Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Giving Part

There is no such thing as a free lunch and with the Corvid virus raging on in America we are suddenly seeing the Billionaire class step up with all kinds of donations that are largely self serving. I almost fell off the couch when Martha Stewart on the Seth Myers show said she was grateful for Bill Gates and his investing in a vaccine.  Okay the reality is that the Bill Gates Foundation has been involved in global health for years and much of if of course a conflict of interest as he has shares in many of the Biotech industries that are testing varying vaccines in the third world to stop Malaria among other major diseases that affect those areas.  Nothing Bill Gates does is out of the kindness of his heart and his wonderful wife Melissa of late is screeching about the 2nd Wave as a way of giving them more time to find a vaccine in which to sell to the public, experiment on,  and in turn make more money.

Again this is no time to reject said check but the reality is that careful what the hand has on offer as there is always a catch and the Gates have stomped their big feet all over the globe with their goals to do whatever they say they are doing to "save the world."  I still laugh at the Common Core one of my many favorite bullshit concepts from this rich duo.

And I am not alone in my thinking about well a lot of what is going on in response to this pandemic from the run on social rules and mores to the end of democracy as well as again the push for moral panic which seems now less on asserting control but again the dick off between political players and we are the chess pieces.  Everyday another idiotic Executive Order is wasting paper we could use for toilet paper.  Remember when the first weeks of Trump's presidency he signed one after another in a big black marker? Well here we have Cuomo, DiBlasio, Murphy in NJ rivaling the varying Mayors draconian orders by actually revoking them and making his worse!  It is surreal to see the Republicans now jockey back shelter orders as they want to be Trumps golfing buddy by making their populations sicker.  And all of this tells me no one knows shit and they are throwing spaghetti against a wall to see what sticks.  If they did they would have cohesion and cooperation and clear transparency.  That again tells me that they don't know shit. So by being mean, tough and posturing they can scare the shit out of the populace and in turn that will give them compliance and they can then use their "numbers" to prove that without this they would have more dead, more hospitalizations, more overcrowded ERs, more POS, more and then suddenly less and less and  less of the same showing us they were right. Really how do we know?  Which is it? What caused it? Who knew?  Who the fuck cares as we just want to go back to work? When? Who knows? Why not?

And this gap in leadership also leaves the Oligarchs to step in with their money and their access to power to well fuck the game up more.  And it is not about the better good because if Bezos wanted to do better he would pay his workers more, provide health care, have benefits and job security and safety all along and well after.  If Gates was so attuned to public health why did he not see this pandemic coming and have the tools and tests in place.  Is his ear not in the ground to this shit? I mean really? The rich aren't smarter or better they are just richer.  Ask Donald Trump about that oh wait he isn't even that.

America's billionaires are giving to charity – but much of it is self-serving rubbish

Robert Reich
The Guardian

Well-publicized philanthropy shows how afraid the super-rich are of a larger social safety net – and higher taxes

Sun 12 Apr 2020

As millions of jobless Americans line up for food or risk their lives delivering essential services, the nation’s billionaires are making conspicuous donations – $100m from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos for food banks, billions from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates for a coronavirus vaccine, thousands of ventilators and N95 masks from Elon Musk, $25m from the Walton family and its Walmart foundation. The list goes on.

On Wednesday, Forbes released its annual billionaires list, happily noting that “the planet’s wealthiest are helping the global effort to combat the Covid-19 outbreak”.

I don’t mean to be uncharitable, but much of this is self-serving rubbish.

First off, the amounts involved are tiny relative to the fortunes behind them. Bezos’s $100m, for example, amounts to about 11 days of his income.

Well-publicized philanthropy also conveniently distracts attention from how several of these billionaires are endangering their workers and, by extension, the public.

With online sales surging, Amazon is on a hiring binge. But Bezos still doesn’t provide sick leave for workers unless they test positive for Covid-19, in which case they get just two weeks. On 20 March, four senators sent him a letter expressing concern that the company wasn’t doing enough to protect its warehouse workers.

Walmart’s booming sales have caused it to hire more than 100,000 workers over the past three weeks. But the firm failed to implement social distancing for two weeks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced guidelines on 16 March. Several workers have died. Most still don’t have access to gloves, masks or hand sanitizer. They don’t get paid sick leave, not even at stores where employees have contracted the virus.

Musk initially dismissed sheltering as “dumb” and defied a sheriff’s order to shelter-in-place by keeping open Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, telling employees the factory was an “essential” business.

The third way conspicuous philanthropy is self-serving is by suggesting that government shouldn’t demand more from the super-rich, even in a national emergency. As Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal editorial page put it, if we had a wealth tax like Elizabeth Warren proposed, “it’s unlikely [Bill Gates] would have the capacity to act this boldly.”

That’s absurd. Warren’s tax would have cost Gates about $6bn a year, roughly his annual income from his $100bn.

Why should we believe that Gates or any other billionaire’s 'boldness' necessarily reflects society’s values and needs?

Besides, all the billionaire charity combined is a tiny fraction of the trillions the government has already spent on the coronavirus crisis. How does the Journal believe we’re going to pay down this added national debt if the wealthiest among us don’t pay more taxes? Even when this nightmare is over, most Americans will be hard pressed.

And why should we believe that Gates or any other billionaire’s “boldness” necessarily reflects society’s values and needs? Oligarchies aren’t the same as democracies.

The worst fear of the billionaire class is that the government’s response to the pandemic will lead to a permanently larger social safety net.

“Once the virus is conquered – and it will be – the biggest risk will be the political campaign to expand government control over far more of American economic life,” warns Murdoch’s Journal.

After all, the Great Depression of the 1930s spawned social security and the minimum wage, as well as a widespread conviction that government should guarantee a minimum standard of living. The second world war yielded the GI Bill and then the National Defense Education Act, enshrining the government’s role as a financier of higher education.

Even programs that don’t enjoy wide popularity when first introduced, such as the Affordable Care Act, enlarge the nation’s sense of what is reasonable for the government to do for its citizens. The ACA lives on, more popular than ever, notwithstanding the GOP’s determination to repeal it and Donald Trump’s efforts to undermine it.

As the pandemic challenges the security and safety of all Americans, some conservative politicians are proposing things that would have been unthinkable – certainly unspeakable – only months ago.

The Missouri Republican senator Josh Hawley is calling for the federal government to “cover 80% of wages for workers at any US business, up to the national median wage” until the crisis is over.

“Workers will benefit from the steady paycheck and the knowledge their jobs are safe,” he says.

Indeed. Hawley’s logic would as easily justify national paid sick leave and universal basic income, permanently.

If the pandemic has revealed anything, it’s that America’s current social safety net and healthcare system does not protect the majority of Americans in a national emergency. We are the outlier among the world’s advanced nations in subjecting our citizens to perpetual insecurity.

We are also the outlier in possessing a billionaire class that, in controlling much of our politics, has kept such proposals off the public agenda.

At least until now.

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