Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

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Re: Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

Post by blindpig » Mon Apr 27, 2020 1:49 pm


Capitalism is Failing its Coronavirus Stress Test—Only Workers Can Turn Things Around

April 25, 2020 orinocotribune capitalism, class struggle, coronavirus, COVID-19, labour rights, profits over people, workers
Labor unions today have the political opportunity and moral responsibility to help organize a movement of the whole working class, organized and unorganized alike, to fight for the safety and welfare protections that we all deserve.

The undersign union leaders – April 23, 2020

At this moment of unprecedented crisis, how can we ensure the physical safety and economic health of U.S. workers? According to a recent USA Today op-ed by four national union leaders—“Coronavirus is a stress test for capitalism, and we see encouraging signs”—the answer is partnering with “well-managed companies” who can “lead the recovery by pulling together and finding new ways to protect, pay and retain employees.”

We respectfully disagree. Faced with the coronavirus, the only way to protect the lives and livelihoods of working people is through class struggle, not class snuggle.

It’s true that some employers have enacted relatively pro-worker measures in response to COVID-19. But it’s surprising that an op-ed written by labor leaders fails to note the obvious reason for this benevolence: these companies have been compelled to do so by worker action, including the presence of labor unions.

All companies—even those with the most enlightened CEOs—are pushed by market competition to prioritize profits above all else. That’s why working-class people can’t ask “good” corporations to save us. We have to save ourselves.

This is true in unionized workplaces, as seen by the nationwide upsurge of nurses demanding employers put safety needs over their bottom line. And it is true in non-union workplaces like Amazon and Whole Foods, where workers over recent weeks have led a heroic wave of walkouts for basic protections.

Many of these struggles have already won important gains. Amazon was pushed by the protests to finally start providing masks to warehouse workers and take the temperature of employees before their shifts. And after its walkout, Instacart announced it would meet its employees’ demands for health and safety kits.

But it will take a lot more struggle and a lot more workplace organization to win the urgent economic and health measures that working people so desperately need to weather the worst crisis in generations.

Essential workers across the country continue to risk their lives, and receive poverty wages, due to employer greed. Women and workers of color disproportionately shoulder these burdens. It’s not just our physical health that is at risk today. Faced with the coronavirus crisis, the emergency economic protections granted in the United States pale in comparison to most industrialized countries.

U.S. workers in companies with over 500 employees, or under 50, still are not guaranteed paid sick leave. A one-time $1,200 check from the government won’t come anywhere near to making us whole in the face of what will likely be the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and it entirely leaves out millions of undocumented workers. Finally, we remain the only major country on earth not to guarantee universal healthcare as a right, so many of the over 22 million people who have lost their jobs over the past month now risk bankruptcy in addition to the virus.

Capitalism is failing the stress test of COVID-19—and we won’t change this by appealing to the morality of corporate leaders. Employers understand that granting robust welfare protections and recognizing unions would significantly cut into their profits and power—which is why Amazon is firing workers who dare to organize, why Trader Joe’s is actively union-busting, and why corporate-backed politicians on both sides of the aisle have failed to back the ambitious People’s Bailout that this moment requires.

Labor unions today have the political opportunity and moral responsibility to help organize a movement of the whole working class, organized and unorganized alike, to fight for the safety and welfare protections that we all deserve. Like the workers at Sprouts Farmers Market in McAllen, Texas who won increased social distancing in their store by building a super-majority of support with their co-workers to demand safer working conditions from the boss, we cannot wait for corporations to do the right thing, we need to force them to.


Carl Rosen, President, United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE)
Sal Rosselli, President, National Union of Healthcare Workers
Maria Svart, National Director, Democratic Socialists of America
Jed Dodd, Vice President, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division-International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Dan Russell, Executive Vice President, UPTE-CWA 9119
C. Robert McDevitt, President, Unite Here! Local 54
John Pearson, President, AHS Chapter SEIU 1021
Ashley Payne, Vice President, Contra Costa County Chapter SEIU 1021
Richard Hooker, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 623
Keon Liberato, President, Pennsylvania Federation-Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division-International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 3012
Dave Bernt, Teamsters Local 705 and Co-Chair, Teamsters for a Democratic Union
Rand Wilson, Chief of Staff, SEIU Local 888
Matt Taibi, Secretary-Treasurer of Rhode Island Teamsters Local 251
Peter Hart, Puget Sound Regional Director, Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific/Marine Division of the ILWU
Cherrene Horazuk, President, AFSCME 3800 – U of MN Clerical Workers
Josh Armstead, Vice President, UNITE HERE! Local 23 DC Chapter
Sheigh Freeberg, Secretary-Treasurer, UNITE HERE! Local 17
Brenda Rodrigues, President, SEIU Local 888
Rebecca Garelli, Co-founder & Lead Organizer for Arizona Educators United
Laura Gabby, Trustee, Carpenters Union Local 157
Erin O’Callaghan & Sagen Cocklin, Co-Presidents, UIC Graduate Employees Organization, AFT Local 6297
Merrie Najimy, President, Massachusetts Teachers Association
Max Page, Vice President, Massachusetts Teachers Association
Adam Pelletier, Local President, AFGE Local 3343
Kelly Collings, Co-Chair, Caucus of Working Educators in the PFT
Local 32035 the DSA Unit of the WBNG ... gs-around/



Let’s Stop Pretending Billionaires Are in the Same Boat As Us During This Pandemic
April 27, 2020

While millions of Americans were being thrown out of work by the coronavirus, the super rich saw their wealth increase 10 percent

By Chuck Collins – April 24, 2020

In this pandemic, we are unfortunately not in the same boat.

Most Americans don’t even have a canoe. But some billionaires have taken to the high seas in their yachts – literally – to ride out the pandemic. While ordinary workers get furloughed or laid off in record numbers, billionaires as a group are actually seeing their wealth increase.

Between 18 March and 10 April 2020, over 22 million Americans lost their jobs. Over the same three weeks, my co-authors and I find in a new study for the Institute for Policy Studies, US billionaire wealth increased by $282bn – an almost 10% gain.

