COVID-19: Certificate Of Vaccination ID. What do you think?
may at first glance not seem to be connected. One is a tiny invisible virus, and the other is an issue as big as the planet itself. However, there are some eerie similarities. Firstly, look at their propagandistic value – they are both false narratives being used to manipulate your perception and centralize power in a NWO (New World Order) Global Government. Secondly, they are both hyped threats which play upon your emotions (fear, care, etc.). They create what is ultimately a fake emergency (even if there are legitimate problems connected to them). Recently Pope Francis has both implied and outright stated that the coronavirus outbreak was “nature’s response” to humanity ignoring ecological issues, and that “nature is throwing a tantrum so that we will take care of her.” Francis has long been a mouthpiece for Agenda 2030 sustainable development plans, a way to usher in global governance while pretending to care for the environment. Are the NWO manipulators achieving in just weeks and months with the coronavirus hoax what was taking them years to achieve with the manmade climate change hoax?
The key feature of the manmade global warming/climate change agenda is to convince you that the carbon dioxide (CO2) made by humanity is ruining the planet. This is in spite of the obvious biological fact the CO2 is a gas of life; plants breathe it in and need it to live, and we need plants to live to produce our oxygen, so without enough CO2, we would be dead. As I covered in the article Good Hearts, Fooled Minds: Top 4 Fallacies of the Hijacked Environmental Movement, the green movement has been hijacked. The Club of Rome is one of 6 groups that are close to the center of the Rhodesian Round Table (ultimately funded by Rothschild) which also includes The Bilderberg Group, the CFR, the RIIA, the UN and The Trilateral Commission. The Club of Rome’s 1991 document entitled The First Global Revolution? contains this passage:
“In searching for a common enemy against whom we can unite, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like, would fit the bill. In their totality and their interactions these phenomena do constitute a common threat which must be confronted by everyone together … all these dangers are caused by human intervention in natural processes, and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome. The real enemy then is humanity itself.”
Did you catch that? The real enemy is humanity itself. The NWO controllers want this insidious idea to infect people’s minds, erode their self-love and self-worth, and introduce the subsequent idea that you need to feel guilty just for being alive on this planet (after all, you’re breathing CO2, you traitor!).
Now compare this to what is going on with the fake pandemic of the moment, Operation Coronavirus. As I covered in 2 earlier articles (Deep Down the Virus Rabbit Hole – Question Everything and COVID-19 Umbrella Term to Operate a Fake Pandemic: Not 1 Disease, Not 1 Cause), we are still, amazingly, yet to have solid scientific proof that this virus exists. We have RNA fragments from lung fluid samples, but that doesn’t meet the standard of proof. The new coronavirus has failed Koch’s postulates; it has not been isolated; it has not been proven to exist. Thanks to work of Dr. Andy Kaufman and others, it has become apparent that certain organizations have taken an exosome and falsely claimed it is a new virus. Exosomes are secreted by cells as a natural response to toxins; they are pleomorphic and can turn into viruses. Exosomes are part of human body itself, as are viruses.
Thus, all the hype and hysteria has been generated by claiming that an exosome/virus is the new enemy, even though the exosome and virus are parts of the human body.
So we come full circle: the (human-produced) exosome/virus is the enemy (and thus humanity is the enemy, again).
You can find some examples of the absurd nonsense being written and spoken about coronavirus and climate change in James Corbett’s video here. Corbett exposes the propaganda and highlights how people are using the pandemic to further the AGW agenda. Some of the propaganda gems he exposed were how the so-called “climate crisis” is making the spread of infectious diseases like coronavirus more common and how a “study” found that climate change is releasing new and previously trapped viruses. So now, in addition to all the other NWO agendas (I’m at 21 and counting) that are being rolled out using COVID-19 as a pretext, you can add another layer to it: humans are “double plus bad” because we warmed the planet with CO2 and therefore helped release and exacerbate the spread of a killer virus. Wow. Do you feel so bad you want to kill yourself yet?
