Three ways of looking at a pancake

March 24

Nine turtles not contributing anything to the economy up at Jewell Lake

Bernie lost a bunch of states, came in about even in Washington; Elizabeth “paused” her campaign, Bernie and Biden debated to an empty room, with Biden doing better than I’ve ever seen him and Bernie seeming a bit weary but still able to hit the main points — that he’d voted the right way on a lot of hard bills and Biden hadn’t. Then Ohio postponed their primary and the national attention turns to the COVID 19. Bernie has been holding Town Halls; I haven’t seen anything from Biden but heard he was staying home.

Last week, when a journalist asked Trump (in a White House Press Conference) when emergency supplies would reach the states, Trump said, referring to the federal government, “It’s not a shipping clerk.” Yesterday I watched too much CNN, enough to be able to hear Trump boost a medicine used for malaria as a “game changer” (it was tested once for flu — in France, on 20 people, and about 10 of them recovered, one walked away, five got not results, one or two went into the ICU and one died — not good, in other words) and promise that the general shutdown would be over by April 6 — in two weeks or less. “Before this happened, our economy was blazing” and the “cure could be worse than the disease.”

That made me think. Apparently this quip came from a Wall Street Journal editorial yesterday morning.

The cure, here, is the shutdown, which is intended to slow the spread of the virus until our healthcare system is geared up to be able to handle all the sick people. Everyone, apparently, will get this virus — the question is when. Ideally, we would slow down the spread enough to keep our healthcare system functioning until the time comes — 6 months? a year from now — when there is a vaccine that can be given to people so that they won’t catch it, or at least won’t die from it. So the shutdown is the cure.

So shutdown could be worse than the disease, which is the corona virus. Worse — why? Because the shutdown is causing the stock market to plunge. People are staying home, not buying stuff, trade has stopped, not only small businesses but big businesses are losing money. But mainly the stock market. So the shutdown could pancake the economy, so to speak.

Thus he says it would be better to stop the shutdown and let the healthcare system get overwhelmed — meaning people with ordinary illnesses and emergencies couldn’t get care, either — and people die not just from COVID 19 but from everything people usually get sick with, including car accidents and heart attacks — that would be preferable to letting “the economy” slump into a recession.

The guy really wants to kill a lot of people.

Here are the three ways I have in mind:

  1. The shutdown is good for the earth — animals are showing up on the street, birds seem to be coming back, the air is clearer, who needed all that stuff anyway? Let’s take this as a lesson in living smaller and quieter. God bless the internet, though, especially Zoom.
  2. Weren’t people already talking about a general strike? isn’t this a general strike? Wasn’t this what we hoped it would look like back when Oakland held it’s OCCUPY day of not going to work? What’s the difference? Aren’t we in the middle of a general strike? MAybe we can use it for something (note — disaster capitalism is something else.)
  3. There is a lot of money (or wealth still in the earth — gold, coal, lumber) but there are really too many people, especially retirees and un-contacted tribes in the Amazon, and people in nursing homes — all of whom are not producing any additional wealth — they’re just living their lives — so really, we’re better off sweeping them off the planet.

People on our street doing ‘social distancing” last week

All three ways of looking at the pancake.

The first leads to a vision of a world without people, but skips over what getting rid of all of us would look like. Big slice missing, here.

The second might be useful — if people started putting signs in their windows, “On Strike,” or “General Strike.” But we didn’t prepare for that in advance. But maybe someone is figuring out how to do disaster socialism….maybe Bernie’s working on it.

The third means simply sweep away the people who can’t produce more than they consume and get the rest back to work. Triage by job readiness. This is the worst case scenario but I don’t think it’s anything new.

The pancake is the economy, in case you wondered. And society.

Published by helenaworthen

Labor educator, retired from University of Illinois, taught at TDT University in Ho Chi Minh City in the Faculty of Trade Unions and Labor Relations. Co-author with Joe Berry of Power Despite Precarity: Strategies for the contingent faculty movement in higher education, forthcoming (August 2021) from Pluto Press.

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