Michael McCaffrey lives in Los Angeles where he works as an acting coach, screenwriter and consultant. He is also a freelance film and cultural critic whose work can be read at RT, Counterpunch and at his website mpmacting.com/blog.
Anyone who has eyes to see can clearly make out that America is an addled empire in steep decline that is firmly entrenched in its bread-and-circuses stage. This has been brought into clear focus due to Covid-19. Since there is now a shortage of bread, as supermarket shelves are bare, and the distraction of the circus of sports has been indefinitely removed from the culture, Americans are left with little to distract them from cold, hard reality.
With no brawls or ballgames to watch, and the fear of potential hunger gnawing at their bloated bellies and brains, and with social distancing leaving them isolated with little but their thoughts as company, Americans will now find it harder and harder to ignore the truth about their country and its deplorably corrupt media, financial, government, education and health care systems, that is staring them in the face.
As the old adage goes, crisis reveals character, and the coronavirus contagion is a crisis of epic proportions that is revealing America to be utterly devoid of any redeeming character whatsoever.
If America were a sane, healthy, and rational country this would be a great opportunity for change to occur…alas, it is not. America is an insane, unhealthy and irrational nation, and so any genuine change is inconceivable.
For example, this crisis has once again revealed the house of cards that is the smoke and mirrors American economy. The American economy has long been rigged through financialization, where stock buybacks and accounting shenanigans inflate the stock market but create nothing of substance for the masses except the illusion of prosperity. Here in America the economy long ago stopped working for regular folks, as evidenced by the fact that despite productivity soaring, for the last forty years wages have remained stagnant, while the cost of living has escalated.
The American Way has devolved into a bizarre reverse-Robin Hood world, where the rich steal from the poor and keep it for themselves. Proof of this is that this Covid-19 crisis will undoubtedly be used, just as the 2008 collapse, as a way for the malicious narcissists in Washington, Wall Street and in corporate boardrooms to come together to assure that all their losses are socialized and their profits privatized. Casinos, cruise lines, airlines, hotels and others are already lining up — including of course the scoundrels on Wall Street — for their taxpayer-funded handout.
Bailing out working- and middle-class Americans, though, is an absolute non-starter for the ruling elite. The upper crust will throw around vacuous catch phrases, like the deliciously ironic “moral hazard,” to make their argument, which is pretty rich considering the vermin on Wall Street and their cronies on Capitol Hill are so morally bereft, it is a hazard to all humanity.
Coronavirus is not nearly as deadly as the cancerous corruption that is endemic in our oligarchic corporatocracy. For proof of that look no further than Nancy Pelosi’s emergency “sick pay” bill, that exempts companies of over 500 employees from paying sick pay — and has a boatload of special exemptions for businesses below that threshold — which leaves all but 20% of workers eligible for benefits. The holes in Pelosi’s bill are bigger than the gaping void where her brain and soul should be.
This corruption of the elites is bipartisan, as evidenced by two Republican Senators, Richard Burr and Kelly Loeffler (who is married to Jeffrey Sprechter, chairman of the New York Stock Exchange), who allegedly took advantage of classified briefings on the impending severity of coronavirus in late January and early February to pull off some slick insider trading maneuvers so they could cash in before the public had any clue what was coming. Both, of course, deny any impropriety.
The egregious economic divide in America is further highlighted by the Covid-19 debate over whether to close schools amidst the crisis. The reason this debate raged on well past the rational time to act is that our education system is not a system of learning but rather a glorified daycare and food delivery service.
Proletarian parents are unable to stay home and raise their kids anymore because it now takes two parents — usually working multiple jobs — to make less equivalently than what one working parent did forty years ago.
In the Los Angeles Unified School District, 70% of all students are below the poverty line and rely on the school system for the majority of their meals. In the wealthiest country on the planet, that is absolutely disgraceful. The virus of structural economic inequality isa much more long-term and deadly problem than coronavirus, and the ruling class and their shameless lackeys in the press, have no interest in ever honestly addressing or acknowledging it.
The corporate whores in Congress and the White House (of both parties) also gleefully inform Americans that universal, single-payer health care, which every other industrialized nation in the world already has, is a pipe dream and impossibility.
They tell us they could never ever pay for something so decadent and luxurious as health care, but then they magically pull $1.5 trillion out of their gold-plated assholes in order to stave off a collapse of their own making. It is amazing how the Lords of Finance can make money miraculously appear in order to get things done when it is their exorbitant wealth on the line, and not ordinary Americans’ health and wellbeing.
Coronavirus is a crisis that is revealing the ugly truth about America and the malignant character of its ruling class. The crisis is going to get worse before it gets better, but it eventually will get better. America, on the other hand, will only get much worse, with no hope that it is ever going to get better.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.