By Paul Craig Roberts
We are hearing from many that the world after Covid-19 will be different. The question is: Different in what way? Will it be better or worse?
Elites are working to make it better for them, and worse for the rest of us. About that the evidence is clear. The Big Boys are being bailed out and their debts covered. Everyone else, except those already marginalized and without a recent work record and fixed address, got a month’s rent and extended unemployment benefits.
Big Pharma sees massive profits in the virus, Government sees more power to control
But the disparity in economic benefits is only a part of it. Powerful vested interests, such as Bill Gates and Big Pharma, are determined to vaccinate us all, and to control our movements with an internal passport called “vaccinated, health cleared” or other words to that effect. New tracking procedures and technologies are to be put in operation reminiscent of the “mark of the beast” to police the access of various categories of people to various areas and benefits.
Experts point out that, just as we cannot be vaccinated against the common cold, except perhaps for the past year’s version, we cannot be vaccinated against Covid-19 and other mutating viruses, but the experts are already being shouted down. No expert opinion is to be permitted to stand in the way of vaccination profits.
Neither will nutrition and vitamin advocates be allowed to get in the way. Bill Sardi predicts that orchestrated scares generated by mandatory recalls of “toxic” vitamins await us. Big Pharma is determined to acquire control over vitamins and homeopathic remedies, and the FDA is Big Pharma’s likely pawn.
Vaccination has been elevated above cure, as Big Pharma and its shills such as CNN shout down the positive experience doctors report of successful treatments with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, and the effectiveness of vitamin C, vitamin D3, and zinc in strengthening the ability of immune systems to fight off the virus. Big Pharma-influenced medical orthodoxy cannot get out of the box it has been put into. When new thinking and experimentation are needed, those capable of thought are hassled and even blocked by FDA regulations and dogmatism.
The permanent government and its security agencies see in the population’s fear and confusion opportunities to put into place more tyrannical measures, more set-asides of Constitutional Rights, more impairments on free speech. The ability of freedom to resist oppression is ever diminished.
Various descriptions of the expected dystopia are offered on the Internet. But it does not have to turn out this way. It is up to us. Demoralized and fearful, we can accept more government power as we did after 9/11. Instead, we can collectively recognize the massive failure everywhere of Western leadership and construct a more livable and sustainable society.
The failure of leadership is an opportunity for real change
CNN, The New York Times, and the rest of the controlled media tell us every day that President Donald Trump represents the failure of leadership. But the failure of leadership goes beyond all the leaders of the last 30 years and resides in the system itself. Global, “self-regulating,” greed-driven, financialized, soulless capitalism cannot unite people into a sustainable community.
The failure of leadership resides in the long-term failure of leadership that made Western societies vulnerable by moving high-productivity, high-valued jobs offshore in order to raise corporate profits at the expense of domestic consumer incomes. It means the movement offshore of the ability to produce medicines, N95 masks, and other needed resources for national survival. It means dependency on foreign powers. It means the inability to function without massive imports. However you look at it, globalism is a death sentence. Its only advantage is to the rich, and the advantage comes to them in the form of cheap labor that swells their profits while it shrinks domestic incomes and the purchasing power of the population.
Without incomes to drive the economy, the elites provided loans and expanded credit in order to provide spending power based in personal debt to absorb the offshored production brought home to sell in American markets. The cost of college education soared as its quality declined. Education subsidies were cut and student debt substituted in its place. Inflation was understated in order to deny Social Security pensioners cost-of-living increases. Medicare payments to healthcare providers were squeezed down. The social safety net was ripped again and again. More and more people fell out, and homeless populations grew providing fertile breeding grounds for Covid-19.
The income and wealth distribution in the U.S. went from fair to extremely unequal in a short time as the rich profited from the Federal Reserve pumping trillions of dollars into the prices of financial assets and from corporations buying back their own stock, thus decapitalizing the corporation while taking the company into debt, all for the temporary benefit of higher bonuses for executives and more capital gains for shareholders. The elites killed the economy for short-run benefits to themselves.
These destructive polices were the work of greed-driven short-term thinkers—people whose only vision was “I want even more.” And it is these unworthy people, not their victims, that Uncle Sam is now rescuing. The massive unpayable debt bubble that already overhung the economy is being blown larger. The Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury are in the process of destroying the U.S. dollar in futile efforts to save the super-rich from their own greed-driven misbehavior.
