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How we can reimagine California

Illustration of the state of California
(Nicole Vas / Los Angeles Times)
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COVID-19 exposed truths that America and California can no longer ignore

Since the magnitude of the threat from a new strain of coronavirus became apparent early in 2020, California, the nation and the world have endured a massive upending of daily life. More than 170 million cases of COVID-19, a likely undercount, have been confirmed globally, and more than 3.5 million people have died — nearly 1 in 5 of them in the United States and 63,000 here in California.

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Illustration of legs standing in a bedroom and in an office with cars and buses below.
(Nico Chilla / Los Angeles Times)

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We’ve discovered we can work from home. There’s no turning back

Last spring, the shift to remote work appeared to be one of the few bright spots in a landscape of sorrow and fear. The state was a few months into sheltering in place, and if you weren’t an essential worker or unemployed, you were told to work at home.

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Illustration of a Capitol, syringe and stethoscope on right and pill bottles on left.
(Nico Chilla / Los Angeles Times)

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Want single-payer? California needs a public option first

You couldn’t design a better stress test for the healthcare system than the COVID-19 pandemic. And on some fundamental levels, the system failed — witness, for example, the racial and ethnic disparities in outcomes that the system laid bare.

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A person looks inside the closed doors of the Pasadena Community Job Center in Pasadena.
(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

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Post-pandemic, let’s make capitalism more equitable

The sudden COVID-19-driven shutdown of workplaces early last year cost more than 33 million people their jobs over a seven-week span. Governments rushed to try to help, partly by funneling cash to keep countless households afloat, but the damage was severe, especially to nonwhite workers and those already on the low end of the income spectrum. Even now, as jobs come back, the pain continues for people left with higher personal debt, deferred rent payments and other financial problems.

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Illustration of a car, battery and shirt on left and wasteful one-time use items on right.
(Nico Chilla / Los Angeles Times)

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The pandemic let us imagine a world without waste

To wrap your mind around the vast problem of waste, it helps to start by thinking about the disposable dental flosser.

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Exterior of a prison with barbed wire lining the top of the wall
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

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There’s no going back on sentencing and prison reform

The novel coronavirus seeped easily into jails and prisons. It entered along with newly arrived prisoners, and with the officers and others employed in those facilities. When the people locked inside paid their bail or completed their sentences, and when the work shifts ended, the virus went home along with the formerly incarcerated and the employees, and spread to their families, friends and neighbors.

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Overhead photo of two new graduates
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

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You shouldn’t need a college degree to have a decent life in America

A young person who wants to go into hotel management typically needs a bachelor’s degree. Or at least, that’s true here. Not so in Switzerland, where a high school student would attend classes part time while also working at a paid apprenticeship for a hotel, take one more year of training after high school and be set in a well-paid career.

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Illustration of a hand holding a house on the right and a person sleeping on a bench on the left.
(Nico Chilla / Los Angeles Times)

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To solve homelessness, California should declare a right to housing

Housing should be a human right, ideally one enshrined in the United States Constitution. But that shouldn’t stop the city of Los Angeles from adopting such a right. In fact, the City Council has asked city agencies to research the idea. It’s an idea whose time has come.

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