COVID-19 calls on us to consider our plundered commons and unite around four truths made conspicuous by the pandemic.
By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News
Now that the Trump administration has declared the COVID–19 virus a national emergency, it is plain that this once-a-century catastrophe has some things to tell us about ourselves. A thousand New Age apostles call for unity in 1960s “get together” style. In the Hallmark card category, Marianne Williamson advised us on Twitter Saturday, “We can grow from this.”
We may or may not grow from this. This will depend on whether we identify the lessons the COVID–19 pandemic has for humanity — and then go on to learn from them such that we can effect change in the way we live and organize ourselves. Certain nations — agile, imaginative, confident — prove capable of change in the face of new circumstances. The U.S. is not one of these, to put the point politely.
The numerous urgings to unite ourselves reek of what the French call angélisme —hopeless, impotent idealism. These expressions reflect back on us like mirrors, and what they show us is bitter: We preach unity because we have little of it to work with as a nation. Our communities are in one degree or another shredded. The invocation of “we,” indeed, is highly questionable.
Three factors leave us in this fragile, more or less helpless state. There is the radical individualism arising from the Anglo–American philosophic tradition. This causes us to neglect and abuse public space with perfect indifference. We are left, in turn, at the mercy of market fundamentalism. “Savage capitalism,” as this is known in Latin America, is diabolically merciless, as too many of us know firsthand.
President Donald Trump’s press conference Friday, when he announced the state of emergency, was a remarkable occasion — another mirror bearing another lesson. Trump stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a flock of CEOs the White House recruited to counter the spread of COVID–19. WalMart will get this done. Google will get this done. Roche, the drug maker, stood in for Big Pharma: They will all help, too. It is a spectacle to watch the powerful speak thus above our heads. Is this what community in America comes to now? Are we to accept that community has been effectively corporatized along with everything else in American life that isn’t nailed down (and many things that are)?
Put Trump’s appearance Friday next to simultaneous press reports describing the alarming decrepitude of local and state health departments, and the lesson is complete. “Many health departments are suffering from budget and staffing cuts that date to the Great Recession and have never been fully restored,” The New York Times observes.
Actually, the story of our starved-out health departments begins in the Reagan era, when the federal government got smaller by shoving various responsibilities onto states and localities without funding these transferred responsibilities. In the face of crisis, we are caught by our own carelessness — decades of it — as safety nets were ripped up and the commons robbed before our eyes.
It is no better in Britain. On Saturday, Health Minister Matt Hancock disclosed a government plan to force every Briton over 70 years of age into isolation “for a very long time.” The figure I read is four months. John Pilger, who released his documentary “The Dirty War on the NHS”a few months ago, asserted on social media over the weekend that this unconscionable proposition is a direct consequence of official neglect of the National Health Service since the Thatcher years (which coincided with the Reagan years, of course).
If there were no chance of growing ourselves out of these dire circumstances, one would not produce documentaries, write columns, or get out of bed in the morning. But we must grasp and address four essential truths if we are to do any of this growing. Syrupy thoughts with no substance behind them are nothing more than distracting salves that effectively disarm us because they invite us to flinch from our actually existing (as the Marxists used to say) conditions.
Role of State
The first of these truths concerns the role of the state. The place of the state in a nation’s political economy may well have been the premier question of the 20thcentury. Vladimir Lenin had an answer in 1917. John Maynard Keynes had another, more palatable in the Western democracies, a short while later. Jawaharlal Nehru and the Fabians had another, and President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher another after that. The Clinton and Obama administrations wasted between them 16 years gutlessly playing footsie with the Great Communicator’s radical laissez-faire chicanery. It is now chiseled in granite that all must be left to the market. Private sí, public no! To argue otherwise is to belch in chapel.
The West has had the wrong end of the stick on this question since the Reagan–Thatcher somersault. And here come the ironies. Leaders in the Western capitals scramble as we speak to enact Kenysian stimulus programs and launch state-directed social and economic responses to COVID–19, Trump’s “public-private partnerships,” the good old “PPPs,” notwithstanding. Let us hope this marks a very sharp turning point. Let us make it mark one.
