Despite the fiasco of coronavirus, US elites continue to extol the superiority of their nation. Why? They are very afraid of the impending change. About this writes Handelsblatt.
It’s hard to believe, but rich America, in spite of the daily reports of deaths caused by the coronavirus, practices unbridled self-praise. So, in the commentator’s column in the Wall Street Journal for Easter, one could read how quickly and skillfully a nation with a population of 330 million managed to adapt to the new requirements of the fight against Covid-19. Not a word about the catastrophic supply disruptions or administrative chaos.
Even when it comes to the extraordinary defeat of the black population by the virus, self-praise sometimes takes the form of a surreal, quasi-religious act. This could also be seen on CNN during an interview with one of the former U.S. health ministers, who said the problem has been known since Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Nevertheless, practically nothing has changed in the situation with the supply and healthcare of the black population. More selfless patience is hard to imagine.
This clearly indicates that from within the US superpower is a colossus with feet of clay. And its main drawback is the inability or even unwillingness to think systemically in order to better protect yourself in critical situations. Because it costs big, very big money.
The current situation on the fronts of the fight against coronavirus in the United States reveals such a degree of system fragility that is incompatible with the title of “richest nation in the world.” Those who do not belong to the highest 2–3% of the population in terms of their income must struggle at an individual and collective level with such a set of risks that it is becoming increasingly difficult to cope with.
How quickly a decline in social status can occur at an individual level, it becomes clear, given that most Americans use employer health insurance. In this situation, this means: you lose your job – you lose insurance.
And about 35 million Americans who before the crisis with coronavirus did not have health insurance, and there is nothing to say. But even the one who is insured is faced with an extremely confusing system of high additional payments. Their amount can easily reach several thousand dollars a year. And from there not far to bankruptcy.
Former President Barack Obama tried to put an end to this system with his health care reform. But Republicans continue to stubbornly nullify even the shy reform efforts undertaken by Obama.
Three sacred cows
Despite a growing sense of helplessness, the population is not inclined to put an end to the common hypocrisy in the United States and send three sacred cows of America to the slaughter.
The first of these three cows is the gigantic defence budget of the United States, the second is insanity on outsourcing, and the third is a completely unfounded claim to American “exclusivity.”
With a budget of 748 billion for 2020, the US defence department can be considered the nineteenth largest national economy in the world. It could even become a member of the G20.
But what should citizens of a country think of a government that, having such a gigantic defence budget, admits that there aren’t enough ventilation devices and protective masks in healthcare? Such a government needs to ask whether its priorities are correct in determining public spending.
And another sacred cow – outsourcing, fiercely promoted by company executives for decades, – turned out to be a serious risk factor. In their relentless desire to lengthen supply chains more and more, companies were primarily focused on minimizing costs.
Permanent outsourcing freed companies from the obligation to train personnel in the processing industries. However, in these endless and confusing supply chains, there were no solid plans for unforeseen circumstances. Squeezing the last cent – that was the main task.
“Exceptional” in a negative sense
The third sacred cow is an increasingly irrational, but still widespread, idea of the country’s “exclusivity” in American society. This instinctive belief in superiority leads to the fact that even the most obvious threats are ignored. The illusion of Americans as a chosen people was one of the reasons why President Trump in February completely denied the danger of coronavirus to the United States.
That is, not only Trump’s readiness to always go all-in is one of the main problems of the Americans, but also their own blindness.
Therefore, it would not be an exaggeration to say that American “exclusivity” lies mainly in the fact that there is probably no other economically highly developed society in which even the most dramatic changes would have so few socio-political consequences.
Cynics may write to Republicans that their stubbornness in upholding the status quo at least has led to increase inequality in American society. In recent years, poverty in the USA no longer distinguishes skin colours. Not only African Americans and Latinos have been confronted with it for a long time.
She stepped over class boundaries. More and more representatives of the middle and even upper-middle-class found themselves unexpectedly in cramped life circumstances.
And this is one of the clear consequences of the fact that Republicans refuse to consider topics such as health insurance and unemployment insurance, systematically and taking into account the prospects. They stubbornly adhere to the principle of “rude individualism” (Rugged Individualism) and at best are ready to discuss targeted measures.
In the meantime, even prominent democrats eagerly point out that the source of the country’s wealth is businessmen, their enterprise and pragmatism. In fact, wealth, concentrated mainly at the top of the income pyramid, is based on the doctrine that all life support systems of society (except for the defence sector) must be kept at the lowest possible cost level.
In this regard, the upcoming US presidential election will turn into an interesting battle. Even if the “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders leaves the race, many of his arguments about egregious inequality, which increasingly affects the middle class, will not lose their relevance. In addition, what is stigmatized as “socialism” in the United States is recognized in Europe as very necessary social standards by even very conservative parties?
Under these conditions, it will be difficult for Joe Biden, a Trump Democratic rival, to get away with non-binding general phrases, which all Democratic presidents have readily used since Bill Clinton, albeit without much success.
The main confrontation in the upcoming elections will be the struggle between the attempt to continue to adhere to the course of rigid individualism and the realization of greater joint responsibility.
Moreover, the Republican Party will continue to be the mouthpiece of the rich. To disguise, the Republicans will try using some massive infrastructure program to pose as the great defenders of American workers.
But they did not give the same idea to Clinton in the 1990s or Obama after the 2009 financial crisis. The political logic of the Republicans was clear: why do something that is essentially right, but will benefit the Democratic presidents? But now the situation is different.
Trump’s second term is quite real
The American model is functioning as long as this system has to deal with small unusual problems. But since the United States does not actually function as a system, but rather as a collective mutual (self) deception, this method has clear limitations. Sooner or later the question will arise about the manageability of the country.
Nevertheless, none of this analysis (or current polls) should conclude that Donald Trump will lose the presidential election. In addition to the features of the American electoral system, which provides structural advantages to Republicans, who traditionally have strong positions in rural areas, surprising conservatism still dominates in the USA.
But above all, Trump has the advantage that he – despite all his mistakes – is perceived as a more energetic candidate compared to Joe Biden. And this in the USA sometimes means more than honesty and business competence. Therefore, in the end, Trump may well be re-elected for a second term.