These hoaxes are designed to hack human psychology by exploiting its weaknesses. The propensity for care and compassion for our fellow human being is naturally a wonderful thing that makes us human. Sadly, it can be exploited. The ruling class at the very top of the pyramid – the 1% of the 1% of the 1% – are characterized by their criminal, psychopathic and Satanic mindset. They don’t care. In fact, some of them even perform Satanic rituals to eliminate empathy and compassion (e.g. the cremation of care black magic ceremony at the Bohemian Grove). All their care is fake care, since they have suppressed it within themselves. However, they know how to pull the heart strings of the mass population, so they pretend they care and make deceptive appeals to “care for the environment” and “care for the elderly” to make people sign on to their agendas. While claiming they care for the planet, their corporations pollute the air, land and water with chemtrails, GMOs, heavy metals, microplastics and more. While claiming they care for the elderly, they think of them as useless eaters with no productive worth and constantly try to change the culture and the laws to make it acceptable to kill off the old people as soon as possible (see Dr. Richard Day’s account where he reveals the elite plan for a demise pill for the elderly).
Exploiting the natural human propensity to care is one side of the equation; the other side is ginning up and then exploiting fear. The NWO controllers are masters of this. The best types of propaganda mix truth with fiction, so they tell you that species are going extinct (true, except for the lie about polar bears declining), the planet will have more catastrophes, the planet will warm uncontrollably, you’re going to infect your loved ones, the planet’s going to die, you’re going to die, and on and on and on. They hire soul-for-sale scientists to “find” and “conclude” the theories the NWO paymasters want. It’s funny how you can “find” anything that you’re being paid to find. People can’t think rationally or clearly when afraid, since they are in their amygdala (fight-or-flight reptilian brain) not their pre-frontal cortex (the higher center of reason and logic). Plus, most people will believe anything as long as it’s repeated loud enough and long enough. Manipulating people is a piece of cake, really.
Check out this propaganda piece Time magazine, a very tenuous argument where the author even admits he has no evidence:
“I have no evidence that climate change triggered this particular virus to jump from animals to humans at this particular time, or that a warmer planet has helped it spread. That said, it’s pretty clear that, broadly speaking, climate change is likely to lead to an uptick in future epidemics caused by viruses and other pathogens. Scientists have understood for decades that climate change would change the way diseases spread, but, as the planet warms, those hypotheses are being tested and scientists are learning in real time. There are many links between climate change and infectious diseases, but I’m going to focus on one particularly novel—and concerning—area of knowledge: how rising temperatures are making our natural immune systems less effective.”
Here’s what MSM outlet NBC has to say about the coronavirus and climate change phenomena:
“And that is why, in the long term, the coronavirus will one day be seen as a fire drill for climate change.”
Here’s where this YouTube manmade climate change believer is taking it. The dangerous implication here is that if we can do all this for the coronavirus, why can’t we do the same for the climate; in other words, why can’t we utterly transform the shape of society because of climate change:
“The world jumps into action to deal with pandemics like the Coronavirus outbreak. But why don’t we respond in the same way for climate change?”
The coronavirus and climate change hoaxes have a lot of similarities, based on the way they make humanity – i.e. they make you – the enemy. They exploit emotions such as care and fear to modify mass behavior. Hopefully by reading this you can begin to see the pattern of these propaganda narratives so that they lose their effectiveness on you. Despite all the similarities, there is one big difference: the NWO have been able to achieve far more in far less time with the coronavirus hoax than with the manmade climate change hoax. We need to stay perpetually aware and vigilant if we hope to remain free.
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.
Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.
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.
We live in a corrupt and fake world.
The Chinese fake the coronavirus data. The Americans fake the labor stats.
The unemployment report today was widely acknowledged as being incorrect even by the mainstream media when “only” 700,000 jobs were reported lost last month. We already have data that approximately 10 million people have filed for unemployment benefits in the last couple of weeks. This upcoming recession, the Novel Recession, is largely one that is being brought on by a global shutdown to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. Yet the speed in which this recession is coming just goes to show how fragile our economy really was and how many Americans were already living on the financial edge.
The Novel Depression Expands
It cannot be overstated how fast the unemployment figures are growing and we are only a couple of weeks into the shutdown. The BLS report that came out today is lagging in a big way what is happening on the ground. Already at the very least 10 million people have lost their jobs:
Last week, initial unemployment claims came in above 2 million. This week they came in close to 7 million for nearly a total of 10 million filings within a couple of weeks. Yet this does not tell the entire story. We know from countless news stories that unemployment benefits websites across many states are being slammed and many people are giving up filing since they cannot get through. So the figures are actually worse than they appear and next week they will be worse as more people get through to file.