In truth, the non–West has it all over the old democracies as to the role of the state. This reflects a much stronger idea of community and a properly balanced notion of the individual’s place in it. Non–Western nations are unburdened by the Anglo–American tradition and have cultures and political histories of their own, even if our Western-centric perspectives leave us ignorant of these. The take-home here: COVID–19 puts the West on notice that it needs to reverse course on the place and role of the state and consign the Reaganesque, Thatcherite minimalism to oblivion. Memo to Bill Clinton: You’ll never spin “The era of big government is over,” your weaselly 1996 utterance, to advantage.
Neoliberalism in the extreme version we live with — another Reagan-era legacy — is the wrong technology for moments such as this one. It cannot respond to 21stcentury exigencies such as COVID–19. We know this now. It is prominent among the culprits behind this crisis. It has devastated our public space, not least our public health institutions.
Big Pharma, reflecting the awful logic of markets über alles, is now poised to profit maximally from the desperation of virus victims. The circumstance is unclear, but there is reason to assume the U.S. declined to accept testing kits approved by the World Health Organization — this in January —because it wanted American companies to profit from making their own.
Drop Destructive Ideology
Truth No. 2: Neoliberalism will be with us a good long while, let us not indulge in illusions. But those who did more than anyone else to bring us to this crisis cannot be looked to for solutions to it. If we are to grow, it must be beyond this destructive ideology.
The only way to get this done is to re-establish (or establish, as the case may be) democratic processes capable of containing corporations and getting them decisively out of government. This means getting those standing as our political leaders out of corporate pockets, one must add.
This century demands sturdy supra-national institutions—truth No. 3. But they are nowhere in evidence now because we have so far failed to build them effectively. These, too, have to be properly democratized if they are to work as conduits for ground-up solutions to on-the-ground problems. The UN so often fails because so much of it is manipulated by the U.S. and its Atlantic allies. The European Union is a fine idea — but not so long as it is controlled by technocratic ideologues who render Strasbourg, seat of the European Parliament, little more than a playpen for political has-beens or never-weres.
Unqualified to Lead
Fourth and final point: It is now plain that the U.S. simply is not qualified to lead in the way our elites insist it must. Who, in the COVID–19 case, is looking to the travesty of our healthcare system for guidance, as any kind of model? What kind of nation keeps devastating sanctions in place despite the COVID–19 crisis, as in the case of Iran? Or the debilitating tariffs the U.S. imposes on China? More broadly, in its late-imperial phase this nation is bereft of vision, imagination, or any similarly creative attribute. This is truth No. 4 to arrive via COVID–19. It was evident long before Trump moved into the White House, although Trump has taken us down many rungs on the ladder of decline.
A West Coast source wrote after I solicited her thoughts on COVID–19:
COVID–19 is an opportunity like none we’ve ever been handed. It can take down empire, it can jump-start meaningful community-oriented innovation, it can fundamentally change the way we do things. This is a potent moment — a creative moment. It’s a great chance we have right now. We can individually and collectively find our hearts again.
I count four “can’s” in this note. It is an excellent verb. It is on us now to begin the long work turning our “can’s” into “will’s.”
Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century” (Yale). Follow him on Twitter @thefloutist. His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site.
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The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
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So much for my short sighted tunnel vision. Great Job of putting you thoughts into a coherent message. Something I struggle with often.
I suppose I have this slam coming. It seems obvious I have offended your sensibilities considering your comments here.
But no, I’m not offended by someone such as you and your obvious strong capacity for mental gymnastics and literary superiority doing their best to “straighten me out”. How you been feeling lately you seem a little grumpy.
Great article, as usual. And kudos to AnneR whose comment, especially the last paragraph, is a superb and concise description of our electoral system.
“this once-a-century catastrophe”
ooh, a bit soon to say that isn’t it? We’re only 20 years into the century for starters.
I’m one of those heretics not buying into the doom laden narratives on this. I like hard facts. Like that (as of today), according to “worldometer” there have been 3237 deaths in China attributable to covid19. In a population of 1,437,749,087 Not sure how they can be that precise, but I think it’s about right.
Those statistics tell us that covid19 had to date killed (drum roll!) 0.0002 percent of the Chinese population. Or 1 in 444,000 persons.
Well, I’m not a very obedient sheep – I’m not panicking.