RELATED CONTENT: Looting, Protests, Coronavirus and Venezuela (+Coronavirus Worldwide Looting Gallery) Part 1

Indeed, we’re seeing distinct socio-economic fault lines between who is vulnerable and who is protected – between those with healthcare and those without, those who rely on public transit and those with private jets, and those who work on the frontlines and those who telecommute from comfortable homes (or yachts).

Many billionaires, enjoying the luxury of owning multiple properties far from population centers, are riding out the pandemic in havens for the wealthy such as Jackson Hole, Palm Beach, Hilton Head Island and Sun Valley. Reporters describe private jets clogging the small airports on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, while gourmet food stores in the Hamptons have been cleared out by the itinerant rich.

Some small seasonal vacation communities, lacking the hospital beds or doctors to care for throngs of sick people, have had to beg affluent visitors to go home. The state of New Jersey even enlisted the Jersey Shore star Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino to implore people to stay away.

As the wealthy luxuriate in high-end vacation towns, new Covid-19 hotspots are springing up in working-class and immigrant gateway neighborhoods like Chelsea, Massachusetts, and New York City’s outer boroughs, where people live and work in higher-density spaces, and where social-distancing guidelines are more difficult to implement – especially for frontline workers without sick leave.

The wealthy are not only ‘social distancing’, in short – they are also ‘economically distancing’

While some essential workers brave the pandemic without paid sick leave, millions of others have lost their health insurance after being laid off. But that’s no worry for the wealthiest Americans, who have access to “concierge medicine” – where, in exchange for hefty annual fees, they have ready access to Covid-19 testing and treatment. At an exclusive residence on Fisher Island, Florida, even the hired help has gotten the medical testing and screening that the rest of the country is waiting for.

The wealthy are not only “social distancing”, in short – they are also “economically distancing”. For decades now, they’ve been disconnecting from the rest of society and taking their treasure with them, undermining our public institutions as well as social solidarity.

Decades of tax cuts and billionaire-friendly public policies, our report found, helped US billionaire wealth soar over 1,100% between 1990 and 2018. Yet their tax obligations, as a percentage of their wealth, decreased a staggering 79% between 1980 and 2018.

The billionaires may not have caused this pandemic. But extreme inequality and poverty are pre-existing conditions in this public health emergency. Not least, all that uncollected tax revenue could have funded a much more responsive public health system.

There are inspiring examples of social solidarity across the country, including meaningful offers of money and help from those with abundance. But the level of sacrifice being demanded from working-class Americans is truly medieval.

The first step in reversing these extreme inequalities? Stop pretending we’re in the same boat.

Chuck Collins directs the program on inequality at the Institute for Policy Studies. He is a co-author of the IPS report Billionaire Bonanza 2020: Wealth Windfalls, Tumbling Taxes, and Pandemic Profiteers

Featured image: The billionaire David Geffen sparked a backlash when he posted on Instagram that he was ‘Isolated in the Grenadines avoiding the virus’ onboard his super yacht Rising Sun, Jeff Morgan 10/Alamy Stock Photo ... -pandemic/
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Re: Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

Post by blindpig » Tue Apr 28, 2020 1:57 pm

After the West: China’s Internationalist Solidarity in the Age of Coronavirus
China’s socialist state production and global cooperation is equipping the world with the tools to fight coronavirus, offering a vision of a world without Western hegemony


On February 14, just as massive government and popular efforts had begun to limit new COVID-19 cases in China, the leaders of the Western world gathered at the annual Munich Security Conference. A longstanding forum for shoring up the institutional arms of Western hegemony—the UN, the EU, and NATO—this year’s gathering was marked instead by a sense of impending doom. The 2020 conference theme, “Westlessness,” marked the ambivalence of Western leaders towards the project of the West itself. Divided internally by a retreat to populist nationalisms and facing external challenges from a “rising China,” the architects of the West seem increasingly aware of the potential of their own obsolescence. The question at hand: what is the future for a divided West that, in the words of the conference organizers, “seems to be retreating from the global stage?”

The conference was dominated by two contrasting visions, articulated by the divergent speeches delivered by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Where Pompeo described a zero-sum neo-Cold War vision in which “The West is winning” in the face of an “increasingly aggressive Chinese Communist Party,” Wang implored his peers to “transcend the East-West divergence and North-South divide,” articulating China’s vision of a multilateralism that “advocates the equal right to development shared by all countries.”


China and the U.S.’s competing visions of the world order—one committed to internationalist solidarity, the other seeking respite in old national borders and geopolitical alliances—are becoming even more apparent
Pompeo’s confidence in a triumphant West was meant to reassure European allies who have grown concerned about China’s deepening ties with traditional allies like Italy and Serbia. Yet more than a month later, as China has brought new cases down to an essential standstill and the rest of the world has been engulfed by a full-fledged pandemic, Pompeo’s nostalgia for a Cold War redux in which Western-style capitalism emerges as the inevitable end stage of human development appears even more dated. Indeed, as the U.S. doubles down on inhumanitarian sanctions on Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea, while China sends medical aid and experts to nations across the world, the two nation’s visions of the world order—one committed to internationalist solidarity, the other seeking respite in old national borders and geopolitical alliances—are becoming even more apparent. The question posed at Munich—ominous for some, liberatory for others, remains. Is there a future for “the West”—as a geopolitical bloc, ideological consensus, and global hegemon—in the age of coronavirus?


