Wealthy corporations love it when average people do the corporations’ dirty work.
All across the country, right-wing donors are using their money the Supreme Court has determined equals “free speech” to convince angry white Republicans “those people are coming” to rip freedom right out of their hands.
Taking their cue from this month’s “operation gridlock” protest at the Michigan state capitol, rally organizers intend to force governors to lift orders designed to stop the coronavirus spread, despite public health officials’ recommendations.
Texas, Indiana, New Hampshire, Nevada, Maryland, Utah, Ohio, and Wisconsin, have seen similar protests.
Brandishing Gadsden flags, American flags, swastikas, rifles, and signs exclaiming “The cure is worse than the virus!” and “Reopen __(fill in state here)__!”, protesters believe they are exercising independence defending the independence they have been convinced has been abrogated.
That message has been brought to them by none other than a variety of deep-pocketed right-wing groups who not only want to see Donald Trump re-elected so they can continue enjoying their tax breaks and regulations rollbacks; they also celebrate ordinary citizens tearing each other apart at this time when unity is most needed.
According to The Washington Post:
“The outside effort from conservative groups is expected to be led by Stephen Moore, a conservative at the Heritage Foundation who is close with White House economic officials; Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots; Adam Brandon, president of FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy organization; and Lisa Nelson, chief executive of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative organization with ties to the Koch brothers, according to the three people, who were granted anonymity to reveal details of an effort that had not been publicly revealed.
“Part of the impetus for the conservative group effort is political. Many conservatives, who had long counted on a roaring economy to lift the GOP in November, are increasingly uneasy about the party’s chances if businesses remain shuttered.”
Trump is, of course, encouraging this militia behavior, tweeting:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 17, 2020
He tweeted similar incitements for Virginia and Michigan.
Friday morning, he tweeted:
The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 1, 2020
“Very good people.”
This could get violent, and the President of the United States is gleefully encouraging it.
And why wouldn’t he?
The protesters are mere pawns.
Like a true cult leader, Trump is urging his followers to sacrifice themselves for him and the one-percenters who may publicly grumble about his loose lips but are secretly ecstatic about all the grift he’s able to commit for them.
It’s the corporate cash Trump is after.
But what good is all that manipulative money without the propaganda necessary to mobilize the peons?
They’ve got that covered.
As David Sirota explains in his newsletter TMI:
“For weeks, Donald Trump and Fox News downplayed the pandemic. At one point, a Fox News host called the virus a ‘scam,’ and at another point, the network broadcast Republican Rep. Devin Nunes telling people to ignore social distancing directives. Of late, we see Fox News promoting protests against social distancing, and Republican governors ignoring scientific guidelines and moving to lift stay-at-home directives.”
On April 18 Fox & Friends presented the following map:
“What we’re living in now, this circumstance as we try to beat this virus, is not sustainable—that the utter collapse of the country’s economy, which many think will happen if this goes on much longer, is an intolerable result…[H]e is saying, for his own part, that he’d be willing to take a risk of getting the disease if that’s what it took to allow the economy to move forward. And he said that because he’s late in life, you know, that he would be perhaps more willing then he might’ve been at a younger age, which seems to me to be an entirely reasonable viewpoint.”
But it won’t be conducted at Fox News studios or the White House.
It won’t be done over the phone or via Zoom.
That wouldn’t be “patriotic” enough.
Trump plans on holding the town-hall interview at the Lincoln Memorial.
Glenn Beck told his BlazeTV show viewers older Americans should return to work and be ready to die, stating:
“Even if we all get sick, I would rather die than kill the country.”
Former Wells Fargo CEO and chairman, Dick Kovacevich, added:
“We’ll gradually bring those people back and see what happens. Some of them will get sick, some may even die, I don’t know. Do you want to suffer more economically or take some risk that you’ll get flu-like symptoms and a flu-like experience? Do you want to take an economic risk or a health risk? You get to choose.”
Basically, older Americans–the most expensive and, in wealth-speak, expendable–should go out there and take one for the team.
And why not?
In laissez-faire capitalism’s sociopathic milieu, fewer people equals fewer social safety nets for which to pay.
“Sociopath? Yes. The corporate entity is obligated to care only about itself and to define what is good as what makes it more money. Pretty close to a textbook case of antisocial personality disorder. And corporate persons are the most powerful people in our world.
“The ‘maximize rule’ does its damage in two ways. Corporate entities are direct actors in the world. A decision to build a factory in a place with weak environmental laws, low wages and poor worker protection matters. Preferring share buybacks to increased wages or lower prices matters. Lobbying for taxpayer subsidies that transfer wealth from poor to rich matters. They contribute to the problems listed in paragraph one in obvious ways. More damaging: the maximize rule infects real people with tragic faith in the magic of markets.”
It’s an insidious setup to justify neo-liberals’ dream of slashing Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and states’ public pension funds.
We’ve seen this movie before.
This is what Germany did during World War Two.
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich explains the four social classes COVID-19 is creating in America.
The first are “the Remotes,” professionals who are still able to work from home.
Reich explains them as:
“An estimated 35% of the workforce–-who are putting in long hours at their laptops, Zooming into conferences, scanning electronic documents, and collecting about the same pay as before the crisis.”
Second are “the Essentials.”
These comprise 30% of the workforce. They are “nurses, home care and childcare workers, farm workers, food processors, truck drivers, warehouse and transit workers, drugstore employees, sanitation workers, police officers, firefighters, and the military.”
“Too many Essentials lack adequate protective gear, paid sick leave, health insurance, and childcare, which is especially important now that schools are shuttered. They also deserve hazard pay.
“Trump’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has the legal authority to require private employers provide essential workers with protective gear. Don’t hold your breath.”
The third group is the “unpaid.”
They are workers who have exhausted their paid leave or have been furloughed and cannot perform their duties remotely like “the Remotes.”
“The unpaid most need cash to feed their families and pay the rent. Fewer than half say they have enough emergency funds to cover three months of expenses, according to a survey conducted this month by Pew.
“So far, government has failed them, too. Checks mailed out by the Treasury last week are a pittance. Extra benefits could help, but unemployment offices are so overwhelmed with claims that they can’t get money out the door. Loans to small businesses have gone largely to big, well-connected businesses, with banks collecting fat fees.”
The final group: “The Forgotten.”
They are exactly what the title implies: prisoners, undocumented immigrants, migrant farm workers, Native Americans, the homeless, and the elderly.
Republicans and their rich donors only have use for the first group.
“Not surprisingly, the Essentials, the Unpaid, and the Forgotten are disproportionately poor, black, and Latino and they are disproportionately becoming infected.”
Chuck Collins, Institute for Policy Studies director of the program on inequality and the common good, added:
“Heads we win, tails you lose. The rules of the economy have been tipped in favor of asset owners against everyone else.”
According to a recent Guardian piece:
“When the pandemic struck, those at the apex of the wealth pyramid were better positioned than ever to take advantage of the chaos. The rest, not so much.”
If this isn’t class warfare, what is?