Unfortunately everyone else around seems to be doing so. For sure, it’s a health problem. As is the flu. Has anyone noticed? The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says there have been an estimated 22,000-55,000 flu deaths in the US alone in the 2019-2020 season. Check their website!
Do remind me of the number of deaths so far attributed to covid19.
This is indeed a once in a century catastrophe…if we’re lucky. You like hard facts? Read this thread summarizing the Imperial College report: see: twitter.com/jeremycyoung/status/1239975682643357696
China has been able to limit the death (and infection) rate only by using extreme measures like quarantine. And if we don’t do the same, see above referenced report, we’re facing the possibility of millions of Americans dying. As David Sirota tweeted today: a death rate of “only” 3.4% is 11 million Americans. For older people the death rate is much higher.
Maybe you might think about how bad things are in Italy right now and remember that we’re only one week behind them:
The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at John Hopkins University operates a virus tracker here that seems accurate from the news I read:
Mobile device version here: arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/85320e2ea5424dfaaa75ae62e5c06e61
I disagree with the premise that our “leadership” has failed. WE have failed. WE (the proletariat) have failed to protect the land from the dumping of industrial waste onto farmlands, streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans. OUR food production has deteriorated into a morass of chemically saturated cereals we feed our children every morning. WE have created thousands of artificial “jobs” that have nothing to do with the physical production of quality food, clothing, housing, and urban communities that are long term sustainable and habitable. WE have ignored thousands of years of human history, and erected a sparkling Disney land filled with plastic toys, cellular phones, big screen TV’s, and toxic landfills.
The corona virus is a man made bioweapon, and WE created it with our reliance on military power to steal what we “need” to sustain an artificial economy. No one has forced us to ignore the truth. We cower behind the idle and nonsensical critiques of the educated, and live in denial of our complete and unrelenting failure to face the horrors of reality.
“This is a potent moment — a creative moment.”
Patrick hit it on the head and the ruling elites know this too. They are using this potent moment to creatively consolidate their control and effectively marginalize any opposition to their interests. At this point everyone both left and right agrees we need to take drastic measures to address the pandemic. Here is what we are giving up, mostly willingly, so far:
1. right to assembly (mass protests, plus restricted domestic and international travel)
2. privacy (largely eroded already but now another justification to invade personal information)
3. due process (courts are not in session)
4. speedy, public jury trial (an alternative will have to be developed)
5. elections are already being suspended and a workable “free and fair” new process will undoubtedly be compromised from its inception
6. a government free of religion (zealots are in control)
These, and other civil liberties, were critical safeguards. The press is largely already owned by corporations and wealthy individuals. The internet (which is essentially privately owned by billionaires) is beginning to get more aggressive about censorship. Those tweets, no matter how brilliant and widely dispersed, if allowed, will not impact the outcome.
Re-establishing a democratic process is the very last thing the ruling elite wants to happen and they have control of all three branches of our government, including the military and police. Now they have a pandemic to justify the most extreme measures. We cannot despair yet we cannot fall into wishful thinking either. Our fight is the same and it will continue but new, “creative moment” methods will have to be developed to be effective.
AnneR gets the accolades for the most educational comment here. Good stuff and the TRUTH!
Much Thanks to AnneR, your comment wasn’t up when I wrote mine but I happen to be referring to the very things you write about.
If folks only realized how much deceit was involved in getting hallowed the institutions of higher learning in this country to adopt curriculums that supported Hayek’s ideas and philosophies up to and including paying students to attend those classes, classes which changed the landscape of American economics.
Thanks to all at CN
“The only way to get this done is to re-establish (or establish, as the case may be) democratic processes capable of containing corporations and getting them decisively out of government. This means getting those standing as our political leaders out of corporate pockets, one must add.”
This is one view I just can not abide. The solution to the failure of Western liberal democracy is NOT more of the same. Democracy has a 100% track record throughout its history of being nothing more than a handmaiden and carapace for Imperial slaughter and plunder throughout the world. The elites, funded both sides of the French revolution and protected the elites and their imperial plunder as the interest on the loans. There has never been a real democracy, every single one is nothing more than a brutal murdering plundering empire. (This refers to the core Western democracies and not to India, for example, which is another story.Democracy = imperial slaughter (with guilt soothing at home.)
