Monday, March 23, 2020

A National Crossroads: The Needs of the Many or Wants of the Few?


In the fictional Star Trek universe, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

by Thomas Neuburger

The U.S. is at a national crossroads of world-historical proportions. Thanks to the COVID-19 epidemic we're headed for a collision, a heavy-engine oil train pileup, between two competing imperatives — does the nation serve the pathological wants of the few who control it or the immediate and existential needs of the many who live in it?

Long put off, this question can no longer be avoided. The few — the bankers and profiteers; investors and CEOs of all kinds and stripes; their well-paid enablers in the media and professional classes — think the corona virus emergency will pass and "business" (our modern, rapacious way of doing it) will eventually return to normal.

Thus for them, the current crisis represents once-in-a-generation opportunity for theft on the grandest of scales, the plundering of public goods and control in the time of greatest emergency. They think this theft, like the many similar others that went before it, will occur with no consequence for them and only long-term consequences for others — thefts like the 2000 election, which cost them nothing while adding to their power and credibility, but left a great many others broken or dead; or the theft of family fortunes and futures during the 2008 global meltdown, losses that even today only they have recovered from.

The Pain of the Many

In this they are wrong. True, when the pain of the many is slow to arrive, their response is slow as well. The theft of the 2000 election was without immediate consequences for the mass of those wronged by it. Men and women went off to war only later, killed without mercy and died without reason only after years had passed, and returned damaged or dead to the families they had left only in trickles, not floods.

The mass surveillance instituted by the Bush-Cheney regime, which too was a theft, affected people only slowly — at first because most were just dimly aware of it, and later because so few were materially harmed by it. People even now do not object to the constant governmental intrusion into their private lives, likely because so few feel its sting.

In the same way, the massive loss of wealth by the working class after 2008 — wealth they have still not regained — happened slowly, and in a nation filled with "back to normal" TV propaganda (you don't see the struggling depicted on spry network dramas and comedies) their constant pain has by now been normalized and accepted as just the way things are "for some people." (Those "some people," it must be noted, put Donald Trump in the White House.)

In contrast, the Great Depression struck suddenly, massively and nationally. In an instant the nation's people were cast into poverty and fear, with consequences they could see and feel in front of them almost the very next day — starvation, joblessness, homelessness, helplessness — a nation surprised in an instant by the collapse of their lives. That suddenness put Roosevelt in the White House, and thank God for that.

Sudden Crises and Sudden Responses

When calamities this large happen quickly — in a span of months, not decades — people respond as did the people of France. In 1789 a severe financial crisis forced the king to call the Estates-General, giving the people for the first time in a century a voice in the national outcome. That opened the gates, and barely two months later the Bastille was taken. The old regime had collapsed in a matter of weeks, never to return.

When societies do break apart, they often break quickly. Thus it will be here. In two months' time our grocery shelves have gone from stuffed to bare.

In one weeks' time, the barely-passed week of March 7-14, initial unemployment claims jumped by 33%, from 210,000 to over 280,000.

While jumps this large are not unusual, the Labor Department made it clear this one was corona virus crisis-related, a crisis that's in its infancy. "The increase in initial claims are clearly attributable to impacts from the COVID-19 virus," according to the BLS report. Layoffs are expected to increase for the duration of the pandemic, with predictions of unemployment above 20% not uncommon.

The Many or the Few?

Just as when the U.S. entered World War II, lives will be changing dramatically and fast. Clearly, government will have to step in massively and soon — and therein lies the problem. On whose side will government throw its weight? On the side of the pathological few or the side of the suffering many?

The answer to that question will determine the future of the nation. Will we more resemble the country of FDR and his widely loved government for the people, or that of Louis XVI and his overthrown government of the people. A crossroads indeed. Will the national needs of the many be honored and met? Or will the pathological few light a flame that burns us all?

Early indications aren't promising, but still, it's early days. Either way, we're not going back to what we used to call normal — the next new normal may be written in the next few months.

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At 9:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coulda written this a month ago. But whatever.

"In one weeks' time, the barely-passed week of March 7-14, initial unemployment claims jumped by 33%, from 210,000 to over 280,000."

