The food supply chain is starting to show its first signs of breaking down. Privately I predicted it weeks ago; in fact it was one of my first concerns when the coronavirus pandemic broke in America. Trump has used language purloined from dictators of the 20th century to describe the legitimate media when they reported his transgressions in an attempt to get Bubba to disbelieve them. Censorship is coming if we allow him to get that far. To date it has just been strong arming of outlets he gets angry with. There is a lot to unpack there; let’s explore.
Recently stories have broken of farmers plowing crops under, dumping milk, etc. Simultaneously we have hungry people. It is a simple matter of getting the supply (which in most cases is ample) to the ample demand. Since the problem largely crosses state lines this calls for federal government management and intervention. The free market is simply too stressed with the constraints of the coronavirus pandemic. To date Trump’s administration has failed to step up. A few states and localities have done some good things but that is insufficient for either the suppliers or the consumers. One Governor who has done some good things along these lines is Andrew Cuomo of New York but he is limited to his state. It is difficult, if not impossible for him to act as the “market” for Iowa farmers marketing to New York consumers.
Unemployment exacerbates the situation. You need money to buy food and eventually the farmers/food producers have to get paid one way or another to stay in business. They eat too and they also have bills.
Another factor to consider is that of the meat processing plants. They are coronavirus hotspots and I question if their operators (who historically have been among the worst immigration, environmental and worker safety violators) can or will do enough to sufficiently mitigate the threat. We may have to change our diets before this is over.
A hungry people are a scared and initially compliant people who will be reluctant to change their leader mid-stream. This is good if you, as Trump is, are currently in power. Among the models Trump envies are Stalin’s USSR and the Kim family’s North Korea. Both were/are hungry nations.
Trump is moving toward shutting off freedom of the press and free speech. He has made examples of government officials and military people who made him look bad in an effort to send the message that messing with Trump is hazardous to your livelihood.
He defacto has a network of media outlets that do little but defend his indefensible actions. One of the great parlor game conversations is whether Nixon could have survived if he had Fox News. Although Fox News is the leader and has the most followers, it is far from alone. Earlier this month Trump attempted to force an Associated Press reporter in the front row to swap seats with an America One reporter seated in the back row at a White House event. You guessed it; America One (who most people never heard of) is a Trump friendly broadcaster.
Health care is another area where Trump and the compliant Republicans are trying to starve the masses into compliance (or eliminate them). The Republicans have long opposed expanding the availability of health care in America. Republican controlled state legislatures have refused to expand Medicaid coverage to millions of their citizens resulting in economic losses to their states as well as the loss of lives. Their calculation was that the majority of those lives were of likely Democratic voters so that was acceptable to them.
In the process they hastened the closing of many rural hospitals. While Medicaid payments alone couldn’t keep those hospitals open in the long run they would have at least delayed the closures. The people most adversely affected were non-whites and poor rural whites. The non-whites voted disproportionately Democratic so the Republicans didn’t care about them and they bet that the prejudice of the poor rural whites would keep them voting Republican. Remember one of the three pillars holding up the modern Republican Party is prejudice/bigotry. To date they seem to be correct; rural counties are reliably red in elections.
In the urban areas the hardest hit population has been African-Americans. Since they vote over 90% Democratic do you actually think Trump or the Republicans care about them? I am willing to bet that privately Trump, Stephen Miller and Brad Parscale are happy to see that voter segment diminished. Miller is a racist and Parscale, like Trump, thinks only in terms of elections. This has proven to be another voter suppression tool. I find it interesting that early in the crisis the rumor circulated that blacks couldn’t catch the virus. It will be interesting to see where that all really originated from. I have my suspicions.
Considering that urban area dwellers most likely to vote Democratic were the majority of the victims is it any wonder that the Trump administration was late to the table with help for urban hospitals that were to at least a degree overrun? If it hadn’t been for the actions of governors and local officials they would have been completely overwhelmed and even more people would have died.
I am an adherent to Sun Tzu’s principle that most battles are won before they are fought. Trump is losing this battle badly –perhaps by design – and that is mainly because he didn’t prepare for it.
Since Ronald Reagan it has been Republican orthodoxy to “Starve the beast”. In that case the beast was the federal government. Under Trump the beast is the people. He learned from Kim Jung-un that a starved people are a submissive people.
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