With each day that passes, the disastrous incapacity of governments to act in the interests of their populations’ health and well-being - not just in Britain or the USA - but everywhere in the world, becomes more glaring.
Whether it is the Covid crisis, the plight of desperate refugees, the situation in the still war-torn Middle East and North Africa, the barbaric attacks by crazed religious fanatics which they spawned, or the growing destitution of the poor - the politicians’ response inevitably aggravates the problem. What is more, these leaders refuse to learn from their mistakes, let alone learn from history’s tragedies.
So here in Britain, where coronavirus cases show a rapid rise, following in the footsteps of France, the government’s lock-down for England (only!) has come 6 weeks late and even then, it is only partial, leaving schools, construction sites, manufacturing workplaces and public transport “open”. Which means all are open to the coronavirus.
Choosing profits over lives
This latest “late response” recalls Johnson’s delay first time round, when he waited until the virus (with his helping hand, literally!) had already seeded itself into the population, before implementing any restrictions.
But Johnson was not the only political leader to mess up. And so far, this has had lethal consequences for an estimated 1.2 million people across the world, and probably a lot more, who have died from Covid-19.
What is common to all western leaders is their argument that their Covid policy is a matter of “judgement”; balancing the “health of the economy” against “the health of the population”; lives against livelihoods. But what they really mean is that lives will have to be lost, if profits are to be saved.
And it was with such “savings” in mind, that Johnson has decided that being seen as “saviour of Christmas” could help his battered image, especially after being portrayed as the “Grinch” who stole it!
So we are told that this new lockdown is designed to get the rate of infection down sufficiently by early December, allowing “families” to spend the Christmas holiday together.
Never mind that in the 3 weeks after the 2nd December, when lockdown is meant to end, anything could happen! In reality, by ending the restrictions that week, it is the massive retail, restaurant & bar profits usually made during this period which will be “saved”, even if a family Christmas isn’t.
Anyway, as everyone knows, Santa Boris is so desperate to be liked that he and his elf-helper Sunak, went so far as to depict their furlough as “putting their arms around the workforce”!
Workers’ aid, not bosses’ aid?
Which brings us to the question of a Brexit “deal or no-deal”, now, so to speak, “on the wire”. And besides Britain’s insistence that fish speak English, it is “state aid” which is at issue.
So it is of some interest how a whole section of the capitalist class has been expressing its horror at the scale of state intervention to help companies, which Covid has unleashed. What they point to, above all, is the furlough scheme. To quote their favourite “Economist” journal: this is leading to the “zombification of Britain”, by keeping “useless” jobs alive in parts of the economy which should, in their view, be relegated. And moreover, it promotes reliance on the state which is a very bad thing!
They propose that furlough-wages are not paid directly as aid to the bosses, but that instead, the government should send the money directly to workers, as is done in the US. The Economist calls this “protecting workers” rather than protecting their “obsolete” jobs, allowing the economy, post-Covid, to re-adjust to a new, happy, reality, with workers using their cash to start their own 21st Century businesses!
One can only laugh. It is ironic how often bosses’ mouthpieces like this one accuse their opponents of being “Utopian”, given this fantastical picture they themselves paint. But they have a point. Because the furlough scheme and almost all other measures are yet more handouts to the bosses, who will pocket the difference. But where the Economist is wrong (or deliberately naive!) is to claim that as a consequence, the bosses are “protecting” jobs! In fact they are stripping out as many jobs as they can. Already 750,000 are cut and another 1m are earmarked to go. The furlough extension is a mere stay of execution, if that.
Indeed, the inability of the politicians and their erratic “measures” to alleviate any aspects of the crises facing the population, exposes them and their system as utterly bankrupt. The working class already has an alternative: a communist system based on planned production for need, not profit, which would allow humankind to preserve itself and the planet. It is our only viable future.