Why do we suspect this will be worse than the Great Depression in terms of unemployment figures? The Great Depression at its peak had a 24.9 percent unemployment rate. We are going to get there if we stay at this rate within a couple of months. To project this, just look at how many people are employed by industry:
You have 19.5 million Americans working in “office admin support” roles that are largely paid on an hourly rate. You have 14.3 million in sales (hard to do sales when you are unable to get out with clients). You have 13.4 million in food preparation which is clearly been cutting aggressively. Another 8.6 million are retail sales workers (most are not working and not getting paid since most are hourly). Another 7.5 million in food and beverage serving work that are not getting paid. That is 66 million jobs with extremely high risk of being out of work based on the shutdown guidelines. Of course the other occupations are also working from home to some degree and many will be laid off if this continues.
To get to the peak of the Great Depression level of unemployment we would need to hit 36.3 million workers out of a job. The country already has 10 million filing for unemployment benefits within two weeks. At this rate, come June or July we are going to see high teens and into the 20s in terms of the unemployment percentage.
What is troubling is that half of the country was already living paycheck to paycheck before this coronavirus hit. A record in the stock market, a historically low unemployment rate, and easy access to debt simply covered the grim reality that we are now experiencing. That reality is that there wasn’t much there for the average worker already to begin with. Two weeks is all it is taking to send millions of Americans off the financial deep end. People are going to miss mortgage payments, car payments, student debt payments, and this will rippled into the financial system.
This Novel Recession is going to be painful. Some expect a V-shaped recovery but that doesn’t seem likely. Once the economy opens, up it is likely to open up slowly. If you look at China, many places are opening up but everyone needs to wear masks, some places have temperatures being checked, and other places have strict social distancing guidelines. Will people take their families to movies once they open up or to crowded locations knowing how contagious this virus is?
This is going to be a painful recession and the virus is accelerating the already deep economic frailty in many economies. Let us hope this doesn’t last longer than a few months.
Fauci: There will be a surprise outbreak (2017) Credit: Georgetown University Full Speech: https://youtu.be/DNXGAxGJgQI
Marcos E. García-Ojeda, a professor of molecular and cell biology, answers five questions about viruses.
Editor’s note: The coronavirus, which has claimed more than 51,000 lives worldwide and sickened 1,001,069 most likely originated in bats, most experts believe. From bats, the virus “jumped” to another species, likely pangolins, and then to humans. Why didn’t the virus make bats or pangolins sick? As it turns out, viruses are complicated – in addition to sometimes being deadly.
The family Coronaviridae contains about 39 different species of coronaviruses. Of these, only seven coronaviruses have been reported to infect and cause disease in people. Four coronaviruses cause mild symptoms similar to the common cold, but three coronaviruses cause severe and possibly deadly infections: the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and now, SARS-CoV2, which is responsible for the current coronavirus disease COVID-19.
SARS-CoV2 is a cousin of the coronavirus that caused SARS, having about 79 percent similarity in its genetic makeup. Though similar, these two viruses are not the same, and their disease manifestations are different. SARS was recognized at the end of February 2003 in China. Worldwide, 8,098 people became sick with SARS and 774 died, with the disease having a mortality rate of 10 percent.
MERS-CoV was first identified in Saudi Arabia in September 2012. Globally, MERS-CoV was responsible for 2,494 MERS cases and 858 deaths, with a mortality rate of 37 percent.
The ongoing SARS-CoV2 epidemic and the rate of infection and mortality seem different than both SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. As of April 1, the U.S. has 215,344 Covid-19 cases. It seems that SARS-CoV2 is less deadly than the other two coronavirus strains, but it is more contagious.
Aggressive diseases like SARS give rise to epidemics – outbreaks where the number of new cases flares up rapidly in a region. Effective, evidence-based public health measures reduce the number of new patients infected, until these aggressive diseases are controlled. In contrast, an endemic disease is constantly present in a certain geographic region. A good example of an endemic disease is malaria, which is constantly present in tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The 2003 SARS epidemic was controlled by a combination of effective international surveillance methods and local, evidence-based public health measures. International surveillance systems alerted the authorities of the emergence of a novel disease, helping set up guidance for travelers, airlines and crew. It also set in motion a global response that prevented the spread of the disease, and helped the local public health efforts to identify and quarantine infected people. Effectively, this combined response prevented SARS from becoming endemic.
