After Trump, There Won’t BE A Republican Party Anymore

A wise man (more like a wise guy actually) once tweeted ““If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed… and we will deserve it.” That was Lindsey Graham and he knew exactly what he was talking about. What Lindsey understood – deep down, it turns out – is that Trump both personified the Republican Party’s worst, greediest, most power mad instincts and gave them a vehicle with which to sell those instincts. Trump was and is the GOP’s id run amok. As much as the GOP establishment hated Trump – and KNEW he was so compromised by Russia that he’d be a national security threat the instant he took office – they hitched their wagons to his – and willingly allowed Trump to take over their political party top to bottom. Republicans have always known for a fact that Trump was a stone cold traitor. They knew for a fact that keeping it secret was imperative. They knew for a fact that Trump was their shot at forcing permanent minority rule down America’s throat.

As Trump himself pointed out – as always saying the quiet parts out loud – if more Americans vote, it’s bad for Republicans. Maybe if the Republicans hadn’t willed themselves to be a white nationalist party, that wouldn’t be the case.

What the Republicans are doing to America – trying in every way they can to undermine our democracy, the integrity of the vote and the entire American franchise – isn’t their “opinion”. It isn’t a “campaign strategy” or a “political approach”. It’s insurrection by nonviolent means – bloodless perhaps but no less deadly to our democracy. Same goes for The Big Lie. It’s not “one side of the argument”. The Big Lie is zero sides of the argument because it’s bullshit. Lies are not an alternative to the Truth. Alternative facts are not facts, they’re the opposite of facts: they’re feelings pretending to be facts – not the same damned thing!

If the Republicans want to blame someone for why there won’t be a GOP anymore after Trump? They should blame Gerald R. Ford. When Ford straight out pardoned Nixon – to spare America the pain of confronting a corrupt president, what he actually did was message the perps “Better luck next time, boys”. Plan better. Execute better. Win, don’t lose. Consequently, neither Nixon nor the Republican establishment expressed an ounce of contrition. But then, Nixonians like Roger Stone and Paul Manafort weren’t feeling contrite. They began licking their wounds and plotting.

That’s Paul Manafort on the left, Roger Stone in the middle and Republican political strategist Lee Atwater. Had Gerald Ford not stood in the way of justice, had he not had the political establishment’s back, had he allowed the nation to indict, prosecute and judge Nixon, it’s quite possible that we wouldn’t be in the fix we’re in now. Being nice to pirates never seems to work out for anyone except the pirates. An unpunished Nixon gave Paul Manafort the idea that he could betray America and get away with it. An unpunished Paul Manafort (Trump pardoned Manafort and sprang him from prison) gave the entire GOP the idea that corruption was still the business of America.

Corruption is certainly the business the Republican Party is in. Unfortunately for them, that’s not a product most Americans will continue to buy going forwards.

When the Department of Justice finally begins indicting elected Republicans over their roles in the January 6 insurrection, they may not stop until virtually every single Republican either is indicted or has a date with a Grand Jury for questioning. The insurrection, we’re now learning, was very well organized. Very well funded. Very much a product of the Republican Party and Donald Trump.

The thing about rich white people? They love their creature comforts. Prison dinner and a hard, metal bed are not something these criminals ever envisioned for themselves. That doesn’t mean they haven’t earned it. If we want to stop these criminals from criming, we’re going to need to drive it home to them that acting like a criminal is expensive, unsatisfying and not even remotely worthwhile.

I’ll be surprised if the Republicans are still viable enough to run a candidate for POTUS in 2024. It won’t be Trump and never was going to be Trump. For him, the whole point of running for president now is to sit on his bloated white backside and collect political donations. The instant Trump stops running for office, his cash machine breaks down and he’s going to need every bit of cash he can get his teeny-tiny hands on to stave off the inevitable.

America has changed since Nixon was POTUS. We’ve gotten more diverse. Though still facing an unequal playing field, more and more Black, brown, Asian and LGBTQ Americans are finding their way to political power. Having been on corruption’s receiving end, they have zero tolerance for it. What Nixon got away with, Donald Trump will not. And once Trump’s day of reckoning begins, the GOP’s day of reckoning will roll right along with it.

I find it hard to believe that when all is done and said, when every last bit of the Republican Party’s power grab has been revealed for the criminal behavior it was that there will be enough Republicans not in prison to “be” a viable political party. And,, if the strands of this corrupt party were to resurrect themselves and present themselves to America as a going concern with ideas Americans could get behind, what the hell would they be selling anyway? Can one really say “Hey, we know we used to be the Party that hated you all, but that isn’t who we are now!”? Can a candidate pitch himself as the less authoritarian authoritarian?

It’s entirely possible that once the indictments start dropping that Republicans begin running for cover – and looking for deals. Don’t forget: this is about treason. The punishment for treason is death. And when more and more Republicans begin to grasp just how angry they’ve made a lot of Americans – and how unwilling more and more Americans are to show a bunch of traitors an ounce of mercy? They’ll begin ratting each other out like there’s no tomorrow. Shame for them – all the good deals will be gone by then. They’ll be getting the judicial scraps.

The people who will be responsible for ending the Republican Party are all Republicans. It cannot happen a microsecond too soon.

Not All Polling Disapproval Numbers Are Created Equal

One can make poll numbers say anything depending on how you frame them. Donald Trump’s poll numbers were especially terrible; h is average approval rating across his entire term was 41.1%, the lowest ever measured by Gallup. When you break that down even further, Trump’s approvals were 4% among Democrats, 30% among independents and 82% among Republicans. What, we have to ask, were people approving of and what were people disapproving of? Our news media will insist that it’s all tied to political party. It’s understandable why they would think that way – our news media being incapable of approaching this story with an ounce of perspective. Trump’s approval numbers are tied entirely to Trump’s cult of personality. The more racist Trump is, the more his approval soars (among those already supporting him). There’s no rationale to it. No nuance. No policy to speak of other than denying every person of color’s right to vote. Joe Biden’s approval numbers have always been tied to his accomplishments – his ability to fulfill not just the promises he made but the promises we wanted him to fulfill regardless of how realistic they were – and regardless of whether Biden ever actually made any such promises.