Not sure where you got this because the Nazis are trying to stifle the news in an attempt to keep trump's approval delusionally high at half-ish or whatever it is in this dumber-than-shit society.

Anecdotally, the week of March 16 was when the half of everyone I know got laid off. So I would expect that week to be a bigger flush. I expect this week to be an even bigger flush. And I expect truthful reporting of March numbers to be as high as 2 million and to be censored so we won't hear about it. Certainly the media is doing all it can to protect the idiots in charge.

and that kind of gives the answer to the question below.

"On whose side will government throw its weight? On the side of the pathological few or the side of the suffering many?
The answer to that question will determine the future of the nation. Will we more resemble the nation of FDR and his widely loved government for the people"

The question is far too silly for Mr. TN to ask. He knows the answer as do all of us/US.

we ain't got no FDR. Closest we could come is Bernie and the voters and the democrap party has spoken. WE AIN'T GOT NO FDR AND WE AIN'T GOT NO DEMOCRATIC PARTY to turn to.

What we got is a retarded malignant narcissist propped up by corrupt Nazis and a democrap party of corrupt neoliberal fascists who will "Weekend At Bernie's" (irony alert!) style prop up their own demented corrupt neoliberal fascist.

The question is moot, silly and pointless. The money will win again. The only question is will it win biglier than it did in 2009-2015 when it pitched a 21,000,000,000,000 - 0 shutout.

and the voters will affirm whichever it is again and again and again....

fuck we're stupid!

At 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"On whose side will government throw its weight?"

hint: trump owns hotels, restaurants, golf courses... Pelosi has already proved she won't impeach on emoluments.

what do YOU think!

At 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The wants of the greedy ALWAYS outweigh the needs of the many. How many farmers in the Nile Delta needed a pyramid? Yet now many Nile Delta farmers died building them?

The closest thing America has to a pyramid (other than any Trump Hotel) is the Pentagon. How many Americans needed such a monstrosity (and alleged kamikaze target)? Yet how many Americans died creating, operating, and maintaining it?

At 12:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


The majority of voters will sit out the 2020 election, proving they are not all that stupid. I guess they could vote for the Greens or whoever, but it wouldn't get 'em anywhere, so why bother? Beyond talking about how stupid everyone is (and pretending to implicate yourself with this phony "we" stuff) what are you doing? Over at Smirking Chimp you sign everything with a Greta Thunberg quote. Dare I say that Miss Thunberg would laugh hysterically at the notion that your work as a "keyboard warrior" on the internet means fuck all? I DARE!

Steve 3/23/2020

At 2:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone who thinks a viral pandemic that kills up to 10% of the worlds population will prevent these evil driven narcissist Neolibs/Trumplicans from going back to their hall of mirrors world to gaze at themselves, is living in a hysteria driven toilet paper hoarding haze.
These people pull off wars that decimate populations and countries just to gain access to their natural resources. They're in their wine caves clinking goblets, sampling their corporate-socialism forbidden-fruit bailout hors d'oeuvres, while rehearsing their epilogue chorus for the necessity of "socialism distancing" and bootstrap austerity as the only broadcastable solution.

At 7:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve. Hit a nerve, did I?

The "we" is all who vote. The stupid are those who vote democrap or Nazi. Oh I see now.

If 20m or 30m voted green or socialist or, if they could, wrote in "Bernie Sanders", we might have the start of something. Been waiting for 40 years for that. If Perot weren't such a douchenozzle, might have had it then. Ditto Bloomberg, who just got in to torpedo Bernie.

The likelihood that someone with that much money to flush might be our next FDR is asymptotic to zero.

So rather than waiting for an infinite number of years to find the next FDR, all we can do is:

1) bend over and take it up the stovepipe again
2) try something different.

those who stay home as their own protest... I get them. They're not helpful, but I get it.
those who surrender to the artificial paradigm of the money and vote Nazi or democrap... wasted and fucking stupid. is THAT the nerve?
those who register a vote to be counted against the democraps and Nazis... more helpful.

the problem is there is not nearly enough of them for either sect of the money's charade of elections to give a shit.

But I still do what *I* can. You're reading part of it now.


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