A Relatively Mild Pandemic has Instigated the Fleecing of the United States' Populace

A Relatively Mild Pandemic has Instigated the Fleecing of the United States' Populace

However don't expect strikes and yellow vests to fix underlying problems

As Bill Gates stated in an article published on February 28th,

Global health experts have been saying for years that another pandemic whose speed and severity rivaled those of the 1918 influenza epidemic was a matter not of if but of when.

...In the past week, Covid-19 has started behaving a lot like the once-in-a-century pathogen we’ve been worried about. I hope it’s not that bad, but we should assume it will be until we know otherwise.

In case you haven't noticed, and apart from the United States (whose initial bone-headed, laissez-faire approach to the pandemic has begun unleashing upon the nation a taste of apocalypse), there is little to no indication that the current pandemic will come anywhere near to the severity of the 1918 influenza, and certainly nowhere near as bad as things could get. (I estimate that that worst-case-scenario pandemic won't be arriving for another three decades or so, but that's another story for sometime later this year.) Having killed between 50 and 100 million people out of a world population of 1.8 billion, the mortality rate of the 1918 flu would translate to 215 to 430 million deaths with today's world population of 7.8 billion. There's no indication that mortality levels due to COVID-19 will reach anywhere near that level, even without strict quarantine measures. (Supposing the entire human population got infected at a case fatality rate of 2%, that'd still result in "only" 156 million deaths.)

In regards to what I'd thus describe as a relatively mild pandemic, keeping the following in mind may put your mind at rest or freak you out even more:

  • push the lever and our human wastes continue to disappear, out of sight and out of mind
  • flick the switch and the lights still turn on
  • turn the dial and the stove element heats up
  • rotate the handle and not only does (potable, chlorinated) water come out of the tap, but even hot (chlorinated) water
  • give them as little as can be gotten away with and our quasi-slaves continue to harvest our food
  • it's apparently "fabulous" to adopt a pet from an animal shelter and a great idea if you're "wanting a distraction and to do some tangible good", rather than animal shelters being the place to rush to in hopes of securing your next meal before somebody else beats you to the punch

Put a bit differently, people are not dropping like flies, and the infrastructure that underpins industrial civilisation does not appear to be threatened in the slightest – power plants are still fully operational, chlorine is still being delivered to water treatment plants, shelves continue to be restocked with food, etc. Furthermore, the most visibly imperiled industry has not been grounded due to unavoidable circumstances (such as shortages of oil supplies) but rather because of concerted action – governments have decided to restrict air travel (mostly international air travel) in order to reduce the chances of the novel coronavirus spreading between nations. All in all, our situation as a civilisation could be a whole lot worse.

That being said, there is however one particular country that, out of its own volition, may very well equal its per capita death toll that the 1918 influenza inflicted upon it. That, not very surprisingly, is the United States. An estimated 675,000 Americans died from the 1918 flu at a time when the nation's population was roughly 103.2 million, which correlated to the United States' current population of roughly 329.5 million equates to the equivalent of 2.155 million deaths today. That figure is right on par with an early estimate by the Imperial College of London COVID-19 Response Team that 2.2 million Americans may die from complications due to the novel coronavirus, although a more recent estimate by The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts 93,531 deaths in the United States by mid-August. Take your pick.

Estimated number of diagnosed and undetected COVID-19 cases in the United States, as of 11 April 2020 (image compilation via Coronavirus 10-day forecast app, University of Melbourne)

But those, of course, are nothing but cold, hard stats, while the on-the-ground reality is nothing but disheartening. In the last two weeks of March more than 9.95 million Americans applied for unemployment, decimating all previous records. Food bank usage is soaring (as high as eightfold in some areas), to the point that the national guard is being called in to lend assistance. Shortages at food banks have been predicted for mid-April in Washington state, the shortages expected to spread across the nation (even while massive amounts of food are being dumped and tilled into the soil, essentially because people no longer live where food is grown, but that too is another story for another time). Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis estimate that 47 million Americans may lose their employment, bringing the unemployment rate up to 32.1% and thus surpassing the Great Depression peak of 24.9%. Millions of Americans may lose access to running water if they fall behind in their bills. "Deaths of despair" are expected to significantly increase, those being deaths due to drug overdose, alcohol-related liver disease, and suicide.

