Image courtesy of NewFrame
For several years I’ve been making the point that capitalism is amoral. Not from a Marxist, “evil, evil!” PoV, but merely as an opening observation to help explain why so many rich people (and the politicians who serve them) are evil. I want to be clear that I mean capitalism is not immoral, but amoral. Capitalism has no moral code, good or bad. It is solely about the accumulation of capital, ie money. You can go about that in moral or immoral ways, but the system itself has no moral code. We—the human beings using the system—have to impose that. (Side note: Communism is the same.)
The weakness of that kind of system is when a person or group of people become rich, they become powerful. And if they are evil/immoral, the system becomes immoral, and good/moral people are screwed. Why bring this up (again) now? The pandemic, which I call the beer virus. Yes, it’s a bad joke, but it’s my nature to joke about serious things, and in this case the topic is, quite literally deadly serious, and all the more reason to joke.
At times of crisis, the flaws and strengths of any system (and it’s leaders) are magnified. Right now the leaders of our country are selfish, immoral, power-hungry Republicans. And they are reacting in demonstrably evil, selfish, immoral ways. They have demonstrated this in multiple areas, more happening every day, but for me the classic and most telling is the response of the Federal Reserve Bank, or “the Fed”.
For years progressives have proposed various programs Republicans & “moderate” Dems have insist are “too expensive”. Better healthcare coverage. More generous care for the elderly, poor, homeless, & jobless. Etc. The programs have always been deemed “too expensive.” “Where will we get the money?” “We can’t possibly afford those programs.” “We have too much debt already!” And other similar excuses. (Which always fall by the wayside when they need to finance another war, but let’s set that aside.)
Currently, of course, the world is experiencing a pandemic. China, where it began, has a bizarre mix of a Confucian, authoritarian, pseudo-capitalist system. They are making progress in fighting back the disease. We on the other hand are the most capitalist country in the world, with the most capitalist-friendly government in 100 years (since just before the depression, ironically). And in our response, we’re flailing. Badly.
At first, Trump, his Administration, the Republicans, and his backers on Fox News declared the pandemic a hoax and a plot to throw the election to the Democrats, and the federal government did nothing. Until the stock market dropped a huge amount in a few days. Then the government took action. Not when people were dying in China; of course not. Not when deaths started occurring in Europe. Not even when they started happening here. No; they were bestirred when plutocrats and oligarchs started seeing their funds shrinking. And what did they do?
Trump announced several absurd measures (such as closing the boarders to people traveling from Europe; a textbook case of “closing the barn door after the horses have escaped”), including a tax cut. In other words, he wants a monetary solution to a health crisis. As if you went to the doctor’s office for a measles vaccine and he gave you a Starbucks gift card.
The Fed, meanwhile, promised to pump $1.5 trillion into the economy to bolster the stock market. Again, during a health crisis. People are having to stay home from work, yes. They are being forced to stay home, actually. Will this money help them? Um, no. Again, this is like you going to your boss and saying, “Boss, I need money to tide me over for the next three weeks,” and her saying, “I’m sorry, Nahrain, but the Fed decided to give that money to your bank to keep them afloat instead.” I mean, nice the bank’s still afloat, but doesn’t help you too much in paying the electric bill or buying bread at the grocery store.
So to repeat: Rather than address a health issue with health measures, Trump did so with money. And while insisting we can’t afford to help the sick, the poor, the jobless, and the elderly because “we don’t have the money,” we somehow found $1.5 trillion for the stock market. When the choice came down to helping your elderly mom, or your granny, or your sick cousin, or your brother-in-law with the missing leg who’s homeless because of PTSD after his six tours in Iraq, Trump and the Republicans decided the stock market needed it more.
And the stock market went down the next day anyway.
And this is what happens under a capitalist system. And how it infects and warps everything. It puts thoughts of money first, and of people last. By design. It’s there on the tin: “Capitalism”. “Capital”, ie money, is right there on the label. Sorry to bang on this so hard, but right now we are seeing an extremely stark example of exactly what this kind of amoral system, when left in the hands of immoral, selfish, evil people, can lead to.
Trump and the Republicans have shown the ugliest side of capitalism. They have shown their preference when it comes down to it, down to the basics: Your family, or the stock market. It’s clear by how he’s panicking over perception (instead of the citizens of the country) that Trump is petrified over how people are thinking about his and the Republicans choosing stocks over people.
So ask yourself: Who do you want to live through the next few weeks: Your mom? Or the stock market? I know what my choice is.