The 2020 Global Pandemic has suspended normal political processes and the prospect of a 3-18 month international emergency campaign to mop up the viral contagion has thrown a spanner in the works, to say the least. Nonetheless, politics goes on.
In fact if you pay close attention, as Naomi Klein described in her seminal work on disaster capitalism, The Shock Doctrine, these moments of elite panic are where the corporate lobbyists get busy and do their dark deeds under cover of some bloated omnibus bill that gives away yet more of our depleted national treasure to their favored clients.
That just happened, to the tune of 2 to 6 trillion dollars in the final accounting. Only about 20% of that money will actually go to backstop working class incomes.
Oh, and that private insurance that the Democratic Party centrists all love so much that they rejected Medicare for All: guess what, no job, no healthcare. How’s that working out as public policy? We will be unwinding this mega-sized corporate bailout for a decade. We have truly jumped the fiscal shark. We are a failed state.
Bernie Sanders has been a true leader at every step of this crisis, both in the Senate and in daily well-produced social media content, and niche cable TV ads, often in collaboration with nationally recognized medical or economic experts and renowned public intellectuals like Dr. Cornel West and Rev. Benjamin Barber.
Sanders has introduced, with other Senate colleagues, the 2020 National Relief Act:
Address the employment crisis and providing immediate financial relief in the form of a $2K per month debit card through November; guarantee paid health care for all in the crisis; engage the Defense Production Act to make equipment; make sure no one goes hungry; provide emergency aid to cities and states; and suspend monthly payments for four months, including rent, mortgages, medical debt, and consumer debt collection.
We must not wait until the inevitable financial tsunami. The trajectory we are on now in the U.S. will have the working class, already rendered precarious by the unresolved wreckage of the 2008 financial crash, homeless and unable to afford food within a few months unless there is a serious policy intervention like the National Relief Act.
If you are tuned in to the hive-mind of mainstream media you have seen almost none of this commendable and decisive leadership. Meanwhile, as we’re all sheltering in place, the Overlords of Capital (Blankfein, Trump, Wall Street, the Federalist Society, and the WSJ, et al.) want to crank the money machine back on in a month. They are fully prepared to accept the deaths of 2.4% of the peasants if that is what it takes to keep the profit motor running.
My mind has turned, in this plague time, to Hunter S. Thompson, who said: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” I get that. I feel strangely freed of the weight of history. We are all in free-fall and I feel oddly buoyed by the chaos. I have been Joker-fied, as the kids say.
When you have very little stake in the present order, in terms of money, status, or children, its collapse is somewhat less concerning. My social alienation preceded the pandemic by a decade. It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.