Former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett has a problem with how we handle flu season in the U.S.
During a recent taping of his podcast, "Lovett or Leave It," Lovett touched on a topic we're not actually hearing a whole lot about: the current flu epidemic. The flu — which experts say is the worst in nearly a decade and has already racked up a modest body count — is an issue that's not getting much attention.
Enter Crooked Media co-founder Lovett. He's fired up about this year's flu, and we should all should hear him out. (Just a warning: some NSFW language.)
GIFs from Lovett or Leave It/Facebook.
If you are sick, do not go to work. This is how you spread germs.
"You show up at work and you're sick — fuck you, ok?" he says, bluntly. "If you have a job with paid sick leave and you can work at home, you work at home. If you wake up achy and with a fever, don't go to the office and see how it goes. You're going to give people the fucking flu."
He's totally right. Staying home from work (or from school) when you're sick is actually the first thing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests. In fact, they take it a step further, suggesting you stay home even if you're not yet sick, but someone else in your household is.
Other important reminders include covering coughs and sneezes, washing your hands, and wearing a mask if you're out in public. (Yes, I know it can look goofy as hell, but it's for the greater good, people.)
Americans are weird when it comes to work. We've been taught to tough it out and that showing up when we're sick is part of being a team player.
It needs to change, and we can start with how we praise kids for perfect attendance at school. Going to school or work when you're sick is actually a profoundly selfish thing to do. Unless you're Michael Jordan hopping in a time machine to drop 38 points on the Utah Jazz in the 1997 NBA Finals, you need to stay in bed. As only he can, Lovett explains:
"You going is about proving you're the kind of person who powers through. It's not about being a team player, it's about you, and it's a weird performance, and people shouldn't go to work sick. It's bullshit. It's treated like, 'Oh yeah, what a tough person.' Fuck you. Go home. You are a contagious thing. Your mucous membranes don't know how much you care about your work. They don't give a shit."
It's time we got with the rest of the world and implemented mandatory paid sick leave.
Many people living paycheck-to-paycheck or working an hourly, low-wage job often don't have the ability to call in sick. Many countries — the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Mexico, and many, many more — mandate that employers offer their workers paid time off for sickness, but not here in the U.S.
The CDC (funded by the federal government) recommends that individuals do something that the federal government won't act on. If the government saw public health issues as a true priority, they'd enact policies that would allow people — especially hourly workers, some of whom might be handling your food — to take time off when they need it. A few states have taken it upon themselves to require companies to offer paid time off, and several companies have decided it's a benefit worth offering all employees, but Congress should pass a bill making it a requirement nationwide.
"We never cover cause and effect," Lovett says, referring to why a wealthy country like the U.S. gets hammered by diseases year after year. "We never talk about the system."
Watch Lovett's inspired, fiery rant below.
For more information on what you can do to help prevent the spread of the flu, visit the CDC's website (and, seriously, get a flu shot).