By July 2003, four months from the onset of the outbreak, human-to-human transmission of SARS had stopped.
The majority of new diseases affecting humans are zoonotic, meaning that they originate in wild animals (mostly mammals) and then cross over to people. Among mammals, bats have a higher number of zoonotic viruses. These viruses might cause mild to no symptoms in bats. People and animals interacting with bats (or their urine, feces or saliva) might catch these zoonotic viruses and then spread them to other animals or people.
The trapping of wild animals for pets, food or medicinal purposes puts wild animals like bats in close contacts with other animals and people. That is what happened in the previous two coronavirus outbreaks. In the 2003 outbreak, the SARS coronavirus jumped from bats to civets being sold as food in a market, and then from civets to people. In the MERS outbreak, the MERS coronavirus jumped from bats to camels and from camels to people. As a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, China placed a permanent ban on wild animal markets.
Bats are pretty incredible animals. They are the only mammals that fly. Scientists have linked the genetic modifications associated with flight with beneficial modifications to the bat’s immune system. For example, the bat’s immune system fights viral infections but does not overreact to them, preventing bats from falling ill from the many viruses they have.
The outcome of a virus infecting an animal depends on two general factors: The first is how strong, or virulent, is the strain of the virus. The second is the effectiveness of the infected animal’s immune defenses. Initially, a virus might be highly lethal to animals. Rapidly killing its host is not beneficial to the virus because it limits the virus’s capacity to spread to other animals. Therefore, the virus become less virulent with time. On the other hand, animals sensitive to the virus die quickly, while animals with inherited resistance to the virus survive, passing that resistance to their offspring. This combination of events, over a large period of time, results in an equilibrium where the animal’s immune system is able to control a virus infection without completely eradicating it. In people, this type of equilibrium could be observed with herpes infections.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
When Zen teacher Issan Dorsey was asked to describe the essence of Zen art, he answered, “Nothing extra.”
“Nothing extra” is also of course the essence of Zen living itself: perceiving life as it actually is, as opposed to perceiving it through a bunch of believed narrative filters about yourself, about others, about reality, and so on. These narrative filters are an extra pile of layers that are added on top of the actual experience of life, and they give a distorted view which causes a lot of confusion and suffering. Relinquishing belief in them brings clarity and peace.
This is also the essence of clearly understanding what’s really going on in the world. Like so much else, the approach to the large is the same as the approach to the small, which is to say the approach to seeing clearly in the big picture is the same as the approach to seeing clearly as an individual: you need to learn to look at it without the extra narrative overlay.
Because the news media are controlled by plutocrats who have a vested interest in protecting the status quo upon which their kingdoms are built, almost everything in the news is useless narrative fluff. It doesn’t tell you what’s really going on, it rather tries to influence what’s going on by manipulating the perceptions of the audience. It does this by either (A) distracting from what really matters by focusing on what doesn’t matter, or (B) actively working to manipulate how the audience thinks about a given issue.
When you strip away all the empty fluff and manipulative spin, there are basically only four often-overlapping pieces of information that really matter in the big picture: (1) where the money is going, (2) where the resources are going, (3) where the weapons are going, and (4) where the people are going. When it comes to understanding world dynamics, accurate information about these four things is the only real news you’ll ever encounter. Everything else is empty narrative spin meant to justify, distort, or distract from information about these things.
If you ignore everything else and only focus on finding the most accurate information possible about these four items, you will have an infinitely clearer understanding of what’s really going on in the world than someone who trusts news reporters to walk them through it.
Watch where the money is going because you can trust the raw numbers of financial transactions a lot more than you can trust the stories people are telling. A massive percentage of daily news coverage goes toward analyzing the latest foam-brained gibberish that came out of Donald Trump’s mouth even though we all know he’s going to contradict himself two days later, but the fact that he’s been heavily funded by an oligarch who happens to have been a longtime proponent of the Iran policies this administration has been advancing is much more solid.
Zoom out and watch where the money is going in the big picture and you’ll see that a grossly disproportionate amount of it is moving away from the general public and toward a very small group of people, which we just saw illustrated in the historically unprecedented multitrillion-dollar wealth transfer in the US corporate bailout. If you watch this small group and pay attention to the projects, candidates, think tanks and media outlets they pour their wealth into, you will notice that they exert an incredible amount of influence on all four crucial factors: where the money goes, where the resources go, where the weapons go, and where the people go.
