Wake up, America, it’s profits over people to some
As the coronavirus death toll continues to rise in the United States, Americans have been told by conservative pundits, politicians and — more importantly — President Donald Trump that it’s time to loosen federal guidelines on social distancing to “open up” the economy by Easter Sunday.
Health officials — including Dr. Anthony Fauci, who directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — have warned that encouraging people to go back to work would devastate efforts to slow the spread of the lethal virus.
Part of the problem is that these health officials seem to think that Trump and the rest of the talking heads making these public declarations don’t know that they’re putting people’s lives at risk.
They know. They just don’t care.
When Dan Patrick, Texas’s Republican lieutenant governor, suggested that the elderly go back to work to save the economy, he knew they’d be risking their lives to do so. “Those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country,” said Patrick, pretending as if he’d actually put himself in harm’s way to go back to work.
It’s clear that Patrick knows of the dangers associated with sending the country’s seniors to work but wants to push them to do so anyway. Why? Because ensuring his investment portfolio doesn’t suffer from the pandemic takes priority over all those people’s lives.
Later, conservative commentator Brit Hume argued that Patrick’s statements were “entirely reasonable.” Hume also told Tucker Carlson that “the utter collapse of the country’s economy, which many think will happen if this goes on much longer, is an intolerable result.”
Then there was Glenn Beck, who does his BlazeTV show from what appears to be a secluded underground bunker void of any human interaction that could put his precious life at risk. He joined the chorus of greedy right-wing talking heads by saying that “all of us who are over 50 [should] go in and keep this economy going and working.”
“Even if we all get sick, I’d rather die than kill the country,” Beck continued. It’s laughable if anyone believes that Beck — who does his show in a coronavirus-free safe space — would genuinely risk contracting the virus in order to “save the economy.” But Beck, much like all the other conservatives cited, does show that he’s fully aware returning to work puts one’s life in grave danger.
What’s even more terrifying is that Trump, who is unfortunately tasked with leading the country through the pandemic, believes that the only solution to save our lives is worse than the virus itself.
“We can’t have the cure be worse than the problem,” Trump told reporters at a briefing. “We have to open our country because that causes problems that, in my opinion, could be far bigger problems.”
In other words, according to the president of the United States, hurting the economy is a far bigger problem than millions of Americans potentially losing their lives.
The federal government’s response to this crisis is riddled with death and heartbreaking examples of corporate greed. The latest victim of our broken system was a 17-year-old coronavirus patient in California who was turned away at urgent care because he didn’t have health insurance. He later went into cardiac arrest and died.
The U.S. currently has 27 million uninsured Americans, and that number is about to rise significantly now that more than 3.3 million Americans have filed for unemployment due to coronavirus-related layoffs and firings.
But over the last year, while the idea of a single-payer health care system proved popular among Americans in study after study, corporate media insisted that voters absolutely loved their employer-provided health insurance and didn’t want to lose it in return for something more stable and robust such as “Medicare for All.”
This is profit-driven America, and it’s time we acknowledge that the way our system is structured demonstrates how little your life really means when someone can make a buck. The sooner we acknowledge the truth, the sooner we can decide what we want to do to change it.
Ana Kasparian is a host and executive producer of The Young Turks on TYT.