What is taking place is huge, it is civilizational in scope. Western civilization is built on a pathological lust for “absolute” power.
I would like to think that the COVID-19 also has a silver lining…One I already see is people getting together to help each other.
It’s not possible to address an epidemic over 20 years into our war on the poor. Do you expect the masses of homeless to “self-isolate?” Where? And what of all those now on the brink of joining the masses of jobless poor?
The rich only feel their own pain…
Yeah, that is gonna be a clusterfuck. They have no place to go. And they have been cast off by American society. There is little concern for them now. They will suffer, and in worse conditions than others. And just wait till it gets into the jails. There will be even less than the non-existent concern there is for those folks now. American society is thoroughly unprepared for the disciplined, well-resourced response this needs.
How does one go about curing Statism and Politicalism, which in what is termed “Western World” began long before Regan and Thatcher,; Back to the split between Eastern and Western Philosophical thought.
The world’s first Government is believed to of been in Mesopotamia and it’s form lasted until the Greeks politicized it into Centralized power of the nation state, an idealism that no nation can exist without there being an all powerful center that defines itself into who and what they are by what central power says they are.
Neoliberalism is a fairly recent term that has so many nuances and variations within it that makes it useless as a means to describe political economic patterns, and yet it is an almost perfect example of a faith in Statism and what more properly should be called Politicology.
What and the hell IS grassroots activism, the roots of today are not the roots of 100 or more years ago, or of 25 years for that matter, those roots were pulled and replanted by new strains many times.
At this late stage of mankinds western philosophical political/economic developement there are no roots left to pull upon and the western model is tearing up what remains of more biased towards Eastern Philosophical lands and peoples in order to survive.
Two examples of Eastern thought versus western thought are Somalia and Afghanistan with Afghanistan being a prime example, as both nations were deemed dysfunctional as neither had a strong over arching central government.
Just Afghanistan that had but a titular form of central government has shown that it’s people can and have defeated the most vicious and inhuman attacks by all the European and US nations who claim only Central Control governments have to exist.
So.alia was living under much the same rules of its society, weak central government strong individual groupings of diverse people, but both had defining borders that each their societies put in place.
Economics drives western societies it is their reason for being, the power of economics means dollar value is higher than life value, and politics is but control of economics.
Nature’s way is to scorch the earth in order to reseed it, and that will not work as mankind cannot stand the thought that they are the rotten seed.
Nothing will be changed no matter the impoverishment of worlds masses, until enough of them they get mad enough to strike a few matches.
When was last time you seen a match?
“until enough of them they get mad enough to strike a few matches.”
Some social relations seek to facilitate their continuance by encouraging resort to emotionalism by potential opponents.
The existence of oppenents or any other phenomenon is not predicated on perception.
Consequently lateral strategies of transcendence are facilitated by the “mad-ness” of those being transcended, not by the “mad-ness” of those encouraging transcendence whilst minimising striking a few matches to minimise blowback.
“4 Truths” ?
#1. The Fox is in the Hen House . Bought and/or black mailed politicians (Epstein and Citizens United)
#2. We are being propagandized by the “Industrial Experts” from Agencies they have captured , using the controlled media .
#3. Our specialized economy is being shut down with ignorant mandates (creating unintended consequences) in part then in whole .
#4. Chaos is coming and Tyranny reigns . (Life in the Surveillance States)
Liberal media have played a powerful role in dividing and conquering “the masses,” middle class vs. poor. Go through recent liberal media, and see their response to the homeless in view of this epidemic.
The left populist-progressives should seize this moment quickly and decisively to demand at the very least Medicare-for-All, total credit card debt and student loan debt relief for those making under $150,000 per year, and a $1.000 guaranteed income per mo.
It was V. Lenin who said (paraphrase) these moments don’t come very often and that the course of history can be changed in as little as two weeks if the committed forces seize the moment and don’t let go.
Your post is actually definitive of the problem. In reality, those leading middle class concerns, are NOT the concerns of the left, here or in around the world. The notion of “$1,000 per month,” over 20 years into the Democrats war on the poor, just leaves us shaking our heads. Liberal capitalists call for student debt relief (a debt of choice) to the exclusion of restoring basic human rights (UN’s UDHR) of food and shelter to those left jobless.