Watching where the resources are going gives you an even clearer image of what’s going on because resources, unlike money, are completely independent of narrative. There is no such thing as “money” without the thoughts that humans agree to collectively think about it, but oil would still be oil even if all humans were wiped off the face of the earth. When you see the US ramping up escalations against Venezuela, ignore the narratives about “drug trafficking” and what a bad, bad man Nicolás Maduro is, and look at what resources lie beneath the ground in that nation to find out what this is really about. Mentally “mute” the soundtracks the political/media class spout about who’s doing what to whom and just watch where the resources are going, and who’s controlling them. That way you’ll be able to discern the powerful from the disempowered and the takers from their victims.
Watch where the weapons are going because those are another non-narrative factor which exerts a huge influence on the world; a bullet will stop a beating heart regardless of what the mind thinks about it. Ignore the irrelevant narrative fluff about where the coronavirus originated and whether or not it’s racist to say “Wuhan virus”, and look at the ring of US military bases encircling China and the way the Marine Corps is shifting its attention onto that nation. Ignore Trump’s gibberish about ending wars and note that he’s been expanding them and increasing foreign troop presence. Ignore the Democratic Party’s nonsense about Trump having loyalties to Russia and watch his administration’s many dangerous nuclear escalations against that nation. Ignore international finger-wagging at humanitarian abuses by Israel and Saudi Arabia and look at who’s still selling them weapons and supporting them militarily.
Watch where the people are going for another important piece of real information that isn’t dependent on narrative. Where are the prisoners? Where are the refugees, where are they going, and what are they fleeing? Where are people moving to, and what do they want?
With each of these four items you can simply watch raw data and ignore all the stories the establishment spinmeisters tell about that data. As long as you make sure you’re getting the most accurate data possible, it’s like you’re looking at a globe and watching lines in four different colors moving around in it from place to place and person to person. And without anyone’s stories tainting your view.
You will notice that there’s a heavy degree of overlap between these four items. You see the weapons moving toward China and you notice that’s the nation with the US hegemony-threatening Belt and Road Initiative (where the resources are moving) and the key player in the US dollar-threatening Shanghai Cooperation Organization (where the money is moving). You see Julian Assange locked in prison (where the people are going) for exposing US war crimes (where the weapons are going). You see US troops illegally occupying Syrian oil fields (where the weapons and resources are going) to prevent the Syrian government from using it to rebuild the nation (where the money is going). And so on.
Nearly everything that makes it to the top of the daily news churn is either propaganda distortion or distracting drivel, and either way you can safely ignore it. Just watch where the money is going, where the resources are going, where the weapons are going and where the people are going, and ignore all the narrative chatter.
Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics onTwitter, checking out my podcast on either Youtube, soundcloud, Apple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemit, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my books Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.
Sweden has not closed the bars. Shopping malls are open. Schools and companies are open too. There are some restrictions such as on gatherings of over 500 people. But, in comparison with most European countries, life in Sweden is relatively normal.
Right now, Sweden’s death rate from coronavirus is 33 per million of the population. In France it is 83. In Italy it is 230. In Britain it is 43. In the Netherlands it is 78.
In the United States the number of deaths per million of the population is 18, but many argue that the outbreak in America took off later, and European levels of fatality from the virus are on their way. We shall see.
But, in any case, which levels of European fatality? The figures are all over the place. Partly this must be due to different ways in which the death toll is being counted.
In some countries, COVID-19 is being listed as the cause of death merely if it appears somewhere on the death certificate. In other words, you may have been days away from dying from terminal lung cancer, but if you had contracted COVID-19 in the meantime, your death will be listed in the overall COVID-19 fatality numbers. In other countries, it has to have been the single most obvious cause of death to make it into the same statistics.
Sweden appears to be in the latter category, which may be making their numbers look a little lower than in countries which list things differently. But probably not enough to radically change the comparisons.
That will all be looked at closely when all this is over.
But if, when all such necessary adjustments have been made, Sweden emerges with a death toll from COVID-19 that is somewhere in the middle of the pack of European countries, there is going to be a lot of recrimination, particularly against those who have tried to silence any discussion about the extent of the threat that COVID-19 actually poses.