The majority of Americans disapprove of Trump not because of his political label but because he’s a pirate, a rapist, a con man, a tax cheat, a money launderer, a fraud, a criminal and a traitor. The reason Joe Biden’s approval fell isn’t because America suddenly got hip to ;how corrupt he is but because Biden’s ambitious agenda stalled. Why did it stall? Just because Team Biden doesn’t know what it’s doing? Our news media presents it that way because that’s how the Republicans are presenting it (and our news media to this day refuses to connect the “Republicans Are All In On Authoritarianism” dot to the “Republicans Are Rewriting Voting Rules Because No One Will Vote For Them Otherwise” dot. If you don’t present Republican resistance in that context – they’re not playing by any normal political rules, they’re trying to destroy the whole system – and not because it’s their “political opinion” but because they’re literal traitors whose only choice now is to go full speed ahead toward seizing the country by force and bureaucratic malfeasance.

Also driving Biden’s numbers down is the fact that we’re still dealing with the COVID pandemic – as if THAT was Joe Biden’s fault. Our news media has never gotten its head around how pandemics work and how they don’t. And they’ve never gotten their heads around how impactful Republican anti-vaxxism has been. Anti-vaxxism is now SO disconnected from reality that anti-vaxxers even boo Trump now for pushing the vaccine. This wild card of crazy cannot be controlled by Trump and it can’t be controlled by Biden – yet our news media (and their coverage drives a lot of how the polling comes out since they frame our collective narrative) want all the “blame” to be Biden’s – as if Trump never existed in this equation.

When Steve Kornacki compares Trump’s disapproval numbers to Biden’s, he’s comparing apples to Pontiacs. He’s saying that disapproval of purpose and disapproval of accomplishment are the same thing. They absolutely aren’t. The people who disapprove of Trump because of who he is and what he represents would NEVER vote for Trump. The people who disapprove of Biden because he hasn’t been able to accomplish everything (yet – after only one year) won’t vote for Trump because Biden didn’t get it all done (because of Trumpanista resistance to it)! The greatest risk is they won’t show up at the polls, that the press’s cynicism will become theirs.

That assumes that we’re living in normal times – which we aren’t. Take this to the bank: as indictments begin to fall on Republican heads – elected Republican heads – the nature of the fall political campaign will change profoundly. When the Jan 6 Investigation begins to release some of those documents Trump’s fought so hard to keep secret? That won’t make the retail politics any easier to sell.

America’s news media loves to report on polling because it saves them from having to do any work. They can simply point at all the icing and claim they know everything about the cake even though they don’t. As we all know, beautiful icing can hide a rotten cake. A cake that’s gone bad because it was always bad isn’t the same as a cake that someone deliberately left out in the sun to rot.

Seditious Conspiracy & Cooties

BREAKING NEWS: America Is Infested With Cooties!

Remember cooties? How about cootie monsters and cootie catchers? Remember the schoolyard fear of catching cooties? On my schoolyards, not all cooties were created equal. I didn’t mind catching some peoples’ cooties – I liked them; wasn’t bothered by their cooties. But there were other people whose cooties just seemed… “cootier”. More guaranteed to infect you with whatever horrible personality defect the cootie carrier carried. Alas, not only haven’t we left the schoolyard behind, we’ve gone and brought its biggest bully and his cooties right along with him to the present. Among the most loathsome things Donald Trump did to our politics was reduce us all down to his schoolyard – the one where he’s the reigning bully.

The worst cooties present in North America today all originated in Europe. The “cootie niveus” – the “snow white cootie”. Convinced of its own innate moral and genetic superiority, the snow white cootie relentlessly tries to dominate all other living things and to try and turn all other things into it. Side note: there actually are mites that zombify other insects and literally enslave them. This is just the nature of cooties. They’re deep-down disgusting; you absolutely don’t want them on you, in you, or anywhere near you. I’d avoid being in the same zip code.

Not everyone is vulnerable to cootie infection, not being white enough to catch the infection in the first place. For those people – the rest of us – our problem is the continuing ripple effect of those who are infected by snow white cooties running amok through the general population. Frankly, they’re making a total mess of our democracy.

But – here’s where we pivot to the good news – we’ve finally seen evidence that someone has taken firm charge of this patient’s medical crisis. This patient is us – We The People. We’ve been demanding a little proof that the team we hired to deal with our infected corpus was doing something more than remediate our hurt feelings. “Seditious conspiracy” is the shot of penicillin in the ass we needed – if only to start fighting off this infection of cooties..

Seditious conspiracy according to US CODE is “If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof“. I think we can say – having witnessed these things with our own eyes (making us witnesses to this crime against us) – that this happened because it was plotted to happen and it was plotted to happen by people who desperately needed it to happen – Donald Trump and everyone around him, near him or held in his thrall. The bottom line here is treason. It’s always been treason.

For the record, the entire GOP knew that Trump was a national security threat when they nominated him. A month before making Trump their flag bearer, the entire GOP leadership discussed – or, rather, brought up but REFUSED to discuss – the fact that they KNEW that Trump was compromised not just by a foreign leader, but by a foreign leader they KNEW was hostile toward us. As GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it on June 25, 2016 as he walked into that discussion: “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!” No one in the room questioned the statement. Instead, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan insisted everyone there keep this terrible secret about their nominee a secret.

Hey, one has to ask WHY, doesn’t one? The answer: TREASON COOTIES! Everyone in the room was infected right there and then with TREASON COOTIES.

Jump forward to November 2020. Team Trump has successfully kept America from realizing how deeply infected it is with treason cooties. They’ve obstructed justice and bamboozled America’s news media into believing quack diagnoses that America’s problems are economic not racial. America takes the cure: an election. From most appearances, the election worked! A surge of democratic medicine washed the infection’s “cootie zero” out of our system. Finally, we thought, our immune system will get a fair chance to begin healing itself. Alas, getting rid of snow white cooties is never that easy.

America has been infected with snow white cooties from the get-go. Infected white people believe that only white people should run America. When unchecked, some infected white people will literally enslave others – especially Black people to whom they feel a particular superiority. The irony of course is that white people – infected or not – aren’t superior to anyone. They’re not inferior to anyone, but they’re not superior. And when they run around acting like they are? That’s the tell that that white person has been infected by snow white cooties.

Everyone who plotted the January 6 Insurrection walked in the door already infected. In a sense, one could hold up a cootie black light and see that, indeed, every insurrectionist has the markings of infection. If we had been able to do that as the Republican mob descended on Washington, DC in the days before January 6, we would have seen an infection infecting us in real time. Funny thing? Seditious conspiracy works exactly the same way.