Completely agree with this immediate tactic — already, quite inadequate proposals toward cash infusions to households are under discussion in the nation’s Crapital. We won’t win quickly by any means, but this is an opening.
I was so glad to see someone questioning the motivation behind rejecting use of the existing test. I am also suspicious that our insistence on developing our own test may have been motivated by the desire to create a proprietary interest in the epidemic itself. How else would you expect the US to respond to a crisis? Every problem is viewed through the same single focus monocle of profit generation. Every problem is subjected to a cost benefit analysis where the only recognized benefit is profit. It’s all we do or know how to do. Trump went on TV to address the nation and spent the first fifteen minutes talking about the Fed reducing interest rates from 1.25 to .25. How many Americans had any idea what the Hell he was talking about?
The failure of the US to respond effectively to this crisis was inevitable. Our institutions have been looted and poisoned and hollowed out until they are little more than rot covered by a thin veneer of illusion. All of our resources and expertise have been dedicated to extracting wealth and maintaining the illusions that make that possible. You have a gift for placing the political moment in historical and philosophical perspective, and perspective is the enemy of illusion.
(‘In truth, the non–West has it all over the old democracies as to the role of the state. This reflects a much stronger idea of community and a properly balanced notion of the individual’s place in it. Non–Western nations are unburdened by the Anglo–American tradition and have cultures and political histories of their own, even if our Western-centric perspectives leave us ignorant of these. ‘) -the author.
Spot one the money! The following quote from U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs John Oberly (1888-1889) nicely illustrates the change of thinking required of Native Americans for them to be effectively integrated into our Western mythic beliefs as follows:
The “Indian” – “must be imbued with the exalting egotism of American civilization so that he will say “I” instead of “We,” and “This is mine” instead of “This is ours.” No, selfishness and greed are NOT simply human nature, they are rather Western mythic values.
We in the West represent a small fraction of earth’s population and we are in fact the outliers to the rest of humanity when it comes to our notions of valuing the individual and his/her rights OVER collective common good. We in the U.S. are not surprisingly the outliers of the other Western outliers in this regard. It is long past time we in the West join the rest of humanity and stop trying to dominate, exploit and subjugate the rest of the planet as we have for over 500+ years now all while allowing massive wealth inequality to trump basic human compassion and social just and the common good. Just a thought.
“public-private partnerships” are that in which the public assumes the monetary risk and private companies (or, corporations) reap the monetary prize! Yes, I also noted the part of the article which asks the question, what kind of country keeps sanctions on countries like Iran, Nicaragua, etc, when they are also experiencing disasters like COVID-19?! God Bless America ’cause only a forgiving god could bless such evil.
I agree that the impending chaos will present opportunities for a reset and I agree further with Patrick that no change or improvement is possible without a plan. (You cannot get anywhere without knowing WHERE you want to get to)
I also agree that the fundamental question of “true democracy” is the essential component. To that end, I propose the following (very briefly) –
1/ Abolition and outlawing of ALL and ANY political parties, collaboration, collusion, or “behind closed doors” deals, which effectively compromise the conscience or representative voice of an elected representative.
2/ PUBLIC utilities and services must remain publicly owned and CONTROLLED. – (1/ would ensure this)
3/ BANKING must be seen as a PUBLIC service ! NOT a private or corporate “for profit” undertaking.
4/ Funding of PUBLIC services should be through a very simply collected, and universally contributed tax on TRANSACTIONS. (NOT income, earnings, savings, profits, etc)
Other PUBLIC concerns would become obvious on reflection, with health, police, army, prisons, roads, water supply, all rather obvious.
Thankfully , not all Republican leaders are as cavalier about this crisis as Trump. Repub Gov. Larry Hogan is doing the right things for Maryland ;
See : youtu.be/uGlr1l2RhsE?t=585
Hogan : ” We’d rather be Denmark than Italy. ”
Ain’t that the truth……..
I believe Governorr Cuomo is doing a stand-up job in my state of New York…
Why is there so little discussion about the possible origin of CoVID-19 being biowarfare labs?
Maybe it isn’t, but even if that’s the case, it is an absolute fact that such “weapons” are being created in labs.