What is interesting though, is that precisely because it is Sweden, the usual suspects in our politics who benefit from disillusionment with the establishment may find it hard to profit from this. The Swedish government is led by Stefan Loeven, a Social Democrat.
Sweden is practically a role model for mainstream, left of centre politics. If you’re a European populist, it’s going to be more than a little incongruous to start singing the praises of Sweden, of all countries.
Similarly in America. Donald Trump has, albeit reluctantly, broadly followed the lockdown policies we see across most of Europe. Unless he very quickly does a 180 degree turn (and don’t rule that out) how can he profit from his usual disdain for the way things are done by the establishment?
That said, if this particular “Swedish model” wins the day, someone is going to get it in the neck. The question is, who?
On this episode of Studio B: Unscripted, award-winning illustrator and writer Molly Crabapple is in conversation with best-selling author and journalist Paul Mason.
Molly Crabapple has chronicled the stories of the marginalised while also shedding light on the darker corners of the United States empire. Crabapple’s artwork was widely used during the Occupy Wall Street protests, and in 2013 she was one of the first artists to gain access to the Guantanamo Bay prison.
She has sketched and written on a range of stories from the consequences of Hurricane Maria and corruption in Puerto Rico, to the lives of refugees in Greece and throughout the Middle East. Her most recent publication in collaboration with Syrian journalist Marwan Hisham, Brothers of the Gun (2018), details Hisham’s harrowing experience living in parts of Syria under ISIL control.
Paul Mason’s career as a journalist covering the financial crisis, international protests from Turkey to Spain, the conflict in Gaza, and the Hurricane Katrina disaster in the US furnished his subsequent books and plays, including Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions (2012) and Postcapitalism (2017).
In his latest book, Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defence of the Human Being (2019), Mason argues that the rise and fall of neoliberalism has galvanised the far right as well as global resistance movements. His book makes the case for ethical human control of technology to further global progress.
Mason and Crabapple explore how the events of 2011 transformed the trajectories of their lives and cemented their shared belief that carbon-based capitalism is contributing to social discord. They share the lessons they’ve learned from international movements, their perspectives on the role of art and online networks in both repression and resistance, and how to tackle fascism and prejudice, as well as the impacts of climate change.
The views expressed in this programme are the guests’ own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.
Studio B: Unscripted is a free-flow conversation between two guests and a small audience, with no mediation, no MC, no TV presenter – focusing on what brings us all together and how we can tackle and discuss some of the big issues of our time.
Source: Al Jazeera
The pandemic begins in Asia, rips through the capital cities of Europe and wipes out at least a third of all human beings in its way. When it is all over, revolts begin, cherished institutions fall, and the entire economic system has to be reconfigured.
That is a short history of the Black Death, a bubonic plague pandemic caused by the bacterium, Yersinia pestis, which spread from Mongolia to Western Europe in the 1340s.
Because the economy then was based on local agriculture and crafts, ordinary life bounced back relatively quickly.
But, by radically reducing the number of workers, it gave the survivors increased bargaining power, which soon translated into new concepts of liberty among the population of medieval cities.
That, in turn, started a process of economic change that brought an end to the feudal system and, some argue, triggered the rise of capitalism.
Today, capitalism faces its own plague nightmare. Though the COVID-19 virus may kill between 1 percent and 4 percent of those who catch it, it is about to have an impact on a much more complex economy than the one that existed back in the 1340s – one with a much more fragile geopolitical order, and on a society already gripped with foreboding over climate change.
Let us consider the massive changes the pandemic has already forced.
First, the partial shutdown of daily life in large parts of China, India, most of Europe and numerous states in America.
Second, significant damage to the reputations of governments and political elites who either denied the seriousness of the crisis, or in the initial stages proved incapable of mobilising their healthcare systems to meet it.
Third, an immediate slump in consumer spending across all major economies which is certain to provoke the deepest recession in living memory: share prices have already collapsed and this, in turn, hurts middle-class families whose pension funds have to invest in shares. Meanwhile, the solvency of airlines, airports and hotel chains is in doubt.
In response, states have launched economic rescue packages so massive that most people have not yet got their heads around the implications. The US government will inject two trillion dollars into the economy – through a mixture of direct payments to citizens and loans to business – more than half of what it collects in taxes in a year.