COVID-19 has thrown the United States into a pandemic. Where weeks ago public officials spoke with a smug conviction that a First World quality of life would prevent the virus from taking root, one in four Americans are now under shelter-in-place orders, hospitals are reporting shortages in critical masks and ventilators, and experts are assuming that, given testing kit shortages, the number of infections is many times greater than the already skyrocketing confirmed cases. At the same time, Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, has reported zero new transmissions since March 19. China’s effective eradication of new transmissions speaks to what W.H.O. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called a “new standard for outbreak response”—one enabled, as we wrote previously, by a socialist political economic system in which the state maintains ultimate control over production.
Where China marshaled state-owned enterprises and confiscated private capital to meet the production needs of the pandemic, the Trump Administration’s coronavirus response has been a who’s who of the corporate class.
Where China’s mass production of masks, test kits, and ventilators, construction of emergency hospitals, universal testing and treatment, and regional coordination of food production and distribution speaks to the power and dynamism of a socialist market economy, the U.S. response is emblematic of a system in which decades of neoliberalism have utterly neutered the state’s ability to meet the needs of the people without relying on the cooperation of individual corporate actors. Where China marshalled state-owned enterprises and confiscated private capital to meet the production needs of the pandemic, the Trump Administration’s coronavirus response has been a who’s who of the corporate class. A March 13 press conference saw Trump flanked by the CEOs of WalMart, CVS, and Target, who pledged vague support to continue operating stores and provide parking lot space for drive-through testing sites. Federal and state governments have failed to provide adequate medical supplies for hospitals, leaving hospital staff haggling with private sellers price-gouging protective masks and facing a proprietary monopoly banning third-party repairs on life saving ventilators and other medical equipment. Meanwhile, efforts to expand testing remain contingent on billionaire philanthropists like Mark Zuckerberg, shareholders are pressuring drug companies to hike prices, and the pharmaceutical lobby has prevented Congress from including language mandating affordable vaccine prices into its coronavirus response legislation. Meanwhile, a trillion dollar stimulus package currently being debated in Congress has been criticized by progressive Democrats such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for giving “a half trillion dollars to big corporations with few worker protections.”

But the spectacular contrast between the Chinese and American political and economic systems is made even more clear in the realm of global geopolitics, where out of this global pandemic has emerged the multilateral world presaged by the Munich Security Conference’s requiem for the American Century. Where Mike Pompeo praised a triumphant neoliberal ideology of “individual freedom [and] free enterprise,” this very Western consensus on neoliberal austerity has left Western governments politically subservient to the very industries they now beg to work in the public interest to meet the needs of this crisis. Lacking the state-owned enterprises that spearheaded China’s crisis response, the U.S., for instance, has turned to prison labor and Korean War-era war powers which require private manufacturers to prioritize government orders for medical supplies—making clear that carceral and military logics are the last recourse of a state emaciated by the tenets of neoliberalism. Leaders in the United Kingdom and Sweden are now floating “herd immunity” as a potential strategy, refusing to slow the economy and expose the weakness of their national health care infrastructures. After decades of evacuating state oversight of health, educational, and housing to the private sector, the emaciated, neoliberal West is crumbling under the weight of a crisis of its own making.

Turned inwards by crisis, the United States and EU have abdicated even the pretension of leadership over the liberal world order: leaving nations across the world turning increasingly towards China for support. Take, for instance Venezuela, which received 300,000 test kits, technical consultation, from China, as Cuban medical specialists arrived to assist the Venezuelan response. At a press conference, Venezuelan vice-president Delcy Rodriguez announced that Venezuela and China would create a special airlift cooperation to facilitate the flow of life-saving supplies during the crisis. Chinese aid came just days after the IMF rejected a Venezuelan appeal for an emergency $5 billion loan to fight the pandemic and the World Health Organization has struggled to bypass U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, Iran, and Cuba to coordinate an effective response—sanctions that Chinese officials said they refused to honor during this humanitarian crisis.

Iran has similarly struggled to address the pandemic amidst U.S. sanctions that restrict Iranian access to international financial markets despite supposed exceptions for health supplies. Majid Ravanchi, Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, called for an end to sanctions and criticized U.S. “lip service” to humanitarian exceptions that are failing the Iranian people in practice. Alongside urging the U.S. to lift its unilateral sanctions on Iran, China has also sent significant aid: on March 17, the Iranian ambassador to China announced the arrival of a shipment of 15 tons of Chinese relief supplies including test kits, ventilators, disinfectant, and protective masks. Iranian media likewise reported that China had sent some 18 medical consignments to help Iran fight the coronavirus outbreak, in addition to expert delegations sent by the Red Cross Society of China and the Chinese Center for Disease Control, and a crowd-sourced fundraiser posted by the Iranian embassy in China on Weibo, which raised over a half million USD for Iran’s medical response. That the U.S. has insisted on continuing its sanction regime on Iran and Venezuela, while China has refused to honor those sanctions despite the risk of secondary sanctions, speaks to the two superpowers' very different approaches to diplomacy.
China’s aid has not only filled crucial shortages produced by inhumane U.S. sanctions—it has emerged as a key support for European nations left behind by traditional Western alliances such as NATO and the European Union.
But China’s aid has not only filled crucial shortages produced by inhumane U.S. sanctions—it has emerged as a key support for European nations left behind by traditional Western alliances such as NATO and the European Union. Serbia, which is not an EU member but has been petitioning for ascension since 2009, asked for support from China in the wake of a European Commission statement that limited EU medical exports pending authorization from individual member states. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said that his country “now turns its eyes to China,” saying: “we need everything, from masks, gloves to ventilators, literally everything, and most of all we need your knowledge and people who would be willing to come here and help.” The Chinese embassy in Belgrade quickly coordinated a shipment of test kits, ventilators, and medical masks alongside a delegation of Chinese doctors to consult with Serbian health officials. In an extraordinary rebuke of the West, Vučić proclaimed that “European solidarity does not exist. That was a fairy tale on paper. I believe in my brother and friend Xi Jinping, and I believe in Chinese help.”

Of course, Western pundits have been quick to denounce what they see as opportunistic Chinese “mask diplomacy,” a self-interested power play designed to bolster China’s image on the world stage. Yet, when asked if China’s aid was truly humanitarian and not simply a geopolitical power play, Italian economic advisor Michele Geraci put it plainly: “I don’t know and now I don’t care. If somebody is worried China is doing too much, the gap is open to other countries. This is what other countries should do.” Facing the highest number of reported cases after China as of March 25, Italy welcomed a team of nine Chinese medical staff and 30 tons of medical equipment coordinated by the Chinese embassy in Italy and the Red Cross Society of China. To the contrary, the U.S. Air Force last week shipped a half million test kits out of Italy to meet the country’s own domestic shortages.

