Thanks POTUS and Friends for the anxiety & depression you've made us feel
Our public mental health crises began with the Reagan Revolution
Our lying, corrupt, and morally bankrupt leaders are the reason we have high rates of anxiety and depression. How dare they claim otherwise.
vol. 2 issue 20
So, what has your government done for you lately? I’ll answer that for you. Not much. And for those Americans who have wanted it that way since the day they whiffed the Reagan Revolution in 1980, congratulations! You win.
We now have nearly 80,000 dead from covid-19, many of them preventable had we not had our pandemic response team dismantled by this administration, which has also sidelined any experts who might have helped us lead the way globally on how to minimize the deaths and the virus’s spread.
Let’s put those deaths in perspective: throughout the entire Vietnam War, we lost only 58,220 Americans. So far, we’ve about 80,000 down, and who knows what to believe, but POTUS says we may see another 10,000 lives lost. I think that’s unlikely, since coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx told Fox News the total number of deaths could be as high as 240,000.
What has been an actual success story that has come out of this administration regarding the pandemic, one that would answer the question about what your government has done for you? I can’t find one. And no matter what my favorite Batman villain Jared Kushner claims, 90,000 lives lost is not a success. Maybe, if my metric for success were slipping trillions of taxpayer dollars in an under-the-table shuck and jive show run by corporate friends of his father-in-law (the ones who will contribute mightily to his re-election) well, then okay, Holy hole in a donut, Batman! Jared is untouchable!
Meanwhile, if you’ve not already heard, Amazon has announced it is providing the kind of total response to the pandemic in this country we ordinarily as Americans would have expected our federal government to have been on top of long ago.
During an investors call last week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told shareholders they would not be seeing the 4 billion dollars in dividends they expected, because he was reinvesting them in creating a covid-19-protected supply chain, developing and manufacturing at-home covid-19 DIY tests, and in what really screams to me LOOK AT THIS!, investing in partnerships that are essentially compassionate response teams for NYC coronavirus shut-ins who might not be able to access food, medicine, or emergency medical services if they become ill.
Using an Amazon-created chat bot, the parentering insurance company’s members engage with service reps in real time online, and are screened for any signs of potential covid-related illnesses, or to determine if their other basic needs for food and medicine are being met. If not, guess what!
The partnership includes a rapid response team that figures out how to get what those people need, pronto. Supply chain magic! The program is now being shared, for free, with whomever wants to use it, including Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn.
"They taught us how to fish as opposed to being dependent on them and their software," the insurance company’s chief medical officer said.
Sounds like good old school Republican rhetoric, all that self-reliance and not needing a hand-out kind of talk, the kind I might be nostalgic for if it weren’t that the Republicans on Capitol Hill have shown us they are a pack of liars, but we’ll get back to that.
Long-time readers know I am not a fan in the least of monopolies, of which Amazon is definitely one. If I were the tattooing type, I would have the late Supreme Court associate justice Louis Brandeis’s face in the middle of a heart on my right bicep because if I have ever been evangelized of anything in my life, it is to his point that the more we think of ourselves as consumers first, and citizens second, the less freedom we have.
For all the times I have railed against monopolies, it bears repeating that our Reagan Era doctrine of what antitrust experts call “consumer welfare”, meaning the lowest possible price for goods and services is the best way to grow the economy and serve the public, is completely and fully and utterly and whatever else you can say that means totally and 100% mutually exclusive with democracy.
That is because if the goal is to create the lowest price, then there has to be low margins, and if there is to be low margins, you have to have no competition, and to arrive at no competition, you need to become the only player in the market, so you eat up the competition and its suppliers, until suddenly you actually are the ONLY player in the market.
You now own the market, so you call the shots, and you charge whatever you want, and you pay your workers whatever you want, and you tell your suppliers to take what you give them and like it…and hey, wait a minute…
That sounds like a command and control economy! We hate those in this country, this Land of Reagan where hatred of socialism and communism is synonymous with the notion that Capitalism equates with democracy. And you can’t have the American way without democracy, right??
Except it is precisely this kind of stupidity and numbed-out acceptance of the American way rhetoric we’ve been gorging on for 40 years that has landed us in a command and control situation that is just in the hands of a few businessmen rather than government officials, and is most definitely not functioning like a democracy but is very akin to a corrupt 80s-era Soviet style gang bang.
So, putting aside the fact that by way of Amazon Prime, we have allowed this one company to vacuum up the discretionary income of 82% of all US households annually, at least Bezos and his partners are actually serving the citizenry, I need to ask you:
What has your federal government done for you lately?
I’ll help you. For one thing, your president is trying to make Bezos’s ability to run his dream team supply chain harder to do because POTUS is pissed that as owner of the Washington Post, Bezos employs journalists who report stories the president doesn’t like (sounds so Soviet style!). That is why the United States Postal Service is getting zippo federal help during the pandemic: it’s a way to hobble one of the links in Bezos’s supply chain.