Meanwhile, the central banks have switched to a new and aggressive form of quantitative easing. Just as after the last global financial crisis in 2008, they will create new money to buy up government debt – but this time, it is not going to be gradual, or focused on the safest government bonds. Introduced as a panic measure in 2008, it seems quantitative easing could be with us for decades.
Politicians are busy reassuring voters that it will be a “V-shaped recession” – a sharp slump followed by a bounce-back, because the “real economy”, they claim, is sound.
To understand why that is over-optimistic, let us use the metaphor of a building.
In the 2008 financial crisis, it looked like the “roof” – the finance system – had collapsed onto the main structure which, though it was damaged, stood firm and we eventually rebuilt the roof.
This time, by contrast, it is the foundations that are collapsing – because all economic life in a capitalist system is based on compelling people to go to work and spend their wages.
Since we now have to compel them to stay away from work, and from all the places they usually spend their hard-earned salaries, it does not matter how strong the building itself is.
In fact, the building is not that strong. Much of the growth we have experienced during the 12 years since the last financial crisis has been fuelled by central banks printing money, governments bailing out the banking system and debt.
Instead of paying down debt, we amassed an estimated $72 trillion more of it.
Unlike the time of the bubonic plague, 21st-century trade and finance systems are complex – which, as we learned in 2008, means they are fragile.
Many of the assets circulating in the finance system are – just as in the run-up to the 2008 crisis – complicated bundles of IOUs issued by banks, insurance groups and other financial companies. Their value lies in the fact that they give the holder a claim on future income.
Our gym memberships, our student loan repayments, our rents, our car repayments this year, next year and beyond are already counted as “paid”, with people in the finance system taking sophisticated bets on how much they are worth.
But what happens when we do not go to the gym, do not buy a new car? Some of those IOUs become worthless and the financial system has to be bailed out by the state.
Even though most ordinary people do not understand how dangerous this is, the people in power do. That is why they have persuaded the central banks to effectively nationalise the bond markets.
This means that states are issuing debts to bail out people and companies – as with Trump’s two-trillion-dollar deal – and those debts are being swallowed up by another part of the state itself – the central bank.
Left-wing economists, myself included, have been warning that, in the long term, stagnant growth and high debt were likely to lead to these three policies: States paying citizens a universal income as automation makes well-paid work precarious and scarce; central banks lending directly to the state to keep it afloat; and large-scale public ownership of major corporations to maintain vital services that cannot be run at a profit.
On the rare occasions that such suggestions have ever been put to investors in the past, the response was usually a polite head-shake or, among people who witnessed the collapse of Soviet communism, outrage. It would kill capitalism, they said.
But now, the unthinkable is here – all of it: Universal payments, state bailouts and the funding of state debts by central banks have all been adopted at a speed that has shocked even the usual advocates of these measures.
The question is, are we going to do this enthusiastically, and with a clear vision of the society that emerges on the other side, or reluctantly, with the intent to revive the system that has just broken down?
Let us understand why economists have been so hostile to these crisis measures up to now.
With universal income payments, British conservative politician Iain Duncan Smith pointed out, the problem is they might “discourage people from going to work“.
When it comes to state ownership and attempts to plan production (for example, the current scramble for ventilators), free-market economists believe such attempts at human control get in the way of the market, which, in their opinion, functions as an intelligent machine, bringing order to the world in a way no planning agency or government can ever do.
As for the funding of state debts by central banks, this is seen as an admission of moral defeat by capitalism: It is entrepreneurship and competition that are supposed to drive growth, not the Bank of England or the Fed printing money and lending it to their treasuries. Therefore, a capitalism permanently reliant on these mechanisms is unthinkable to most traditional economists.
For me, these emergency measures have always been thinkable. Since 2015, I have argued we will be forced to adopt a new, and very different, model of capitalism; if not by the economic costs of supporting ageing populations, then by the threat of climate chaos.
But the COVID-19 crisis brings everything into the short term.
The capitalism that emerges from this in the mid-2020s will have already paid out tens of billions of dollars in basic income payments; it will have seen airlines and hotel chains nationalised; and the government debts of the advanced economies, currently averaging 103 percent of their gross domestic product, will be way above that. We do not know how much higher, because we do not know yet how far GDP will fall.