They are lousy weapons at best, especially since USA leads the world in conventional weapons, and therefore the only chance to take us out is to acquire such an asymmetrical weapon. It would seem that would lead us to never create such a thing, knowing that it will inevitably leak, be stolen, bought, or given away.
Most people seem to have internalized that this subject is – none of our business!
I’m not sure why you are upset about governments telling those 70 and older to stay home? Then you praise Asian societies for their people’s sense of collectivism- which is right, they do have a sense of all for one and one for all that Americans for one, surely do not have. And that’s good for those societies who feel a sense of collectivism. Flattening the curve by asking more at risk people (our elders) to stay home or even requiring they do for a time, protects them from death and protects our shaky unable-to-cope healthcare systems from utter collapse when too many at risk people get sick all at once. Remember, 12-15% of EVERYONE who gets Covid will need “serious” care requiring hospital care like oxygen and IV fluids. 5% of everyone, will need critical care, that’s ICU care with ventilation, ECMO, etc. We do NOT have those resources available to care for too many very ill people all at once. Telling the more vulnerable among us to stay home is GOOD. We can all step in to help by socially distancing ourselves too and by keeping scrupulous, our hygiene measures, both collectively and personally. Help your elderly neighbors get groceries if they don’t have families to help them.
One hopefully positive outcome of COVID-19: the concept of exponential increase will have gained wider notoriety. It may come in handy when we explain runaway climate change to ourselves.
Patrick Lawrence, excellent article. The testing kit refusal reminded me of our governments snub of Cuba’s offer to send fifteen hundred physicians during the Katrina disaster. The powers that be cannot forgive and forget. No attempt to arrive at some sort of Tabula rasa, just picking at old scabs, holding grudges with a single minded devotion to vengeance against all Cuban citizens (who did not flee during the revolution)
Not to intentionally wander too far off the original article, the Cuban people like our own citizenry shoulder little responsibility for mistakes made by Castro’s regime or Regan’s sell out to corporate fascists and Thatcherism. Americans are so often seduced by affable schmucks with wide smiles. Meanwhile the average Cuban suffered greatly under Batista, to such a degree that Fidels’ rhetoric began to sound like common sense. Both cultures and peoples took an unnecessary and heavy loss in terms of quality of life and social justice. Why can’t the two nations just wipe the slate clean and begin again? Give a middle finger to the Chicago School of neoclassical economics in particular, that spawn derived from the Austrian School (Friedrich Hayek). At the same time, mutually agree to shelve any dictatorial socialists and or communist policies of Cuba’s recent past.. Find some common middle ground, borrowing the best from these various ideologies and economic platforms?
You are way off base about Castro’s “regime.” The life of the average Cuban improved immensely since the revolution. Healthcare in particular. It is available to all and they actually have a plan to deal with this virus that is focused on people, not profits.
The privations they still live with are the result of the Washington regime, not the Castro regime.
Why does the USA feel it must tell everyone else what to do, who to vote for and how to run their country? You are hardly a model, and the present “sanctions” on so many “sovereign nations” are completely uncalled for.
Venezuela has been targeted for over twenty years, and since 2014 the income for the country has dropped by 90% (we cannot just blame Trump). By what right does the USA call itself a “leader”?
Some good news – it seems we’ll soon have a rapid (< 10 min. ) , point-of-care test (developed in China , natch ) that can be done on finger-stick quantities of blood that will identify those who have recovered from coronavirus infection and have acquired protective immunity :
This would allow us to identify the population that can most safely remain in the workforce without fear of infecting others , and also those whose plasma donations could potentially be used to prepare immune globulin / convalescent sera for therapeutic use on active cases.
If past history is any guide , expect the use of this test in the US to be slow and spotty , instead of rapid and widespread (as it should be).
