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Economic Effect of Coronavirus Could be Revolutionary
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Coronavirus and globalism will teach us vital lessons. The question is whether we can learn vital lessons that do not serve the ruling interest groups and ideologies.

Coronavirus will teach us that a country without free national health care is severely handicapped. Millions of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. They cannot afford health care premiums, deductions, and copays. Millions have no insurance. This means millions of people infected with coronavirus who cannot get medical help. The morbidity from this is intolerable in any society.

Shutdowns associated with efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus will deny income to millions of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck. What do they do for food, shelter, transportation? You don’t have to think very long along these lines to see a very frightening scenario.

Globalism has taken down the ladders of upward mobility by exporting American middle class jobs to Asia. A population once able to save now lives on debt, the service of which is interrupted by recession/depression and by debt service absorbing all net disposable income.

Globalism has also reduced the survivability of our society by making it dependent on externally produced goods, the supply of which can be cut off by disruptions in other societies, by policy disagreements leading to sanctions, and by an inability to export enough to pay for imports, which is what the offshored production of US firms is.

The United States has an unprotected population and an economy in trouble. For years corporate executives have run the companies for the benefit of their bonuses, which are largely dependent on rises in their company’s share price. Consequently, profits and borrowings have been invested in buying back the companies’ shares and not in new investment in the businesses. Corporate indebtedness is extreme and will threaten many corporations and many jobs in a downturn. Boeing is a case in point.

Economist Michael Hudson has for many decades studied the use of debt-forgiveness to restart economies killed by debt burdens. Debt forgiveness for corporations has a different implication than debt forgiveness for individuals. For corporations, forgiving debts lets those who financialized and indebted the economy and the population off the hook. To avoid rewarding them for the catastrophe they produced and to prevent widespread public outcry and distrust, nationalization is implied for insolvent companies and banks.

Nationalization would be limited to insolvent companies and financial institutions and doesn’t mean that there would be no private companies or businesses. Additional nationalization could be used to prevent strategic companies from substituting their interests for national interests, which they do when they move American jobs and factories offshore. Pharmaceuticals could be nationalized along with health care. Energy which often sacrifices the environment to its profits could be considered for nationalization. A successful society has to have more driving it than private profit.

ORDER IT NOW

For most Americans nationalization is a dirty word, but it has many benefits. For example, a national health care system reduces costs tremendously by taking profits out of the system. Additionally, nationalized pharmaceutical companies could be made more focused on research and cures than on profit avenues. Everyone knows how Big Pharma influences medical schools and medical practice in line with Big Pharma’s approach. A more open-minded approach to medicine would be beneficial.

Socialist is another American dirty word, one that is being used against Bernie Sanders. I have not turned into a socialist overnight. I am simply thinking out loud. How can the economy recover when the population and corporations are smothered by debt? Debt forgiveness is the only way out of this debt suffocation. Can debts be forgiven without nationalization? Not without a huge giveaway to financial mangers and Wall Street. It is the members of the “one percent” who have received 95% of the increase in us income and wealth since 2008. Do we want to reward them for smothering the economy with debt by bailing them out without nationalizing them?

The combination of an economy covered in debt and an unprotected population is clearly revolutionary. Do we have leadership capable of breaking out of interest group politics and ruling ideologies in order to save our society and put it on a more sustainable basis?

Or will the economic hardships be blamed on the virus, the catalyst that ignited the debt timebomb?

(Republished from PaulCraigRoberts.org by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. Renoman says:

    It’s not that hard to fix. Just get a large group of the 1% into a large hall, close the doors, place the marines outside and inform them that they will loose everything down to the last million dollars, take their money and use it to fix the problem. The World will never miss these cockroaches, the leader who does this will be a huge hero and new people can get a chance in business. If you really want to do the job right just kill em all and be a super hero.

    • Replies: @Three of Swords
  2. Very true, this is a World War One moment – many “empires” will fall.

    However, Americans have very little political knowledge, they are easily manipulated.

    The “resistance” is unprincipled and clueless. Don’t expect a thought through logical approach.

    Panic, inarticulate rage and opportunistic banditry are more likely.

    Please read Selco, this is very balanced logical rhetoric:

    https://www.theorganicprepper.com/category/preppers/selco/

    I remember a man, my friend from peacetime, who shot another guy, a prisoner. He shot him in the face from a close distance. An unarmed man.

    And I asked him, “Why did you do that?”

    He said, “Why not?”

    And that was it. I was looking at him, I thought I knew him but obviously, I did not.

    I thought he was “normal” (whatever that mean), a normal guy. He worked before all that in a travel agency. An average guy, a bit shy with girls.