And, now that we’re actually focused on seeing, rooting out and prosecuting seditious conspiracy, as cooties do, they will scramble for the shadows. Finding them won’t be hard. Already – the January 6 Select Committee tells us – hundreds of people have come forward because they DON’T want to be any more infected with snow white cooties than they already are. They can see that the eradication process will be brutal – on the snow white cooties. And they want no part of it.

Not everyone’s as self aware or honest with themselves as these people. Plenty of white people still think they can beat this scourge, infected as they are. That’s where they’re wrong. Turns out even people infected with cooties can be infected with more cooties. A guy with racism cooties can also have bigotry cooties too. Cooties co-mingle regardless. But, cooties can flow both ways. A guy with asshole cooties is bad. If he catches criminal cooties, he’ll get worse – but we have systems in place – a criminal justice system – whose job is to fight these things for the benefit of our body politic. That means that if we become aware that someone has “criminal cooties”, we can do something about it.

We can infect THEM with “criminal liability cooties”. These are cooties that other cooties fear. Criminal liability cooties can overcome criminal cooties and send criminals to prison (where they can catch a whole batch of other, really awful cooties). This is why criminals obstruct justice. They don’t want the cooties.

So far, eleven people – all Oath Keepers – are publicly infected with “sedition conspiracy” cooties. That number’s gonna rise. Exponentially. And that’s what scares the entire Republican Party. Once infected with sedition cooties, Republicans know they could be forced into “quarantine” for twenty years (per the law). But, here’s their problem: sedition conspiracy cooties spread so easily the infected don’t always know they’re infected. But they are.

“See something, SAY something” – that’s, in general, how good citizenship works. That’s why “see something, say nothing” perplexes us. Why say nothing? For whose benefit is this citizen saying nothing when it’s their obligation to warn the rest of us? Saying nothing in the face of criminal activity is both a sign of infection and an attempt to infect all rolled up into one. Saying nothing in the face of evil is tacit acceptance of evil. You might as well go all in with evil since you’re going to be considered evil anyway. Only the evil worry about degrees of evil.

The rest of us want nothing to do with your cooties.

What Impact Will COVID Have On Our Future? If The Black Plague Is Any Guide, The Impact Will Be HUGE

Three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, we still have no fixed idea of how to deal with this damned pathogen. That’s less a reflection on the science than it is on the nature of pathogens. And people. It’s hard enough fighting an actual pandemic. Having to battle misinformation, deliberate propaganda and genuine, honest confusion at the same time? People wanting black and white answers is understandable. Being handed a delineated tick tock of how to solve a problem beats having to figure it out for oneself. Alas, pathogens don’t play nicely. They’re intensely single-minded. Bigger problem? They’re adept at adapting. For a creature that’s no more than a clump of RNA, incapable of reproducing itself by itself (it needs another creature’s host cells and their DNA in order to do that), COVID-19 has been remarkably savvy. It has evolved continually, always looking for a way to improve its ability to infect us and our cells (saliva, lung, heart, brain, blood or whatever) and spread more explosively. Like most viruses, COVID-19 evolves on the fly because it can – and because it has to in order to survive. That’s why pinning it down is so challenging. That’s why as a way to cull the human herd, pandemics are even more efficient than war.

Consider our relationship with COVID from COVID’s point of view. COVID has one “mission” built into its being: make more of itself. That’s it. That’s its entire mandate – reproduce at all costs. That reproduction will require penetrating our cells and converting our DNA into their RNA. In essence, viruses see human beings as cheap sex hotels where they go to boink like bunnies. Considering what a mess COVID makes of its lodgings – it does to us what Who drummer Keith Moon used to do to hotel rooms – what kind of idiot “lodging facility” would open its doors to monstrously rude guests like these? In America, it turns out, plenty of idiots.

Like war, pandemics cause massive disruption to nearly ever facet of normal life. We are now part of a data set that proves the point. We ache for life to return to normal because we assume life CAN still return to “normal”.

History says “normal” died the moment COVID appeared. History says pandemics not only kill, they leave the survivors with a “new normal”. The first pandemic that provided a viable data set for us to consider is the Black Plague that swept through Europe, when a Genoese trading ship unwittingly transported plague from Kaffa (in the Crimea) to its Italian base in 1347 . Along with trade goods, these ships carried sailors sick and dying from pestilence. Imagine how much more terrifying a pandemic would be if we had zero idea what was causing it and even less of a clue how to stop it. The sars-cov-2 virus, so we keep learning, is remarkably at home inside our bodies. It finds purchase not just in our lungs but in virtually every one of our organs. Long term COVID has only just begun to present itself. It’s going to be torment millions of the disease’s survivors for the rest of their lives. But, sdars-cov-2 – as bad as it is – pales in comparison to what the plague bacillus does to human (and animal) bodies.

Bubonic plague arrived in two forms at the same time: one infected the bloodstream and caused egg-sized buboes to form in its victims’ armpits and groin. The buboes oozed dark blood and foul-smelling pus. This form of plague – spread via physical contact – caused severe pain, internal bleeding and organ failure that could kill a victim within five days of being infected. The second form of plague killed even more brutally and quickly. Pneumonic plague infected the lungs and spread via infected bodily fluids. This form could kill in three days; sometimes within 24 hours or less. Its victims coughed and sweated heavily. Everything flowing from them – sweat, saliva, blood, urine, shit – smelled foul and spread infection.

Depression and despair accompanied both forms of plague. As historian Barbara Tuchman describes in her magnificent work “A Distant Mirror”, “before the end, ‘death is seen seated on the face’.”

Just as COVID-19 has massively impacted the world’s economy – being as so much of it is now tied together – plague disrupted the Medieval economy. In fact, bubonic plague destroyed feudalism. Feudalism relied on a kind of slavery at its core. Peasants farmed the land for the benefit of their immediate lords. Those lords owed the lords above them taxes paid in the form of the farm products grown on their lands by the peasants. Most of everything flowed upward to the king, the “lord’s lord”. But, after the plague wiped out anywhere from 20% to 100% of the people in any particular place, every part of the economic process ground to a halt. Dead peasants couldn’t pick anything. Unpicked crops didn’t get to market and didn’t get up the food chain to the higher lords and the king. And it’s not like the lords were going to do something as crazy as farm their own fields.

Here’s Tuchman:

“When death slowed production, goods became scare and prices soared. In France, the price of wheat increased fourfold by 1350. At the same time, the shortage of labor brought the plague’s greatest social disruption – a concerted demand for higher wages. Peasants as well as artisans, craftsmen, clerks and priests discovered the lever of their own scarcity. Within a year after the plague had passed through northern France, the textile workers of St. Oman near Amiens had gained three successive wage increases. In many guilds artisans struck for higher pay and shorter hours. In an age when social conditions were regarded as fixed, such action was revolutionary.”

