As the pandemic spreads across the world sparing no nation, economics seems to trump human life (no pun intended).
Capitalism is on trial. The current leadership has held to stripping out, dismissing or ignoring human concerns in favor of a narrow and short term economic gain. We are only beginning to see how foolish and dangerous that is.
In the midst of the CoVid-19 viral pandemic the addiction to short term economic gain floats to the top like scum on a pond. Grabbing fast profits by exploiting a scarcity of supplies during a catastrophe may seem like the American way but it sure doesn’t fit with the values of the “City on a hill” which our leaders are constantly claiming we are. Read it, we’re not.
Back in 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Naomi Klein wrote an essay introducing the term “disaster capitalism” to our political discussions and awakening us to the cancerous impact of those who attempt to profit from disasters. It all sounds great if you have visions of dollars dancing in your head, but eventually you’ll be on the receiving end of such greed and it may cost you your life or the life of someone you love.
Now that Bernie Sanders has shown that he has wide support, the corporate media is in full panic mode and they are getting a bit hysterical about his self-imposed label “democratic socialist.” If you listen carefully, you will hear a litany of predictable slogans and scarewords like “socialist,” “far left,” “radical left” and more. Unfortunately for them, sloganeering is not a replacement for thoughtful, factually supported argument. These words are used because they work – they successfully cloud the minds and the judgement of those who come under their spell. They also frighten people into voting against their own self-interest.
The good news is that many young people are more immune to the scarewords and therefore not as terrified of socialism as their elders. It may be that they have a more informed and sophisticated understanding of what socialism is and how if functions. Older generations and the less informed largely base their “arguments” on a few failed examples, some of which aren’t even socialist: Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea. The sloganeering used is predictable because anti-socialist propaganda is repeated everywhere, not just on Fox. Most demonstrate their misunderstanding by using “socialist,” “communist,” and “fascist” interchangeably. More importantly, anti-socialist scaredy cats usually overlook the many “socialist” aspects of America that they appreciate: the military, public roads, public schools, public libraries, public hospitals, bridges, and much more.
What the scaredy cats really need to fear is plutocracy – rule by a wealthy few. The 1% are the folks most terrified of socialism because they don’t want to give up any of their own subsidies. They smugly lecture us about work and responsibility while constantly lobbying for more public funding and shirking all accountability for cleaning up their own messes. They dodge their taxes and park their money overseas to avoid paying their fair share. To put it simply: GREED is the reason they don’t want “we the people” to receive what most other developed countries offer: healthcare, education, childcare and other social programs. Such socially positive public spending is not “radical” nor is it “extreme,” it’s just good common sense. What is radical however is the growing wealth gap in America – a natural result of corporate socialism, the mechanism of plutocracy.
Perhaps it is time we reverse this mechanism and re-direct our tax dollars to programs that benefit ordinary working folks rather than filling the pockets of the already immensely wealthy. This is not radical, this is neither Democratic nor Republican, neither liberal nor conservative, it’s simply something to think about next time you vote.