    But I did not know him actually.

    The dark element is on the rise, it senses that its moment has come.

    • Replies: @follyofwar
  3. rashomoan says:

    Unfortunately I suspect that the way debt will be eliminated is not by forgiveness but by destruction of the currency. The US dollar is particularly vulnerable, extended as it is by virtue of being the world’s reserve currency but based on debt. This destruction of the currency vaporizes the savings of most, but multinational corporations can survive it and emerge even more dominant, particularly with government favoring them in its largesse. As always, you know who loses and who wins. An atomized society can be easily managed.

    • Replies: @Amerimutt Golems
  4. rashomoan says:

    One other thing, this about nationalization – how often have we seen nationalized industries sold off to private interests in the UK, US, Russia, etc.? Without strict, principled authoritarian rule in an ethnically homogeneous or overt, lopsidedly ethnically dominant nation (nation, by the Black’s law dictionary definition) I do not believe this is a viable solution.

    • Replies: @Digital Samizdat
  5. In the mid 1980s Lee Iacocca warned that the US auto industry was in danger, because every one of its competitor countries had a form of universal health care system, which created an approximate 25% cost advantage. The solution was not to create a universal health care system, but to begin “free trade”, which resulted in massive layoffs in the auto industry while plants were shipped to Mexico, and the product quality massively declined. The cost savings were achieved, and the big casino on Wall Street rejoiced. Meanwhile, the Japanese saw the US auto quality being downgraded, and ramped up its quality. Everything about the (((Anglo-American))) economic model is backward. Strong economies are the result of larger discretionary spending without added personal debt. The (((Anglo-American))) model is the antithesis of that. Lower wages means more profits. That no one can buy what you are selling without going into massive debt is a win/win for the parasites.
    While Marx’s twisted vision of socialism has become the all encompassing definition of socialism in the US, the reality is much different. From the start, socialists were not opposed to free enterprise, they were opposed to the control of it by moneyed interests. Many quote socialists are stating ownership of property was theft. The correct context is this: there is property, and there is real property. Property is the product of labour. Real property is now called real estate. Capital owning the product of labour was theft from those who made the property.
    Banks, stock markets, hedge funds, etc. exist for no other reason than to extract wealth from others while producing nothing. They are the parasites.

    • Agree: FB, Futurethirdworlder
  6. FB says: • Website

    PCR has a way of saying a whole lot with very few words…unlike the vast majority of writers on this site…

    Is PCR a ‘socialist’ now that he’s advocating essentially socialist policies like nationalization of major corporations and even entire sectors of the economy…?

    Technically yes…but [and this is a big one] these remedies are also common sense solutions to a problem that can only be solved in one way…

    If anyone has the authority and knowledge to say that the present way of doing things is not working and has not worked in a long time it is PCR…who has the kind of experience at the very top [he was high enough in the chain of command in the Reagan admin that he was given ‘nuclear football’ training in case he needed to assume the reins of power]…

    Let’s also keep in mind that ‘socialist’ policies are not new to America, they have been used very successfully in the past when needed…the best example is the 1930s when the US was in a deadly tailspin that included a population shortfall of nearly ten million due to starvation and undernourishment as the Ponzi banker economy collapsed…the country was completely broken after decades of orgy-making by the one percent of the day…

    Should the same robber barons who broke the country then be given the job to fix it…?…FDR thought not…and he circumvented the entire private banking sector by raising huge sums of money through the Reconstruction Finance Corporation…and used this money to literally build modern America…rural electrification, roads, dams, libraries and much more…the vast and hard-hit masses of working folks who had been reduced to near starvation were given employment in building these huge infrastructure projects…

    A decade later, during the war years, the entire nation’s industry was commandeered for war production of airplanes, tanks, ships and everything else needed…the economy was in effect nationalized…and in the space of a few short years industrial capacity was increased several-fold…a top-down national effort that was more like Stalin’s massive buildup of Soviet industry than anything having to do with capitalism…

    And what were the results when all was aid and done…?

