It’s time for Americans to risk their lives for the good ol’ U.S.A.
Hey, America! Here’s how it works now. You need to get back out there and save the economy. If you get sick and die, well… it happens. We need to have a country. The clock is ticking. Yes, the economy was wrecked by idiots, or one specific idiot, who denied there was a virus, lied about its severity, promised it would be gone “miraculously” in a week and then said everyone would be in church together on Easter – a month ago – and throughout fought with everything and everyone in sight, even refuting his own administration’s rules, and still has failed to get the proper testing out here so we can open back up, but it’s time we save the idiot and the idiot’s country by putting our and our families’ lives at risk. Have a nice summer.
Oh, you may ask: How did the most powerful, richest, most technologically advanced nation with purportedly the best healthcare system, hospitals, doctors and nurses in the world, end up utterly destroyed by a virus? No one alive remembers anything this bad. No one. This is very bad. Catastrophically bad. What the fuck?
Well, beyond the abject failure of the President and the federal government and to an extent much of our local state governments, in the last week of March I wrote this in this space: “I ask this with all due respect to the medical gravity of what we are facing with this current COVID-19 pandemic, but, honestly, how long do you think we can pull this social distancing off?’”
We now know the answer is six weeks. Probably five. Maybe a month? Didn’t take long, really. The worst pandemic in modern times – over one hundred years – curtailed us for a month. There are more people dead from this than the Vietnam War – that went on for twelve years – and aside from this deadly fiasco, was the worst political disaster of my lifetime. Infected numbers still rise. The economy is in the shitter. Unemployment numbers are the highest since the Great Depression. And so, we’re done. Six weeks. Long enough. And I can’t say I blame us.
In the same column, titled, “How Long?” I broached what I call the cruelty of freedom and the anti-Judea-Christian concept of capitalism, which I support because it tramples merrily on the myth, or to be blunt, the lie of the Judea-Christian construct in a country that was built on so many lies it is hard to keep up. Nevertheless, my support for capitalism is neither here nor there. It is the way of the world, thankfully the American world, and it cannot survive another month of this. And as much as people can be stupid, selfish, and petty and tend to lean heavily on messianic figures from celebrities to athletes to politicians and religious loons, we know that much. It’s not hard. You either bring money in to feed yourself and your family and keep the lights on and the heat going, or you go into the street and try your luck. This is capitalism in a nutshell.
And so, America cannot be South Korea. They handled this thing from the get-go with smarts, teamwork, hardcore planning, and tribal cohesion. They were hit the same time we were with dreaded COVID-19, just a hop and a skip from China, and they are completely free of the virus right now. We have 1.2 million infected and over seventy-five thousand dead. Yeah, South Korea wins. We suck.
Or do we?
Nah, we’re just beholden to commerce. Look at New York City. Without NYC we are knuckle-dragging goons clinging to atavistic agrarian precepts. NYC got wiped out by this thing. NYC is bigger than the United States. It is certainly bigger than South Korea. When you are the face of capitalism, you tend to get hit harder than most. In a way, NYC is a microcosm for how much the rest of the country relies on the activity of humans making money and sharing money to keep the wheels from coming off.
Without commerce we are wandering around the wilderness like cavemen. Take a look at the people protesting right now. Cro-Magnon or Neanderthal? Not sure. It’s close, either way. Primitive. That’s what I call it. What turned these people into this? The virus? Shit, people don’t know anything about health. You see what they eat? How much they smoke and drink? Have you fathomed the exorbitant fat content of these people? Heart disease murdered 637,000 people in this country last year. Fast food. Steroid-addled meat. Drugs. Booze. Inactivity. These numbers scoff verily at COVID-19. We came into this pandemic sick. No, it is commerce that keeps us going. When that goes, we go nuts. We can do without god and sex. Money? Where’s my MAGA hat? You can’t set up a system that measures our greatness in stock prices and player salaries and the size of our cars and how expensive and fancy our haircuts look and then take it all away. That’s madness. We’re weak. Give us a break. You made us this way. We had no choice.
The finest example of capitalism, really economic solvency versus safety and pragmatism is the 1975 film, Jaws – for my money one of the best movies of the latter half of the twentieth century and Steven Spielberg’s greatest cinematic achievement for so many reasons. But it’s commentary, nay, its instructional value on the power of the dollar over human existence has no equal. It lays it all out there: Local government of a beach town knows there is a shark in the water. Without tourists and swimmers there is no local economy. Easy fix. Don’t tell anyone there is a shark in the water. Woman gets eaten by a shark. They close the beaches. People can’t eat or pay bills. They bitch. Politicians open the beaches. There are even scenes with the mayor asking the local merchants to go in the water to allay the genuine fears of the beachgoers, get things going, show them there is no danger. Kid gets eaten by a shark. Roll credits right there. The rest is Hollywood storytelling. That is the lesson of Jaws: Sometimes you rush back in and make it with all your parts intact and sometimes you get eaten by a shark. But it’s worth the gamble, Jaws tells us.
Wait, does it?
No, killing the shark does. And we can’t kill the virus because we have no testing to contain it or a vaccine to eradicate it, so I’m not sure what Jaws tells us. Maybe that the alternative to not swimming with sharks is starvation, humiliation, bankruptcy? Capitalism is more important than life? Yes!
Hey, our government and experts failed to protect us, so we have to bail them out. Like in the Great Depression and WWII, Civil Rights, and on and on. It’s always on us. Game show hosts, preachers, pep talks, talking-head doctors in the media can’t do it. Only we can fix this by risking our lives and the lives of our loved ones and friends, to save our way of life and then hopefully get everyone re-elected who fucked us.
So, put on your masks and get out there and save the day!
Cue the music…. “God bless America… land that I love… Stand beside her… and guide us… through the night with the light from above…”