The list goes on: France received what it called a “solidarity shipment” of supplies through the Chinese embassy in France; Iraq welcomed critical supplies and a Chinese CDC delegation, Pakistan president Arif Alvi visited China March 17 to discuss coronavirus support with Xi Jinping, during which China committed to providing technical assistance and more than 30,000 coronavirus testing kits, protective clothing and masks; Namibia received 1,000 testing kits; and Chinese philanthropist Jack Ma announced a donation of 1.1 million testing kits, six million masks, and 60,000 protective suits and face shields to 54 African nations. China’s diverse aid realizes Wang Yi’s vision of multilateralism which transcends traditional East/West and North/South divides—instead reflecting an internationalism which “see[s] the international community as one global family.” Thus far, China has sent teams of doctors and disease control experts, hundreds of millions of masks, tests, ventilators, protective gear, and other resources to 82 countries across the world.

Many will simply chalk up China’s productive capacity to supply the world with critical medical supplies to China’s post-1990s integration into the global economy as “the world’s factory.” China’s centrally-planned economic production and its vast state-owned industrial infrastructure is at the center of its capacity to meet the pandemic public health demands of China and now the world. Simply put, socialism is beating this pandemic where capitalism has failed. State-owned construction firms rallied to build up China’s emergency care capacity, building two 1,000 bed hospitals in Wuhan alone in a matter of 10 days. State utilities firms cut electricity bills and rents—including guaranteeing electric service to Hubei residents unable to pay; state banks mobilized billions of dollars in low-interest loans, state-owned property developers such as China Resources lowered rent costs for small businesses; and regional coordination ensured stable prices and supplies of pork, grains, and other food necessities. And crucially, China directed the full force of its state-owned industries to prioritize the production of the very medical necessities now criss-crossing the globe via Chinese foreign aid: state-owned oil giant Sinopec built 10 new production lines for melt-blown fabric, the core material of N95 medical masks; China Construction First Group converted an industrial building a new mask factory in just six days, producing 250,000 masks a day; from automobiles to high-tech manufacturing, state-owned entities have shifted production schedules to prioritize medical necessities—bringing China to a productive capacity of some 20 million new masks per day. Meanwhile, cities such as Shenzhen and Guangzhou introduced laws to empower officials to seize private property from individuals or companies if necessary to produce items needed to control the outbreak. These measures make clear that decades of global integration and market reform have not altered the fundamental relationship between capital and the state: the Chinese Communist Party retains ultimate control over the means of production and is prepared to use that power to serve the people in times of crisis. As wealthier capitalist nations struggle to cajole private production towards public interest over profits, the benefits of a socialist market economy in which the state controls society’s means of production and can swiftly pivot resources is becoming clearer than ever.
China’s centrally-planned economic production and its vast state-owned industrial infrastructure is at the center of its capacity to meet the pandemic public health demands of China and now the world.

The coronavirus pandemic, then, is clarifying an emerging world order in which Chinese economic and political multilateralism is challenging the hegemony of a long American Century. In the Global South, this is far from new: for years, China has provided an economic lifeline for nations suffering under U.S. sanctions and turning away from IMF-brokered austerity. China has provided a recurring economic, political, and military lifeline to nations such as Venezuela (where China remains a major buyer of oil despite U.S. sanctions), Bolivia (where Evo Morales’ government spurned Western transnational companies to partner with Chinese state-owned firms to nationalize Bolivia’s lithium industry), and North Korea (where China provides crucially-needed food aid and has advocated for an easing of U.S. sanctions) as these nations have attempted to survive U.S. sanctions, expel Western capital, nationalize key industries, and chart an independent course from the U.S. world order. And on March 26, China joined Russia, Iran, the DPRK, Venezuela and others in a joint statement calling on the UN to call for an end to U.S. sanctions amidst the pandemic. Even more, China is building deepening partnerships with European nations spurned from the EU and frustrated by U.S. ultimatums to “choose a side” and refuse economic partnerships with China. After emerging from a three year IMF loan package which eroded state industries for private-sector investment in 2018, Serbia joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative in 2019, which has since propped up Serbia’s aging steel industry, saved thousands of steel manufacturing jobs, and targets key road and railway construction. In March 2019, Italy became the first G7 nation to join BRI—a move which comes on the heels of an acrimonious battle over the EU’s financial austerity requirements for member states and which experts said could give Italy more independence in its relationship to the EU.

Of course, the fracturing of G7 and other bedrocks of the Western alliance has not come without opposition. Just as Italy entered BRI, the European Commission slammed China as a “systemic rival,” threatening to tighten restrictions on Chinese investment in Europe. The U.S. has taken an even more belligerent stance, unsuccessfully lobbying European allies to ban Chinese firm Huawei from supplying 5G network infrastructure, and threatening to withhold sensitive security intelligence from nations like the UK and Portugal which plan to accept Huawei 5G infrastructure. Myths of Chinese imperialism and “debt-trap diplomacy,” despite debunking, remain the U.S. and European Commission’s core propaganda pitch in the face of a fracturing Western alliance.

The coronavirus crisis has presented new threats and opportunities for U.S. hawks aiming to ramp up their New Cold War front against China. In the early days of the virus’s spread, a particularly egregious headline in Foreign Policy called COVID-19 the “Belt and Road Pandemic”—a symptom of a rising China that can no longer be contained by the West. Rather than exposing the weakness of states ravaged by neoliberal capitalism to respond to the pandemic, the U.S. has attempted to turn coronavirus into a crisis of legitimacy for the CCP and proof of the threat of China’s supposedly parasitic relationship to the rest of the world. When the virus was contained largely within China, Western media railed against Chinese governmental ineptitude, painting the Chinese people as a subjugated mass just waiting to revolt, rather than a nation mobilized by crisis towards mutual cooperation and solidarity. Now that China has beaten the virus, the media has turned to painting China’s foreign aid as a propaganda play designed to “drive wedges” between European allies and “weaken democracy.” Amidst an obviously inept Trump Administration response to the pandemic, the White House has instructed officials to redirect blame for the current U.S. pandemic on China’s “cover-up”—covering down on a misleading and debunked timeline of Chinese censorship and denial in the early days of the outbreak. A bipartisan group of House lawmakers took a break from pushing its corporate bailout to coalesce behind a new resolution condemning China for its handling of the outbreak. A CNN Democratic Debate question prodded the candidates to explain what “consequences” China should face “for its role in this global crisis.” Unsurprisingly, the media blitz has proven effective amongst the American electorate: a national poll found that a plurality of registered voters (33%) blamed the Chinese government for the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, while just 19% blamed President Trump.

