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Victor Davis Hanson on Essential Workers


Published July 29, 2020

Panic buying, caused by the COVID-19 crisis, has turned our attention to essential jobs and workers. Non-essential workers are typically compensated more than essential workers are. We need to have a fundamental shift in how we think about essential jobs and how the people employed in those jobs are compensated.

This video’s audio track is excerpted from an episode of The Classicist podcast, published by the Hoover Institution.

Additional Resources:

  • Listen to The Classicist podcast episode “Plagues, Ancient and Modern” with Victor Davis Hanson. Available here.
  • Read “The Virus Is Not Invincible, But It’s Exposing Who’s Irreplaceable” by Victor Davis Hanson, via American Greatness. Available here.
  • Watch the Hoover Institution’s Virtual Policy Briefing “COVID-19 and the Lessons of History” with Victor Davis Hanson. Available here.
View Transcript


When I see this panic buying and shelves empty from largely suburban and urban shoppers I ask myself, “where do they think this stuff comes from?” 

It was stocked by people of the lower middle class that worked all night  and they were supplied by truckers who came from packing houses and food processing plants and directly from farms being worked by people on tractors by farming engineers, hydrologists, farm laborers, farm managers, who have not taken one moment off. 

So what I do, and what an advertiser does, or a high price corporate lawyer, a lot of these jobs are not essential to keep us alive one more day. 

A fracker is, a farmer is, a trucker is, and yet somehow, we’ve lumped these people in as the losers of globalization, the people who are very lowly compensated are doing everything and they’re essential. 

I hope people will start to see that, that shift in their estimation of what’s important and what’s not.