Interviewed on CNN today, a Republican member of congress dismissed the widespread alarm among the medical profession about the shortage of masks and other protective equipment for use combating the corona virus. “Capitalism,” he said “will handle it.”
But, the corona virus crisis is a textbook example of the failure of capitalism to handle the corona virus crisis and the other underlying crises that have plagued this society for decades.
Republicans are illustrating hourly exactly what is wrong with free-market capitalist solutions to problems created by free-market capitalism.
Let’s just look at one example.
- On 20 March 2020, it was reported that four senators (Burr, Leoffler, Inhofe and Feinstein) were selling off stock after receiving briefings about how serious the impact of the corona virus was going to be.
- Burr and Loeffler went public with statements seeking to calm the populace about the threat of the pandemic while they were busily selling stock to cushion the blow for themselves.
- Burr’s case was especially egregious. Burr, as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, received briefings that included the country’s most classified information about the security threat of the virus.
- And, Burr (in a recorded talk to his wealthy donors on February 27, 2020) warned of the serious implications of the outbreak at a time when he was seeking to calm the fears of the general population by telling them that the Trump administration had everything in hand. While reassuring the general public, to his wealthy donors, Burr was comparing the corona virus to the “1918 pandemic.”
- Burr maintained that he was using only publicly available information, but he would, wouldn’t he? He also claimed that the event at which he informed party insiders was not an event for his wealthy donors.
- NPR, however, reported that it had obtained a copy of the RSVP list for the event and that it included dozens of invited guests representing companies and organizations from North Carolina. The companies or their political committees donated more than $100,000 to Burr’s election campaign in 2015 and 2016 (NBC News)
- The same day Burr was giving this speech, Trump was telling reporters that the corona virus was “going to disappear.” (NBC News)
- In early February, Burr, co-wrote an op-ed for Fox News in which he said “the United States today is better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus.” In mid-February he started to unload the stocks. The unloading was about a week before the markets started to plunge (NBC News 3/20/20).
- One of the stocks Burr unloaded was shares in Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, which has now lost two-thirds of its value according to ProPublica. Burr dumped shares of another hotel chain, Extended Stay America. (NBC News 3/20/20)
- It is Democrats who are calling for investigations, and also a Democrat (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) who is calling for Burr’s resignation and a law preventing legislators from owning stock.
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter that as chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Burr “got private briefings about Coronavirus weeks ago. Burr knew how bad it would be. He told the truth to his wealthy donors, while assuring the public that we were fine. THEN he sold off $1.6 million in stock before the fall. He needs to resign.” (NBC News 3/20/20)
- We know about these stock sell-offs only because of a law requiring the legislators to report their stock dealings. Why not a law prohibiting them from owning stock while serving?
Gregorian, Dareh (3/20/20) “Burr, other senators…” NBC News.