Cold War visions of zero-sum geopolitics no longer hold in a global pandemic that demands internationalist solidarity.
The American recourse to xenophobia, nationalism, and Cold War antagonisms attempts to foreclose the revolutionary potential of this crisis, in which the fundamental incompatibility between capitalism and public health is becoming clearer to millions every day. Where a Cold War framework insists that Chinese “authoritarianism” has now contaminated the West, we must insist on the real roots of a which has manufactured by decades of neoliberal austerity which has left Western powers with emaciated health infrastructures unprepared to meet the needs of a pandemic. Cold War visions of zero-sum geopolitics no longer hold in a global pandemic that demands internationalist solidarity. Yet the ruling class has found an easy recourse in this time of crisis to simplistic ideological binaries of East vs. West, U.S. vs. China. As one pundit put it in Foreign Policy just this week: “China cannot be allowed to win.” This is a vision of the world antithetical to Wang Yi’s call to “to see our shared planet as a community for all.” America’s zero-sum framing reflects the fact that hegemony, power, and violence have always been core to the project of the West—one founded in the structures of slavery, colonialism, and imperialism. For too many, the West was not just a fairy tale, but a nightmare. As the world comes together to heal from this pandemic, we might all finally awake from the nightmare of neoliberalism and colonialism and realize the dream of another world. ... oronavirus

Many thanks to the very good Italian site for presenting this and providing a link. The English->Italian->English machine translation was not so great.

* Qiao Collective is a collective of Chinese socialists and communists who are children of the diaspora in the United States. The purpose of Qiao Collective is to challenge the North American aggression against the People's Republic of China and to connect the nascent American left with the left of the Chinese diaspora, with the Chinese Marxist tradition and with the material and intellectual work of today's anti-imperialism. ... ronavirus/
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Re: Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

Post by blindpig » Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:12 pm

Chinese figures can be trusted, study finds
By TAN XINYU in London | | Updated: 2020-04-30 01:59

Medical workers in Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, on Jan 24, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

New ways of counting deaths see total rise

A fraud detection law can reject the claim that China's COVID-19 data has been manipulated, a study has found, suggesting that policy makers in the rest of the world should trust the Chinese data and formulate policy accordingly.

The study, released on Monday, is co-authored by Christoffer Koch from the research department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and Ken Okamura from the Said Business School at the University of Oxford.

It said China's confirmed infections matched the distribution expected in Benford's Law and are similar to those seen in the United States and Italy, and thus they could find no evidence of manipulation.

Benford's Law is used to detect fraud or flaws in data collection based on the distribution of the first digits of observed data, and is widely applied in economics and accounting. It was also used to examine the reported weekly number of confirmed cases from 35 countries during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009.

Though it is possible to create data series that fit Benford's Law, to manipulate the Chinese data in this fashion would require someone to coordinate daily announcements across all provinces, while accurately forecasting future infection rates. This, the study found, is improbable.

As China is at least a month ahead of Europe and six weeks ahead of the US, its data should be used not only for the calibration of models to inform policy measures to slow infection, but also for guidance in the lifting of stay-at-home orders, it added.

The city of Wuhan in Hubei province has revised up its number of confirmed COVID-19 cases by 325 to 50,333, and added 1,290 more fatalities, taking the total to 3,869 as of the end of April 16. This reflected incorrect reporting, delays and omissions, according to the Wuhan municipal headquarters in charge of COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control.

Similar adjustment has been seen in the Spanish region of Catalonia, which on April 15 announced an additional 3,242 novel coronavirus deaths, nearly doubling its previous tally. According to Reuters, it cited a change in methodology to include data from funerary services on suspected and confirmed COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes and private homes.

On Wednesday, the British government for the first time released the full daily COVID-19 death toll.

The previous UK daily toll only comprised of people died in hospital who had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The Office for National Statistics released a second toll several days later that included deaths in care homes and communities.

Wednesday's new combined daily total was 765. The total number of COVID-19 deaths in the UK has exceeded 26,000. ... 52ee6.html
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Re: Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

Post by blindpig » Fri May 01, 2020 11:32 am

a useful(& amusing) little video:

Once upon a virus

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Re: Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

Post by blindpig » Thu May 07, 2020 11:17 am

Citizen approval: China ranks first in the world for response to COVID-19
7 MAY, 2020 ~

Chinese citizens approve of their socialist system’s response to COVID-19 by 85 percent. Vietnam, another socialist country, comes in second at 77 percent. Clearly, trust in socialist systems is much higher. Of ‘Western’ countries, only New Zealand gains above 50 percent, at 56 percent. As for the rest of that gaggle of former colonisers, the results are abysmal. Japan comes in last of 23 countries surveyed at 16 percent. Yes, in many parts of East Asia, Japan is regarded as highly Westernised due to US occupation and influence.

Here is the full story from Xinhua News: ... 035981.htm

Chinese mainland citizens were largely satisfied with their own government’s COVID-19 crisis response, while citizens in Western countries felt their governments did poorly, according to the findings of a global survey released on Wednesday.

Jointly conducted by Singapore’s leading social research agency Blackbox Research and technology company Toluna, the survey measured the sentiments of citizens from 23 countries and regions towards their COVID-19 crisis management efforts.

This is assessed across all four indicators of national political leadership, corporate leadership, community, and media.

Chinese mainland came in first with an index score of 85, with the most respondents rating its performance favorably across the four indicators.

Vietnam came in second (77), followed by a tie between the United Arab Emirates and India (59). New Zealand (56) is the only Western country with an index score higher than the global average of 45, indicating that citizens in Western countries are generally less satisfied with their countries’ performances, according to the press release.

The United States, Australia, Italy, Germany, Britain and France were all rated below the global average, with France scoring lowest in the region and the second lowest globally at 26.

On the other end of the index, Japan ranks last with an index score of 16.

