Sunday, March 08, 2020

Rich People Have Always Been Assholes-- Prayers And Whatever For All The Folks Who Caught COVID-19 At CPAC Or AIPAC Last Week


"It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

From the time of Constantine-- who subjugated the values preached by Jesus to the values and needs of the Roman Empire-- onwards, influential, wealthy people have demanded, and received, reinterpretations of the passage from Matthew 19 that implies rich people won't go to Heaven. Today the anti-Jesus so-called "prosperity gospel" is the latest iteration among crackpot Protestants who insist that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God. [Donate now and God will love you eternally.]

On Friday, Jezebel's Emily Alford, drilled down into rich people's inherent assholeness to bring it into Trump's #Covid19 America, although without connecting the dots between that 19 and Matthew 19. Call it a coincidence, but if you want to be saved... donate here. Alford came up with Rich People Have Always Been Assholes During Plagues. She starts with the death of King Edward III's 12 year old daughter while on her way to Spain-- during the Bubonic Plague of 1348-- to marry King Pedro. "Nearly 672 years later," wrote Alford, "rich people still want their travel and amusement even amid coronavirus fears, and in typical fashion, they’re doing everything they can to make sure sickness remains the province of the poor."

During the plague, the first round of which lasted from 1347-1351 and wiped out somewhere between 30 to 50 percent of Europe’s population, those who could afford it adopted a plague-time slogan of sorts: “cito, longe, tarde,” which translates to, “flee soon, go far, come back late.” As servants were left behind to clean the houses of the absent aristocracy, risking infection and dying at rates even higher than that of the general population, the wealthy made their wills, specifying guardians for children and dowries, and got the hell out of town. Even rich people’s plague deaths were attended by doctors and religious officiants, while reports abound of those left in cities screaming while being enclosed alive in body bags bound for the plague pits. Almshouses were quite often attended only by clergy, who blessed the dying, while physicians fled with the wealthy.

By the 16th century, Charles de Lorme had invented the bird-beak plague mask. The beak was stuffed with herbs and wormwood to filter out the bad smells thought at the time to spread bubonic plague. To his wealthy patrons, including Henri IV, Louis XIII, and Louis XIV, he prescribed “red broth” made partially of antimony, a metal used to induce vomiting, which was believed by the Romans to be conducive to good health. de Lorme obviously thought so too, as he said of the broth: “qui plus en boira, plus il vivra” or, “the more he drinks, the more he lives.”

And now, as coronavirus causes global panic... the New York Times reports that rich people are once again scrambling for expensive remedies of questionable efficacy while fleeing the infected. The 21st century version of retreating to one’s Italian villa seems to be barricading oneself in a Hamptons mansion. The new court physician is the concierge doctor, and the new plague mask is the high-end, sold-out Urban Air Mask 2.0, miasma-blocking herbs replaced by “cutting-edge filter technology with timeless Scandinavian design,” the company’s website reads.  Gwenyth Paltrow recently posted a selfie wearing the $65 modern-day plague mask en route to Paris, though doctors say they’re likely ineffective, as the masks are intended to prevent sick people from spreading coronavirus, not protect well people from catching it.

But that message hasn’t yet seemed to reach the modern-day aristocracy. Los Angeles concierge physicians say they’ve been bombarded with calls from actors, agents, directors, and other rich people asking for help getting specialty N95 masks, assuming that because they cost more, they must be better:

“It’s interesting because people say, ‘I need the N95 mask. It costs more. It sounds like it’s heavy-duty. We’re Hollywood people, we can afford it,’” one doctor told the Hollywood Reporter before explaining that the masks are hard to use and ineffective. But the higher price tag and exclusivity continue to appeal.

...In her exploration of the ways wealth influenced who fled and who died in the plague years, Shutt Up: Bubonic Plague and Quarantine in Early Modern England, Kira L.S. Newman writes, “Quarantine and its effects were not classless, and its implementation was not always in the name of public health,” an assessment that already seems equally true in the age of coronavirus. While the wealthy traveling in the age of coronavirus have not yet bought guards to make sure no poor people can cough near them, they are in the midst of leaving the sick behind to travel in sterile comfort to places where infection has not yet spread. The Guardian reports that executives have charted “evacuation flights” from China and Southeast Asia. One family chartered a private plane from Hong Kong to Bali to avoid coronavirus, according to PrivateFly chief executive Adam Tiwidell. Unlike commercial flights, where the Times says every stray cough from three rows back sounds like a ghostly greeting from Typhoid Mary,” rich people’s private planes are made safer with money:

“Each aircraft is equipped with a protective healthcare and sanitary equipment kit for passengers and crew, should it be required,” Twidell told The Guardian. “The health of crew members is being monitored very closely, including temperature checks before every flight.”

