Federal response to pandemic put profits over people
Many letters appearing here mix and match to make points that are not fully set forth or argued. However, logical clarity is important with November elections just around the corner. To that end everyone needs to keep in mind that “Strategy” is the goal. “Tactics” are the actions that get you there.
The so called Medical Emergency and National Disaster laws were passed to centralize the response to catastrophes including our current pandemic. Invoking them settled the strategy issue and it was to save as many lives as possible, as quickly as possible; that success would allow us recover economically as well. This strategy is moral! And that end these laws gave the President complete control over any and all tactics to achieve it.
If we look back at Ebola, for example, it is more deadly than Covid, spreads through droplets, sweat, insects – anything it comes into contact to. In the first week Obama put the Bush, Cheney, Obama, Biden plan into action by declaring a medical emergency and appointed an “Ebola Czar” in Ron Klain. Klain immediately allowed us adapt any countries medical advance(s) and paired our federal government resources with its expertise.
With Covid those declarations did not come until mid-March because, as you will recall, the White House wanted to support the stock market during a “temporary” illness on the wane for which cures were right around the corner anyway. We now know the President, from his own mouth, knew far more but did not tell us.
Moreover, months before those disaster declarations which put the Federal Government in charge, the rest of the World had already swung into action and was swimming in accurate WHO tests – which, by the way, would run on our (US) existing equipment and with existing chemicals.
The United States tactic once it started was instead to start from scratch with tests and everything else. It came at huge cost and extensive delay. Unlike Swine Flu and Ebola the order seldom came for each manufacturer to do what, by when, where and at what price – just like we also did in WWII.
Even when we saw hospitals might be overrun firms like American Prestige in Texas, which already had the machines to make N 95 masks, were skipped over and the federal order went to My Pillow Inc. My Pillow had to start from scratch and charged 5 times more but it is a big political contributor.
Further, in demonstration, delivery trucks were not diverted to deliver farm produce or anything else to where it was needed. GM, a month after it was supposed to be making ventilators, was finally and officially “ordered” to start making them.
The excuse was that GM had a hard time getting licensing of patent rights. But, in fact, not only would an executive order override patent rights but thanks to the Bush, Cheney, Obama and Biden “aura project” the US already had its own FDA approved designs. It is a bogus excuse driven by money.
Similarly, there still is scant testing on a per capita basis. Tests for all were promised but there are no machines or chemicals for our tests; they have to be made and imported. To top it off once the federal government was in charge, states should not have been the position to have to get into bidding wars for supplies; tactically is the federal government’s responsibility to procure and distribute all PPE as required by those laws and the Bush, Cheney, Obama and Biden plan.
All this was an abandonment of legal responsibility. Laws exist for a reason.
Additionally, we all know already that PPP and EIDLP are failures. Money is going to big well-capitalized firms. But in ’08 Canada showed the world that it was far cheaper, fairer, and more efficient to not use banks to run the rescue program but instead to do it itself. Now, with Covid, the rest of the world copied Canada and is using direct payments – banks, unemployment bureaus, business lenders are being bypassed everywhere else.
The rest of the world used our life-first strategy and tactics to limit the loss of life and overseas people and business that needed it the most have the money to pick up where they left off as those countries used effective business strategies. Here? Well we are paying the big bucks to big friends and getting poor results. And, unlike them, we are reopening without the testing to identify hot spots.
The only conclusion when you start so late, do things slowly and expensively, and now put the economy first, is that “preserving the economy at all costs” was the strategy all along. Preserving raw profit and tax cut driven stock speculation is a strategy. It is just not our legal and moral strategy. An example of ignoring that strategy is occurring in our food packing plant where ill people are being legally “ordered” back to work. Moreover the plants are not required to follow CDC cleaning suggestions to keep the workers and, presumably, our food safe.
Making money is a strategy but at heart it depends on people being deemed expendable. I certainly hope there is no second wave and/or for a vaccine or cure. But as of this writing the number that have died would once have filled a huge college football stadium. How many more will die by November will depend on priorities and tactics but every day we are distracted by going down a different rabbit hole.
In November we have a moral question to answer. Was it acceptable to immediately start with a strategy in which lives were tactically secondary and expendable? The answers supporting that strategy are uniquely easy to grasp – and reject.
Conrad F. Cropsey