See any contemporary echoes? COVID has disrupted our supply chains and caused inflation. But, it’s also given exceptional power to workers over their bosses. The Great Resignation happening now owes everything to the pandemic.

Just like now, conservative forces attempted to minimize labor’s power. In 1351, the English Parliament passed “The Statue of Laborers” which (Tuchman again) “…denounced not only laborers who demanded higher wages but particularly those who chose ‘rather to beg in idleness than to earn their bread in labor’. Idleness of the worker was a crime against society, for the medieval system rested on his obligation (emphasis mine) to work”.

The conservative forces lost the fight then just as they’ll lose it again now. Tuchman gets to the heart of it: “Once people envisioned the possibility of a change in a fixed order [like feudalism], the end of an age of submission came in sight; the turn to individual conscience lay ahead. To that extend, the Black Death may have been the unrecognized beginning of modern man.”

That’s a pretty significant disruption. Something a lot like it is coming our way. But, that’s just history talking.

The GOP Wet Dream: Turn America Into White Trash Heaven

Think about the America the Republican Party wants us to be: a racist, bigoted, misogynistic hellhole of corruption where the rich get richer and everyone else gets the shaft. It’s an America of sham elections and squalid values. It favors feelings over facts, ignorance over expertise and bullshit over truth. It’s not a coincidence that the GOP’s vision for America resembles America circa 1850 when white, Christian, land-owning men still ruled everything. That’s the America conservatives want to conserve. The one where they held all the advantages, all the power and pretty much all the money. They can’t imagine a world where rising tides even exist – never mind rising tides that lift all boats. Instead, they see the world entirely in “zero sum game” terms. If anyone else gains something, it can only be because they lost the very same thing.

After Trump first seized the presidency in 2016, our news media bought into the whole notion that white rage (lots of it secretive) fueled Trump’s “win”. They made JD Vance (author of “Hillbilly Elegy”) a wealthy man. They accepted as true that economic concerns – rather than racism – fueled white rage when it was nothing BUT racism. Quick side note about racism – asking a racist like Donald Trump IF he’s a racist is utterly pointless. It’s never up to a potential racist to adjudge whether they’re racist. How would they know? The racist’s pals aren’t a good measure either. Nor are any of the rest of us. The ONLY people qualified to say whether or not someone is a racist are that racist’s victims.

Only they know if what happened was racist or not.

I know for a fact that Donald Trump’s an anti-Semite. That’s because I’m Jewish. Everything in me says Trump’s a racist too but I can never be the final word on that subject. Black people can tell you quite definitively: Trump’s not just a racist, he’s a racist’s racist.

The white, Christian, land-owning men who founded America had a great idea. We tell ourselves they not only had a great idea, they executed it perfectly. That’s not so. The white, Christian, land-owning men who founded America and wrote out its founding documents, got plenty wrong at the get-go. In their defense, many never took part in the founding of a nation before. They were new to nation building and because of that they got things wrong. They were short-sighted, some of them. Others were already compromised by slavery – America’s original sin.

Let’s please understand slavery for what it was first and foremost – stolen labor. That’s the whole point of enslaving someone – to get their work product for free. The entire Southern economy was built principally on three main agricultural products: tobacco, sugar cane and cotton. All three required a lot of intense physical labor to get the product from field to marketplace. If every grower had been forced to pay a fair market rate for all the labor needed to build their economy, their economy would never have gotten off the ground. The Confederacy could not have existed without stolen labor. Not only does a slave not get paid, but, because they’re not getting paid for the sweat of their brow, they’re never getting to accumulate wealth and the power that goes with accumulated wealth.

Aside from tax cuts for the rich, cruelty at the border and a non-stop hummer delivered to Vladimir Putin, the Trumpublicans were amazingly short on policy and process. But then, governing has never been the GOP’s “thing”. Proving that government doesn’t work – that’s always been their brand. That’s why they put forward incompetent people to run for office. In their minds, it would do them zero good to make government succeed. Better to make government fail leaving them as the only viable alternative.

And now, Republican nitwits like Marjorie Taylor Greene dream of a “separation” between red and blue America. If we really wanted to punish the MTG’s of the world, we’d up and give them the very America they want (in their red districts). Red America wouldn’t vaccinate anyone. You couldn’t buy a mask there. The Big Lie will be the organizing principle around which everything orbits. First, of course, we’d have to erect a wall to separate us from them; they’d approve of course and happily get to building it (albeit badly).

But, I don’t give it long before boredom sets in. Red America can’t stand Americans succeeding if any of those American are Black, brown, Asian or some other non-white hue. I give Red America about a month before things start breaking down. I give their electric grid two months before it starts blinking out. I give Red America six months before they start to run out of food. At seven months, we should start to expect a quiet knocking at the the other side of the massive wall Red America will have built to keep Blue America out.

That would absolutely happen in the future exactly as it’s happening now. Pretty much every red state gets far, far more from the federal government than it ever puts in. The exact opposite is true for Blue states like California. We GIVE far more than we ever get. But, that’s how innovators roll. And if there’ something conservatives can’t do/won’t do it’s innovate. Innovation produces change and change is anathema to conservative, red state Americans.

I say let’s give MTG and the GOP the divorce they want. And then let’s cut them off. Completely.

Yeah, sure – I’ve no doubt Blue America will break down at the sight of red America’s abject misery and we’ll want to make them whole again. Let’s not. Let’s teach Red America a few important lessons about what they are and what they are not.

America Doesn’t Have A Health CARE System, It Has A Health INSURANCE System; It Ain’t The Same Thing!

Fact: when anyone walks in the door of America’s “health care system”, the first question we ask isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?”. From the point of view of a for-profit health care system (an oxymoron’s oxymoron which we’ll get to shortly), that’s great. It’s the perfect question. From every other point of view though – medical, economic, moral – it’s despicable. It violates the whole idea of health care because it thinks health care is a privilege one can buy as much of as one likes – if one has the money. No other industrialized nation treats health care the way America does – as a commodity for those who can afford it. In fact, in America, we don’t even think of our health care from the point of view of our health care, we think of it from the point of view of view of “how we’re going to pay for it” first! Because if we can’t pay for it somehow – via a relationship between our insurance company and the medical facilities and practitioners THEY have relationships with (minus our co-pays and deductibles) – then we ain’t getting it. The emphasis here is entirely on the wrong syllable!