Oh geez, well I suppose that those who show a resistance to the disease could be helpful—but this is Neo America that we’re living in , and in our most dystopian way, I’m sure that those with the life saving antibodies will be arrested, squirreled away and drained of blood by some corporations who already treat humans as cattle. Of course, maybe I am only imagining a horrid future—sometimes it’s hard to tell.
reply to blessthebeasts from elmerfudzie. In our blighted and benighted histories, both cultures and economies suffered. The US went over to brown beet sugar to replace the higher quality white cane Cuba has. Cuba got stuck with our Studebakers, Oldsmobiles, and Hudsons, I’d like to upgrade their love for, now (mostly) built in the USA, delivered at factory cost, vehicles like Mazda’s, Fords, Buick’s and Dodges. That spider web of land line phone wires dangling from neighborhood intersections there will be upgraded to the very best we currently have. I’ll say this much, neither side could boast of a freedom fighting fourth estate but all that is in the past and is about to change. Cuba can be a hub and conduit for what was once referred to as lefty journalism (it certainly can’t happen here), a go between for our diplomatic relations with South American countries, not to mention the currency trade racket and exchange to the world. Do you remember just how high the reputation and esteem was at one time for the Lebanese pound? That could happen for Cuban currency today! The Cubans are the finest mix of entrepreneurial and mercantile peoples drawn from Europe and Africa, all they need is a bit of catalyst material from their nearest northern neighbor. Let us bury the hatchet for good….
I keep hearing this is a result of a Neoliberal society…yet how is this society even representative of a free market capitalist system when the small innovators are shut out by the corporate model? If it was a free market, then Corporate would not dominate Private innovation. Corporatism is what you have and the dominance of the Oligarchy reigns supreme over the ability for any community based innovation to take place.
Todd with all due respect I would like to remind you that “free market” Capitalism as practiced in the U.S. is actually totally dependent on corporate socialism. Calling it something else does change the results that impact society, such as shutting out small innovators.
We are a society that has been victimized by the elitist control the government and they practice neoliberal corporate oligarchical socialism. And it is killing the country, society and our economy.
The proof, how many times do we as tax payers have to bail out a corrupt wall street.
The only individuals who benefit from our so called free market economy are those born with silver spoons in their mouths and the singular digit number of tech geeks who make deals with the devil (government)to become billionaires.
So what you may be hearing is individuals blaming “this” on neoliberal economics which have left us with our current “economic system”., but I’m not sure.
I might need to better understand your specific usage of “this”, it does seem you answered your own question without realizing it. This term and usage can be very confusing. Suffice to say what we have to day in my opinion is the result of the conservatives in Washington hijacking the political discourse under Ron Reagan and his merry band of neocons.
There is a phenomenon called the political discourse in the Overton Window wiki they describe this phenomenon , “the range of policies politically acceptable to the mainstream population at a given time.” That is the political discourse and conservatives have been busy shifting that political discourse as they see fit by artful couche’ing of their arguments.
A statement in the wiki on the Overton Window approach explains the concept then states “The most common misconception is the lawmakers themselves are in the business of shifting the Overton Window. That is entirely false.”
Sorry but I beg to differ,with the wiki, lawmakers are lobbied incessantly by banks and wall street to do that exact thing! You only need to look as far as the wall street bailouts to see the proof.
See also the wiki Discourse analysis.
I would like very much to add that conservatives in both parties have had us in between their lies for years. This is why they are NO DIFFERENT and I ain’t buying their BS.
You are exactly right. Free markets do not have central banks like the Federal Reserve. Free markets do not “bail out” Wall Street Banks. Free markets do not subsidize the corporate oligarchy. Free markets do not burden the small businesses with expensive and complicated regulations that make it impossible for them to succeed. Free markets do not have an income tax system so convoluted that billions of dollars are wasted complying with the system. I could go on and on.
Good informative start; trusting that the collective will is not d.o.a.
Asking for two generations of lazy americans to act and come together is nice and angélique.
A priority might be to add Guilty to Impeachment. Again, nice and angélique.
See you in the funny pages.…
Life in the US didn’t start or stop with Reagan. I get it, you don’t care for him. But from “It’s the economy, stupid” to “Hope and Change” and everything in between, nothing’s changed. Nothing. It’s difficult for me to grasp that one President was so powerful that none dare tinker with his machinations. Sorry. Not buying it. We have an endemic problem and we re-elect it every two years, every four years and every six years. We may not get the government we pay for but we certainly get the government we deserve.
Yes, JeffB, and how horrifying that Greta Thunberg’s generation, and for the many generations after, that LIFE and the many deaths on the planet are cause by the few, the soulless, the corporate.
