I wonder how long it will take us, the vast majority of real humans, to remove or recycle these useless parasites that have prevented the evolution of the species since the beginning?
“London is to billionaires what the jungles of Sumatra are to the orangutan. It is their natural habitat”—Boris Johnson, Conservative Party Mayor of London, 2014.
“I welcome the fact that we have got 140-plus billionaires in London. That’s a good thing. I welcome the fact that there are more than 400,000 millionaires. That’s a good thing”—Sadiq Khan, Labour Party Mayor of London, 2016.
London, the centre of grotesque inequality in Britain before the COVID-19 pandemic, has inevitably become an epicentre of the pandemic within the UK. The city is a concentrated example of the class divisions cleaving through the whole of British society.
On the evenings of March 26 and April 2, as millions of Londoners joined a country-wide applause for the self-sacrifice of grossly underequipped NHS staff, where were the super-rich that Johnson and Khan lauded as essential to society’s wellbeing? While the Tory government bailed out big business to the tune of £380 billion, the multi-millionaires and billionaires escaped to secluded islands and safe havens in private jets, climbed aboard luxury yachts for extended vacations, settled into their country retreats, or bunkered down in their mansions and luxury apartments.
A few weeks ago, private jet booking service PrivateFly said it saw a huge increase in bookings as clients evacuated back to the UK from disease-hit countries. Others were arranging private flights out of Britain to avoid planned lockdowns.
Those poorer multi-millionaires who could not afford private jets were using concierge company Quintessentially. The company’s spokesperson said, “Members who are travelling commercially are choosing to book elite services at airports, not your typical first-class lounge. For example, private terminals where guests are greeted and given their own suite. Check-in, customs and security are all done privately, and guests are then taken to the doors of the aircraft. Members can request for the jetty to be cleared so they minimise the interactions with other passengers on their way to their seat.”
Luxury retail agency Quintessentially Estates said that early in the crisis their phones were hot with inquiries about “Scottish castles, mansions with bunkers, Cotswolds manor houses with moats, uninhabited Caribbean islands to buy, superyachts for a long charter and private jets to get clients home from abroad without their having to go near international airports.”
The London rich who could not escape buy designer face masks and attend eye-wateringly expensive Harley Street practices for private testing and expensive intravenous vitamin infusions. Others have moved to country homes or leased them for up to ￡50,000 a month, according to the Daily Mail.
As reports began to emerge that London doctors, hospital workers, bus workers and a 13-year-old child were dying of COVID-19 across the capital in horrific circumstances, the elite had other concerns. One London financier is reported by Forbes to have complained that the lockdown was preventing her showing off her expensive jewellery: “I’m just not sure when my next ball will be.”
While the super-rich complain of being bored in their gated mansions, masses of workers in London have lost their jobs or are forced to work in unsafe conditions with next to no protection from the virus. Every journey on London Underground has turned into a nightmare. Poorly paid workers wrap scarfs and handkerchiefs around their faces and crowd into train carriages. Labour Party Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has closed 40 out of 265 tube stations due to the numbers of staff self-isolating at home with COVID-19 symptoms because no serious safety measures were put in place.
Among those travelling on packed transport systems are tens of thousands of the capital’s construction workers—many on their way to build high-value apartments and houses. Both the Tory government and Mayor Khan have made deliberately vague statements about what constitutes “essential work,” allowing construction firms to decide for themselves. Twitter has been rife with the barbed comments of construction workers questioning why the luxury flats they must build were considered “essential.”
Another thriving industry is private tutoring. Tutors International, which provides elite tutoring services, says it has seen “a massive upswing in requests” since the COVID-19 outbreak.
While the super-rich carry on with their luxurious lifestyles as normal, the situation facing the working class is indicated by the Nightingale field hospital, officially opened on Friday in east London. The effort put in by workers to construct a facility from scratch has been tremendous. But the need for a 4,000-bed facility at such short notice highlights the gutting of the National Health Service (NHS) in London—leaving the population perilously exposed to the pandemic. Two new mortuaries, one in Newham and the other in Hillingdon, are also being built.
In the words of one health chief, a “tsunami” of cases is set to overwhelm London’s hospitals. On March 19, well in advance of the expected peak of cases, Northwick Park hospital in north-west London declared a critical incident after it ran out of ventilator capacity. One senior figure told the Health Service Journal, “Given we’re in the low foothills of this virus, this is f***ing petrifying.”