    The country not only transformed itself into the mightiest industrial powerhouse in the world, but also ushered in a never-to-be-equaled golden era for ordinary working folks…this graph makes that abundantly clear…

    The share of total wealth by the top 0.1 percent over the last 100 years…

    From its peak of nearly 25 percent of the nation’s wealth, this tiny group of oligarchs saw their share of wealth plummet to under ten percent in the decades of the 1940s to 1980s…

    Yes, this was the Golden Era…ordinary folks had good jobs in industry at fair wages and working conditions…a single income was enough to live at a high standard of living, what we would call middle class, owning a decent home, sending your kids to college…the company president made maybe ten times as much as the shop floor worker…the country built real things…cars, airplanes, roads, houses…instead of a financial Ponzi Scheme for the casino bankers like we have today, where money grows on the tree of usury and nothing is actually built…

    Of course it all started going downhill from there as we can see on the graph…today we are right back where we were a hundred years ago…

    Now the funny thing about this graph is that it does NOT mean the wealthy folks in that top 0.1 percent actually got poorer…they absolutely did NOT…it’s just that everyone underneath them got a much bigger slice of the pie…but the pie itself grew so much bigger that there was enough to go around…

    This is how it’s done…other countries had similar experiences…even in Hitler’s National Socialist Germany, corporate taxes were TRIPLED, but the economy took off like never before…workers were taken care of by direct orders from the top…

    So the lessons of history are very clear…when the country is allowed to be pillaged by rampant profit-taking by the most wealthy and powerful in society, it eventually ends up in the dumpster…

    The only way to bring it back is for the government to actually impose its authority and to say ‘that’s enough’…there is no other way…

    After all…why do humans even bother to have a government as a means of social organization, if not to work for us…?

    • Replies: @Digital Samizdat
  7. “I see leper colonies on the horizon, as far as the eye can see.”

  8. Do we have leadership capable of breaking out of interest group politics and ruling ideologies in order to save our society and put it on a more sustainable basis?

    No.

    Society must save itself.

    But I think we all realize that this is wishful thinking, given the propensity of most individuals everywhere to run from true freedom and social responsibility right into the arms of the “savior-leader”.

  9. @Renoman

    I’ve read that cockroaches are very resilient. According to Wikipedia, they date back 320 million years, with 30 out of 4600 species associated with human habitats, of which 4 are well-known.

    As a result, I don’t believe that this course of action would achieve the desired effects, unfortunately, even if you got the Orkin Man.

  10. @Curmudgeon

    Banks, stock markets, hedge funds, etc. exist for no other reason than to extract wealth from others while producing nothing. They are the parasites.

    Routine parasitism is minor compared to moral hazard i.e banks engaging in reckless behavior to make money like using customer deposits to invest in risky assets then passing the tab to taxpayers (bailouts) when things go wrong.

    In a nutshell this is what caused the 2008 financial crisis.

    • Replies: @follyofwar
  11. @Simple Simon

    As WB Yeats wrote, in the aftermath of WWI:

    “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

    ‘The Second Coming” – last two lines. A poem most appropriate for our times.

    • Thanks: SeekerofthePresence
    • Replies: @Buck Ransom
  12. @Amerimutt Golems

    And the FED has just announced that it is slashing interest rates to ZERO. I’m not sure what that means, but it can’t be good, especially not for savers.

    • Replies: @Realist
  13. @rashomoan

    You’re absolutely right. If nationalization is actually to work, it involves more than just having the state control an industry. It also entails making sure your people control the state. That was the biggest difference between the Third Reich and the Soviet Union! In the former, the depression ended within two years; in the latter, it was a generation of misery and hardship (not including the war).

    • Agree: Futurethirdworlder
  14. @FB

    So true! I’m just going to have to invent my own button here: Agree x 1000

  15. The 2011 movie “Contagion” is a story about how a bat in China infected a pig that infected a person who started a worldwide epidemic. What I find especially interesting is that one of the producers of this movie, Sanjay Gupta, is the chief medical correspondent for CNN. Though he is a neurosurgeon, not a virologist, the network is employing him to scientifically explain to the public that coronavirus originated with a bat in China that infected a pig that infected a person who started a worldwide epidemic. Does art imitate life, or what?

    Gupta was a White House fellow in the Clinton administration, also interestingly.

  16. Problems with nationalization are that we aren’t a nation but a polyglot boarding house of squabbling nationalities with a gov’t whose first and only duty is to maintain a bloated financial sector that is the only thing keeping the economy from completely crumbling.

    That’s why any politician promising to nationalize healthcare is lying. They know that any measure taken that ends the plundering of Americans by the healthcare sector would cause a serious shock to wallstreet.

    The real constrictor around Americas neck is that the babyboomers retirement and the wealthy elite are both dependent upon maintaining a stock market bubble that is preventing any real fix of our problems like mass immigration, healthcare, and outsourcing from being implemented.

    The largest voting segment of the population and the powerful elite are content with the status quo because they are benefiting.

