OPINIONS Observer: COVID-19 exposes grim reality of putting money above everything else in US


Observer: COVID-19 exposes grim reality of putting money above everything else in US

By Zhong Sheng | People's Daily app

22:45, August 17, 2021

When faced with public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic, governments must try their best to treat patients, save lives and cut all virus transmission channels. However in the US which often boasts of being a "beacon of democracy" and "shining example of human rights," the response to the pandemic has always been dominated by capital. Capital, rather than the well-being of the people, is always the top priority of politicians.

The profit-seeking nature of capitalism determines that in the US, capital not lives is put above everything else. It reveals the truth of the US fight against the pandemic and is also an important reason for the country's failed pandemic response. In the eyes of US politicians, people's right to be informed and rights to life and health are trivial compared to capital.

At the beginning of the pandemic, US leaders deliberately ignored early warnings of the virus and downplayed the risks of the pandemic in a bid to prevent a stock market crash, thus wasting crucial weeks for pandemic prevention and control.

According to The New York Times, the White House coronavirus taskforce and the National Security Council of the US prepared a memorandum on coping with the COVID-19 pandemic on February 14, 2020. It suggested explicitly that a series of strict measures be adopted to control the pandemic. However, US policymakers immediately rejected the memorandum after hearing the judgment that these measures would lead to the collapse of the US stock market.

US media reports also revealed that while telling the public not to worry about the pandemic, many members of US Congress dumped their stock holdings after being briefed about the virus' massive impact on the economy.

"He ran for the exits when the theater was on fire, while selling tickets to women and children," a US internet user commented on the news of a US senator who sold stocks amid the COVID-19 crisis.

With eyes fixed on capital and their own interests, such US politicians have led the country's response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the wrong direction from the beginning.

After the pandemic unfolded into a full-blown crisis in the US, the federal government and state governments hastily reopened the economy before the COVID-19 situation was truly under control, leading to a rebound of the pandemic.

For more than a year, the COVID-19 situation in the US has been trapped in a cycle of deterioration-alleviation-deterioration, with peaks frequently appearing on the curve of COVID-19 infections. This is closely related to the US government swinging between short-term economic interests and safeguarding public health security.

The severe COVID-19 situation in the US is coupled with an abnormal boom in the country's stock market, and the wealthy has benefited the most.

Data shows that the US stock market has soared after a seismic decline on March 23, 2020. As of January 2021, the combined wealth of more than 600 billionaires in the US had rocketed from about $2.9 trillion to about $4.1 trillion, representing an increase of 38.6 percent compared to their collective net worth in mid-March of 2020.

As the gap between the rich and poor further widened with the COVID-19 pandemic, US economist Paul Krugman wrote America was "failing dismally on both the epidemiological and the economic fronts," in an article published on the New York Times.

In the eyes of some US politicians, the social Darwinian law of survival of the fittest can excuse themselves for being indifferent to what people have suffered in the public health crisis.

When asked if it's right for professional athletes and other well-connected people to get tested for the coronavirus while others can't, then US President Donald Trump said, "Perhaps that's been the story of life."

The answer is very America. In this country, emergency beds are rather left empty than used for treating the poor, state official said he would rather die than see public health measures damage the US economy, and pandemic control efforts were like a state-sanctioned killing, where the old, factory workers and black and Hispanic Americans were some of the most unprotected.

It is reported that the cost for treating an uninsured COVID-19 patient could reach tens of thousands of dollars in the US. One in seven American adults said that they would avoid seeking medical care if they experienced key symptoms of COVID-19 due to the financial costs, according to Gallup research.

"Nations, like individuals, reveal themselves at times of crisis," wrote BBC New York correspondent Nick Bryant.

Through the prism of the pandemic, people around the world have seen that the political system of the US is only established to safeguard capital. The concepts flaunted by the US government such as democracy, human rights and equality, have already been distorted by money and long ago became mirages.

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