On Thursday, it was reported that one London hospital had nearly run out of oxygen over the weekend. NHS trusts in England have been given an urgent warning to limit the number of people on mechanical ventilators and continuous positive airway pressure machines.
Health chiefs are warning that an already overstretched London Ambulance Service will be unable to cope with the hundreds of extra patients needing hospital admission. Vehicles used to transport patients to non-urgent visits are being commandeered, but do not have the same medical equipment as an ambulance.
These conditions are putting London’s healthcare workers in danger. The lack of personal protective equipment and testing available to medical staff has become a national scandal. On Sunday, Thomas Harvey, a healthcare assistant at Goodmayes Hospital, London, died after treating a patient with COVID-19 with only gloves for protection. Across the capital, some hospital trusts have staff self-isolation rates of between 30 and 50 percent.
This Monday, a nurse in her 20s at King’s College Hospital, where eight COVID-19 deaths have occurred, committed suicide. Although the investigation into her death has drawn no conclusions, the experience in Italy where several health workers have committed suicide during the pandemic points to a similar trend beginning in the UK. Shortages are forcing medical staff to work incredibly long, harrowing shifts and make the traumatic decision to deny treatment to the most vulnerable.
The World Socialist Web Site reported on the crisis at Kings College Hospital Trust in January this year: “King’s hospital has a vacancy rate of 19.4 percent for nursing posts in cancer care, 15.4 percent in children’s care and 12 percent in operating theatres. At the Princess Royal hospital managed by the King’s Trust, 26.3 percent of nursing posts in acute and emergency care and 12.4 percent in the children’s care unit are vacant.”
The terrible personal consequences of such sharp social inequalities were summed up last weekend by the contrasting fates of Prince Charles, tested and cared for while presenting only mild symptoms of the disease, and Kayla Williams, a 36-year-old mother of three from Peckham, south London. Williams, the wife of Fabian, a refuse worker, died in her flat of suspected COVID-19 a day after calling 999 and being told to look after herself at home.
Fabian said, “I called 999 because my wife was breathless, she was vomiting, and she had pains in her stomach. As I was talking to them, she was getting worse and they told me to put her on the floor and to make her body flat. She [the paramedic] told me the hospital won’t take her, she is not a priority.” Williams was dead the next day.
Twitter erupted as Londoners contrasted the brutal inequality in treatment between Kayla and Britain’s royalty. The lesson has been burned into popular consciousness that we are not “all in this together,” as the government claims. There is the pandemic experienced as an inconvenience by the super-rich, and the pandemic experienced as a catastrophe by the working class. Only a revolutionary overturn can protect the population from the virus and remove from society the cancerous growth of multimillion and billion-pound wealth threatening its very existence.
It is seriously astounding how fast the economy is crumbling. No infusion of funny money will save the American people from the historically severe depression now evolving.
State and federal governments are becoming more authoritarian in response to serious influenza (critical data on the transmission of the disease is absent, muddled, contradictory, and the corporate media feeds a frenzy of fear and paranoia based on conflicting, revised, and often speculative numbers).
Critical supply lines foolishly based on the globalist profit-maximizing concept of “just in time” are now breaking down. How long do you suppose unemployed service industry and gig-economy workers will tolerate a serious shortage of food and other essentials before looting stores like the poor and hungry of Palermo? How long before armed citizens begin taking what they need and the military is called in to restore order and confiscate weapons like they did during Katrina? All hell will break loose from Baltimore to Seattle and the government may impose martial law (it can be argued we are already under a soft form of martial-medical law, half of us confined to our homes, the equivalent of house arrest, scared to death of a virus they now say can spread by merely opening of one’s mouth and speaking and thus allowing viral-laden breath to drift in the air).
I don’t believe the state will be able to meet the needs of a third or more of an unemployed workforce—angry, desperate, and eventually violent as a dystopian nightmare spreads across the land. Congress and Trump’s onetime $1,200 check will certainly not satisfy the unemployed for long—in many cases, that’s not even a month’s rent. Millions of Americans stood by and watched as the Federal Reserve dished out a trillion and a half bucks to the banks and the financial elite.
