Eric Zuesse, originally posted at Strategic Culture
America isn’t the only country which is so corrupt as to stand at or near the top of the global coronavirus-infection rankings, but, as the June 2020 issue of The Atlantic headlines, “We Are Living in a Failed State: The coronavirus didn’t break America. It revealed what was already broken.” Why did this happen?
Virtually all other industrialized countries have social-welfare systems in place, such as health-insurance covering 100% of the population; and, consequently, the residents there don’t lose their health insurance if they lose their job — they therefore aren’t desperate to show up for work even when they are sick or can spread an epidemic. Americans generally are desperate to go to work even if they might be spreading the coronavirus-19. They need the pay and the insurance coverage in order to be able to buy medical care. If they don’t pay for it they won’t get it. So: whomever does show up for work might reasonably be especially inclined to fear likely to catch the disease from a co-worker there. This is one of the many reasons why socializing the healthcare function is vastly more efficient than leaving it to market forces.
On April 23rd, Reuters reported that, “U.S. workers who refuse to return to their jobs because they are worried about catching the coronavirus should not count on getting unemployment benefits, state officials and labor law experts say.” In such states, the unemployment-benefits system is being used as a cudgel so as to force employees back to work, and therefore to increase the percentage of the population who will become infected by the coronavirus-19.
Furthermore, prisons are among the institutions that especially increase the spread of an epidemic such as Covid-19. And the United States has a higher percentage of its residents in prison than does any other country in the world. In fact, almost all of the Americans who are in prison are poor (since 100% of the poor cannot afford a lawyer), and the poorer a person is, the likelier that the individual is to get coronavirus-19. This is yet another reason why prisons are a prime place for the spread of the disease. And on April 26th, the New York Times headlined “As Coronavirus Strikes Prisons, Hundreds of Thousands Are Released: The virus has spread rapidly in overcrowded prisons across the world, leading governments to release inmates en masse.” Since America has more of its population in prison than any other country does (lots more: whereas “The world prison population rate, based on United Nations estimates of national population levels, is 145 per 100,000”, America has 655 per 100,000, or 4.5 prisoners for every 1.0 prisoner in the entire world), America has vastly more production of coronavirus-19 that’s generated by its being a police-state than any other country does — and this isn’t even taking into consideration the rotten, overburdened, health-care system, and the billionaire-propagandized public contempt for the poor, that characterize America’s culture, and that make those prisons, perhaps, the worst amongst industrialized nations. Furthermore, in America, “Approximately 95 percent of criminal cases are plea-bargained, in part because public defenders are too overwhelmed to take them to trial. ‘That means the state never even has to prove you did anything. They hold all the cards.’” So, the Constitutional protections, such as trial-by-jury and all of the other on-paper protections, don’t even apply, in reality, to at least 95% of criminal defendants. And, in many U.S. states, convicts — and even ex-convicts — aren’t allowed to vote. America’s billionaires also use many other ways to keep down the percentage of the poor who vote. Taken all together (and to list the other details would fill a book), America’s systematized intense discrimination against the poor constitutes virtually an invitation to this country’s having exceptional vulnerability to any epidemic. The fact that America now has 33.3% of the world’s coronavirus-19 cases, though only 4.2% of the world’s population, is actually systemic, and not merely particular to this moment in this country, and in the entire world. Donald Trump, and the current U.S. Congress, are part of a system of oppression, not really exceptions to it (such as the billionaires’ media pretend — with Democratic billionaires blaming “the Republicans,” and Republican billionaires blaming “the Democrats”). The way this Government performs is actually somewhat normal for this country since at least 1980.
In addition, prior to the coronavirus challenge, both America and UK have been reducing, instead of increasing, their social protections; and, therefore, they were the only industrialized nations where life-expectancies were declining even before the coronavirus-19 hit. The recognition and concern about this decline started in UK, but has now started to be published even in the U.S.
British healthcare scholar Danny Dorling headlined at his “Political Insight” blog on 16 July 2016, “Austerity, Rapidly Worsening Public Health across the UK” and reported that “the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) released its latest annual mortality figures – on schedule. An unprecedented rise in mortality was reported which was revealed to have risen across all the countries of the UK.” Then, on 8 July 2018, London’s Daily Express bannered “Britain is the ONLY European country with a declining life expectancy – inquiry launched”. Then, on 8 March 2019, the blog of the British Medical Journal headlined “The deepening health crisis in the UK requires society wide, political intervention” and reported that UK’s life-expectancy had been plunging since 2014. The BMJ then issued an article on 27 March 2020, “Things Fall Apart: the British Health Crisis 2010–2020”. In other words: coronavirus hit UK at a time when the Government was already moving away from socializing and into privatizing health care; and, as a consequence, the death-rates had already started increasing in 2015. Coronavirus kills mainly people who already have bad health; and, so, their population were maximally vulnerable to it at the time when this epidemic struck.
