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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 4/15/20

The Downsizing of America

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Coronavirus Will Expose Capitalism Like Never Before Coronavirus casts a light on every single part of our society. We will see the best of humanity and the worst of Capitalism. - Kevin Ovenden Join the Future of ...
Coronavirus Will Expose Capitalism Like Never Before Coronavirus casts a light on every single part of our society. We will see the best of humanity and the worst of Capitalism. - Kevin Ovenden Join the Future of ...
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Back in the heyday of Reaganomics, Michigan's state budget underwent a shift in funding priorities when it began directing state dollars toward the construction of more prisons. Previously, the state's annual budget had prioritized education, housing, hospitals, and basic infrastructure; but starting in the '80s, Michigan significantly expanded its prison population. This happened to dovetail with rising unemployment rates triggered by the great recession and the creation of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which "enhanced" the severity of prison sentences. While correlation may not prove causation, it is nevertheless noteworthy that the high rate of unemployment seemed to generally correspond with increased incarceration rates in Michigan.

One of the premises of capitalism lies in its warehousing of a reserve army of the permanently unemployed (i.e., homeless and stateless workers) whose very misery serves as a check on wages and labor power. William Robinson observes that, "Criminalization of surplus humanity activates state-sanctioned repression that opens up new profit-making opportunities for the transnational capitalist class" (click here).

In the current worldwide economic meltdown, it would indeed appear that the only game left in town is the military-industrial-security complex. Hence, the call for a "war" on the coronavirus. And never mind that the purpose of the military is to enforce authoritarian rules that frequently lead to loss of lives, not their protection. Such inherent contradictions are evident in the U.S. failure to make any significant investment in domestic programs like public hospitals over the past few decades, preferring instead to divert larger and larger sums of money to the military.

Yet mortality rates for coronavirus are frequently dependent on pre-existing conditions such as age, health, and socio-economic status. The latter is perhaps by far the biggest determiner of mortality rates since the poor die at far faster rates than the wealthy even in so-called normal times. The focus of the U.S. health-insurance system is on costs not care, which means that millions of Americans are either uninsured or under-insured. When combined with the growing inaccessibility of clean air, land, and water due to government deregulation in tandem with inadequate housing and nutrition for millions of Americans held in wage-slavery, the result is the creation of comorbidity factors that are further aggravated by the coronavirus.

In short, the current pandemic presents a perfect storm of pre-existing social and public policies.

Bio-economic warfare is a eugenic population-control measure targeting undesirable human populations for reduction by eliminating the essentials of life. This can take the form of policing that make the conditions for life so difficult that the target group is destabilized and even destroyed. For example, Native Americans were driven from their lands, hunted by the U.S. military, and suffered the eradication of their food supplies and cultural heritage. Under such harsh conditions, it is little wonder that natives succumbed to a host of diseases. Likewise, the Irish victims of the great famine were already living in greatly reduced circumstances due to the appropriation of their best agricultural lands by the British. Hurricane Katrina was a casebook study of the fact that when pushed onto the most impoverished pieces of land under the worst health and sanitary conditions, any convenient catastrophe will eliminate huge swathes of the poor and the black.

Malthusian principles of population control have long been the project of autocracies everywhere. In her book Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein coined the term "disaster capitalism" to illustrate the impact of neo-liberal policies that employ the cover of catastrophes to implement authoritarian measures on a shocked and weakened population. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans embarked on a program of gentrification that saw the nation's first completely privatized school system.

The disaster-capitalism policies of the U.S. are everywhere on display in sanctioned countries from Iran to Venezuela where needed supplies are blocked in order to bring their governments to heel (click here). During the coronavirus pandemic, it has been rightly suggested that the U.S. is engaged in germ warfare due to its barring of essential food and medicine to sanctioned countries (click here).

Once upon a time, Michigan was the home of the auto industry where it employed blue-collar workers who made enough money to support themselves and their families. With the gains of the civil-rights movement and the promise of a truly representative democracy, upward mobility was once a going concern in America.

But the U.S. has gone through a series of economic contractions and the loss of a viable middle class since then. The boom days of mergers and acquisitions in the '80s led to increasing monopolization of business by fewer and fewer corporations. The orgy of market speculation facilitated by the elimination of the Glass-Steagall Act and Wall Street's financial instruments of doom lead to the casino capitalism of the '90s. The savings and loan scandal was followed by the dot-com crash, which in turn was followed by the widespread corporate and accounting scandals of the late '90s, and the subsequent subprime-mortgage meltdown of the late 2000s. Each economic contraction has accelerated the decline of labor unions, civil rights, and financial equity for average Americans (informationclearinghouse.info/52871.htm).

Unfortunately class war against the poor is not a "conspiracy theory" but a historical fact. During the bubonic plague, the rich escaped to their mountain chalets while the poor were left to die of the black death in the cities. The current pandemic-triggered economic crash has seen millions of Americans thrown out of work with negligible support from the oligarchs who run the country. The U.S. establishment continues to blame China for everything from Huawei (informationclearinghouse.info/53033.htm) to the coronavirus pandemic (intercept.com/2020/03/18/coronavirus-china-world-power/) at the same time that the U.S. military enjoys what amounts to a backdoor draft of the newly unemployed. With the doomsday clock at one hundred seconds to midnight, war looms closer than ever (bulletin.org/). As George Carlin once observed, America is a company town with a standing army.

 

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Kathy Swift Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Kathy Swift holds a PhD in Education and is a local activist, organizer, and citizen journalist. Podcasts of her programs can be found at KCSB on SoundCloud. "If wars can be started by lies, peace can be started by truth." - Julian (more...)
 

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