Randy Alcorn

COVID-19 is a breathtaking virus. It has certainly taken the air out of America’s national ego and left the world’s largest economy gasping for air after being put in a coma by panicked authorities.

Nevertheless, America is still No. 1. It now leads the world in COVID-19 infections and deaths. New York City, the pandemic’s epicenter, looks more like a post-apocalyptic ghost town than the world’s economic capital. The nation’s once booming economy is teetering at the precipice of another great depression.

As the rudderless federal government, helmed by blustering Captain Crazy with his crew of scurvy scoundrels, flounders about in this maelstrom, the nation’s states are left to either compete or form alliances among themselves for scarce supplies of medical equipment and a coordinated response to the pandemic.

Hubris is often a precondition for a fall. Preceding the pandemic, the pervasive belief was that America was the most advantaged nation on earth and, therefore, the most capable of successfully minimizing the effects of any pandemic.

Yet, it managed to squander any advantage it had by being negligently unprepared and cavalierly ignoring precious weeks of warnings about the coming COVID-19 pandemic.

An analysis by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation determined that 90 percent of the U.S. COVID-19 death toll, now more than 61,000 and counting, could have been prevented if national social distancing guidelines had been issued even two weeks earlier.

But, the attitude in the White House seemed to be that plagues don’t happen here, this is America. Maybe the “big, beautiful wall” would keep the virus out.

America, with the greatest concentration of medical and scientific expertise on the planet, the strongest economy on earth, virtually limitless financial resources, and most of the world’s leading technology companies is collapsing into economic ruin because it did not have enough inventory of basic medical supplies, testing and tracing capabilities, or social-distancing protocols in place early enough to prevent catastrophe.

The nation with far and away the mightiest military on earth, whose spectacular logistical capabilities and sophisticated weaponry could devastate the entire planet, can’t muster up enough masks to protect its medical personnel from a microscopic bug. While there always seems to be plenty of money for the war machine, America must rely on neighborhood sewing circles to produce protective masks and gowns.

The shuttering of much of the American economy in the frantic, tardy response to the pandemic is serving to expose the frailty of America’s economic system and the delusion that it works to promote the “American Dream” for most Americans.

It has dramatically demonstrated that America’s “booming” economy isn’t so bountiful that tens of millions of Americans can afford to miss a paycheck or two without falling into poverty. And, for most Americans losing their job means losing their health insurance and that of their family.

The public welfare includes police and fire protection that covers everyone whether employed or not. Health care is just as essential to the public welfare. So, what the hell are we doing?

Most Americans have little if any savings to endure any interruption in income. Certainly, some of that is due to irresponsible spending on alluring consumer goods, but more often it is due to chronically suppressed wages that are barely sufficient to cover the increasing cost of essentials — housing, food, utilities and health care — let alone provide for savings.

The world’s wealthiest nation has engineered its economy to ensure that most of its wealth consistently flows to 20 percent of its population. The remaining 80 percent of Americans tenuously cling to the illusion of affluence afforded by low-cost foreign-made consumer goods while the soaring cost of homes, health care and higher education — the hallmarks of traditional middle-class affluence — are mostly out of reach for all but the economic aristocracy.

Before COVID-19 ever got here, the virus of greed had long been running rampant in the country, gradually undermining the nation’s potential. The forces of greed, having captured government and making it an instrument for perpetuating their privilege and advantage, deviously works to convince Americans that any ideas to improve the general welfare are stealth socialism that insidiously drains capitalism’s cornucopia and reduces everyone’s standard of living — you know, like it has in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Western Europe.

The current irony here is that many big, enormously profitable corporations, having lavished tax-cut, fattened profits on stock buy-backs to enrich management and shareholders, were left with insufficient financial reserves to survive the pandemic shutdown. So, once again, the federal government rescues them with trillions of dollars from the public treasury. Apparently, socialism is acceptable if it benefits the right people.

In a display of perfectly perfidious pathological greed, some of these enormously wealthy corporations gamed the bungled bailout programs to get payments in excess of the limits, or to take money they really didn’t need. Because of their callous avarice, there was nothing left for millions of America’s struggling small businesses.

This is how America’s cannibal capitalism behaves. It certainly doesn’t subscribe to the mantra that “we are all in this together.” More like “every hog for itself.”

The pandemic didn’t cause America’s underlying social/economic morbidity, it was simply the reagent that measured its unmistakable presence. The symptoms of pathological greed and connived concentration of wealth have worsened over recent decades. Although economists sounded alarms, they were dismissed, ignored or deflected by petulant partisan politics.

Now, having stumbled so badly, America really does need to be made great again. The buffoon who boasted that he alone could do that, has done just the opposite. Will America ever fully recover from this shameful episode of incompetent leadership? Can it overcome the destructive greed and the callous disregard for the common good?

To begin repairing the damage, first accept that it really is a matter of us versus them. “Them” is a large segment of our population that is so intellectually disabled by unquestioning devotion to doctrine that it cannot differentiate fact from fiction, reality from fantasy, or right from wrong.

There is no reasoning or reconciling with these gullible fools. They are unredeemable, and must not be allowed to determine the fate of our nation ever again.

It is essential that “them” be overwhelmed at the polls by the larger segment of the population that is equanimous, rational, decent and who care about the common good — the “us.”

See you on Nov. 3, even if I have to wear a hazmat suit to the polls.

— Randy Alcorn is a Santa Barbara political observer. Contact him at randyaalcorn@gmail.com, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.