Mark Twain said something about history rhyming. It looks like a big fat sonnet is about to unfold and knock us flat. Historians argue whether FDR did or did not secretly agree with Churchill to get the US involved in the war in Europe and thus put an end to a stubborn depression. It did—and the military-industrial machine returned prosperity to depression and war-weary Americans while building a sprawling national security structure behind the scenes to face an exaggerated enemy, a critically flawed Soviet Union and the virus of Lenin’s version of communism.
While we are obsessed with life, death, and the coronavirus, the Trump administration is moving to re-ignite the war in Iraq, a war that has as its final objective the destruction of Iran.
From the corporate propaganda media:
President Donald Trump warned Wednesday that Iran was planning a “sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq” and later cited unspecified intelligence he said indicated potential plots by local Tehran-aligned forces there.
“Don’t do it,” the president warned at a press briefing that evening, threatening that his “response will be bigger” this time after U.S. airstrikes last month targeted Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah positions but also reportedly killed Iraqi troops, police officers and a civilian.
It was soon reported Trump ordered “Patriot surface-to-air missiles and a variant of the Navy’s SeaRAM and CIWS, or close-in weapon system, which fires 3,000 rounds a minute” be sent to Iraq to protect US bases.
Lost in the latest reportage is the fact the rockets fired at US soldiers were a direct response to Trump’s Mafia hit on Iran’s Qassem Soleimani.
A second establishment propaganda mill reported:
It was not immediately clear what intelligence Trump had obtained to prompt him to issue his tweet on Wednesday… [during a] subsequent press conference he indicated the US’s likely target would be Kata’ib Hezbollah, saying the US had “very good information on the group planning the attack”. He added: “It was led by Iran, not necessarily Iran, but by groups supported by Iran, but that to me is Iran.”
President Trump now has the distraction of a virus and the unfolding of a government-engineered depression to cover what the neocons plan to do in Iraq and Iran.
Considering Trump had zero reluctance to murder Soleimani in high-tech mob boss fashion, it is entirely possible he will go after Iran’s expeditionary Quds force commander Esmail Ghaani. He is scheduled for a meeting in Baghdad this week. “Ghaani is hoping to unite the Shia factions, and the visit is seen as a test of whether he can match the famed influence of Suleimani.”
Then again, taking into account Trump’s recent vacillations on Iran, he may decline to start another war in the Middle East. He believes the impending depression is “V-shaped” and America will bounce back after increasingly authoritarian COVID-19 measures are put into place and never rescinded.
If he believes there will be a bounce to prosperity, he is surely deluded. Before the middle of June, it is likely the US will be in a full-blown depression with hyperinflation, food shortages, mass protests, political violence, and the possibility of military rule as laid out in the state’s continuity of government plans for “national emergencies.”
Oliver North, now handsomely compensated as a patriot-celebrity, in the early 1980s under a compromised Reagan helped put into motion a plan to round-up and intern millions of “troublemakers,” most listed on the Main Core database established by FEMA under National Security Directive (NSD) 69 and National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 55. Main Core is now held by the NSA, FBI, CIA and more than likely the national security state’s corporate public-private partners (a classic example of Mussolini fascism-corporatism).
The severity of the depression and the reaction by the state will result in the final and complete destruction of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. This will be of little concern to folks facing poverty, eviction, homelessness, and the disease, mental illness, alcohol, and drug addiction, and early death that invariably accompanies the fall of managed economies and the failure of government.
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Kurt Nimmo writes on his blog, Another Day in the Empire, where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
Iran has suffered immensely from the virus, Stone noted in an op-ed published by the New York Daily News, but due to US sanctions the Islamic Republic is “reportedly the only country in the world that cannot buy medicines needed to fight the pandemic.”
The outspoken Hollywood legend similarly condemned Washington’s decision to maintain – and in some cases, increase – its economic chokeholds on countries such as Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua as coronavirus strains healthcare systems across the globe.
In the case of Venezuela, US “coercion” led to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) denying the South American state’s request for a $5 billion loan to help fight the pandemic, Stone contended. The US has ratcheted up its pressure on Caracas amid the global health crisis, accusing the government of drug trafficking and calling for a “transition government” to replace President Nicolas Maduro.
The award-winning filmmaker and activist said that the health crisis has shown the inhumanity of Washington’s foreign policy.