  17. Ben Gunn says:

    Hudson is an excellent and knowledgeable critic. Like all lefties he imagines a ruling Golden Bureaucracy of people of intelligence, good will and competency. The reality is socialism is a gold mine for the unscrupulous, the devious, the malicious, revenge driven and power mad. It is a “one size fits all” solution and like Procrustes, the drive for efficiency and uniformity viciously demands to eliminate the competition. “Single Payer” does not change people or ambition. How about a tax cut on government? Reverse social security, so workers get a check and so do employers. Survival for both. Bottom up help. Marxism is morality not reality. Hudson said he despises the capitalists. How can you rule with justice, mercy and wisdom over people you despise?

  18. @follyofwar

    Joni Mitchell set the Yeats poem to music in 1991 on her album “Night Ride Home.” She made some slight changes to the text to fit the tune. It is called “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” and is worth a listen:

  19. I’ve liked Mr. Roberts’ writing for many years and was glad to be able to comment again starting a couple of months back. He’s been a true Libertarian, pointing out the worst US Feral Gov’t excess and corruption since way before my time.

    I clicked on this one today, saw the Nationalization, Basic taxpayer-funded income, and Debt Forgiveness crap. No, you haven’t turned into a Socialist overnight, Mr. Roberts, but maybe over the last few weeks. That just turned my stomach. Whether it’s senility, The Cocktail Party theory of Political Stupidity applied to pundits, or just latent stupidity, I’ve had enough.

    Thank you for your great service to the country with your continual bringing to light the overreaches of government in America. I won’t forget that, but then, I don’t need to read this complete shit either. Goodbye, Paul Craig Roberts.

    • Disagree: RadicalCenter
    • Replies: @Futurethirdworlder
  20. @Achmed E. Newman

    Everyone is realizing that the infantile fantasy known as libertarianism was a uniquely 20th century delusion popularised during a very brief and unnatural time of peace and prosperity brought about by events that were anything but libertarian. Perhaps you should acknowledge this reality and reevaluate?

    • Agree: RadicalCenter
  21. Realist says:

    Economic Effect of Coronavirus Could be Revolutionary

    The vast majority have no idea what economic devastation awaits them.

  22. Realist says:
    @follyofwar

    I’m not sure what that means, but it can’t be good, especially not for savers.

    But it is good for the Deep State.

  23. @Futurethirdworlder

    It was popularized when people forgot how absolutely shitty were the good old times of “free market”.

  24. @Ben Gunn

    Why won’t employers reduce pay — or go longer without raising it — if they know that their employees are still taking home a bit more due to the repeal of the FICA tax?

    If the answer is “they have to compete for workers”, that assumes that most workers have bargaining power / economic leverage against employers. We don’t.

    There are almost no private-sector unions; there are grossly inadequate tariffs on goods made (or services provided from) abroad, so corporations continue to outsource both factory and call-center / support jobs; and the continuing flood of legal and illegal immigrants means that AS INTENDED there will always be far too many people fighting for the same jobs, both manual labor, semiskilled and skilled trades, and white-collar (including IT, medicine, and law).

    So typically, neither blue-collar nor most white-collar workers have bargaining power against employers. Cut in FICA payroll tax leads to slower wage growth and lower to no social security benefits. Brilliant.

  25. @Ben Gunn

    Actually, it seems that in most societies, either socialism or insufficiently fettered capitalism is a golden opportunity for unreasonable greed, corruption, and heartlessness.

    Certainly communism (in practice, not “in theory”) or totally unchecked capitalism all but ensure a dangerous concentration of resources and power in the hands of a few.

  26. @Futurethirdworlder

    From a former libertarian, thank you.

  27. @Curmudgeon

    Im a socialist & i find little to disagree with what you have said.
    For a socialist there are a number of major issues with neoliberalism capitalism.
    1. There is real capital ( produces goods & services thru the use of labor). And there is fictional capital — that is, most of the financial sector. Fictional capital has become a parasite on real capital: indeed, it is slowly poisoning off real capital. Financial capital needs to be either under direct government ownership or under tight control. The majority of it needs to be made illegal. Money must be a direct government function.
    2. Money/wealth & government need to be completely seperated. NO oligarchy or plutocracy. Large concentrations of wealth mutate the political process. A Bezos is an anathma to democracy. Such wealth should be taxed away or better, never created. (monopoly is the toxic ambition of all Capitalists).
    3. Culture: real democracy demands that a majority of people are keenly interested in the process of governance. Thus, the need for a free press (ie again, NO monopolies). Also, democracy requires a culture of higher purpose & sacrifice. A culture of consumerism is as toxic as monopoly.
    I could continue, but i suspect you get the idea….

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