David Black, founder and chief executive officer of Blackbox Research, noted that overall, most countries are not performing up to their citizens’ expectations and it is seeing “major cracks in self-belief across the Western world.”

“The Chinese are exceptionally satisfied, which could be attributed to how they are already in their post-COVID-19 recovery phase amid the global outbreak, which gave a sense that China has handled the crisis well,” he said. ... -covid-19/
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Re: Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

Post by blindpig » Sat May 09, 2020 2:52 pm


WFTU Statement on Business Games Related to Covid-19 Vaccine
May 8, 2020

The World Federation of Trade Unions, representing 100 million members across the five continents, expresses its deepest concern at the latest developments in the research sector on treatment and vaccination against the new coronavirus. The antagonisms between business groups, pharmaceutical industries and imperialist states in the field of virus treatment and the development of a vaccine, can only cause concern to the peoples of the world.

To this day, there are hundreds of scientific groups working to develop a vaccine and antiviral drugs through “partnerships” between states and business groups. That is, through a form of publicly funded research, which will benefit the pharmaceutical industries that are going to sell the vaccine and drugs (such is the case of “collaboration” between “Johnson & Johnson” and “Sanofi” groups with the US Department of Health). At the same time, the imperialists, the same imperialists who are bathing peoples in blood around the world in order to serve their own interests, organize telethons to raise funds for the new vaccine.

The fact that mass production and sale by large pharmaceutical companies is necessary for a vaccine to be put into circulation in the capitalist states, only creates suffering for the workers and the poor popular strata throughout the world. People cannot forget the negative consequences of the pursuit of profit in the pharmaceutical sector, as have shown the examples of the USA and EU countries, in which large business groups refused to sell millions of doses of vaccines produced by them to governments, requesting that the states fully assume responsibility in cases of adverse effects and at the same time blackmailing in order to get high sale prices.

At the same time, there are many examples of pharmaceutical industries that refused to put similar coronavirus vaccines into circulation in the past, because the profitability of such an investment would be…low! In fact, as scientists have mentioned, precious time which would enable us to deal with the new coronavirus was lost.

Furthermore, in these circumstances, militant trade unions around the world should not underestimate the aggressiveness of the USA, whose president, Trump, attacks China, the WHO and all those who do not align with their geo-strategic games. But this aggressiveness is not a mere one-person tactic, but the aggressiveness of the US imperialism as a whole. Especially now, at a time when the United States was exposed, they lost their shine and the social injustice that reigns in the United States was unmasked; now, at a time when the US ruling class is going to sharpen its aggressiveness and its threats against peaceful coexistence among peoples.

Faced with the barbarism of a system that treats the worker as expendable, the international class-oriented trade union movement must rise up; We must inform the world working class that it has nothing to expect from the games and business tricks of transnational corporations. What we do need to do is step up the fight for a patent-free coronavirus vaccine that is free, safe, free for all. That any business activity in the health sector must cease and that the struggle for a universal, free, public healthcare system with high-quality health services for all must be intensified! We must fight globally for a health system that will not only not slow progress, but will also put this progress at the service of the people and the working class. The WFTU is committed to being on the side of every trade union that is going to fight in that direction across the globe.

The Secretariat ... 9-vaccine/
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Re: Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

Post by blindpig » Tue May 12, 2020 11:54 am

Questions people are asking in China concerning the USA and COVID-19
In response to some comments on the previous post, I thought it would be useful to copy this news item from Xinhua News (here, with another similar item here). It reflects the types of questions many people in China have been asking about the USA and COVID-19. The article was published on 4 May, 2020. Since then, evidence has appeared of COVID-19 in early November, 2019, in both France and the USA (see here).

The United States has confirmed over 1 million COVID-19 cases in just some 100 days after it reported the first case on Jan. 21, making itself the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic worldwide.

Facing criticism at home, some U.S. politicians have been irresponsibly attacking a certain country and the World Health Organization (WHO), hampering global efforts against the pandemic.

Their actions have drawn questions from around the world, and Washington should provide clear answers.


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has restored the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, a military center for biological research in Maryland State, to full operation, local media reported in late March.

The institution was ordered by the CDC to halt research involving biological select agents or toxins last summer. An online petition was later submitted on the White House petition site demanding the U.S. government clarify the shutdown of the institution.

The public is waiting for Washington to provide a clear explanation to the sudden halt and resumption of the research.

According to a report by the CDC in late February, there have been at least 32 million flu illnesses in the country in the 2019-2020 flu season.

On March 11, CDC Director Robert Redfield told a hearing on Capitol Hill that some COVID-19 deaths have been diagnosed as flu-related in the United States.

Washington needs to clarify the number of COVID-19 cases previously diagnosed as the flu, and make public the samples and genetic sequence of the influenza virus in the country.


In late April, health authorities of Santa Clara County in California State confirmed that two patients had died of COVID-19 at least three weeks before the first known U.S. death from the virus on Feb. 29.

Jeffrey V. Smith, Santa Clara county executive, told Xinhua that the patients “apparently contracted the illness from community spread. This suggests that the virus was circulating in the Bay Area in January at least, probably earlier.”

Neeraj Sood, a professor at the Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California, was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying that the virus has been in the community for a long time.

“When you start seeing the first death, actually, the number of cases in the population is probably pretty high already,” Sood said.

Washington needs to answer if it failed to notice community spread of the virus.


According to a report by The Washington Post on April 4, the CDC “learned of a cluster of cases in China on Dec. 31,” and the U.S. side received a call from the Chinese side on Jan. 3 warning against the disease.

On Jan. 8, heads of Chinese and U.S. CDCs talked over phone to discuss technological exchanges and cooperation, a detailed timeline of China’s response to COVID-19 showed.

On Feb. 16, the China-WHO joint expert team started a nine-day field visit in China. The team consists of 25 experts, including Cliff Lane, a researcher with the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The U.S. government, however, repeatedly downplayed the severity of the epidemic to the public at that time. U.S. media reported that the U.S. administration had squandered more than two months’ time since it received initial notification on the virus.

Washington needs to explain why it took so long to take action to combat the virus.


