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Profiteering off the Pandemic

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/08/15/profiteering-pandemic

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There is a cartoon from the 1920s of a man riding a unicycle spinning many, many plates on sticks all at once. Some of these plates are spinning on the top of other plates and stacked to various degrees of absurdity. That is the stock market. The economy became revealed by the term Hooverville. Hence we now find the stock market paired with the economy redux. “Oh when will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?” (When they elect someone like Bern, which will be the twelfth of never.)

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But the market also operates under laws that ban profiteering, price gouging, and monopolizing, and that tax excess profits in wartime.

Bovine feces , Robert. The modus operandi of capitalism is profiteering and among the biggest beneficiaries have been the war industry. The laws you cite limit have been short lived, limited, and never eliminated the ability to rake in tremendous profits during wartime.

You premise that social and economic justice can be achieved through a kinder gentler’ capitalism is wrong. Wealth concentration, plutocracy, and environmental devastation are inherent to capitalism.

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Business as usual, in America.
“This country was bought and sold and paid for a long time ago.” - George Carlin - " Voting is Meaningless"

From FDR’s New Deal launch in 1935 through the end of the 20th century it was rare day that you didn’t read an article in the newspaper about a white collar crime. By the time the billionaires crashed the economy in 2008 most white collar crime had been decriminalized in the name of “deregulation”.

Until all New Deal regulations and programs are restored we will see serial, never ending shock doctrine wealth transfer, of which the pandemic is the latest example. New Deal regulatory restoration is only the first step…a 21st century new deal needs to follow.

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Why not an analysis as to how much Politicians in Congress and the Senate are making off the Pandemic. Past studies have shown that their stock portfolios out perform the market by some 7 percent.

Then look at how much more money is donated to the Democrats and Republicans from these Corporations and wealthy individuals so as to help that Politician get elected.

I am certain you will find the lines between Democrat and Republican are not all that distinct.

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  • The trouble with allowing profiteering off of pandemic is that it motivates the creation of pandemic.
  • The trouble with allowing profiteering off of war is that it motivates the waging of war.
  • The trouble with profiteering off of pubic policy is that it motivates the perversion of public policy.

Profiteering intrinsically motivates abuse. The shift of access or control over resources that is not based on need creates a motivation for action contrary to what is needed. This remains true whether we call the profiting agent private or governmental. The government becomes a private fiefdom about as easily as ownership, and ownership creates neither justice nor efficacy. It is only one central embodiment of hubris and fantasy within the world.

What can we do instead?

  1. Establish between ourselves what comes under control of the group, what we are willing to commit to stewarding and controlling, and what we are willing to confront outside authorities to retain.

  2. Match the rules and principles of our actions to conditions

  3. Ensure that stakeholders set the rules.

  4. Retain the sovereignty of the community

  5. Let community members monitor each other according to clear rules

  6. Use graduated sanctions for rule violators.

  7. Provide accessible means for dispute resolution.

  8. Build responsibility for governing the common resource in nested tiers from the lowest level up to the entire interconnected system. generally by federation of some sort.

These are, basically, principles set out by Elinor Ostrom for sustainable and ongoing management of a commons. She arrived at them after long empirical study of successful and unsuccessful management of commons.

It is worth noting that distant centralized government and grossly unequal ownership or unequal presumed “rights” over resources violates these principles directly. We will have to stop it.

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Once the “Blue Crush” clears out the Trump enablers. It will be time to create an incentive for these rapacious business folks to behave honestly and properly. It’s called - “lengthy Jail Terms”.

The sooner the Biden/Harris justice department can implement the investigations and indictments the better. I personally would like to see all these scuzzy Trump acolytes behind bars before the end of Biden’s first term.

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In “All My Sons” – Arthur Miller’s iconic dramatization of the definition of profiteering – faulty airplane engine parts are knowingly supplied to warrior airmen, who perished to preserve the profits of the engine-parts supplier. One of the airmen who never came back turned out to be the supplier’s own son. (Spoiler alert:) The guy offs himself to celebrate the surprise visit of his dead son’s fiance. I know: Ouch, maybe pushing the emotional envelope a little bit there, but those truly were different days, it seems to me, for US American culture. It’s so hard to imagine any US American businessman getting all that upset about anything these days. Miller speaks of another era now, like Shakespeare.

Biden and his boss did not bother in any way to punish the bankers and other predators who totally crashed the housing market. Instead they let them keep their obscene bonuses and stock options and declared these rotten banks “Too big to fail” while forcing the United Auto Workers in Detroit to eat the non union wage scale of southern auto factories. How difficult would it have been to give the bail-out money to the home owners who would pay the banks and keep them afloat. Instead we got the dystopian reality of millions of now homeless folks whose millions of now empty homes were decaying and bringing down the rest of the neighborhood. Biden and Harris both have tough on crime reputations but the toughness does not touch white color crooks who keep poor folks down. I have no expectation of incarceration for the mega crimes of the present POTUS weasel pack.

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Luckily we have an opposition party that would never allow this to happen! :wink: