Thursday, March 26, 2020

For the greater good

The COVID-19 pandemic is now moving at a speed that the world had not anticipated. It is difficult to predict the likely course of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a completely new virus. This crisis has illustrated, so clearly and painfully, some of the weaknesses  in the fabric of our capitalist society that the Socialist Party has passionately trying to focus our fellow-workers’ attention on. To many socialist ideas do not look so bad now.

Wartime profiteering is has been as common as war itself. Merchants and traders line their pockets by controlling the supply and jacking up the prices of various goods. We now have a new breed of parasites, the pandemic profiteers. Corporate CEOs are shoving aside millions of workers, small businesses, poor people, students, the non-profits, farmers, cities and all other devastated victims of the COVID-19 crisis, for a massive government bailout rescue. Boeing, already disgraced for putting its profits before peoples safety, has its lobbyists pleading for $60 billion.

Republican lawmakers claim there’s a portion of the bill that incentivizes Americans not to work since the relief package could potentially give them more money than their normal incomes. No such worries when it comes to Big Business lodging their claims for compensation. One reporter remarked “I apologize — I don’t know how to ask this without sounding like I’m being a smart ass, and I’m not. But do you understand how bad the optics are to have probably the wealthiest person in the Senate potentially holding up this bill for a couple hundreds bucks for some of the poorest people in this country?”

Wall Street and employers are crippled by employees’ staying home, so now their rallying call is “We have to get back to work” despite the medical advice of the experts. Let us risk and sacrifice our lives for the health of the stock-market and the well-being of the industrial barons and billionaires.

It has been reported that some companies are now charging $7 for protective masks that typically cost less than $1. None of this should be surprising coming from executives who question whether curing disease is a “sustainable business model,” nor should it be surprising within a system that continually seeks profit maximisation despite deadly circumstances. 

Capitalists’ consistent push for profits is now coming home to roost, as manifesting in staff shortages during this crisis caused by earlier austerity cuts. 

Much concern has been shown about the shortage of ventilators to assist  patients breathing. Industry is organised to benefit a wealthy minority of capitalists and previously has been unable to respond to the needs of peopleYet it is now being demonstrated that manufacturers can re-tool their machinery and produce the necessary equipment.

The COVID-19 pandemic is magnifying capitalism’s complete inability to foster overall health and well being. We don’t just need a new healthcare system, but a new economic system altogether.We simply cannot accept these for-profit parasites producing the vaccines, surgical masks, ventilators, and disinfectants needed to battle this pandemic for any longer. We have an economic  system based on profits, but right now, we need to mobilize all of production and healthcare for the purposes of saving people’s lives. Even though it can achieve this capitalism has shown itself incapable of doing that. We need a healthcare system run democratically by doctors, nurses, employees, and patients. This would be drastically different from the current system in which wealthy capitalists make the major decisions in hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, medical equipment manufacturing firms, and insurance companies. We need a system where healthcare is not a means to make money. 
We  need an economic system that puts health and survival over profit maximisation. Socialism would allow for all production to be organized in a planned economy under workers’ control, so that resources could be better allocated and the creative and scientific energy of people could be used productively for the benefit of all of us. Our healthcare system has revealed its failings. Capitalism will never give us what we need. We not only need a new healthcare system, but a new economic system that values life over profit. Let's have courage, work together, and help each other get through this the best we can. But, when we are able, let us change our society and the way we are expected to live. We are experiencing a growing awareness of what it means to be a citizen of the world and at a little closer to home, being part of a community with our family, our friends, our neighbours and our co-workers. We are learning how to better conserve, to be more self-sufficient, to share. We are re-evaluating what really matters in our life. We have an opportunity to adopt new behaviours and learn and practice new skills, nurturing them. It can be argued that we better understand the urgency of what we are facing regarding the climate crisis.

Do we want our children, or our children's children and beyond, to look back at this point in history and wonder why we all didn't change our priorities and choose to act more responsibly. We need to dis-empower the looting class; stop their incessant propaganda, PR and advertising.

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