When faced with major public health emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic, governments must try their best to treat patients, save lives and cut all channels for the transmission of the virus. However, in the U.S., which often boasts of being a “beacon of democracy” and “shining example of human rights”, response to the pandemic has always been dominated by capital, and 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 U.S., capital, not lives, is put above everything else, which is both the truth of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. and an important reason why the country has failed to control the pandemic.
In the eyes of U.S. politicians, people’s right to be informed and rights to life and health are insignificant compared to capital.
At the beginning of the pandemic, then U.S. 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, White House coronavirus task force and the National Security Council of the U.S. jointly prepared a memorandum on coping with the COVID-19 pandemic on Feb. 14, 2020, suggesting explicitly that a series of strict measures be adopted to control the pandemic. However, U.S. policymakers immediately rejected the memorandum after hearing the judgment that relevant measures would lead to the collapse of the U.S. stock market.
U.S. media reports have also revealed that while telling the American public that there wasn’t much to worry about, many members of the U.S. Congress dumped their stock holdings after being briefed about the emerging threat of the coronavirus and the massive impact it would have upon the economy.
“He ran for the exits when the theater was on fire, while selling tickets to women and children,” a U.S. Internet user commented on a post of the social media account of a U.S. senator who sold stocks amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Caring only about capital and their own interests, such U.S. politicians have led the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the wrong direction from the beginning.
U.S. politicians seem to believe that safeguarding their private finances should always be placed before public health security.
After the pandemic turned into a full-blown crisis in the U.S., the federal government and many state governments hastily reopened the economy before the COVID-19 situation was truly under control, leading to the rebound of the pandemic.
Over the past more than one year, the COVID-19 situation in the U.S. has been trapped in the cycle of “deterioration-alleviation-deterioration”, with peaks frequently appearing on the curve of the COVID-19 infections, which is closely related to the U.S. government’s swinging between pursuing short-term economic interests and safeguarding public health security.
It’s worth noting that the severe COVID-19 situation in the U.S. has been accompanied by an abnormal boom in the country’s stock market, which has benefited the wealthy the most.
Data show that the U.S. 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 U.S. had rocketed from about $2.9 trillion to around $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 has been further widened by the COVID-19 pandemic, American economist Paul Krugman pointed out bluntly, “America’s response to the coronavirus has been a lose-lose proposition.” The country is “failing dismally on both the epidemiological and the economic fronts,” he wrote in an article published on the website of The New York Times.
It’s shocking that U.S. politicians even used the social Darwinian “law of survival of the fittest” to excuse themselves for their indifference 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 U.S. President Donald Trump said, “Perhaps that’s been the story of life.”
The answer is very “America”, as in this country, emergency beds are left empty rather than used for treating the poor, officials would rather die than see public health measures damage the U.S. economy, and pandemic control efforts were like a “state-sanctioned killing,” where “the old, factory workers, and black and Hispanic Americans” were deliberately sacrificed.
According to reports, hospital cost for an uninsured COVID-19 patient could reach tens of thousands of dollars in the U.S.
One in seven American adults said that they would avoid seeking medical care if they experienced key symptoms of COVID-19 because they’re afraid of the financial cost of treating the disease, revealed a research jointly conducted by American analytics and advisory company Gallup and non-profit organization West Health.
Acts of “putting capital above everything else” have seriously twisted U.S. response to the pandemic, during which people’s health and lives are merely figures that can sometimes even be neglectable in the ruthless calculation of U.S. politicians.
“Nations, like individuals, reveal themselves at times of crisis,” wrote BBC’s New York correspondent Nick Bryant.
Acting in the interest of capital rather than people in political decision-making is in fact not an accidental phenomenon that just happened during the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Policy choices, made over decades, have relentlessly favoured the interests of the private sector in general, and large corporations in particular, over both the state and labour, in ways that are proving costly to our health and our economy,” pointed out American business columnist Rana Foroohar.
Through the prism of the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world have seen clearly that the political system of the U.S. was only established to guard capital. The concepts such as democracy, human rights and equality, which have always been flaunted by the U.S. government, have already been distorted by money and become mirages long ago.
(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on China’s foreign policy and international affairs.)