Meanwhile, the same shortening of life-spans was also occurring in the U.S. On 29 November 2018, London’s Daily Mail bannered “American life expectancy DROPS as suicides and drug overdoses soar and progress against heart disease grinds to a halt, CDC data reveal”. A year later, the JAMA Network headlined on 26 November 2019, “Life Expectancy and Mortality Rates in the United States, 1959-2017” and reported that “Between 1959 and 2016, US life expectancy increased from 69.9 years to 78.9 years but declined for 3 consecutive years after 2014.” So: both UK and U.S. life-spans peaked in 2014. Unlike virtually all other nations, these two were declining in health.
Even prior to 2015, the U.S. was wasting around half of its entire public-and-private spending for health care — it was the most inefficient healthcare system on the planet — and therefore had significantly lower life-expectancies than all other industrialized countries did. But, now, those remarkably low life-spans are actually getting even lower.
Political-science studies that are based upon decades of reliably reported data have established that ever since around 1980, the United States has been a dictatorship: what the public wants (and even needs) is basically ignored, but what the super-rich (the country’s actual dictators) simply want becomes reflected in governmental policies. That’s the very definition of a “dictatorship.” The U.S. national Government is responsive to the wants of its billionaires, not to the needs of the public (such as protecting their health, education, and welfare, even when the billionaires don’t want it to).The findings in one of these studies are summarized well in a six-minute video, here. Although the billionaires who fund America’s liberal Party, the Democratic Party, oppose the billionaires who fund the Republican Party (the conservative Party — the one that’s overtly in favor of the existing wealth-inequality), this is purely for PR purposes. Whenever the issue becomes their own wealth versus improving the wealth and economic opportunity for the poor, they all go for expanding their own empire (sometimes by funding a tax-exempt ‘charity’ that will increase, even more, their personal control over the total empire — by using that tax-exemption to leverage the operation, which will be controlled by themselves instead of by the public tax-funded government). Such ‘charities’ are mainly tax-dodges. However, in all countries, the people who are the most vulnerable to epidemics are the poor. This also means that the infection-rates and spreading of the disease are the highest amongst the poorest. And, in this epidemic, the interests of the super-rich are opposite to the interests of everybody else. And, since the U.S. Government has, for decades now, been serving predominantly the super-rich, instead of the public, the people who are the most at risk are also the most ignored. This is even proud policy (‘fiscal responsibility’, etc.) in the Republican Party. Bailing-out investors is ‘necessary’, but bailing out employees and consumers is ‘fiscally irresponsible’. For example, on April 27th, the Democrat David Sirota headlined “Red States Owe Workers More Than $500 Billion — The GOP Is Trying to Steal The Money: Trump is boosting a McConnell plan to help states renege on promised retirement and health benefits to millions of workers and retirees.” And he is correct. However, his Party is going to be compromising with that (instead of adamantly refuse to accept it and then go on the political hustings shaming the Republican President and Congress-members so as to break them on their blatantly scandalous whoring to the entire billionaire-class, who want their investments to be bailed out before the public is — which might turn out to be never). It’s a “good cop, bad cop,” routine, to protect the super-rich. It accepts holding the public hostage to what the big political donors want, instead of focuses against that as being the central political issue of the moment, and of at least post-1980 America.
This is ‘democracy’-as-political-scam. For example: some of the Democratic billionaires, who fund anti-Trump ads, pretend to be Republicans, in order to be able to peel off some of Trump’s Republican voters, and so are blaming Trump alone for America’s catastrophically bad performance in the coronavirus-crisis. They’re just trying to deceive their suckers into voting for Joe Biden, or else not voting at all; and, so, their ad doesn’t even so much as just mention Biden. It’s a Biden ad that makes no mention of Biden. It hides its true motive. That’s typical.
This is the reason why America is designed so as to fail the coronavirus-19 challenge. The power of big-money (concentrated wealth) is destroying this country. It controls both Parties and their respective media, so the public don’t know (and certainly cannot understand) the types of realities that are being reported (and linked-to) here. It’s also the reason why Joe Biden’s “plan” for dealing with the coronavirus epidemic is just as bad a joke on the voters as Trump’s is. This is a failing country, which is failing in a bipartisan (both Republican and Democratic Party) way. A “good cop, bad cop” government is, in reality, all bad cop. (I therefore proposed an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in order to rectify some of the reasons behind this structural failure of the U.S. Government. Perhaps the only alternative to that would be violent revolution, but it would probably make things even worse, not better.)
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.