The Washington Post said that the U.S. National Security Council had pushed for a travel ban restricting travelers from Italy and other countries in the European Union, but was met with resistance from some officials from the administration.

When the ban was finally issued over a month later, “hundreds of thousands of people crossed the Atlantic during that interval,” it said.

A report published on April 11 in The New York Times also revealed that the U.S. government’s plan to establish a surveillance system in some cities to measure the spread of the virus was delayed for weeks, leaving officials “with almost no insight into how rapidly the virus was spreading.”

In March, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the United States has been the country of origin for most of COVID-19 cases in his country.

Washington must respond to the concern that the belated and chaotic U.S. response has actually accelerated the spread of the virus to more places around the world.


The U.S. government has criticized a so-called lack of transparency from China regarding the information on COVID-19. However, the facts speak otherwise.

The CDC said on its website that Chinese health officials reported cases of acute respiratory illness in persons associated with a seafood and animal market in the city of Wuhan on Dec. 31.

Since Jan. 3, China began to inform the United States of the outbreak and response measures on a regular basis, the timeline of China’s response to COVID-19 showed.

On Jan. 24, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that China “has been working very hard to contain the coronavirus,” and that “the United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency.”

Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also told a coronavirus briefing in late January that China has been “quite transparent” with the world on the virus.

However, some U.S. politicians have stigmatized China with racist remarks, fabricated lies on China’s role in the global fight against the virus, and disrupted global solidarity and cooperation in combatting the disease.

The world needs a clear explanation from Washington on why it chose to pass the buck. ... -covid-19/
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Re: Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

Post by blindpig » Wed May 13, 2020 1:39 pm

Tesla will resume production in California despite the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic

Profit at all costs

Elon Musk , Head of Tesla Inc. , said it intends to resume car production at a plant in Alamida County, California , despite a formal ban from the local administration. This is the first serious conflict between authorities and business related to the suspension of enterprises due to the coronavirus epidemic.


To date, more than 2 thousand cases of COVID-19 infection have been recorded in the district , 71 people have died. In this regard, the Department of Health of Alamida on May 11, 2020 warned Tesla Inc. the impossibility of resuming the full production cycle until the situation improves.

To which Musk tweeted that "Tesla resumes production, contrary to the rules in force in Alamida County . " At the same time, he accused the district authorities of prejudice against the company, as other automobile plants, in his words, managed to get permission to start work.

Many have already noted that the United States has been hit hardest by the pandemic crisis. And further downtime of production can lead to even more serious consequences. But let's look at this situation from a slightly different perspective.

Indeed, even in this difficult period, the state of Ilona Mask continues to grow steadily: only in a month with a little, from March to the current moment, the Tesla leader rose in the Forbs rating from 40 to 23 place. His fortune is now estimated at 37 billion US dollars.

Therefore, there is good reason to believe that, insisting on the resumption of production in California, Musk does not care about overcoming the crisis, but about continuing his financial recovery.

The fact that for this purpose the Tesla owner is ready to risk the health and lives of workers, unfortunately, is not new. We already wrote that during the Amazon CEO pandemic, Jeff Bezot s enriched by $ 24 billion , in fact, paying for his superprofits with the lives of employees.

And this situation is not unique to the United States. In any country in the world, capitalists will strive for profit by stepping on the heads of ordinary workers.

The workers should not rely on protection from the authorities: the bourgeois leadership of the states has the sole purpose of protecting the interests of big capital , without regard to anything other than this. ... -kaliforn/

Google Translator a little rough this morning...

Well, now we know who John Galt is...21st century style
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Re: Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

Post by blindpig » Thu May 14, 2020 2:00 pm


US Government Fears China will Give Away COVID-19 Vaccine for Free

May 13, 2020 Alan MacLeod capitalism vs socialism, China, coronavirus, COVID-19, Dan Baker, profits over people, Vaccine
“The coronavirus pandemic is a clear instance in which the whole world shares a common interest in developing and distributing a vaccine.” — Dr. Dean Baker

By Alan Macleod – May 4, 2020

The number of official global coronavirus mortalities surpassed a quarter of a million people today, including over 69,000 in the U.S. (although this is very likely an undercount). Polls show that the American people are extremely worried about contracting the virus. However, the government has a much bigger concern: that if they find a COVID-19 vaccine, China will copy it and distribute it for free.

To many, it will not be immediately clear why it would be a problem for a manufacturing superpower, home to 1.4 billion people, to inoculate itself and others. But to the White House, this would be “stealing” a potential American innovation. “Biomedical research has long been a focus of theft, especially by the Chinese government, and vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus are today’s holy grail,” said John C. Demers, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, adding that, “Putting aside the commercial value, there would be great geopolitical significance to being the first to develop a treatment or vaccine. We will use all the tools we have to safeguard American research.” The fact that intellectual property and the profits of multinational pharmaceutical corporations are officially being put before saving lives, even during a pandemic threatening the entirety of humanity, was not mentioned by The New York Times, who covered Demers’s remarks.

Dean Baker, Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Utah and Senior Economist at the Center for Economic Policy Research in Washington, D.C., offered an alternative view, claiming that he would be delighted if China “stole” vaccine technology and gave it to billions of people, telling MintPress News that:

The coronavirus pandemic is a clear instance in which the whole world shares a common interest in developing and distributing a vaccine. This should mean that we have open research, where all findings are posted on the web as quickly as possible, so that they can build on them. Once a vaccine is developed we should want it spread throughout the world as quickly as possible at the lowest possible cost. Trump’s concern that China would somehow “steal” a vaccine means that he is more concerned about protecting someone’s profits here, as well as possibly an ego trip (we’re number one) than possibly saving hundreds of thousands of lives.

Baker has previously advocated for replacing the system of private medical research with a publicly-funded open source system that he believes will not only save lives but will save money.

That the U.S. government is accusing other nations of hypothetical theft during the pandemic is particularly noteworthy, seeing as it leads the world in the confiscation and detention of medical supplies paid for and bound for other countries. Barbados, for example, has accused the Trump administration of “modern piracy” after it blocked a shipment of 20 ventilators to the island, instead, keeping them for itself. U.S. officials also hijacked a plane full of 60 million masks bound for France while on the runway of a Chinese airport. Meanwhile, at the height of the pandemic, an American military plane mysteriously managed to fly back to Tennessee with half a million test kits from Lombardy, Italy.