In place of this insane approach to the economic crisis, there is a sane approach. The bailed-out corporations and banks are in effect being purchased by the government. Therefore, they should be treated as the nationalized corporations that they are. Once nationalized, the government, unlike the corporations, can create the money to pay the salaries and health premiums. The predicted 30% or 40% unemployment can be avoided. It is better to pay salaries than to pay unemployment benefits. The psychological difference alone is worth a vast amount.
The inability of the high-cost American private healthcare system to cope with the present medical crisis is apparent. A profit-driven healthcare system is the highest cost system to have.
Profit is built in at every level, which raises costs to levels that private insurance and Medicare refuse to reimburse. The result is shrinkage, not expansion of the system. Just look, for example, at the number of hospitals, especially in rural areas, that have recently closed.
Moreover, the coverage of a private system—and Medicare itself—has massive gaps. The resistance to a nationalized health service is ridiculous, especially as a nationalized service can coexist with a privatized one. Two are clearly better than one.
Nationalization has numerous benefits. It permits the large unwieldly enterprises, created, for example, by the mergers of giant banks like Chase Manhattan and J.P. Morgan, to be broken up and to reestablish the separation of commercial from investment banking. The repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act and the suspension of enforcement of the anti-trust laws were ignorant policymaking at its worse. Nationalization permits the government to bring home the offshored production of global U.S. corporations and to put the U.S. workforce back to work in middle class jobs. It is win-win for the American people.
Once the giant monopoly corporations are broken up, they can be privatized and returned to private ownership on a fair value basis, not on the giveaway basis of a pennies on the dollar sale. The money the government receives from their sale can be used to retire government debt.
For individuals, the life- and economy-suffocating heavy debts should be written down to levels that can be serviced by their incomes. Michael Hudson and I proposed a “debt jubilee” as a solution. Others have taken up our call.
Currently the Federal Reserve is socializing debt without writing it down. This is nonsensical as it bails out debt by expanding it.
In the U.S. there is so much dogmatic prejudice against anything that has a tint of socialism, even as a temporary expedient measure, that thought and sensible action face strong barriers. If we cannot overcome these barriers, we are destined for far more difficult times.
Can community be restored or will nationality degenerate into the clans and tribalism of identity politics?
The greatest challenge we face is to restore the concept of community. There was a time when the United States was a community, a unique one as it consisted of a multitude of ethnicities. As each wave of ethnic immigrants arrived, they passed a test on the Constitution, learned the national language, and became assimilated into the American community.
This community has been destroyed by a variety of forces, the latest being identity politics. Identity politics prohibits community by breaking down the population into mutually hostile groups by gender, sexual preference, race, and whatever classification can be invented or imagined. The result is a Tower of Babel. A Tower of Babel is not a community.
Instead of community, the U.S. is a place where hatreds are cultivated with those claiming the status of victims doing the most hating and those assigned the status of victimizer being most hated. Initially, white hetereosexual males were the primary hate objects, but lately we have the transgendered hating the feminists who say that a woman is a woman, not a man who claims to be a woman. The transgendered attacks on well-known feminist leaders are violent in their language and are likely to progress into violent deeds. Various unassimilated immigrant groups battle each other over who controls disputed territory. Israel’s inhumane treatment of Palestinians has enraged Muslim immigrants against Jews. Violent racial attacks on white people are becoming more common.
For decades women’s studies have taught hatred of men, and black studies have taught hatred of whites. This taught hatred is now supplemented by The New York Times 1619 Project. In place of assimilation, we now have mutual hatreds. How do we escape from this?
Perhaps the challenge from Covid-19 will force us to come together again in order to prevail over the virus, which in mutated versions might be with us forever. A coming together would be helped by an economic bailout perceived as fair rather than as the one-sided approach that has been taken. A debt jubilee provides the necessary fairness.
The elites by thinking only of their interests are in the way of the opportunity that crisis provides to bring people together. If we can’t be brought back together, we can forget about unity beyond the boundaries of our own victim or identity group. In place of community, we will be organized in clans of separate identities. The absence of unity at home will make us a sitting duck for enemies abroad.
We know what the dystopian wish list is. Can we come together with an anti-dystopian wish list as a mutually supportive community or have the elites succeeded in atomizing us into disparate tribal hate groups?
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was assistant secretary of the U.S.Treasury under President Ronald Reagan and was associate editor and columnist at The Wall Street Journal. He has been a professor of economics in six universities and is the author of numerous books available at AFP’s Bookstore.