The current pandemic is exposing not only our government’s utter failures to protect its own citizens, but also its profound lack of human decency in dealing with other nations
Stone called for “serious moral self-reflection” in the US, warning that countless lives were at risk unless there is an “immediate change in course.”
Iran has registered nearly 3,500 Covid-19 deaths, with 19,700 confirmed cases, according to a tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University. President Hassan Rouhani said last week that the crisis is “a great opportunity for Americans to apologize… and to lift the unjust and unfair sanctions on Iran.”
I don’t know where the truth is right now but I will not stop questioning everything. I will especially question anything that comes from the media or the medical /Big Pharma establishment, as the narratives from both are constructed with fake ideologies and fake statistics. For example, what is the leading cause of death in North America? Wrong. Most will answer heart attacks and cancer. Medical error and overdose deaths from legal drugs are the number cause of death in North America. (See John Rappaport)
By the way, I hope these experts are right and that this is another false flag but I am following the rules of isolation like everyone else. The whole situation scares me. The unknown is the worse. Lou
March 24, 2020
* * *
Dr Sucharit Bhakdi is a specialist in microbiology. He was a professor at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and head of the Institute for Medical Microbiology and Hygiene and one of the most cited research scientists in German history.
What he says:
We are afraid that 1 million infections with the new virus will lead to 30 deaths per day over the next 100 days. But we do not realise that 20, 30, 40 or 100 patients positive for normal coronaviruses are already dying every day.
[The government’s anti-COVID19 measures] are grotesque, absurd and very dangerous […] The life expectancy of millions is being shortened. The horrifying impact on the world economy threatens the existence of countless people. The consequences on medical care are profound. Already services to patients in need are reduced, operations cancelled, practices empty, hospital personnel dwindling. All this will impact profoundly on our whole society.
All these measures are leading to self-destruction and collective suicide based on nothing but a spook.
Dr Wolfgang Wodarg is a German physician specialising in Pulmonology, politician and former chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. In 2009 he called for an inquiry into alleged conflicts of interest surrounding the EU response to the Swine Flu pandemic.
What he says:
Politicians are being courted by scientists…scientists who want to be important to get money for their institutions. Scientists who just swim along in the mainstream and want their part of it […] And what is missing right now is a rational way of looking at things.
We should be asking questions like “How did you find out this virus was dangerous?”, “How was it before?”, “Didn’t we have the same thing last year?”, “Is it even something new?”
Dr Joel Kettner s professor of Community Health Sciences and Surgery at Manitoba University, former Chief Public Health Officer for Manitoba province and Medical Director of the International Centre for Infectious Diseases.
What he says:
I have never seen anything like this, anything anywhere near like this. I’m not talking about the pandemic, because I’ve seen 30 of them, one every year. It is called influenza. And other respiratory illness viruses, we don’t always know what they are. But I’ve never seen this reaction, and I’m trying to understand why.
I worry about the message to the public, about the fear of coming into contact with people, being in the same space as people, shaking their hands, having meetings with people. I worry about many, many consequences related to that.
In Hubei, in the province of Hubei, where there has been the most cases and deaths by far, the actual number of cases reported is 1 per 1000 people and the actual rate of deaths reported is 1 per 20,000. So maybe that would help to put things into perspective.
Dr John Ioannidis Professor of Medicine, of Health Research and Policy and of Biomedical Data Science, at Stanford University School of Medicine and a Professor of Statistics at Stanford University School of Humanities and Sciences. He is director of the Stanford Prevention Research Center, and co-director of the Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS).
He is also the editor-in-chief of the European Journal of Clinical Investigation. He was chairman at the Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Ioannina School of Medicine as well as adjunct professor at Tufts University School of Medicine.
As a physician, scientist and author he has made contributions to evidence-based medicine, epidemiology, data science and clinical research. In addition, he pioneered the field of meta-research. He has shown that much of the published research does not meet good scientific standards of evidence.
What he says:
Patients who have been tested for SARS-CoV-2 are disproportionately those with severe symptoms and bad outcomes. As most health systems have limited testing capacity, selection bias may even worsen in the near future.
The one situation where an entire, closed population was tested was the Diamond Princess cruise ship and its quarantine passengers. The case fatality rate there was 1.0%, but this was a largely elderly population, in which the death rate from Covid-19 is much higher.