As if all that weren't bad enough, and with the United States being the United States, Americans aren't simply panic-buying toilet paper, but in record-breaking numbers are panic-buying guns – the vast majority of those purchasers being first-time gun owners. When you combine all of the preceding with the facts that the United States has a piss-poor excuse for a healthcare system (which adds a whole other dimension to the crisis), that 40% of Americans can't afford a $400 emergency, and that Goldman Sachs has been repeatedly downgrading projections for the United States' second-quarter GDP level (from -2% to -24% to -32%, implying a recession if not an outright depression), it then becomes conceivable – albeit unlikely – that with mounting deaths and plausible anarchy in the streets that the United States could be only one ingredient away from tipping over into failed state status.

That last ingredient may very well have been added to the mix courtesy of the United States' March 27th stimulus package, the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act), ostensibly sold as relief for ailing Americans but which is anything but. The harrowing truth of the matter is explicitly laid out in an interview that author and political journalist Dylan Ratigan did on The Jimmy Dore Show a few weeks ago. This is an interview that I'd say all Americans should be listening to, a forewarning of what may end up being the largest consolidation of wealth the world has ever seen. As put by Ratigan in one of his more tranquil comments (13:40),

This is not a bailout for the American people, this is giving cash to a small group of investors and banks so that they can buy up bankrupt assets from everybody else.

Call it enactment of The Shock Doctrine if you want. Ratigan again (29:21):

They are actively restructuring the American economy in a way that simply consolidates ownership of assets to a smaller and smaller group in the private sector using catastrophe as an opportunity to use taxpayer money to accomplish that. And then they call it a bailout, for the people.

You can listen to the entire interview via the embed below, although I should highlight one caveat: Dore, although what I'd describe as one of the sharper knives in the drawer, does have some blind spots, the most significant being that he's about as energy illiterate as they come (which one can hope is just for the time being). From what I can tell he has no understanding of – and possibly has not even heard of – peak oil and/or EROI, and as an outcrop of that doesn't realize that money is but a proxy for energy and so literally believes that printing money can solve all of our problems. From an interview he had earlier today with a professor of international political economy,

So it sounds to me – again, that's why I have you here, so correct me if I'm wrong – this sounds to me like Modern Monetary Theory where because we have our sovereign currency we can print as much money as we want to solve all of our problems, and now this crisis is actually proving that to be true.

Nonetheless, and along with author and investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed (quoted below), Dore is one of only two people that I support via Patreon, and if you can temporarily put aside his energy illiteracy, monetary misguidedness, and by extension his lefty/progressive politics, then I highly recommend his material (whose members-only podcast recordings of the free live-streams I listen to rather than watch on video).

As far as I've noticed, virtually nobody has been talking about this monumental financial chicanery, be it those aligned with corporate Democrats or corporate Republicans (the one-party duopoly), nor even self-congratulating progressives. (One exception to this silence was an article that Dore covered in a piece that preceded the Ratigan interview, another being a preemptive Guardian article warning of what the bill would likely entail, Dore then interviewing its author shortly thereafter.)

For those who have been following the protracted collapse of industrial civilisation for some years now, none of what is going on should necessarily come as any surprise. But although Dore does have a grasp on the waning of the American empire, he seems to have no awareness of the greater collapse of industrial civilisation, implying that he's effectively voicing the concerns of many in-the-dark Americans when he stated in the embedded video (36:09)

Do you see any way out of this? There's no way out of this. Things are just going to get shittier. Income inequality is going to get more exacerbated. And things are going to get worse for the regular people.

But although things were already getting worse for "regular people", the reasoning isn't just because of exacerbating income inequality due to kleptocrats and the like. As I've previously written, and as was occurring more than a decade before patients were getting triaged in Italy and now the United States due to COVID-19, the poor were getting triaged in Greece (and other places) from the industrial economy so that the more affluent spectrum of Greek society could maintain their levels of resource usage in a climate of overall decreasing resource levels (somewhat similar to a game of musical chairs), thus enabling them to maintain their modern standards of living at the expense of others.