It is not that Reagan was “so powerful that none dare tinker with his machinations, ” but that he and Thatcher were at the forefront, were leaders at a moment of a Friedrich Hayek influenced, Milton Friedman economic-economist momentum (Thatcher was a devotee of Hayek and apparently Reagan was also something of a fan of his economic philosophy). And both Reagan and Thatcher were influenced by Friedman who was a monetarist, believed that a level of unemployment was necessary (presumably not his) and he was totally against all but the most minimal of government regulation of the “free market.” That government should keep its nose out of the “economy.” And he was for privatization generally, except, perhaps in a few cases (police, military…).
Friedman and his Chicago School economist cohorts overwhelmingly influenced the Anglo-American political and financial world, most especially and most detrimentally for populations on both sides of the Atlantic once Thatcher and Reagan came to power. They and their administrations/cabinets laid the foundations for the neo-con-neo-liberal, plutocratic, obscene economic and power inequalities that we have been living under for the past forty years or so.
As for the elections – they are all smoke and mirrors. We the people, the bewildered herd (to quote an FF) do not genuinely get to choose our president or, for that matter, our Reps or Senators in any meaningful way. The ruling elites – the ones with the $$$, the pull, the aristos/plutocrats/oligarchs – decide who will be this or that nominee. Not us. And we only have the two-headed Janus party – not as in most of Europe a variety of parties each reflecting more closely the views of different people – from which to “choose”: A or B. It doesn’t make an iota of difference because what we the bewildered herd want our government to do isn’t even on their horizon, no matter which of the duopoly party we choose.
In my humble opinion, the Reagan Revolution began long before Reagan was elected. He was really the pinnacle of its devastating destruction of the USA. After Reagan it was a done deal and when more Scum like Reagan were elected like Clinton, Bush Jr. and Obama the deed was completed.
Trump has an impossible task to reboot some semblance of Pre-Reagan America. He is not very good but compared to Democratic Leadership and a good part of the Party Members and Voters its a better course than More of The Same.
Yes it took 45 years to completely destroy the US and it is now close to complete. But the Great Communicator was instrumental in hammering the Rusty Spike into America’s Soul. Acknowledge it or not it is a fact.
Well, YOU yourself might get the government YOU deserve, but voter fraud, misinformation, utter Corporate control of virtually everything, and political corruption in general means the vast majority of US have no say whatsoever in who our leaders are. We are about to “choose” a right-wing dementia-addled serial liar and Corporatist as the Dem nominee. The election was typical, and unsurprising: for over a year the entire corporate media machine demonized and lied about Sanders. Magically, all the Dem toadies dropped put together ahead of Super Tuesday, and the dead candidate suddenly came to life and walked on water. We could leave that there, with no further comment. But unsurprisingly, exit polls show massive discrepancies–voter fraud–that favor Biden exclusively. So, we get the government that THEY want. And so it goes.
You are right about this not starting with Reagan but I totally disagree with your characterization of a president who consulted an astrologer. No need to be sorry for not understanding the reality of the situation. But hang with me here.
The neocons have been around much longer that Reagan. Say before Nixon. But don’t take my word for it. Do what I did and study the history behind our economic system.
What made Reagan powerful was his spending of our treasure. Reagan didn’t end the cold war taxpayers did, your grandfather, your father and you if you pay taxes. Which according to you last sentence you already recognize.
Re robert e williamson jr
March 17, 2020 at 14:33
“No need to be sorry for not understanding the reality of the situation.”
…since such not understanding the situation in part facilitated the situations which facilitated the ongoing process of the transcendence of “The Soviet Union” by the Russian Federation, which in parallel and/or interaction facilitated/facilitates the ongoing process of the transcendence of “The United States of America”.
“Reagan didn’t end the cold war.”
That is correct since war, not restricted to things that go bang, or cold or hot, has not yet ended.
” taxpayers did, your grandfather, your father and you if you pay taxes.”
As above that is incorrect, but such myths had and continue to have utility including for “the ongoing process of the transcendence of “The United States of America”” since some did not/do not restrict their activities to ” what I did and study the history behind our economic system.” leaving some others engrossed in the spectacle of “The US National Emergency” since resort to useful foolery displays better manners and wisdom than killing and subsequent attempts at burying bodies.