Week 14 of the Quarantine
‘It was impossible to save the great Republic. She was rotten to the heart. Lust of conquest had long ago done its work. Trampling on the helpless abroad had taught her, by a natural process, to endure with apathy the like at home.’
Here at the Diary, we’re not Republicans or Democrats…libertarians…or even anarchists. We just don’t like anyone telling us what to do.
We have a hard enough time trying to figure out what to do ourselves — with full knowledge of our own desires and circumstances. The last thing we need is an order from some jackass in Washington.
Besides, people who want to tell you what to do are always those whose ideas are imbecilic…as illustrated by the latest imperatives. They are not only high-handed, but contradictory. More on that in a minute.
First, the news…
Wall Street started out in a downward swoon yesterday. Then, would you believe it, the Federal Reserve did something completely asinine…and the stock market turned around. The Associated Press reports:
‘Stocks swung solidly higher on Wall Street in afternoon trading Monday after the Federal Reserve said it would begin buying individual corporate bonds, the central bank’s latest move to prop up volatile financial markets through the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.’
US corporations are borrowing more money this year than ever before…raising the total level of corporate debt to over $17 trillion and bringing the total debt in the country to $75 trillion.
But despite record debt, everybody’s still borrowing. Why?
No turning back
One reason is obvious: they need the money. When the feds shut down the economy, companies needed to refinance their old debts…and add new ones.
And now, no one doubts the determination of the Fed to keep lending — at artificially low interest rates, of course.
The recovery will take time…if it happens at all.
Meanwhile, people will need money to pay their bills…and keep their stock prices high. Any reduction in money printing by the Fed will cause stock prices to fall…which will force the Fed to find new and more reckless ways to lend. Sooner or later, for example, they will begin buying stocks as well as bonds.
There will be no turning back, in other words. No V-shaped recovery. No return to normal. No honest capitalism.
Instead, full speed ahead…to cronyism (whose bonds are they gonna buy, after all?), money printing (the money has to come from somewhere), and rip-offs (how does the average citizen get in on this? What?…He can’t?)…
…until the train runs off the rails.
But, like Scarlett O’Hara, we will worry about that tomorrow.
Today, what we’re looking at is the ‘social contract’ that holds the US empire together. And we do so gingerly…like probing the earth with a bayonet, trying to find a landmine before we step on it.
Of course, the ‘social contract’ is a myth…there is no such contract. We never saw it. We never agreed to it. And what kind of ‘contract’ can be forced upon people…and then changed, at will, by one of the parties but not the other?
Still, some myths are important. We are all ‘created equal’ and can expect ‘equal rights under the law’ were foundational principles of the US.
And the ‘social contract’, vague as it was, summed up the basic bargain: The feds treat us fairly, and we let them take our money and boss us around.
On that, almost everyone has been in agreement since the get-go.
But over time, the bargain has shifted…little by little…in the feds’ favour.
Senator George Frisbie Hoar saw it coming in 1898. Thanks to its foreign wars, he predicted the US would be:
‘Transformed from a Republic founded on the Declaration of Independence, guided by the counsels of Washington, the hope of the poor, the refuge of the oppressed, into a vulgar, commonplace empire founded on physical force, controlling subject races and vassal states, in which one class must forever rule and the other classes must forever obey.’
One of the lessons of history is that an army used to trample ‘on the helpless abroad’ will one day be used to trample on the helpless at home. And there is never a lack of ‘crises’ at home that need to be trampled on.
COVID-19 needed to be stamped out immediately. So said nearly everyone in the elite — the clergy, the politicians, the media, the scientists…the great and the good. All stood together to sentence everyone to house arrest, whether or not they were likely to be infected or to infect anyone else.
Neither the First Amendment (guaranteeing the right to assembly)…nor the Sixth Amendment (guaranteeing a fair and speedy trial before punishment)…nor the Ninth Amendment (guaranteeing your rights that are not specifically in the Constitution)…nor any customary, normal, or common law or common sense principle allowing you to come and go as you please…
…nor the need for people to earn a living…go to church…or bury their dead with a bit of dignity and decency…
…nothing was deemed so important that you should be allowed to venture out of your home (except, perhaps, for buying food, alcohol, or lottery tickets…)
And then, on 25 May…all of a sudden…we were told that we could go outside in large numbers. Why? To support Black Lives Matter!
Suddenly, the coronavirus was not such a threat, after all. And this was a cause worth (other people) dying for! Here’s journalist Glenn Greenwald reporting in The Intercept:
‘The epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo proclaimed last week that “we should always evaluate the risks and benefits of efforts to control the virus” – exactly the risk-benefit calculus that has been declared off-limits since February. With that license to balance arrogated unto herself, Dr. Nuzzo concluded that “in this moment the public health risks of not protesting to demand an end to systemic racism greatly exceed the harms of the virus.” In other words, if you care about public health, you should not remain at home out of fear of contracting or transmitting the coronavirus but do the opposite: leave your home to participate in these protests.’
Well, which is it? Is every life worth saving — even if it means shutting down the whole economy and banning church services? Or do Black Lives Matter more…even when Black lives are exactly those most likely to be lost?
This new imperative was made in spite of the well-advertised ‘fact’ that Black people were particularly susceptible to COVID-19…and that the victims of the disease resulting from these mass rallies would most likely be disproportionately Black.
Lots of dots
What are we to make of all this? Do the elite scientists, journalists, and social activists care about Black lives? Or not?
And what’s this got to do with our foreign wars…with the social contract…with the economic breakdown, money printing, and the end of the American empire?
Lots of dots to connect, in other words.