And like Edward III who refused to let a bit of plague spoil a good time, the wealthy are forgoing their vacations to Italy, where over 3,000 cases of coronavirus and more than a hundred death have been reported. But yacht rentals for the Meditteranean and the Bahamas are booming. “It totally makes sense,” Jennifer Saia, president of a yacht charter company in Rhode Island told the New York Times. “You’re keeping your family contained in a very small, should-be-clean environment. And going from your car to your F.B.O.”-- meaning fixed base operator, or private jet terminal-- “to your private jet right onto the tarmac. And from there, right onto your yacht, and not having to deal with the public.”

To the rich, perhaps it does make complete sense that the first concern in the face of coronavirus fears would be that their vacation or scheduled jousting tournament proceed uninterrupted by other people’s deaths. And if history is any indication, it probably won’t be too long before they begin hiring others to remain behind and risk exposure while protecting their stuff. In the plague years of 1593 and 1603, parish records from London show that the majority of adults who died of bubonic plague were servants. In Ben Jonson’s 1610 play The Alchemist, a wealthy gentleman leaving his London home behind to wait out the plague in the country instructs the servant left behind to mind the house to “breathe less and farther off.”

Historically speaking, it’s not surprising that rich people are already fleeing potentially contaminated breath in cities on yachts and private jets, falsely believing expensive face masks will veil them from exposure while the regular people are left behind fighting in a Walgreen’s aisle for the last bottle of hand sanitizer. It’s simply interesting to note how quickly we revert to our feudal roles the moment aristocracy gets scared.
Trump hasn't yet made baseball caps saying #MakeAmericaSickAgain-- but his campaign might as well. Financial Times reporters Kiran Stacey, James Politi and Hannah Kuchler looked into why the U.S. is more vulnerable to coronavirus than countries where Trump is not the king. They wrote, with a politeness Trump hasn't earned, that "Public health officials and academics are concerned that a mix of high numbers of uninsured people, a lack of paid sick leave and a political class that has downplayed the threat could mean it spreads more quickly than in other countries... The spread of coronavirus could be fuelled by patients reluctant to seek care because of the expense of the U.S. healthcare system. Almost 18 million Americans did not have insurance in 2018, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a healthcare research organisation. Even those patients with insurance might struggle to pay their contributions to their care-- so-called deductibles or co-pays-- as almost 29 per cent were classified as 'underinsured' in 2018, according to a Commonwealth Fund survey... More than 800 experts also signed a letter calling for U.S. policymakers to help the uninsured, but, so far, no federal assistance plans have been announced.

One word to describe a Bernie presidency: compassion

While 11 states and 25 cities have passed laws forcing companies to provide paid sickness leave, there remains no federal requirement to do so, and campaigners say about 30 per cent of U.S. workers still have no such entitlement.

Experts say this could exacerbate the spread of coronavirus if workers end up going into work while ill and infecting others, for fear of missing out on salary payments. According to an academic study published in 2012, the lack of workplace policies such as paid sick leave led to 5m extra flu-like illnesses during the H1N1 swine flu outbreak of 2009.

Sherry Leiwant, co-president of A Better Balance, which campaigns for stronger workplace protections, said: "Studies show contagion can really be contained with paid sick leave. People cannot stay at home and self-isolate if they are going to risk their jobs by doing so."

Initially, President Donald Trump thought coronavirus was purely a Chinese problem, then he dismissed it as a "hoax" perpetrated by Democratic politicians.

When U.S. cases rose and markets tanked, and Mr Trump felt pressure to respond, he asked Mike Pence, the vice-president with a patchy record on science and medicine, to manage the crisis. The result is that there is little confidence in this U.S. administration's ability to contain the outbreak in the world's largest economy, before matters worsen sharply.

The lag in implementing widespread testing for the disease exacerbated fears that Mr Trump and his team were complacent in dealing with the outbreak, or deliberately quashed evidence of domestic spread for political purposes.

Bruce Aylward, assistant director-general at the World Health Organization, said: "There are still different messages coming from the [Trump] administration about how serious this is, right at the time when you need people to be as vigilant as possible. The population is your best surveillance system, and they need to be aware of how serious the problem is."

Health experts say the spread of the disease in the U.S. will depend heavily on whether officials respond quickly enough to the changing situation, including instituting potentially unpopular policies such as banning gatherings of over a certain number of people.

"Ultimately, the U.S. really comes together around joint threats," said Mr Aylward. "But they now have a very narrow window of time to do so."

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At 6:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What good is wealth if there is no one to use it against? All of these latter-day Midas people will figure that out with their last breaths.


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