Is Greece Planning to Print Energy?
Over the past couple of months the story keeping many people on the edge of their seats has been the ongoing dilemma of Greece’s detested debt burden, its Great Depression-worthy 25% contraction of its economy [http://www.thestar.com/business/2015/02/17/greece-talks-break-down-but-no-panic-yet-in-eurozone.html…

From what I can tell Dore unfortunately doesn't understand the underlying reasons for any of this, evident with the repeated calls he makes on his show for revolution (whose ultimate conclusion due to resource constraints can only be role reversal and bloodshed) along with another statement of his in the video at hand that (35:37)

[A]s soon as we can get out in the streets I'm going to get a yellow vest and a bullhorn and we're gonna do something.

But if "something" implies somehow wrestling control and/or resources from the powers-that-be so that everybody can enjoy the comfortable living standards of a modern-day, first-world industrial nation, then that's increasingly becoming more and more of a pipe-dream as more and more limits to growth are reached.

Jimmy Dore, Stef Zamorano and Graham Elwood (photo via Instagram)

As Nafeez Ahmed stated in his INSURGE intelligence piece "Brexit: stage one in Europe’s slow-burn energy collapse" (use this link if the preceding link isn't active yet), "we’re running short on the physical basis of the last few decades of exponential (and fluctuating) ‘growth’ — and that is cheap, easily available hydrocarbon energies, primarily oil, gas and coal." Translated a bit too simplistically, printing money can't fix the problems of diminishing fossil fuel energy supplies, implying that our modern way of life is coming to an end. As Ahmed then elaborates and provides added clarification towards the situation of donning yellow vests,

[B]y placing the burden almost exclusively on French workers and consumers, Macron triggered the spiral of rage and riots. Protestors have set fire to banks, smashed and looted shops, and even targeted the Arc de Triomphe. They demand an end to corporate freeloading, along with nationalist demands such as ‘Frexit’, France’s departure from the EU, and preventing migration. It is telling that while some demands are compelling, there is no semblance of understanding the real planetary crisis beyond banal tropes about Big Banks.

Which, and I hate to say it, to a large extent parallels Dore's understanding (one difference being that he's not anti-migration and/or xenophobic in the slightest). Along with the blind spots I already mentioned, from what I can tell Dore (and Ratigan?) doesn't understand – as also stated by Ahmed – that "We need to transform the way money is created, so that it’s not linked to the systematic generation of debt". Otherwise put, private banks should not be allowed to create money out of thin air, never mind charge interest on it (aka fractional-reserve banking and interest-bearing debt).

Fractional-Reserve, Interest-Bearing Debt Banking Primer
I unfortunately still haven’t written this yet, so in the meantime you can get a tiny overview via what I’ve written on the topic in the following post: Peak Oil Ass-Backwards: Fractional-Reserve Banking, Meet Peak Oil [part 1/3]If the ongoing crash of oil prices over the past year – and now the st…

To allay any confusion, let me make it clear that in no way am I trying to attack Dore with all this criticism, and I'm certainly not to be confused with the progressing batch of progressive knives that have been progressively coming out for Dore due to his particularly recent willingness to call out every single American progressive politician for their progressed fecklessness amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because just like Dore has been repeatedly stating recently that he's holding Sanders' feet to the fire, well, who's holding Dore's feet to the fire? While it's been obvious for years that (fecklessness aside) Sanders really is a politician of the status quo in the mold of FDR due to the fact that he makes no acknowledgement of peak oil and/or EROI (as I've also previously written about) and so is better suited to the foregone FDR-times of increasing energy supplies rather than today's reality and climate of decreasing energy supplies, what's Dore's "excuse" for being a status quo contrarian?

Note to Bernie Sanders: Something is More Than Rotten in the State of Denmark, and Peak Oil is Coming to Take it Away
Being from an English-speaking country where books abound, I’m well aware of the likelihood that I enjoy access to more books on the topic of peak oil [http://fromfilmerstofarmers.com/peak-oil-primer] (and related topics) in my native language than a person of any other native tongue. This of course…

Put a bit differently, what's the difference between Sanders sheepherding people into the Democratic party and Dore sheepherding people over the cliff of industrial civilisation's collapse?