American pharmaceutical corporations have also been testing out their products on Chinese COVID-19 patients, hoping to better understand what works as an effective treatment. In March, the Trump administration attempted to compel a German pharmaceutical corporation to move production to the U.S. in order to make sure that America alone had access to and control of any coronavirus vaccine it might produce. The president reportedly wished to ensure that it would only be available on a for-profit basis. “Germany is not for sale,” the country’s outraged economy minister replied, rejecting the profit motive.

In the early 1950s, American scientist Jonas Salk pioneered a world-changing vaccine against polio, a deadly disease that tens of thousands of Americans contracted annually. Instead of patenting it and making a fortune, he insisted that his invention belonged to all of humanity. By 1994, polio was eradicated in North America. Yet 70 years later, the logic of capitalism dictates that where there is great utility, there are enormous profits to be made, and anyone acting outside that system to reproduce a vaccine is not acting responsibly, but “stealing.” The fact that Washington wants to limit those who can drink from any “holy grail” it might find to those who can pay for it shows how far we have come from Salk’s days.

Featured image: A Chinese scientist observing experimental SARS vaccine living in a culture medium. Photo | Xinhua via AP ... -for-free/
it shows how far we have come from Salk’s days.
Yes indeed, capitalism has upped the game considerably in the quest for that last dime. It evolves like the mythical Irish Elk, 'cept it will take us all with it, if allowed. Better to shoot it now.

That the Avatar of the Ruling Class is at the spearhead of this capitalist obscenity is totally appropriate. Perhaps there's a lesson here.
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Re: Socialist Demands for the COVID-19 Crisis

Post by blindpig » Mon May 18, 2020 1:48 pm

How much have the world's ultra wealthy made from the Covid-19 pandemic?
Mission Truth

May 15 · 4 min read

From left to right, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gate, and Warren Buffet, three of the richest Americans on the planet. Photo: Business Insider

After almost a semester taking over large areas of the planet and causing thousands of deaths and infections, the Covid-19 pandemic has put into effect its destructive effects on the world economy.
On the other hand, Covid-19 has also revealed that the prevailing global capitalism is totally dysfunctional as a planetary destination.
Its free market mantra, globalization without restrictions and privatization, has for decades undermined public health systems, social guarantees and the capacities of states to face emergency situations such as the current ones.
The result of this historical process is in full view: humanity was exposed and vulnerable, with fragile defenses, in the face of a pandemic as unpredictable as it is dangerous. Every dead or unemployed person leaving the Covid-19 reveals the failure of capitalism as a system.

Foto: Harvard Business Review

Economic and social inequality worldwide has widened to levels unheard of in recent decades marked by neoliberalism, and the coronavirus has exacerbated it.
We know from the annual reports of the NGO Oxfam that the richest 1% concentrates almost 82% of the world's wealth. A desolate and terrifying panorama.
Under "normal" conditions, that is, in the absence of a pandemic, the ultra-rich in the western world elevate their control over world wealth through debt, job insecurity and tax cuts.
But now that industrial production and international trade have stopped dramatically due to the coronavirus, the scheme is not undergoing as many changes as we imagine.
The ultra wealthy increase their wealth as unemployment does, demonstrating that the pandemic is being used as a mechanism of robbery and transfer of wealth.

Foto: The Wall Street Journal

This is what the Eulixe portal does in an article where it reviews the relationship between global unemployment and the wealthiest 1% increase in wealth:
“The global coronavirus pandemic is not only the biggest health crisis in recent history, but it is also the beginning of a harsh economic crisis that will affect millions of people. Between March 18 and April 10, 2020, more than 22 million lost their jobs, increasing the global unemployment rate to 15%. Meanwhile, the world's great fortunes have seen their obscene current accounts grow by $ 282 billion over the same period. ”

According to Eulixe , relying on data published by the United States Institute for Policy Studies (IPS):

"The fortune of American billionaires grew by $ 282 billion (almost 10%). (…) Just eight billionaires (Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, MacKenzie Bezos, Eric Yuan, Steve Ballmer, John Albert Sobrato, Joshua Harris and Rocco Commisso) have increased their net worth by more than $ 1 billion between 1 January and April 10. ”

The IPS report adds that Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet “continue to possess as much fortune as the bottom half of all US households combined… Meanwhile, it is estimated that 78% of households live from pay to pay, while 20% have zero or negative net worth ”.
The specific case of Jeff Bezos, the owner of the gigantic Amazon corporation, reveals the catastrophic inequality of the United States.
As of April 15, thanks to the increase in retail and electronic sales in the context of the pandemic, Bezos has increased his personal fortune by 25 billion dollars, a figure that exceeds the GDP of a country like Honduras.

Photo: Wikye

Contrary to popular belief, economic and financial crises are golden opportunities for the ultra-wealthy: they can scrap labor under the alibi of the recession and feed their oligopolies by buying out bankrupt companies and corporations that did not survive the crisis at auction prices .
It is all profit: they raise their profit rate by leveraging unemployment and gain new markets by buying weakened businesses. The crisis is the engine that drives capitalism. It is part of its nature and its systemic contradictions.

In this sense, Eulixe highlights:

“Between 2010 and 2020, the billionaire wealth of the United States increased by 80.6%, more than five times the average increase in wealth for American households. Between 1990 and 2020, the billionaire wealth of the United States increased 1,130%, an increase more than 200 times greater than the growth of 5.37% of the average wealth of the United States ”.

The Covid-19 pandemic has tragically revealed the inequality widened in the neoliberal era.
The International Labor Organization projects that the current economic crisis will destroy at least 195 million jobs, excellent news for capitalists who dominate the western world and who see their wealth increase while millions of people are left with the resignation of unemployment. ... 279dedf671

Google Translator

I wouldn't go so far as to say that 'crisis is the engine that drives capital'. That would be too chaotic. But it is certainly an 'opportunity' that capitalists will rise to like a hungry sharks.
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