Could the Covid-19 case fatality rate be that low? No, some say, pointing to the high rate in elderly people. However, even some so-called mild or common-cold-type coronaviruses that have been known for decades can have case fatality rates as high as 8% when they infect elderly people in nursing homes.
If we had not known about a new virus out there, and had not checked individuals with PCR tests, the number of total deaths due to “influenza-like illness” would not seem unusual this year. At most, we might have casually noted that flu this season seems to be a bit worse than average.
– “A fiasco in the making? As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, we are making decisions without reliable data”, Stat News, 17th March 2020
Dr Yoram Lass is an Israeli physician, politician and former Director General of the Health Ministry. He also worked as Associate Dean of the Tel Aviv University Medical School and during the 1980s presented the science-based television show Tatzpit.
What he says:
Italy is known for its enormous morbidity in respiratory problems, more than three times any other European country. In the US about 40,000 people die in a regular flu season and so far 40-50 people have died of the coronavirus, most of them in a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington.
In every country, more people die from regular flu compared with those who die from the coronavirus.
…there is a very good example that we all forget: the swine flu in 2009. That was a virus that reached the world from Mexico and until today there is no vaccination against it. But what? At that time there was no Facebook or there maybe was but it was still in its infancy. The coronavirus, in contrast, is a virus with public relations.
Whoever thinks that governments end viruses is wrong.
– Interview in Globes, March 22nd 2020
Dr Pietro Vernazza is a Swiss physician specialising Infectious Diseases at the Cantonal Hospital St. Gallen and Professor of Health Policy.
What he says:
We have reliable figures from Italy and a work by epidemiologists, which has been published in the renowned science journal ‹Science›, which examined the spread in China. This makes it clear that around 85 percent of all infections have occurred without anyone noticing the infection. 90 percent of the deceased patients are verifiably over 70 years old, 50 percent over 80 years.
In Italy, one in ten people diagnosed die, according to the findings of the Science publication, that is statistically one of every 1,000 people infected. Each individual case is tragic, but often – similar to the flu season – it affects people who are at the end of their lives.
If we close the schools, we will prevent the children from quickly becoming immune.
We should better integrate the scientific facts into the political decisions.
– Interview in St. Galler Tagblatt, 22nd March 2020
Frank Ulrich Montgomery is German radiologist, former President of the German Medical Association and Deputy Chairman of the World Medical Association.
What he says:
I’m not a fan of lockdown. Anyone who imposes something like this must also say when and how to pick it up again. Since we have to assume that the virus will be with us for a long time, I wonder when we will return to normal? You can’t keep schools and daycare centers closed until the end of the year. Because it will take at least that long until we have a vaccine. Italy has imposed a lockdown and has the opposite effect. They quickly reached their capacity limits, but did not slow down the virus spread within the lockdown.
– Interview in General Anzeiger, 18th March 2020
Prof. Hendrik Streeck is a German HIV researcher, epidemiologist and clinical trialist. He is professor of virology, and the director of the Institute of Virology and HIV Research, at Bonn University.
What he says:
The new pathogen is not that dangerous, it is even less dangerous than Sars-1. The special thing is that Sars-CoV-2 replicates in the upper throat area and is therefore much more infectious because the virus jumps from throat to throat, so to speak. But that is also an advantage: Because Sars-1 replicates in the deep lungs, it is not so infectious, but it definitely gets on the lungs, which makes it more dangerous.
You also have to take into account that the Sars-CoV-2 deaths in Germany were exclusively old people. In Heinsberg, for example, a 78-year-old man with previous illnesses died of heart failure, and that without Sars-2 lung involvement. Since he was infected, he naturally appears in the Covid 19 statistics. But the question is whether he would not have died anyway, even without Sars-2.
– Interview in Frankfurter Allgemeine, 16th March 2020
Dr Yanis Roussel et. al. – A team of researchers from the Institut Hospitalo-universitaire Méditerranée Infection, Marseille and the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Marseille, conducting a peer-reviewed study on Coronavirus mortality for the government of France under the ‘Investments for the Future’ programme.
What they say:
The problem of SARS-CoV-2 is probably overestimated, as 2.6 million people die of respiratory infections each year compared with less than 4000 deaths for SARS-CoV-2 at the time of writing.
