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The Covid19 Shock Doctrine

Yesterday, Trump and his bag of hammers went to Capitol Hill to try to persuade Congress to cut payroll taxes and bail out the airline and hotel industries that have been suffering under the effects of Covid19.

The payroll tax cut is going to blow a hole in the trust fund that will be difficult to fill no matter who wins in November. But it’s the social security funding source and shouldn’t exist anyway according to these Republicans. Yes, yes, you should put ALL your retirement money in the stock market. Or everyone should become independent contractors and small business owners and make millions of dollars. When they say they want to Make America Great Again they don’t mean like how it was in 1955. They mean like how it was in 1790.

Tax cuts are Republicans solution for everything:

Financial crisis? Tax cut. Covid19? Tax cut. Earthquake reconstruction? Tax cut. Unwanted pregnancy? Tax cut.

Meanwhile, the CDC’s Robert Redfield complained yesterday that the private sector was not playing its part:

Huh. Interesting that he doesn’t see the CDC in quite the same way as the rest of us see the CDC. WE thought it was the job of the CDC and DHS to make plans based on forecasts of what would happen in just this type of situation and to have everything on hand to deal with it. That’s not the way Redfield thinks. HE thinks he should just be able to pull his CDC card and the private sector labs will push all of their other commitments aside to accommodate him.

This has been a painful lesson because Redfield apparently learned nothing from history. Poor responses to emergency situations was the reason why Americans got together to handle epidemics, floods and other natural disasters and created the CDC, FEMA, the National Weather Service and DHS. It’s because the private sector has to look out for itself and can’t step up with the pool of resources that the public sector used to provide. But now, we’re all independent and rugged individualists and responsible for ourselves and ONLY ourselves. Isn’t that the sermon we’ve been preached for the last 40 years?

It’s all starting to make sense now. The poor response, the absence of widespread testing, the cost of the test passed on to the patient, the fear that we won’t have enough hospital beds and that underinsured patients will not stay home from work because they have to work, the lack of planning, the stingy budget to handle these types of emergencies.

This is the Republican ideology. In order for it to work, the public sector has to step back and let the free market do its job. And if that free market is nasty, brutish, profit driven to the point that it can’t band together and make a collective effort to battle the pandemic and makes our lives short, so be it.

Naomi Klein wrote about this back in the Bush days. Let’s forget for a moment that she went off the deep end with the Uber left afterwards and appreciate the one thing she did well before she lost it her f}#%ing mind. What she wrote about is called the “shock doctrine”. The definition of the shock doctrine is “the exploitation of national crises (disasters or upheavals) to establish controversial and questionable policies, while citizens are excessively distracted (emotionally and physically) to engage and develop an adequate response, and resist effectively.”

You might say that the whole Trump administration has been actively engaged in shock doctrine politics since its inception. The disaster response in Puerto Rico should have been our first clue.

Now, the rest of the US is going to understand what it feels like to be Puerto Rican. The response to Covid19 is in the hands of the private sector and is completely driven by profit. No money? No tests. No amplification kits in tests? That’s because the CDC didn’t get the contracts ahead of time and the companies are now going to respond to the highest bidder. If that bidder is the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, then we will need to rely on the altruism of Billionaires.

The stock market collapse has been interesting. It might finally be getting a clue that its been coasting all these years on the public sector and that this drive for tax cuts and the free market at all costs might actually end up hurting the free market. A payroll tax cut at this point isn’t going to get restaurant workers and retail people and airlines and hotels and manufacturers who rely on people being at work back on their feet and buying stuff again. At best, a tax cut or bailout is going to be a teeny, tiny, temporary and ineffective bandaid until the pandemic is under control. It has to be under control for people to venture out of their houses, into their cars, going on vacations and buying things. And it can’t be under control if the public sector can’t respond because it’s been drastically underfunded and depopulated due to years of the application of ideological politics to the legislative and executive sections of government.

We are watching the shock doctrine in action but it’s a stupid shock doctrine because nobody is going to benefit from it. The private sector is going to take a massive hit. That’s why we’ve had to rely on the companies we work for to come up with disaster plans because the effect is going to fall upon them. Yeah, they might work but not without a lot of pain and lives and retirements ruined. It will also have long lasting effects on the economy if consumers can’t get their nest eggs back. That will mean less leisure spending in the future, less disposable income, less spending in general and the possibility of deflation. Deflation gave us the last depression.

That’s why there has been such a sell off in the market. There’s been an “oh s#%^!” moment not unlike when you party too hard and realize you’ve just swallowed the drink that’s going to keep you up all night at the toilet.

The good news is we can vote these zealots our in November. The bad news is we don’t know if there will be an election.

One thing we can be damn sure of though. The ultra wealthy are going to spend their money on negative attack ads trying to pin this disaster on Democrats. They will not be spending money trying to make our situation better.

We’re Puerto Rico now.