How the hell did we get here (where no other country went)? There’s an answer. It starts with patriotism and ends in naked greed. How very American. No, I take that back. That’s how America has become because of corruption. Let’s be frank: because of corrupt white people.

You have to have power and/or money to begin with in order to be corrupt. In America, white, Christian, land-owning men began with all the money and all the power. For their various reasons, these men chose to split the colonies from England, forming a new nation based upon “French enlightened” ideals of self-government. For some, like James Madison, ideals mattered above all else. For everyone invested in the slave economy? It was about money (democracy better not get in its way). Money corrupts like nothing else. Even power itself will succumb to money. Greed really is the most evil of human evils (with racism, bigotry and misogyny forcing a call at the wire). When America made a deal with slavery, we were making a deal with greed.

At its bottom line, slavery is stolen labor. The whole point of having a slave is to have their work product for free (minus whatever it costs to clothe, house and feed the slave). The entire Southern economy relied upon cotton, sugar cane and tobacco – three labor intensive agricultural products requiring massive amounts of labor to get from tillage to planting to harvesting to prepping for market. The South did all that by paying zero for labor. Imagine if, instead, the South had been forced to pay a fair market rate for all the labor it got for free (now without having to bother with the costs of food, clothing and housing). The South would never have risen the way it did – on the back of all that slave labor. Perhaps, in the Confederacy’s place, a worker’s paradise would have arisen.

A democratic socialist can dream, can’t he?

America, don’t forget, was founded on ideals, not a budget. As a nation, we have truly soared when we’ve lived by our ideals. We’ve stumbled, fallen and struggled to find our feet again every time we’ve chased a buck instead. Our current health care conundrum began during World War Two. In order to funnel every dollar possible into the war effort, the federal government froze everyone’s salary. That hamstrung businesses trying to keep good employees (who might want to stray to a company where the frozen pay for their job was higher) or lure new ones. Large companies (with a bit of cash on hand) offered “Hospital Insurance” as an incentive. Hospital insurance wasn’t full health insurance, it would only cover an employee in the event they were hospitalized. But, at the time, that must have been incentive enough. Plenty of American workers took that deal.

Then the war ended. But the hospital insurance didn’t. It began morphing into full on health insurance (not the care itself, the payment mechanism – the insurance). On the one hand, it meant a large group of Americans now had something they didn’t before the war – a way to PAY FOR their health care. Or, part of it anyway.

The big companies that kept employer-provided health coverage going hated administering their employees health coverage. It put them into businesses they didn’t want to be in: insurance and health care. Seeing and seizing a giant business opportunity, the health insurance industry spawned itself into being. Now, let’s be clear about who and what our health insurance companies are and aren’t. Every time we discuss health care in America, a bunch of nitwits will haul out the “Americans love their coverage!” argument as if it held water. It does not.

Americans love the health care providers they trust. Insurance companies stand between Americans and those providers – behaving as the thing they are: GATEKEEPERS. Americans will stop loving any company that cuts them off from the health care they need and want. So long as the gatekeepers say yes, sure – Americans love their insurance! But the second some bean counter in an office somewhere decides that the procedure a paying customer wants or needs is superfluous? That love is gone.

Nobody loves their health insurance. Nobody loves the terror we all feel when we even contemplate getting sick because we can never be one hundred percent sure our insurance carrier will cover it. And, as we all know, if you walk in the door of any health c are provider without that insurance card? You’re going to pay retail-retail for whatever goods or services you get. Ten bucks for a Tylenol tab worth pennies, for instance.

How is it hospitals do that – flagrantly charge stupid sums for everything? That’s because they’re not public concerns, they’re private. They’re corporate – owned by companies motivated by profit. Profit, of course, is the whole point of capitalism. It’s what drives innovation: beyond just the problem solving itself, there’s the lure of reaping the rewards of one’s good ideas and hard work. But some services need to stand outside the world of profit because the service they provide is incompatible with profit. Health CARE, for instance.

A corporation has a fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders (its preferred shareholders, not its common stock shareholders) to make every dollar it can. They have no such responsibility to “patients”. From a purely budgetary point of view, patients represent dollars OUT and every dollar out is a dollar less profit for the corporation. From the corporation’s perspective, they’re meeting their obligation by turning you down for the procedure you need.

The health insurance industry sees universal single payer as a death sentence. If the government is handling all those claims, it means the health insurance companies aren’t. From a hospital’s point of view, if the government runs and manages its budget then no one’s going to make huge profits from running it.

Let’s get something straight. America’s health care is a serious business that must be peopled by our very best and brightest. `We want them to be well compensated. We want their expertise and professionalism rewarded. But, they’re not gods. The work they do needs to be part of something larger and holistic both for us as individuals and for us as a nation. In Sweden, say, if you have a health issue, you walk in the door of a health care facility and, for a very affordable (to most people) co-pay ($10ish), you get fixed. You get the thing you needed.

The co-pay comes later. It’s not the trigger for treatment.

America’s health care debacle is what happens when the inmates take over the asylum. It’s what happens when greed and stupidity design health care instead of health care designing it. America’s health care system also is what happens when racism and bigotry have a hand in the design specs.

It’s not a coincidence that the same folks who want Americans paying through the nose for their health care are the same folks who want only white people to vote. Could the irony be any sweeter that those same white people are the ones still dying in droves from COVID-19 because they refuse the health care they need – that’s available to them for free?

Dear American News Media: Please Stop Being “Accessories To The Murder Of Democracy”

How Biden Has Been Covered in the News 100 Days Into His Administration |  Pew Research Center

You would think having a story as big and juicy as Donald Trump – a man who wore his treason on his sleeve (“Hey, Russia, if you’re listening…!”) – who said things like “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing”, and who lied so often and about everything that the press started keeping count – would have inspired a Golden Age of American Journalism. Instead, our news media whiffed on it completely. Rather than be inspired by the dogged skepticism of vintage Woodward and Bernstein, our news media saw the New York Times’ Judith Miller – the Queen of Access Journalism – their mentor, patron saint and role model. Don’t remember Judy? She sold her journalistic soul to gain access to Dick Cheney when he was veep. She went to jail for 85 days rather than reveal that the source for all her Iraq War/Valerie Plame Affair coverage was Scooter Libby (Cheney’s chief of staff – who’d been lying to her and using her the whole time as a weapon against knowledgeable war critics. Judy Miller was an accessory to corruption. That’s why other journalists snicker these days if you call Judith Miller “a journalist”.

