During a crisis like the current Coronavirus pandemic capitalism’s inadequacy is on full display as Americans learn that money, financial markets, 401(k) and other retirement and contingency plans can vaporize as quickly as a virus can envelop the globe.
America and about one-hundred and fifty other countries are under orders for “Social Isolation” in response to the – COVID-19 pandemic in the latest efforts to do what scientists call – “Flattening the curve,” i.e. decrease the spread of the highly contagious virus.
Americans have seen the Stock Exchange retreat to 2016 levels – numbers it was at the end of President Obama’s term – as the current president mangled the response so badly he helped destroy three years of market gains in just a couple of weeks.
His ineptitude was so thorough that not only did he crash American markets he also contributed to global selloffs due to multinational corporations suffering under his repeated idiotic and incorrect daily ramblings.
With almost every state now in some form of social isolation Americans are confronting the limits of capitalism in healing a nation. Healing a virus is one thing but binding the wounds of capitalism requires something else altogether.
As government tries to dump money into the markets – caring for businesses and their wealthy owners first and foremost – society as a whole is suffering from simultaneous attacks of fear, anger, and confusion.
Americans looked for leadership from the White House but found propaganda, deflection, lies, and attacks on the press.
So Americans turned to their governors and other local officials who acted quickly to issue movement restriction advice, then orders to limit contact then, finally, social isolation and mandatory stay at home orders.
But those quick actions came from Democratic governors – Inslee, Newsom, Cuomo, and others before Republican governors finally abandoned White House denial strategies and Fox News lies to take measures to protect their own citizens.
The actions are needed but not enough as tens of millions of jobs could be lost as entire industries are shut down in efforts to slow the virus.
Once jobs are lost Americans are faced with the brutality of capitalism: bills have to be paid, food has to be purchased, and healthcare needs to be available and cover the cost of treatment.
And this is where we see the loneliness of capitalism.
Despite government action to pump money into the economy and an upcoming individual stimulus – expected to be $1,200 per *American, capitalism is being exposed for its inadequacy of comforting and caring for the human condition that has been beaten down by, well, capitalism.
Daily briefings by the White House have not been used as moments to extend condolences to those who have died, or words of hope to their families, caregivers, or laid off workers. Instead briefings focus on self-congratulatory lauding of Donald by men and women incapable of rising to the moment needed by most Americans.
The White House’s only concern is for money – stocks and businesses – that are addressed first in every briefing. A businessman leader expresses concern for those who are like him while ignoring the suffering of the people who he is supposed to serve.
Americans are demonstrating capitalism’s loneliness by inexplicably mass-buying toilet paper, sanitizer, paper towels, and the American god – guns. Wanton spending on unnecessary mass-produced commodities are as American as one-hundred different toothpaste options, thousands of types of potato chips, and millions of frozen ice-cream choices.
The purchases may be comforting but they cannot take the place of what are really needed: Ventilators, masks, testing kits, real food, treatment if/when contracting the virus and, of course, the ability to pay every day expenses such as rent, mortgage, electricity, water, gas, etc.
Capitalism fails and it doesn’t care. It is indifferent to human needs whether it is seniors watching their carefully cultivated retirement accounts tank, or homeowners seeing the value of their homes bottom-out.
Capitalism doesn’t care and it wasn’t designed to. It is supposed to be agnostic and led only by the illusion of “market forces” that always produces results without emotion, favoritism, or external guidance.
We know though that the American form of capitalism is micromanaged by an elite group of (mostly) men who decide when and where to inject their power into capitalism’s faltering power – such as what we are witnessing during this pandemic.
These men injected trillions of dollars in the market only to see the market ignore their prayers and supplications as false gods have done for millennia.
The same men will now bypass the market and send money directly to citizens who presumably will be released from home arrest to spend the money and give it back to the market.
Whether direct or indirect capitalism’s stewards are using precious time and energy to inoculate capitalism against a virus that at first seems contagious only to humans but is proving to be just as devastating to the world’s number one monetary system.
If man-made capitalism is to survive it will necessarily have to take on natural world characteristics that allow animals, plants, humans, and even viruses, to survive and thrive in old and new worlds: Evolution.
It is not only Americans who are socially isolating. Capitalism is being forcefully isolated by a pandemic taking a queue from capitalism itself: the pandemic doesn’t care of capitalism lives or dies.
Capitalism will need to follow tenets its evangelists have long preached here and abroad, to businesses and humans alike: Evolve or die.
© 2020 by Myron J. Clifton. All Rights Reserved.