How testing is being done in Germany and other parts of the world, including the University of Washington:

To do this, you need the tests at the ready and the labs setup to do them. The private sector will only get you so far.

12 Responses

  1. Hmmm… Republican callers into C-SPAN are a lot less Trumpy this morning and a little more Biden.

    • Not surprising, since Biden is the closest thing they are going to get to a Republican this cycle. A good portion of today’s Democratic party are what were called ‘Rockefeller Republicans’ in my youth. IMO Biden is a Rockefeller Republican, Obama was a little bit more to his right

      • Right and I also recall the 80’s Reagan Democrats. Obama fits that label.
        I have no doubt that, at this point, all Biden has to do is maintain a pulse and he’ll win in November. R’s who do not like Trump (there a quite a few) will feel fine voting for Status Quo Joe. With their cross over votes, the moderate independents and the core Democratic base, Biden won’t even need the pouting Bernie Bros, if in fact they stay home as they’ve threatened.

        Until then, it’s going to be all hands on deck to keep holding Trump and Co to account. Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic coalition need to stop this legislation in its tracks. It is a bad, bad idea and the markets won’t care, anyway.

        The sad irony is the exposure of all the MAGA’s at CPAC. Now they are all vectors. Except, amusingly, Mitt Romney who was “neener, neener” excluded from the festivities.

        What a bunch of clowns.

      • They’re not even Rockefeller Republicans. Nixon would be a left-wing Democrat now. Honestly, I’ve given up.

  2. If we start calling Covid-19 Grover Norquist’s virus, is that too obscure?

    • Probably. What was his group called?

      • His group was called Americans for Tax Reform. He’s not that much older than I am, and I have been annoyed with him most of my adult life.

        This blog entry really really points out the danger of destroying our government agencies. Freaking Republicans. And these were the Republicans BEFORE they were actively, blatantly courting the “ism” voters.

    • Maybe we can just call it the tax cut virus.
      I like The Hoax. There’s a certain measure of irony in that when a Trumper gets it.

  3. I really hate having been right about the payroll tax cut.

    • Awww, I hope you can recover from the “I hate being right” syndrome.

  4. Given Redfield’s past, his current conduct in this crisis is hardly surprising. After all, he’s on record opposing safer sex practices and needle exchanges to mitigate HIV because it’s God’s judgement on homosexuals and IV drug users.

    He’s not real big on The Science ™.

  5. Democratic leaders have for many decades seemed to be so afraid that the Republicans and the media will attack them for causing or contributing to any problem, that they rush to show that they are trying to help, even if involves acceding to what the Republicans want. Now we have a very serious health concern, and the Republicans, as usual, try to make more profits from it, in the form of tax cuts, and shredding the safety net.

    Democrats should never agree to any of these tax plans, because all they are, besides giving the Republican billionaire donors more money, are artificial and dangerous short-term infusions of money to people, so that they might foolishly spend the money (and fall deeper into debt) before the election. They’ve managed to intimidate the Federal Reserve Bank into dropping interest rates so that the five-year rate at some banks is about 1%. Savers have been crushed since 2008, with one small respite; the rate has never even reached 3%. They get away with it, but their policies further squeeze those who depend on savings and Social Security, and now they are looking to get rid of all of it. I would have analogized to 1870, but 1790, the last year of the Ancien Regime, is apropos, so is the height of the feudal era.

    The goal, whether or not they actually plan it out, is to so limit the Democrats, that they are lucky to ever win a Presidential election, and if they do, they cannot effect any significant change. What the Democrats need are a bunch of Congresspeople who do what the Republicans do, which is ram through every bit of legislation, and all the judges .But Democrats are cautious in that way, and Republicans have the billions, and the media, except for Bloomberg, who apparently some leading Democrats do not even want in the party, because some of them politically profit from inveighing against the wealthy.

    Democrats are in an uncomfortable position right now, because they do not want to do anything to risk the election results. It seems that we are always in this situation, whereas Republicans just do whatever they feel like doing. As for where the Democratic Party is, we’ve got those on the Left who keep running on ideas which they can never effect, and then we’ve got the rest who are mostly cautious, hoping to work with Republicans whose only goal is to remove them from power if they ever briefly get it. We need an FDR, but there was essentially only one of those, and it probably took the worst Depression in modern history to allow him to be elected. Biden is unquestionably much better than Trump, but like Obama, his range seems limited. And this country has to a great extent become so ignorant of facts, science, and economic realities, that I think that Trump still is more likely than not to be re-elected. Electoral College realities still seem to come down to needing Wisconsin or Florida; without them, we are almost certain to lose in the chamber of horrors which the EC has become. I think we’ll win the other states we need, but we have to win either in WI, which has turned more Red than I ever remember, or FL, where we always seem to lose by 1%, and much of it is fixed; although the many new Democratic voters could possibly get us the win.

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