The Coronavirus pandemic is calling into question all of the rotten arrangements that have brought us to this point in American history. Indeed, the virus is remorselessly exposing every weakness in the political and economic ideologies it touches.
Especially the ideology of neoliberalism that has resulted in the rampant financialization of our economy. The scope of the pandemic makes it apparent that we desperately require a financial system that underwrites productive economic activity. Unfortunately, the financial system we have finances greedy hedge funds to go and loot factories and fire workers.
This not a bug but a feature. The Fed and all other Central Banks favours capital over labour and assets over wages. Capital is not just accrued from saving and bank loans are not just made from deposits. Instead we allow banks to create money via debt with new loans, which then create deposits, even though the US governments can always create it at will. As we witnessed in 2008, this money creation has been reserved solely for Wall Street, instead of for policies that benefit the vast majority of Americans, like Medicare for All or spending on crucial infrastructure. Since then Central Banks have engaged in an 11-year orgy of debt-fueled spending that has sent stock prices through the roof even while workers wages have remained flat and standards of living have continued to slip.
The Coronavirus is also exposing the bankruptcy of the ideology of globalization, where in recent decades, America’s economic and political elites of both parties surrendered America’s economic independence for globalism, a new interdependence of nations, where we Americans no longer rely on ourselves alone for the vital necessities of our national life. The spread of coronavirus is revealing basic flaws with globalization, particularly extended supply chains, just in time production, and a host of other neoliberal business practices.
As a result of globalism factories in the US were abandoned and communities destroyed leaving former middle-class workers divorced from the community itself. As a result, these important structures of community have largely been discredited and delegitimised. And with the loosening of ties to community individuals inevitably lose their moral and spiritual compass in life. I believe this was deliberate. Neoliberalism is predicated on a selfish, narcissistic populace, where there is no community, only self.
The pandemic is also demonstrating the utter bankruptcy of our for-profit healthcare system. U.S. health care is not only by far the worst system among rich countries, it is much worse than that of many middle-income or poorer countries when it comes to confronting a fast-moving epidemic. Under the U.S. medical system testing will be expensive for the patients. Insurances may not pay for it. Many people will be unable or unwilling to spend money on it. Care and medicines for serious cases will also be limited by high prices. The public is already being conditioned to expect that any coronavirus test and vaccine won’t be free and they will have to negotiate with health insurance companies for payment or reimbursement. So many won’t seek care unless and until they become desperately ill. The failure to get a diagnosis and isolate early will increase Coronavirus spread.
In a scenario worthy of the Onion, Trump announced that Vice-President Pence, a man who does not believe in science, will lead the Coronavirus response. Pence, who believes the Earth is a mere 6,000 years old and that dinosaurs co-existed with humans, is the final arbiter on what medical information about the coronavirus reaches the public. Pence understands his marching orders. Coronavirus news must all be “good news” and not affect the already-collapsing stock market and U.S. economy.
The other ideology that should take a big hit is the culture of greed, that of Ayn Rand, where the rich can retreat to their gated communities and let the rest of the population rot. What happens when a rich matron’s nanny comes down with the virus, but can’t afford to go to the hospital because she has shit health insurance, yet can’t afford to miss work, and comes to take care of the matron’s precious little children?
Decades of rancid ideologies, short term thinking, insane levels of debt, and being deluded by the powers that be, has created a culture of alienation, greed, violence and materialism. The list of ways in which a pandemic exposes the hollowness of the ideology of neoliberalism goes to infinity but you get the picture.
I am afraid that we have let our society crumble in so many ways that it is going to take a punch in the face to get our attention. The Coronavirus may very well be the fist.
Update: Could the coronavirus be a bio-warfare agent developed to attack China and Iran?
According to Phillip Giraldi, former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the CIA, “there has been some speculation that as the Trump Administration has been constantly raising the issue of growing Chinese global competitiveness as a direct threat to American national security and economic dominance, it must might be possible that Washington has created and unleashed the virus in a bid to bring Beijing’s growing economy and military might down a few notches.”