This study compared the mortality rate of SARS-CoV-2 in OECD countries (1.3%) with the mortality rate of common coronaviruses identified in AP-HM patients (0.8%) from 1 January 2013 to 2 March 2020. Chi-squared test was performed, and the P-value was 0.11 (not significant).
…it should be noted that systematic studies of other coronaviruses (but not yet for SARS-CoV-2) have found that the percentage of asymptomatic carriers is equal to or even higher than the percentage of symptomatic patients. The same data for SARS-CoV-2 may soon be available, which will further reduce the relative risk associated with this specific pathology.
– “SARS-CoV-2: fear versus data”, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, 19th March 2020
Dr. David Katz is an American physician and founding director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center
What he says:
I am deeply concerned that the social, economic and public health consequences of this near-total meltdown of normal life — schools and businesses closed, gatherings banned — will be long-lasting and calamitous, possibly graver than the direct toll of the virus itself. The stock market will bounce back in time, but many businesses never will. The unemployment, impoverishment and despair likely to result will be public health scourges of the first order.
– “Is Our Fight Against Coronavirus Worse Than the Disease?”, New York Times 20th March 2020
Michael T. Osterholm is regents professor and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
What he says:
Consider the effect of shutting down offices, schools, transportation systems, restaurants, hotels, stores, theaters, concert halls, sporting events and other venues indefinitely and leaving all of their workers unemployed and on the public dole. The likely result would be not just a depression but a complete economic breakdown, with countless permanently lost jobs, long before a vaccine is ready or natural immunity takes hold.
[T]he best alternative will probably entail letting those at low risk for serious disease continue to work, keep business and manufacturing operating, and “run” society, while at the same time advising higher-risk individuals to protect themselves through physical distancing and ramping up our health-care capacity as aggressively as possible. With this battle plan, we could gradually build up immunity without destroying the financial structure on which our lives are based.
– “Facing covid-19 reality: A national lockdown is no cure”, Washington Post 21st March 2020
Dr Peter Goetzsche is Professor of Clinical Research Design and Analysis at the University of Copenhagen and founder of the Cochrane Medical Collaboration. He has written several books on corruption in the field of medicine and the power of big pharmaceutical companies.
What he says:
Our main problem is that no one will ever get in trouble for measures that are too draconian. They will only get in trouble if they do too little. So, our politicians and those working with public health do much more than they should do.
No such draconian measures were applied during the 2009 influenza pandemic, and they obviously cannot be applied every winter, which is all year round, as it is always winter somewhere. We cannot close down the whole world permanently.
Should it turn out that the epidemic wanes before long, there will be a queue of people wanting to take credit for this. And we can be damned sure draconian measures will be applied again next time. But remember the joke about tigers. “Why do you blow the horn?” “To keep the tigers away.” “But there are no tigers here.” “There you see!”
– “Corona: an epidemic of mass panic”, blog post on Deadly Medicines 21st March 2020
APRIL 3, 2020
The poet Langston Hughes once wrote, “I wish the rent was heaven sent.” With 10 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Hughes’ words resonate now more than ever. As we hurtle toward a public health and economic catastrophe, we must reckon with the sobering fact that our federal government is helmed by landlords, real estate developers, and financiers whose fortunes have been made – and whose worldview has been shaped – by years of predatory and extractive business practices. These practices prefigured the federal response to the pandemic and overdetermine the nature of the state-led economic rescue that is already underway.
Jared Kushner is widely regarded as the Trump administration’s behind-the-scenes point person on the coronavirus. Kushner, like Trump, inherited his family’s real estate holdings, updating the business model and expanding its geographical footprint. A New York Times expose from 2017 sheds light on the day-to-day workings of Kushner’s properties in the Baltimore area, where tenants live amidst chronically poor conditions and are subjected to a relentless pattern of petty and meritless litigation. In New York City, Kushner’s residential real estate portfolio has benefited from generous tax incentives and exploited loopholes in the state’s rent laws to remove units from regulation, in the process converting affordable apartments to luxury goods.
The extraction of value that is at the core of Kushner’s business model is based on the multiplication of rents-debts and the intensification of inequalities.
