Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Life Down The Rabbit Hole

Life Down the Rabbit Hole 
by Coast Watcher

So here we are... The great and glorious American Empire is shuttered due to an pandemic few saw coming. Thanks to COVID-19 stores are emptied of toilet paper and hand sanitizer almost as soon as they hit the shelves. Fighting breaks out over the last pack or bottle. Security guards stand ready to force limits of one pack or bottle each, and the number of canned goods you can purchase at one time are restricted. People have bought up an entire supply of goods and quite often they appear on social media or eBay trying to sell the stuff for a heavily marked-up price. Businesses are closed by order of state governments with a few exceptions held to be vital, such as liquor stores. In a number of states even travel has been restricted. Retirees from the medical profession are returning to the front line to help their embattled colleagues.

The National Guard is deploying where needed. Churches are limiting services and/or the number of congregants therein or livestreaming. The USPS is restricting customers by setting distances of six feet apart in lines and permitting only three customers at a time within the sales area. People don’t hang around to chat or take their time anymore. They rush from place to place with hunted, almost furtive looks on their faces. Social distancing has become the watchword.

That’s not to say the response has been even across the country. In Florida, the state governor has refused to close public beaches because, "It’ll hurt the economy."

And it all took less than a month for America to grind to a halt. But it doesn’t mean everything has stopped in its tracks. The GOP is busy trying to get a bill through the Senate that will give trillions of dollars in bail out money to Big Businesses without any ties or restrictions. Contrast that idea with the generally held opinion that the government will do far more for the economy if it gave the money to ordinary Americans instead. Even the more socially aware Republicans want to hang caveats and codicils about the idea, limiting the payments to $600 in total to the poorest. 

And let’s not forget those senators on both sides of the House who took advantage of prior warnings at the onset of the pandemic to sell stocks on Wall Street instead of preparing their constituents for the disease. We mustn't prevent the one-percenters from making profits at the public's expense!

At the time of writing, the Senate has failed yet again to clear procedural problems to pass a bill aimed at helping ordinary citizens as well as businesses affected by the coronavirus shut down. Senate Democrats blocked the stimulus package, denying the Republicans the majority needed to feed yet more money exclusively to Big Business. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned it could be several days before the Senate can proceed to a vote on the deal. 

McConnell, of course, is the darling of Wall Street, slavishly obedient to any
and every move to give the rich more cash. It’s not a surprise to learn that a clause covertly slipped into the relief bill includes wording aimed at denying Medicaid funding to non-profits, such as home and community-based disability providers, community-based nursing homes, mental health providers and health centers, group homes for the disabled—and even rape crisis centers.

Yes, even faced with an unprecedented disaster, the Republican pro-Big Business politicians are still trying to ride their laughably "pro-life" hobby horse rough shod across the land. Of course the Democrats, in their guise of actually caring about ordinary Americans, are looking nervously over their shoulder in case the populace has become so angry about things they erupt into open revolution.

For many it’s still business as usual. Goldman Sachs gave its CEO a 20% pay increase. This while the company predicts that the US economy will shrink by 24% next quarter. This prediction is positively sunny compared with Morgan Stanley which foresee a 30% drop. Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard predicts a 50% decline.

And what of so-called President Trump’s behavior throughout this crisis? It’s not very appealing to say the least. His responses are based mostly on "It has nothing to do with me," and, "I’m not taking responsibility." Trump closed the White House office responsible for coordinating the response to disease outbreaks, claiming it was a waste of money. He tried to do a deal with the German manufacturer of a coronavirus vaccine that would have made it exclusive to the United States. He refused to order emergency supplies of equipment because Big Business complained it would scare people and hurt their sales.

Read some of Trump's pandemic-related tweets in this video. You'll be amazed. Or disgusted.  https://youtu.be/EIi9N_tcNt0

At the time of writing it’s rumored that Trump is blowing hot and cold on the shelter-in-place strategy enacted by many states, even though this policy has proved to contain the outbreak and enable the flattening of the curve of transmissions. In a Tweet—his usual method of releasing important policy information—Trump stated using all caps:


Trump has also called the coronavirus "the Chinese virus." Such loose-lipped remarks have led to Asian-Americans suffering racist attacks, both verbal and physical. Even after all this, Trump still gets a 45% approval rating according to one poll. His supporters must reckon he’s doing a good job.

As if all this wasn’t enough, the latest report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) states the virus pandemic is accelerating. Predictions are that anywhere from 40%-70% of the population will contract the virus eventually.

It’s difficult to predict where things will end. With some states such as Ohio settling in for a two-week shutdown, small non-essential businesses will be seriously hurt. Denmark at least has unified behind a single approach to remedying the economic crisis. Under the plan, which has drawn 100% support across the political spectrum, the Danish government will pay 75% of employees’ salaries to avoid mass layoffs. It requires the government to spend as much as 13% of the Danish national economy in the space of three months. That works out as roughly equivalent to $2.5 trillion spread out over thirteen weeks. Contrast this plan with the recent American government’s attempt to support Wall Street with a $2.5 trillion package that succeeded for all of fifteen minutes.