In yesterday’s Washington Post (December 6, 2021), opinion writer Dana Milbank laid down quite an opinion about how he and his fellow colleagues in the Fourth Estate “are serving as accessories to the murder of democracy”. For those of us who have been underwhelmed (shall we say) by the news media’s coverage of the greatest story of their lifetimes, this was welcome contrition (if eons too late). But, hey – better late than never, right? Milbank was writing about the news media’s openly hostile coverage of the first year of Joe Biden’s presidency versus the news media’s coverage of the last year of Trump’s presidency. Milbank got the Post to pony up some money for data and analytics. They paint an ugly picture – for American democracy in part because the American news media has confused skepticism (what they’re supposed to have on their tool belt) with cynicism.

One can see – graphically – how the news media gave favorable coverage to Trump even as he “presided over a worst-in-world pandemic response that caused hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths; held a superspreader event at the White House and got covid19 himself; praised QAnon adherents; embraced violent white supremacists; waged a racist campaign against Black Lives Matter demonstrators; attempted to discredit mail-in voting; and refused to accept his defeat in a free and fair election, leading eventually to the violence of Jan. 6 and causing tens of millions to accept the “big lie,” the worst of more than 30,000 he told in office”. And, one can see how the press gave far less favorable coverage to Biden despite the fact that he and his administration’s policies had gotten more Americans vaccinated and back to work, gotten the economy revving (so much so that inflation became “the” issue to some “journalists”), reduced the scourge of childhood poverty in America by half and passed into law a once-in-a-generation, transformative infrastructure spending bill.

Milbank suspects his “peers across the media have fallen victim to our asymmetric politics. Biden governs under traditional norms, while Republicans run a shocking campaign to delegitimize him with one fabricated charge after another.” Yeah… both sides don’t do what the Republicans are doing. ONLY Republicans do that. ONLY Republicans have ever done that because ONLY Republicans see white hegemony as their birthright. Same concept: when a Republican suppresses a Democratic voter’s right to vote – a violation of their rights and of the law – they are behaving as criminals for a political purpose. When that Democratic voter responds to having their rights violated, they are responding as a CRIME VICTIM. And, while the crime was committed for a political purpose, the victim’s response ISN’T POLITICAL.

Accept, it is to our news media. “Both sides do it” brand journalism has convinced American journalists that everyone acts politically all the time no matter what. Problem is, it simply isn’t true. Standing up for one’s rights may be a political statement, but it’s not “political” the way the act of deliberately taking away those rights is. And, because American journalists insist on seeing everything through a political lens, they end up equating opinions formed from facts to opinions formed from feelings. All opinions, ya see, are created equal. Even if they’re not.

Milbank puts it this way: “Too many journalists are caught in a mindless neutrality between democracy and its saboteurs, between fact and fiction.” It’s that false assumption of neutrality – that journalism means never taking sides. In a sense, that is what we need journalists to do: not take sides – with any particular political stance. That doesn’t mean journalists can’t have a point of view complete with political leanings. That’s just honesty. So long as the journalist can report evenly – giving the benefit of the doubt where due but denying it where it’s already been spent – their politics don’t matter. All journalism should be advocate journalism – for the truth. All journalists should be relentless in their pursuit of the core “why” – WHY does anyone do what they do?

Alas, that’s way easier said than done. Getting to any one person’s core why or any story’s core why takes more than just dogged determination. It takes imagination and perspective. It takes rock solid analytical skills. It takes the ability not just to listen to people but to hear what they’re actually saying. Being a good journalist is damned hard. Being a good writer is hard. Same goes for being a good anything. Being mediocre and banal are far easier bars to clear. But then, what are we to expect of “accessories” to democracy’s murder?

That’s accessories as opposed to the actual perps.

That is how American journalism will defend itself. “Don’t blame us, blame the people whose stories we were covering”. IOW, don’t blame journalists for repeating the bullshit their sources told them (even if the whole point was to get those reporters to repeat the very bullshit they repeated as they reported). The “Useful Idiot” defense, is it?

Why Does Our News Media Insist On Equating Bullsh*t With Truth?

Some day, when the worst of Trumpism is behind us and American democracy is no longer under threat (or even duress), we owe it to ourselves to take a good, long, hard look at how our news media performed during this patch of time. Now, in their defense, America really hasn’t faced circumstances quite like the hand we’ve drawn here. On top of a Russian cyber war that put Trump in the White House in 2016, we’ve had a violent right wing surge across the planet that’s deliberately set out to wipe liberal democracy from the planet, massive climate change that’s already creating climate refugees, a violent, right wing near-putsch of our own and, last but hardly least, a worldwide pandemic. That’s a lot of news story for even a great journalist to wrap their mind around. Alas, our news media has not met the challenge head on. They’ve blinked — still are blinking like Chuck Todd signaling “I’m thinking!” to his audience — and resorted to old tropes instead looking at the events happening in front of them.

We owe it to ourselves to find that journalism professor at whatever J School it was who first proposed that “both sides do it”. We owe that academic a giant heap of scorn. I assume “Both sides do it” originated in academia among academics who couldn’t get hired as journalists themselves and so took to telling others “how to do” something. There’s an old comedy line (I refuse to source who said it because Woody Allen’s dead to me otherwise): “those who can’t do, teach and those who can’t teach, teach gym”. These journalism professors can’t even teach gym. Unfortunately they’ve taught a generation of journalists how to be cynical instead of skeptical and how to equate bullshit with the Truth.

After a reporter has reported that a certain person — a POTUS, say — lied to their face thousands of times, said reporter is entitled to characterize this liar as “a liar”. Actually, that reporter was entitled to describe the liar that way after just ONE lie. The reporter would have been reporting the truth. To NOT call them a liar then is to NOT report the truth. Now, why on earth would a journalist think that way? I suspect racism plays a large part here. Many white reporters are loathe to call out white people for bad behavior because we’ve already moved the goal posts where white bad behavior is concerned. If Kyle Rittenhouse was Black not white, he’d have never gotten to trial for killing two, wounding a third and nearly hurting lots of others with his semi-automatic weapon. He’d be dead already, shot down by the other white guys who were there that night with their guns, or the cops.