The business practices of Kushner – like those of the real estate industry more broadly – are emblematic of the shifting relationship between the state and the market economy over the past four decades. Beginning in the 1970s, after years of intellectual mobilization by right-leaning economists, neoliberal policies began to take hold in the US and Western Europe. The redistributive functions of the state, established during the New Deal and expanded during the Great Society, were whittled down to a nub, resulting in a tattered safety net and exploding inequalities. At roughly the same time, capital began to move more freely across borders, and once-vibrant economic centers saw massive losses of stable, relatively high paying industrial jobs.
During this period, the power of finance capital grew and real estate became a motor of economic growth. In fact, global real estate now comprises the majority of the world’s assets. The economic centrality of real estate is inextricably linked with financialization, which refers to the expansion of financial services and technologies, and denotes the process through which financial markets have been unleashed, empowering creditors and expanding private debt. Across the country, private equity landlords have bought up swaths of residential properties, preying on tenants of meager means, in the name of short-term value maximization. Though the spread of financialized real estate seems bland and technocratic on the surface, its effects – rent hikes, harassment, evictions – are dislocating and violent. In the words of economic geographer Desiree Fields, the end result is the plundering of “the spaces of existence of the working poor.”
For decades, the bipartisan commonsense has been that government should be run according to market principles. The current administration takes this logic a step further, governing the country like the financialized landlord of a recently purchased ‘distressed asset’: seeking immediate, short-term gain wherever possible – via massive tax cuts and the gutting of already-depleted social programs; nickel and diming workers and poor people; exploiting racist and xenophobic tropes to erode solidarities; seizing on – and expanding – regulatory loopholes; allowing vital public infrastructure to decay, particularly in poor and Black and Brown communities; and casting itself as the insurgent populist that is cutting through entrenched and inefficient bureaucracy.
As it turns out, this mode of governance is particularly ill-suited to deal with the type of crisis we currently face. Despite having a clear window into the near-term trajectory of the coronavirus (see Italy) and a blueprint for how to contain it with relative success (see South Korea), the Trump administration – reportedly under the guidance of Kushner – initially viewed it as a hoax. Then, like a slumlord confronted with well-founded complaints about serious structural conditions, the administration failed to take action. Little to no testing was done initially, leaving the scientific and medical communities at an information deficit regarding the pace and scale of the virus’ advance. This problem was exacerbated by the interplay between our profit-driven healthcare system and our under-resourced medical and public health infrastructure.
In late February, the precipitous decline of the stock market and the inevitability of the virus’ spread left the administration with no choice but to act. The federal response – uneven and incoherent as it has been – can be viewed as a reflection of the worldview of financialized real estate. President Trump’s first instinct, apart from repeatedly referring to the coronavirus as “the Chinese virus,” was to slash the federal payroll tax – this would have given workers in much of the formal economy a small infusion of cash; it also would have starved social security of funding. The $2 trillion bailout passed by Congress and signed into law by Trump is a boon to large corporations and Wall Street. The idea – held by some progressives – that Trump would outflank the Democrats from the left was belied by the paltry benefits offered to workers: a modest one-time check for $1200, extended unemployment benefits, and no relief for renters.
During a stay in New York City in the midst of the Great Depression, the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, shaken by the inequality and alienation of his host society, wrote, “[t]he terrible, cold, cruel part … is Wall Street. Rivers of gold flow there from all over the earth, and death comes with it.” In recent years, these rivers have coursed with lucre from the real estate industry, whose representatives wield state power in much the same way that they made their fortunes – through predation, extraction, grift, racism. As a global pandemic bears down on us all, disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable, the bankruptcy of that project is on full display. And death comes with it.
There is no hope for America, as most of its population is so dumbed down by ideology that they end up putting the likes of Trump at the helm. Most of these “educated” Americans cannot even spell Marxism without a spell check and yet they have opinions on it?
In a March 31 YouTube video titled “Capitalism is making a mess of the coronavirus crisis,” he argued that “private companies have no incentive to produce test kits and store them in a warehouse for years before there’s a crisis. It’s not profitable.”
Wolff told The College Fix that economic systems have a duty to look after public health, something that would have occurred under socialism.
“A socialist system would much more likely have required production of all the needed supplies (tests, ventilators, beds, etc.) and stockpiling them around the country,” he told The Fix via email.
Asked whether China, a prime example of centralized government, had a role in instigating the pandemic, Wolff said that “whatever the Chinese did or did not do, it is the job of all other societies — their private sectors and their governments — to prepare for and cope with viruses that can come from anywhere anytime.”