Ol’ Blind Joe
Old habits die hard
By Stirling Hamilton
THE GLOBAL pandemic Spanish Flu which wreaked havoc on humanity at the end of World War One was named after neutral Spain.
Wartime enemies Germany, France, Britain and US suppressed news of its murderous rampage on the battlefield to preserve public morale at home.
As a result, 100 million people died in those countries while their leaders dillied and dallied to save face.Read more
The new Covid-19 coronavirus started killing people in central China’s biggest city, Wuhan, last December.
US President Donald Trump’s administration had 2½ months to prepare for the world’s biggest health crisis in more than a century but resorted instead to racist finger-pointing and denial.
It had dismantled the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) team that dealt with pandemics and cut 80 per cent of its budget.
The CDC warned President Trump on January 8 about the deadly new virus but he dithered.
The US now has more cases than China and hot-spot Italy, and the number is rising rapidly in huge cities like New York.
America’s healthcare system is based on corporate profit, not public health.
Scarcity in the US market-driven model serves to create corporate opportunities for greater profit.
This economic logic leads to fewer virus test kits, vaccines, and basic sanitary aids.
A true national public health response would be to make free evaluation, testing, and treatment of Covid-19 readily available to all citizens.
South Korea has conducted roughly 300,000 tests on its people but the US has done only about 60,000 despite a population six times bigger.
Experts have called on President Trump to immediately lift harmful US sanctions against Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and other countries.
They warn that his economic warfare against those countries is feeding the Covid-19 pandemic.
US pharmaceutical company Gilead is involved in a legal battle with the Chinese government to deny it the right to any potential vaccine, arguing that China would be likely to give it away free to the world and destroy Gilead’s opportunity for profit.
Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner has dumped America’s established government plan for dealing with pandemics in favour of the directives of corporate executives.
Showing the way
To the rest of the world, China showed the way.
Was it draconian? Yes. Was it effective? Apparently yes. Were Chinese citizens happy to comply? Mostly yes because their culture is based on Confucian principles.
Socialism rides to humanity’s rescue, Hi Ho Silver, Planethood reigns.
China has already sent hundreds of doctors and tonnes of medical supplies at no cost to France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Iran, Iraq, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and the US.
Germany ordered 10,000 mechanical ventilators, and China and Italy have ordered thousands more.
How is the US preparing for a potential shortage of ventilators if the pandemic worsens?
By doing bugger all.
The CEO of a ventilator manufacturer says his company could increase production by 500 per cent in a three-month period but the US hasn’t lifted a finger to order any.
Desperate to contain the deadly virus, hard-hit countries, including even rich European nations such as Italy and Britain, have reached out for expert medical help from Cuba, China, and Venezuela.
Cuba has more than 100,000 doctors – nine for every 1000 Cuban citizens – and everyone there has access to free healthcare.
America has 2.6 doctors per 1000 US citizens and 27 million people live without health insurance.
Thanks to its socialist system, Havana has highly skilled and ethically committed doctors to spare – even to nations that have backed US attempts to force Cuban regime change.
Cuba is a relatively poor country with around 11 million people who live under a suffocating US sanctions regime.
The embargo against these countries in this time of Covid-19 may be seen as not only a war crime under the 1949 Geneva Convention but also a crime against humanity as defined by the 1947 United Nations International Law Commission.
The world has been telling America to end its 61-year blockade against Cuba but successive US presidents have refused.
Brazil has the world’s fifth-largest economy and sixth-biggest population, with more than 210 million people.
Before Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was elected in 2018, 10,000 Cuban doctors were working in some of Brazil’s poorest, most-remote regions.
The new US-backed leader claimed the Cuban doctors were ideological brain-washers who were training poor Brazilians to become communist guerrillas.
He kicked them out of the country.
Then Covid-19 came and he was begging them for help – and they did.
Cuba also allowed the infected British cruise ship MS Braemar to dock near Havana after US ports rejected it.
Cuba sent the anti-viral drug Interferon Alpha B to China in a bid to help get its outbreak under control and the medicine is now produced in China in a joint venture with Cuba and has been used to treat more than 1500 Chinese patients.
Chosen with others by the Chinese National Health Commission to combat the respiratory disease, it is now being used by many other countries including South Korea, Panama, Italy and Germany.
When the global economic meltdown hit Europe in 2008, the European Union responded with painful austerity measures that targeted things like health care.
As a result, Italy has cut some 37 billion Euros ($67 billion) from its health system in the past 10 years.
Covid-19 is now mercilessly exposing problems that have burdened Germany’s health-care system for years – the pitfalls of profit-driven hospital financing and pressure to cut spending.
Tragically, political and economic elites seem more determined to rescue markets and corporations than humans with trillions of dollars earmarked in corporate bail outs.
The idiocies, irrationalities, and unnecessary injuries of 21st century capitalism are now coming into full, tragic view.
“The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.” – Chinese philosopher Confucius (551-479 BC).