“Both sides do it” is fatally flawed walking in the door. It dispenses with all proportionality. A Republican who steals a million from the public kitty is the same as a Democrat who purloins a box of paper clips. Yes, both are thefts from the commonweal. No, they are not even remotely “the same”. But, our news media will hold up this fact as prima facie evidence that “both sides do it”. Therefore when Republicans do something — gerrymander, say — the automatic response is “both sides do it”. And yes — in the past, Democrats have gerrymandered Congressional districts. But they haven’t done it with the organization and purpose with which the GOP now is doing it. The Republicans clearly stated goal is to circumvent the will of any place’s Democratic majority by carving them into pieces and then attaching each piece to some far-flung Republican stronghold that will outnumber them. The whole reason to do this is to circumvent the majority’s will for the minority’s sole benefit.

Democrats do not do that. And Democrats don’t suppress Republican voters either. They don’t have to! Democrats can rely on the strength of their ideas to sway independent voters.

And Democrats aren’t working overtime to undermine every other democratic institution either. Have ya noticed the number of ex-Republicans disgusted by their party we now have versus the number of ex-Democrats with the same complaint? Do ya suppose that means something noteworthy? Our news media doesn’t. They think all the ex-Republicans in their ranks and amongst their punditry — all vocally outraged by what their former party is doing — are a sign of politics as usual. The news media seems to think it’s “normal” that one party backs anti-vaxism and gets violent if you ask them to put on a mask in a public space.

Republicans have become the “Feelings Over Facts” Party because facts are not their friend. Because they insist “both sides do it”, our news media immediately equates any Republican’s feelings with any Democrat’s facts. How a Republican “feels” about being vaccinated suddenly has equal weight to every fact a Democrat will put on the table about the very same thing. Nothing good can come from that. And nothing good has.

Are Anti-Vaxx Cops From The Same Hiring Pool As The Cops Who Murdered George Floyd?

Across America, police departments are facing the same problem: a quarter to a third of their employees refuse to get vaccinated (against this particular coronavirus exclusively; none of those employees seems to have balked at any vaccination before this one) and are willing to walk off their jobs if that means staying unvaccinated. Let’s please, please agree: these cops aren’t worried about any science. This bizarre stance doesn’t flow from any positive human impulse, rational thought process or real world situation. It is entirely manufactured within the heads of its adherents. It is defiant ignorance for defiant ignorance’s sake. Hmmmmmmm… now, why does that feel so familiar to us? Probably because it flows from the same toxic, tribal belief cesspit as racism. And bigotry and misogyny and every other ignorance-born way of thinking. From a Human Resources POV, this reflects two distinct hiring pools: cops who accept new information and cops who don’t. From a sociological POV, this reflects two distinct types of human: hard core conservatives and everyone else.

Politics shouldn’t play any role here. It’s obscene that they do. But both sides didn’t put politics into this conversation; only one side did that and we ain’t just talking about their anti-vaccine attitudes. One side of the American political spectrum relentlessly puts politics at the center of everything. They have to if they’re going to accomplish their goal of permanent minority rule. When Republicans gerrymander a Congressional district, their goal isn’t to see that district’s population represented regardless of their politics, it’s to do the exact opposite. Because politics. When Republicans suppress Democratic voters by writing bullshit, anti-democratic, unconstitutional legislation, their goal is political — even as they behave criminally to achieve that goal.

Every time a Republican infringes in whatever way on another American’s right to vote? THEY’RE BREAKING THE LAW. They are. That we’ve been slow to see it that way — and prosecute it accordingly — that’s not the law’s fault, it’s ours. The rule of law can’t enforce itself — and it can only reflect our best efforts at creating a country where everyone really does get equal treatment before the law. Equal enforcement of the rule of law would create an environment more conducive to a truly level playing field where every American truly has the same opportunities to achieve “the American Dream”. And to hold onto and build the wealth their hard work has earned them. And to hold onto and build upon the political power that wealth invariably brings.

Of course, when most everyone has a similar level of comfort (via “wealth)) and no one is struggling to get by or just eat, our society as a whole will benefit. It’s not hard, either. President Biden;s Expanded Child Tax Credit reduced poverty in America and spurred the economy at the same time — exactly as universal basic income always does whenever it’s battle tested. But, what if our problem is that some Americans WANT other Americans to remain in poverty — with zero political power? The impulse to pay people as little as possible for their work stems from the same impulse to enslave people. Slavery’s bottom line is stolen labor. It’s the entire point of the exercise: you get their work product for nothing (except the costs of housing, clothing and feeding a slave). The American south was always agrarian. The three big cash crops that established and then became the entire basis for the Confederacy’s economy were cotton, sugar cane and tobacco. All three demand a lot of field labor to plant, tend and harvest. If the plantation owners who grew those plants had paid a fair market rate for their labor, that would have directly impacted their profits.

But stolen labor is stolen money. The money that should have gone into fieldworkers’ pockets went into everyone else’s pockets instead. At no other stage of the sugar cane process as it went from seed to consumer did anyone NOT get paid — except the people who physically touched the plant itself. The reason slavery’s descendants are entitled to reparations is because something very real was stolen from their ancestors: their pay.

Though slavery ended in practical terms, the economic impulse to steal labor never did. Here in America, white money has always tried as hard as it could to steal the labor it needed for its businesses (non-white labor especially). The reason we have a minimum wage is because without it plenty of bosses would economically abuse their workers. What’s happening today though — where businesses are struggling to find workers willing to work for them is because pandemics historically change the economics of the eras they ravage. The Black Death destroyed feudalism. Here, today in America, the same thing is happening. Slavery is feudalism and feudalism is a perverse form of slavery. Just as bubonic plague decimated the work force as it ravaged 14th century Europe — throwing economic power to the workers (being in such short supply) — COVID is throwing economic power from those who need work done to those needed to do that work.

Here’s the takeaway: if pandemics can change whole economic systems (as they have), it’s probably possible for them to change how people treat and value other people non-monetarily too. We don’t have to be racist (or bigoted or misogynist or hateful in any way). We choose to. Just like we choose to hire cops who we know are racists even as we hire them.

George Floyd’s murder changed our national conversation because the proof of what Derek Chauvin did to him was, well, so clearly evident. Eight minutes and forty-six seconds during which Derek Chauvin knowingly and willfully executed George Floyd while a crowd watched and begged him to stop while they videoed him. “I don’t care” shines like a beacon from Chauvin’s eyes. “No one — NO ONE — is the boss of me”. That’s what Chauvin’s whole demeanor shouts.