In the face of such adversity people are pulling together. A wealth of mutual-aid

support groups have sprung up, covering anything from neighborhoods to entire cities. A spirit of We’ll get through this together pervades. That’s not to say government need not do more to alleviate the suffering of ordinary citizens. After all, that comes under the promote the general welfare part of the Constitution.

Humanity is a resilient species. We’ve survived disasters before and no doubt will do so again. But in this year 2020, life will not be the same for millions across America and billions across the world. Will this be the time people finally wake up to the fact the rich, Big Business, the uber-wealthy multi-national corporations are not their friends? There’s no doubt that the European countries and those other nations with universal healthcare are coping far better than the for-profit American system. That much at least has to change, if any kind of lesson comes out of this.

In any case, I hope my readers will come through this crisis safe and sound.

See you on the other side!

BIO: Coast Watcher is patiently waiting for the day when all Americans wake up and realize their system of government isn't a democracy, but a corrupt oligarchy filled with rich, white males who couldn't care less whether the working classes live or die, just as long as they can hop around the globe in their Lear jets visiting their private islands of underage sex slaves. Maybe a devastating plague is what is needed for workers to make the connection that a billionaire is not their friend, never has been their friend, and never will be their friend.

Related articles:

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Japan Begins Quarantining Visitors

Senate GOP Bill Doesn't Help American Workers

Woman Yells "Go Trump" After Emptying Store of Toilet Paper

Chinese Coronavirus Racist Attacks

Denmark Freezing Its Economy

Goldman Sach Gives CEO 20% Pay Raise

GOP Just Smuggled Another Awful Provision Into Big Stimulus Bill

Coronavirus: Trump Wants US Open For Business Amid Pandemic

People for the American Way
Tell Congress to pass additional coronavirus legislation now! Sign today.
Congress has taken an important first step by passing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Members of Congress who pushed hard for swift passage of the bill deserve our gratitude, as do the nearly 50,000 PFAW members who took action to urge Congress to quickly pass the bill. In part because of your activism, millions of Americans will be provided paid family and sick leave, unemployment insurance will be expanded, and free COVID-19 testing will be provided nationwide (although we still need to play catch up on making more tests available – and fast).

Now, Congress must tackle the next phase of dealing with this unprecedented crisis and pass a historic stimulus bill to protect the economy and provide vital resources to the people and communities who need the most help.

The economic effects of this public health emergency are already being felt, but a proper government response, with the scope that this crisis demands, can help mitigate the damage and improve the outcome for all. Any industry relief package must include conditions to ensure that workers are taken care of, not C-suite executives and shareholders. Direct relief payments must be targeted to the workers, consumers, low-income people, and others who are most vulnerable and whose spending will spur the economy much better than massive “trickle-down” benefits for corporations and the ultra-wealthy.

And critical relief services will need to be adequately funded if America is going to come out on the other side of the coronavirus pandemic unscathed.

As usual, however, some Senate Republicans are throwing up roadblocks to common-sense emergency legislation at every chance they get. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) almost halted the passage of the Families First Response Act by forcing a last-minute vote on an unnecessary amendment. Their delay tactics are, in the words of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), “a colossal waste of time.”

Time is at a premium for halting the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, so we can’t let the Republicans waste any more of it.

Stay safe and healthy,

- Sarah, Digital Campaigns Associate
With its broad sweep, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us into an unprecedented national emergency. This emergency, however, results from a deeper and much longer term crisis - that of poverty and inequality, and of a society that ignores the needs of 140 million people who are poor or a $400 emergency away from being poor.

Right now, Congress is considering an influx of urgently needed money from the federal government—one TRILLION dollars. We need to bear witness and make sure that money gets to where it is most needed – extending fundamental needs like paid sick leave, health care and housing security to everyone. 

We call on President Trump, Vice-President Pence and all Members of 116th Congress to fulfill their moral and constitutional responsibilities to the American people: join your voice to expand the emergency provisions and enact our Moral Agenda.
We cannot return to normal. Addressing the depth of the crises that have been revealed in this pandemic means enacting universal health care, expanding social welfare programs like SNAP and LIHEAP, ensuring access to water and sanitation, providing cash assistance to poor and low-wealth families, guaranteeing good jobs, living wages and an annual income. It means ensuring that our abundant national resources are used for the general welfare, instead of war, walls, and the wealthy.  
Sign on to the Poor People's Campaign's demands in response to COVID-19. 

Forward together,
Rev. Dr. Willam Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis
Co-Chairs of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

P.S. Join us for a live discussion Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 PT with MoveOn about a Moral Response to the dual crises of Pandemic and Poverty—we'll be live at Facebook.com/MoveOn and Facebook.com/ANewPPC! 


Tell us your COVID-19/Coronavirus story. Send your piece in the body of an email to thebernieblog2016@gmail.com . Remember, we're all in this together.

If you're able to help us keep the internet connected and the lights on, please donate to us at the following Paypal link: http://paypal.me/camatthews  Thanks, and keep fighting!

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