If we are really unlucky, a series of debt defaults and the disintegration of government coherence in some fragile states could seriously damage the multilateral global order. Security planners fear that if states like Venezuela, North Korea or Ukraine were to fall into chaos, the temptation for neighbouring giants like the US, China and Russia to “rescue” them by sending in troops would be strong.
We have seen rapid deglobalisation before, in the early 1930s. It starts with a banking crisis, leads to the break-up of international currency arrangements and ends with the repudiation of treaties and forcible annexations.
Although today’s crisis starts with much stronger institutions – the International Monetary Fund, World Health Organisation, United Nations among others – we face the same basic problem as in the 1930s: the absence of a single powerful country prepared to take the lead, set standards of behaviour and act as a lender of last resort.
If we follow the orthodox economic playbook now, just as after 2008, once the crisis is over, political elites will call for more austerity – healthcare cuts, wage cuts and tax rises for ordinary people to reduce government spending and erode the debt pile.
It is the logic of the free market, but many people will see it as madness.
In the 14th century, once the mass death phase of the plague was over, that is exactly what the feudal elites tried to do: to reimpose their old privileges and traditions and economic logic – on a population that had just lived through the most traumatic event imaginable.
Back then, it led to immediate and bloody revolts – the Peasants’ Revolt in England, the so-called Jacquerie in France and the takeover of cities like Ghent, Paris and Florence by artisans – led by a very feisty group of citizens called, in French, the “bourgeois”.
Though the post-plague revolts failed, writes historian Samuel Kline Cohn in his book, Lust for Liberty, they led to a permanent change of mindset among the masses, “from utter despondency and fear to a new confidence … that they, too, could change the world, fundamentally altering the social and political conditions of their lives”. And that, in turn, paved the way for the bourgeois revolutions that unleashed capitalism.
To understand what we have to do today, we need a wider framework than exists in the minds of most politicians.
To them, both the COVID-19 and the climate crises look like asteroids hitting a planet: external shocks requiring a temporary and reversible response. In fact, they are shocks generated by “planet capitalism” itself – or at least in the form we have adopted it.
We do not know what an industrial capitalism without carbon would look like because our institutions, practices and cultures are all based around fossil fuel extraction.
Likewise, we do not know what globalisation would look like without a billion people living in slums, without deforestation, live animal markets and without widespread diseases of poverty in the developed world – again because these have become fundamental features of capitalism as it really exists.
That is why I have argued that capitalism is unlikely to survive, long term – and in the short term it can only survive by adopting features of “post-capitalism”.
Until the coronavirus hit, that seemed like a cry in the wilderness. Even the relatively mild programmes of state intervention advocated by figures like left-wing politicians such as the UK’s Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, or Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders have been rejected by voters.
So, I was stunned when I saw analysts from the Australian investment group, Macquarie Wealth, one of most capitalist companies in the world, tell investors: “Conventional capitalism is dying, or at least mutating into something closer to a version of communism.”
The Macquarie analysts understood that this is not just because we suddenly need state intervention, but also because ordinary people’s priorities have moved market choices to concepts of fairness and wellbeing.
If the great plague of the 14th century triggered a post-feudal imagination, it is possible – and desirable – that this one triggers a post-capitalist imagination. And fast.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.
This overfed man is the poster boy for narcissism, isn’t he? Oh well, people get the government they deserve, no? What I am afraid of is of a civil war that would disintegrate the States to Smithereens. Too much noise, as I live above them.
Moscow’s permanent mission to the UN issued a statement on Thursday questioning why Ukraine, Georgia, the UK, US, and EU had shot down its proposal, arguing that these nations “refused to cast aside politicized approaches and interests,” and that their decision could negatively affect “a great number of people” – especially in developing nations currently under sanctions.
The rejected motion called for broad international cooperation on combating the spread of Covid-19, as well as the “rejection of trade wars and unilateral sanctions adopted without the mandate of the UN Security Council, in order to ensure early access to food and medication.” The draft also called on member states to reject “stigmatizations of states, peoples and individuals with regard to the pandemic, and the need to circulate only reliable and science-based information about it.”
The declaration was co-sponsored by 28 UN member states, Russia’s UN mission said. The General Assembly ultimately passed a different resolution calling for “international cooperation” and “multilateralism” to combat coronavirus.
There are more than 1 million confirmed cases of the virus worldwide, resulting in more than 50,000 deaths, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.