Look, I most certainly did not start this publication to vent. I started it as a way to find healing for anxiety and depression, and to help others find the freedom in their lives that as Americans they grew up believing was their birthright, but which somehow along the way seemed to elude them. I started this publication to help uncover why freedom doesn’t feel so free and easy for too many of us.
But no matter how I try to focus on other things, I am always led back to our having been lied to repeatedly. Check the archives. I am not bothering with citing studies and data. You want that? It’s all over the now feckless Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. More useful are the studies by Case and Deaton that connect economic policies with diseases of “despair”. You and I do not need those stats to know that we have been sold a lie about the American Dream being predicated on a land of plenty and equality and tolerance, that as long as we have liars in charge, as long as we have a finite amount of resources overseen by a self-annointed elite few, it is just not true.
And I say that as someone who for her entire life was a member of the Republican Party. That is probably among the most embarrassing things I will ever have to admit to anyone, but it’s good to dump our secret shame. Only, I shouldn’t be ashamed, I should be angry, and I am. I am angry because I wanted to believe in this country’s goodness and beauty, and instead, it was a flimflam game. I have been used, and for that, I should NOT feel ashamed.
I resent having my trust abused and I especially resent being taken for granted as someone who will just look the other way when things aren’t adding up to what we’re told we’re supposed to believe in.
All the things the Republican Party has told us they would not stand for, all the things they have preached they were against they have now in spades (I doubt you need me to list them, but if you really do need a list, here it is), as embodied in the avatar of supreme yuck they are bending themselves into knots to keep in power, both by continuing to let him remain unchecked in his fantasy world of ersatz facts (er, lies), and by voter suppression.
And voter suppression is precisely the game they are playing when POTUS says that he opposes statehood for the District of Columbia because doing so will give Democrats “three or four Senate seats” (actually only one, and for the record, no state has more than two, but you knew that).
It’s what he means when he has this exchange with his sycophants at Fox:
“The things [the Democrats] had in [stimulus package] were crazy,” Trump said on “Fox and Friends.” “They had things — levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
Okay, let’s take a breath…
Because I have more bad news.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released their first quarter numbers which don’t even include the last two weeks of April, and we’re full-on headed for 20% unemployment. You think it’s annoying now that you can’t find flour or pork sausage? How about when you have to pass breadlines and people hungry and homeless in the street on your way to go look at those empty shelves?
So, what has your government done for you lately? They’ve allowed Americans to die needlessly, they’ve handed money and power over to people in power without quite showing us who and why they did it the way they did it, they’ve sacrificed a necessary federal agency to punish a business that actually is living up to the vaunted Republican ideal that private enterprise is better for America, and now a fifth of Americans are about to really and truly need help through no fault of their own (so please do not insult anyone’s intelligence with the notion that they are freeloaders), and what our president and his party are up to is voter suppression because they figure you and a hella lot of others just might have a problem with all the rest of their shenanigans.
The truth is, I can’t stay mad long, because it’s too much work and not enough reward. But outrage? I can certainly hold outrage in my chest like an ember of coal. I can fan it, I can ensure it doesn’t burn out, and I can let its warmth provide hope in something new. And that is what I am doing. Talk about being coal fired…
This 1980s idea that government is the problem? I call bullshit on that. How dare they. The problem is when something, anything, gets too big to be held accountable. And that is exactly what the Republican party did: make its power, with help from big business, too big to have to care. And their arrogance shows it.
I needed to say these things, because I need to make it clear what the stakes are. But what I am actually interested in is in building a future where we aren’t bullied by our leaders into states of mental unwellness.
Being lied to and taken for granted and told we are contributing to something great but is actually toxic is what this country’s lying leaders have done to us.
They are the reason we have high rates of anxiety and depression and how dare they claim otherwise.
Never mind feeling ashamed for believing in something that was promoted by liars. I will see that as their sick way of leveraging my goodness, and the goodness of others who love this country and the possibilities it still holds.
And to hell with all the bullies and villains. If they aren’t going to help a fifth of this country get back on its feet — I mean, how could they? They don’t believe in government helping you! Well, then there are a hella lot more of the good people in this country than there are of these liars tuttling around like self-important ducks on Capitol Hill. And they know it. That is why they want to suppress the vote.
Going forward, I continue to have more questions than answers, but I do have a few ideas. I honestly can’t quite get my head around a world where someone like Bezos can have that much power. And don’t forget – he has stated in no uncertain terms that global domination is not his ultimate goal. Space is. So, people like Bezos have to be factored into the future equations of what we will do with our freedom and democracy.
But it’s Friday and my head hurts. Just consider that your freedom is inextricably tied to how well you bother to evaluate what you’re being told by your leaders. Now more than ever, it is easy to see what lies they tell and do something about it. So, really, it’s on you. It’s on me. And as you can see, I am all over it.
Update: This has been updated on 5/11/20 to clarify that Dr. Birx did not predict 240,000 more deaths, but up to that many deaths, at least by current CDC estimates.