the country) today, it’s estimated that between 30 and 50% of Navajo families live without access to clean running water. The infamous scorched-earth campaigns of the 1860’s never really ended. It’s just taken a global pandemic to expose that truth to the rest of us.

    This is only one of the environmental injustices on the reservation, and unfortunately, these injustices are not unique to the Navajo Nation. In fact, most vulnerable communities in the United States face them everyday. And the connections between the environment, race, and the Covid-19 crisis are fatal.

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  • On May 26, people took to the Minneapolis streets in masks to protest the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old local black man. The incident, caught on a bystander’s cell phone camera, shows Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.In Minneapolis, police use force against black people at 7 times the rate of whites. And 1 in every 1000 black men can be expected to be killed by police...that’s 2 ½ times more likely than white Americans.These statistics are no coincidence. 

    The killing of unarmed Black men and women in the streets, in their cars, in their own homes is not just the product of occasional racist bad apples. Instead, a well-built and well-funded system not only offers protection to racist police behavior, but in many cases, encourages it. 

    This system spans centuries, and has a network that runs through all areas of city state and federal governments. It’s a system that still works just as it was originally intended...to keep Black Americans from ever feeling or being safe.

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  • On January 24th, 2020 the Senate Health Committee got a private, all-senators briefing from administration officials on coronavirus. Among the attendees was Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler from Georgia. The very same day as the briefing, an asset manager for Senator Loeffler began making stock trades. Selling thousands of shares in stocks across multiple sectors. 

    Elected officials are cloaked in a tremendous amount of privilege. Privileges that afford them information and opportunities not available to you or me. But what happens when our leaders warp who that judgment is for? What happens when those we elect, don’t think we’re paying attention? 

    For years our norms around elections, ethics, and self dealing have faded into the background. Now in the chaos of 2020, we are seeing story after story of how our leaders protected their political and personal interests first and constituencies second. These stories all have one thing in common—a U.S. Supreme Court unwilling to prosecute unethical behavior and weak federal laws that allow for ethics to fall by the wayside and corruption to fill in the gap.

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  • In Florida, the online unemployment system is not working. Interface glitches, missing support services, hold music heard ad nauseum … this is all to be expected from Florida’s CONNECT system. Today, some Floridians still haven’t seen a single penny in benefits. Now, the governor has called for an investigation into the system’s initial contract and has admitted publicly that the system may have been designed to discourage users from, well, using it. After a deep dive into the history of the state’s attitude towards federal unemployment as a whole, it’s clear that there’s more going on in Florida than just a faulty computer system.

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  • On April 7th, 2020, the voters of Wisconsin lined up to cast their ballots in the Democratic primary election. They lined up in masks and in gloves. They lined up out the door of the polling places, and down the block, and tried throughout the day to keep their distance from one another. Because Republican state lawmakers refused to push back the election, the voters of Wisconsin were forced to turn out in the middle of the pandemic. They were forced to make a choice between their right to vote and their right to live. But those lawmakers weren’t working alone. Indeed, this effort was ultimately enabled by twenty years of voter suppression handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. In case after case, the Supreme Court has hollowed out voting rights in America, making in-person voting during a pandemic election not only possible, but inevitable.

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  • On March 11, 2019 a crowd of reporters gathered at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to cover the announcement of the site of the Democratic National Convention. Over a year later, the United States has become paralyzed by the novel coronavirus as our institutions are being pushed to their breaking point. As our nation grapples with an out of control pandemic, the greatest recession in living memory, and a national reckoning on race, the question remains...what’s the way out? This is Made to Fail.

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