Take this to the bank: Derek Chauvin didn’t show up for work that day having never behaved that way at work. This was how Derek Chauvin practiced policing because he still believes that that is what policing is. Policing in America began with slave patrols. It’s never stopped thinking of itself that way.

Here’s the problem: racists are good at not questioning things they should question. They walk in the door totally convinced that white people really are superior to all others. That’s not based on anything substantive. It’s all feelings and zero facts. Racists, once triggered, become zombie-like, driven by whatever those feelings tell them to do — attack peaceful, prosperous, productive Black communities, for instance, as a white mob did in Tulsa on May 31, 1921 when they destroyed the Greenwood section of town.

In jobs where we need people to “follow orders”, we still need them to follow orders sensibly. Soldiers or cops who’d follow a leader literally off a cliff won’t be around long. We’ve built a moral obligation into our military laws just so soldiers and cops don’t have to do that. We’ve made following morally repugnant orders a choice not an obligation. But, we never turned away from hiring — as cops or soldiers — people who would follow morally repugnant orders. That’s not on them — they are who they are and who they’ve always been. It’s on us. We don’t have to hire people we know (yes, we DO know!) are either racist or feel sympathetic toward racists. Being “racist adjacent” is the same as being racist.

The anti-vax cops nationwide are doing us a favor and we’d be stupid not to let them. Hear, HEAR, John Oliver!

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder (and Eric Garner’s and Michael Brown’s and Tamir Rice and Walter Scott and Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and Stephon Clark and Breonna Taylor among too, too many others!), America finally saw policing and its police departments in the light in which policing in America should always have been seen. Because we evolved policing from slavery — from recapturing escaped slaves — policing in America has always held onto its compulsion to keep Black people in line. Policing still thinks of Black people as someone’s property — three-fifths of a man some “full man” owns.

We need police officers to keep the peace. We need them to help mitigate emergencies and to be part of any dangerous situation’s first response on our collective behalf. We need them to do this work in order to have order. But, we’ve heaped a lot of other jobs onto “policing” that don’t belong to them. How we solve that is a whole other series of conversations. For starters though, we need to stop setting ourselves up for failure by constantly returning to the same hiring pool for police officers when that hiring pool consistently produces problems for us.

Perversely, over the last two years, nothing has killed more police officers than the coronavirus. If one was a cop, you’d think that fact alone would cut through the bullshit and force you to see sense. Ah, but racist brains don’t work that way. Neither do anti-vax brains. They sure seem to be one and the same.

In hindsight, my bet is, we’ll connect those dots. The same cops who think violence is policing also think not getting vaccinated against a demonstrably deadly virus proves their loyalty to… what? What are these people being loyal to? What’s causing them to choose stupid and selfish over doing the right thing for the right reasons?

Maybe our problem isn’t just the hiring pool itself but those who keep returning to it. What do they expect to find there (aside from a hire they need to make)? Maybe, perversely, the coronavirus is doing something we haven’t the courage to do for ourselves: remove racist assholes from every PD hiring pool in America.

History Teaches: Deadly Pandemics Can Topple Whole Economic Systems — Like This Pandemic Is Toppling Ours

From Black Death to fatal flu, past pandemics show why people on the  margins suffer most | Science | AAAS

The right wing and our punditry are beside themselves that Americans are refusing to go back to work. Um, no — they’re not refusing “to go back to work”, they’re refusing to return to work 1) that doesn’t suit them or their skill sets, 2) doesn’t pay what the work should be paid and 3) doesn’t fit into their lives. This is how workers are supposed to think — not as the slave-like drones conservatives want American workers to be. Leave America and you discover that the rest of the world works in order to live. Americans, by contrast, live to work. It’s not because we love our work; it’s because, in essence, we’re meant to be chained to it. Something in conservatism loves the idea of a workhouse where the indigent work for virtually nothing until they drop dead. Their hands or legs are easily replaced by another. The worker herself is irrelevant; all that matters is that “the work” gets done so the bosses atop the food chain can get paid.

The Black Death that blew through Europe in the fourteenth century (Historian Barbara Tuchman called it “the calamitous 14th century in the subtitle of her brilliant book “A Distant Mirror” — her deep dive into the century that, in Europe — produced not only the Black Death but also, during the same time frame, the hundred years war (between England and France) and the papal schism that put one pope in Rome and a second pope in Avignon, France. For a short time, a third pope also entered the picture but he soon disappeared.

The feudal system that dominated Europe worked vertically. Atop it was the king. Below him were all the families that supported his being king. Below them were the far flung landowners of the realm and wealthy merchants and below all of them were the vassals — the dirt poor peasants working the dirt for everyone above. This was economic slavery. No vassal was ever going to get rich and set himself up in business somewhere. Such things didn’t happen. The system wasn’t designed for anything to happen. Money pre-capitalism was undynamic in nature. A country was worth what it could physically produce. Or pilfer in war.

The bubonic plague killed more than half the population in many places — even more in some, less in others. It devastated the work force. Even as the world succumbed to plague all around them, the healthy tried to keep life going. People still had to eat. Crops had to be farmed and, somehow, gotten to market — if there was still a market. The plague pandemic cut down the number of available hands to do that farming to a bare minimum. Now, the peasant who lived on “Sir John’s” land might normally have been obligated to pick Sir John’s crops so that he could generate income for his estate and family by getting that produce to market. But Sir John’s neighbor — Sir Neville — was offering actual cash to Sir John’s vassals if Sir John’s vassals would pick Sir Neville’s crops first. It’s not like Sir John was a prince who treated them like princes.

So, off to Sir Neville’s Sir John’s vassals went. And, just like that, feudalism in Europe died.

In time, the guilds arose — representing the crafts and then labor in general. With the rise of capitalism, labor became a commodity. Industrialization meant mass production which meant the likelihood of abuse on the factory floor. Industrialization became another form of feudalism to the laborers until the unions — based on the old guilds — rose up and demanded fairness in wages and working conditions.

The Black Death gave life to labor.

Though the death wasn’t anywhere near as catastrophic as during the plague, the coronavirus pandemic still reached everywhere with the potential for mass death. If your loved one’s body is in the pile, you’re not going to measure one pandemic’s body count versus another. You’re mourning a loss that changed your world.

The way this pandemic has already changed ours.

We’ve experienced the “for worse part”. There is a “for better” out there. It’s coming and, if the workers of the world unite? We may see the pandemic with mixed emotions. For some people, this new world will be their salvation.