No doubt it's admirable for Dore to be sticking up for people like Christian Smalls (the Amazon employee fired for speaking up about the unsafe conditions of Amazon warehouses due to COVID-19 cases); no doubt Dore is right to be sticking up for spreading the booty a bit so that all Americans can at least enjoy Medicare for All (while the fossil fuels last) and so not have to pay $35,000 due to COVID-19 infection (or have to avoid hospitals in general out of fear of going bankrupt); and his continuing delivered-at-the-top-of-his-lungs exhortations further elaborating on the aforementioned financial fiasco, the current pandemic, and all the rest of it, aren't to be missed. From a recent piece, and in regards to the CARES Act:

Do you see how fucked up Bernie is – and his campaign – and all the progressives are? Do you see how fucked up they are? They all just shut up, and went along, and did nothing, while Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell, Steve Mnuchin and Donald Trump cemented a corporate fucking oligarchy and an income inequality from the gilded age for the next generation. They did that.

People still don't know how bad this is. You know when you drive down the busy street where all the stores [are,] you know how they're all closed now? Well, in a year they're all going to be bought by the thousand people – a thousand people are going to own everything. That they just gave 4.2 trillion dollars to. All those stores, all that, they're all going to be bought. They're all going to be empty, or bought, by people they just gave the 4.2 trillion dollars to. Meaning equity firms, hedge funds, giant corporations.

It's coming. The great unmasking is coming, and then people are gonna go "you fucking voted for this Bernie? You fucking did this to us, and you didn't get anything in it? You didn't get fucking any– you didn't even get healthcare for people with coronavirus!? You didn't even get that?"

"I didn't get anything."

"Did you get us, what did you get–"

"Nothing."

Well there is $1,200 – a one-time $1,200 payment. And what does that do for us? Well obviously it does nothing.

And from another recent piece:

So we have to start organizing rent strikes. Shit is going to start hitting the fan, cause people aren't getting even those $1,200 cheques. So there's lots of people who didn't pay their rent yesterday [April 1st]. So, there's gonna have to be another bill, it's like Dylan Ratigan said, "they're out of options". So at some point they're going to have to actually start getting money into the hands of people, and if they don't do that we're going to turn into a Mad Max situation, and Bernie I'm sure will Tweet about it.

So that's coming very quickly. So we'll see. And right now there's a three-month moratorium on mortgages in California, I don't know about the rest of the country. So that's April, May, June. So July they're going to start kicking people out of their house. So July you gotta fuckin' pay four months, and if you don't, now in 90 days we're gonna start... so they'll start kicking people out of their houses around Thanksgiving. Last time [after the 2008 Global Financial Crisis] it was 5.1 million people, this time there's gonna be 30% unemployment, higher than the Great Depression, so they'll probably kick maybe 10 or 20 million people out of their houses this time?

And Bernie will Tweet about it. And AOC will give a speech on the floor, and then she won't call out her leadership for actually engineering the fleecing of America, and then she'll – you know, whatever the fuck she does. She'll support it. She'll fucking support it, like they all supported it. They're all fucking losers.

There's no doubt that if governments like those in Australia can provide (at times meager) wage subsidies for individuals and grants for small businesses (and unfortunately massive taxpayer-funded subsidies to the country's largest corporations), then there's no reason why American governments can't as well – although bringing those about would seemingly require strikes, which in themselves would ultimately need to be backed up by political organization and leadership.

(image via The Jimmy Dore Show)

But if Dore thinks that what's going on is merely an issue of redistribution of wealth amidst a collapsing empire – which can supposedly be remedied with protests, yellow vests, strikes, "revolution", etc. – then he's unfortunately got a very rude surprise coming his way. And by "rude" I mean much ruder than witnessing Tulsi Gabbard capitulate by offering her endorsement to warmongering, pathologically-lying, dementia-ridden Joe Biden.

Rather than expand on all this and give a much more thorough explanation, I'll leave it at that for now – although not before drawing your attention to another... interview... Dore had with yet another high-profile individual. This most recent... phone call... with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was probably the most enlightening... interview... Fauci has given, one that should be closely listened to by not just every American, but by every Earthling seeking the true story about the COVID-19 situation in the United States of Americanos.

An artist's impression of the red, white and blue Stars and Stripes (image via NIH Image Gallery)

Formerly a budding filmmaker, now jawboning on the collapse of industrial civili­s­a­tion & the renewal of culture. READ MORE

  ALLAN STROMFELDT CHRISTENSEN  2020