Speed Reads


John Oliver doesn't want America to go 'back to normal' after the coronavirus pandemic

John Oliver started Sunday's Last Week Tonight with some jokes about pet anatomy, real, fictional, and probably NSFW — though if you are working from home, does it matter? Well, working from home "is something only around a third of people are able to do in this country," Oliver said. He focused instead on how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting "the unemployed and those currently having to leave the house because they work 'essential' jobs."

A "staggering" 10 percent of America's workforce lost their jobs in the past three weeks, "and the federal government has taken some big steps to protect those people," Oliver said. "Unfortunately, the execution has been less than ideal," with big glitches in the Paycheck Protection Program and the meltdown of long-neglected state unemployment programs, plus "the fact that for many people who lose their jobs, they then lose their health insurance — and this is, to put it mildly, a very bad time for that to be happening."

"Essential" workers — in health care, maintenance, grocery stores — literally risk their lives when they go to work, and "essential" companies need to do everything to take care of their workers, Oliver said. "More broadly, we need to seriously think about whether having our health insurance system so tied to employment is a good idea. Because I would argue it emphatically isn't."

"While many of the problems we're being forced to confront right now weren't created by the coronavirus, it has thrown a spotlight on some of the biggest flaws in how our system operates," Oliver said. "Things like paid sick leave and hazard pay are essentially band-aids — and we absolutely need them right now, because we're bleeding — but when this is over, this country's going to need more than band-aids. It's gonna need f---ing surgery. Things need to change and not go 'back to normal.' Cntl-Z-ing us back to how we were in 2016 is simply not going to cut it."

It's "infuriating" to watch some conservatives worry "we might do too much," Oliver said. "There is no better argument for a permanent welfare state than watching your government desperately try to build one when it's already too late." America "will get through this," he added. "The question is how we get through this and what kind of country we want to be on the other side." Watch below. Peter Weber