The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is this generation’s smallpox.
It’s our 1918 influenza pandemic.
Considering our financial infrastructure was already failing before the pandemic reached our shores, the sudden upset to businesses, medical facilities, education, transportation, employment–society at large–are also ushering in our very own Republican Great Depression.
Simply put, we are now about to experience how this country will respond to severe economic strain.
And right on cue, the very factions who every day decry the “evils of Socialism” are having to at least privately admit a little of that “S-word” is exactly what we need now to buttress the failings capitalism has wrought.
When Franklin Roosevelt assumed the presidency in 1933, he was not some flaming leftie.
He campaigned almost exclusively on rebuilding the economy that had collapsed under Herbert Hoover’s failed economic policies.
Yet by the time March 1933 came around and he spoke those immortal words, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” he understood the economy needed to be restructured. It could not simply be Rube-Goldberged together with bubble gum and bailing wire, and hoped if he crossed his fingers it would remain intact until he was out of office.
He therefore promised a “New Deal” that revitalized not only the economy, but the very foundations upon which the economy was built.
Arguably, we wouldn’t have been able to win World War II if the country had still been in shambles.
FDR surrounded himself with brilliant advisers and listened to those who knew more than he in order to usher in the most robust four decades (1940-1980) of prosperity this country has ever known by borrowing money and putting it directly into average Americans’ pockets.
That prosperity would not have been possible without a system in which the economy and society ran democratically to satisfy public needs, not for the purpose of increasing profits for an affluent few.
In other words, FDR relied on what we today call Democratic Socialism.
And if you think he didn’t get criticized for it, think again.
There were plenty accusing him of being a “communist,” just as those on the right now shout at anyone who even suggests doing a fraction of what FDR did.
Despite all the grumbling from the right, though, when massive transnational corporations come to Congress pleading for financial assistance, or corporate welfare, there isn’t a moment’s hesitation.
We needn’t go any further than what is transpiring right now.
Two days ago, Donald Trump hinted at a $50 billion bailout to the airline, cruise ship, hotel, and casino industries.
If you’re thinking, “Wait. Didn’t they already get a bailout three years ago when Trump handed them $1.5 trillion dollars in permanent tax cuts?”
Yes they did.
But they did and so they’re coming, hat in hand, for, if they were middle class or poor, what would be called a “handout.”
They aren’t the only industries with their hands out, however.
Progressive talk show host and author Thom Hartmann this week sent an unusual expletive-laden tweet:
“Dear airlines, hotel chains, banks, and other industries who are begging Donald Trump and Congress for bail outs. Get in the fucking line. Most of you didn’t even pay taxes last year. The front of the line this time needs to be people with medical and student debt, people who have lost their jobs, people who are homeless, and people working on the gig economy. Everybody else: get in the fucking line. In 2008, the Bush administration was able to find over $20 trillion to bail out the banks and insurance companies; last year Trump found one and a-half trillion to cut taxes to the billionaire class and America’s largest corporations. It’s not gonna happen again if we have anything to say about it. They can all get in the fucking line behind the rest of us human beings here.”
That relief package includes $1,200 to be paid to every American taxpayer.
But the corporations are getting another tax cut on top of it.
We get $1,200; they get a tax cut.
Where is all the faux outrage over the Socialist “freeloaders” now?
The hypocrisy is almost risible.
I am old enough to remember when Republicans said Obama was going to bankrupt us when he passed his stimulus bill for $800B .
Now the GOP wants $1 TRILLION!
It's amazing how Republicans' viewpoints change when it's "their guy" in the White House and their necks on the line! pic.twitter.com/M0OGfMOBYj
— Russell Drew (@RussOnPolitics) March 17, 2020
Our current crisis is proving why we need a strong federal government that provides an impenetrable social safety net through which no one can fall, a check on capitalism when it inevitably fails.
All we need is a president like FDR again.
If we can hold out that long.
Image credit: en.wikipedia.org