Covid-19 has taken away bread and circuses, laying bare the true American empire

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by Michael McCaffrey

Michael McCaffrey lives in Los Angeles where he works as an acting coach, screenwriter and consultant. He is also a freelance film and cultural critic whose work can be read at RT, Counterpunch and at his website

21 Mar, 2020 14:28

Regular Americans can no longer numb themselves with sports and gluttony, freeing them to clearly see the malignantly craven ruling class that exploits and despises them. If only they would open their eyes to reality.

Anyone who has eyes to see can clearly make out that America is an addled empire in steep decline that is firmly entrenched in its bread-and-circuses stage. This has been brought into clear focus due to Covid-19. Since there is now a shortage of bread, as supermarket shelves are bare, and the distraction of the circus of sports has been indefinitely removed from the culture, Americans are left with little to distract them from cold, hard reality.

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With no brawls or ballgames to watch, and the fear of potential hunger gnawing at their bloated bellies and brains, and with social distancing leaving them isolated with little but their thoughts as company, Americans will now find it harder and harder to ignore the truth about their country and its deplorably corrupt media, financial, government, education and health care systems, that is staring them in the face.

As the old adage goes, crisis reveals character, and the coronavirus contagion is a crisis of epic proportions that is revealing America to be utterly devoid of any redeeming character whatsoever.

If America were a sane, healthy, and rational country this would be a great opportunity for change to occur…alas, it is not. America is an insane, unhealthy and irrational nation, and so any genuine change is inconceivable.

For example, this crisis has once again revealed the house of cards that is the smoke and mirrors American economy. The American economy has long been rigged through financialization, where stock buybacks and accounting shenanigans inflate the stock market but create nothing of substance for the masses except the illusion of prosperity. Here in America the economy long ago stopped working for regular folks, as evidenced by the fact that despite productivity soaring, for the last forty years wages have remained stagnant, while the cost of living has escalated.

The American Way has devolved into a bizarre reverse-Robin Hood world, where the rich steal from the poor and keep it for themselves. Proof of this is that this Covid-19 crisis will undoubtedly be used, just as the 2008 collapse, as a way for the malicious narcissists in Washington, Wall Street and in corporate boardrooms to come together to assure that all their losses are socialized and their profits privatized. Casinos, cruise lines, airlines, hotels and others are already lining up — including of course the scoundrels on Wall Street — for their taxpayer-funded handout.

Bailing out working- and middle-class Americans, though, is an absolute non-starter for the ruling elite. The upper crust will throw around vacuous catch phrases, like the deliciously ironic “moral hazard,” to make their argument, which is pretty rich considering the vermin on Wall Street and their cronies on Capitol Hill are so morally bereft, it is a hazard to all humanity.

Coronavirus is not nearly as deadly as the cancerous corruption that is endemic in our oligarchic corporatocracy. For proof of that look no further than Nancy Pelosi’s emergency “sick pay” bill, that exempts companies of over 500 employees from paying sick pay — and has a boatload of special exemptions for businesses below that threshold — which leaves all but 20% of workers eligible for benefits. The holes in Pelosi’s bill are bigger than the gaping void where her brain and soul should be.

This corruption of the elites is bipartisan, as evidenced by two Republican Senators, Richard Burr and Kelly Loeffler (who is married to Jeffrey Sprechter, chairman of the New York Stock Exchange), who allegedly took advantage of classified briefings on the impending severity of coronavirus in late January and early February to pull off some slick insider trading maneuvers so they could cash in before the public had any clue what was coming. Both, of course, deny any impropriety.

The egregious economic divide in America is further highlighted by the Covid-19 debate over whether to close schools amidst the crisis. The reason this debate raged on well past the rational time to act is that our education system is not a system of learning but rather a glorified daycare and food delivery service.

Proletarian parents are unable to stay home and raise their kids anymore because it now takes two parents — usually working multiple jobs — to make less equivalently than what one working parent did forty years ago.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District, 70% of all students are below the poverty line and rely on the school system for the majority of their meals. In the wealthiest country on the planet, that is absolutely disgraceful. The virus of structural economic inequality isa much more long-term and deadly problem than coronavirus, and the ruling class and their shameless lackeys in the press, have no interest in ever honestly addressing or acknowledging it.

The corporate whores in Congress and the White House (of both parties) also gleefully inform Americans that universal, single-payer health care, which every other industrialized nation in the world already has, is a pipe dream and impossibility.

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They tell us they could never ever pay for something so decadent and luxurious as health care, but then they magically pull $1.5 trillion out of their gold-plated assholes in order to stave off a collapse of their own making. It is amazing how the Lords of Finance can make money miraculously appear in order to get things done when it is their exorbitant wealth on the line, and not ordinary Americans’ health and wellbeing.

Coronavirus is a crisis that is revealing the ugly truth about America and the malignant character of its ruling class. The crisis is going to get worse before it gets better, but it eventually will get better. America, on the other hand, will only get much worse, with no hope that it is ever going to get better.

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16 thoughts on “Covid-19 has taken away bread and circuses, laying bare the true American empire

  1. Phil Huston

    Where do you find these narrow POV hyperbolic drama queens? His piece on Hollywood taking a hit failed to bring a tear to my eye. Yes, hourly workers, middle management, sales reps, hot dog salespersons, restaurant owners and valet parking attendants are all taking a hit, but it is hardly the “overlord” employers taking their gigs away. The governor of California shut down commerce, not some heartless goose with a golden asshole and an agend against the 99%. Maybe this is a “God thing.” Maybe Hollywood needs to stop banking Mission Impossible 43 money and agenda oriented “entertainment” and take a trip back to 1958 and Edward R. Murrow and assume some responsibility for living fat for too long on too little. Nobody ever said free-lance was easy or permanent or that cranking out shit for $ and whining when it dried up was a good idea. Want job security? Stop being an occasional make-up artist or boom operator and teach. Or stand around with a shovel for the city, stick your neck out and create a few jobs for other people. Those who have will landscapers in hazmat suits trimming their hedges, those who have not will be denied a $1 chees-burger, or a gig making them. Until someone comes up with a better plan than a total welfare state, a vegan Theocracy or a Soylent Green/Logan’s Run social structure people fleeing from far worse circumstance will still staff the sweatshops of the “boss man.” Except for the millions who have figured out how to eat enough to get fat, buy new cell phones, get expensive hair and nail work done, go to the doc at will and never work a minute. Why isn’t anyone complaining about that? Hardworking people are suffering, but it’s not just the fat cats surfing. My .02. Hey McCaffrey, if it sucks so bad, set an example. Move to Canada, or Iceland and flog your shtick.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hyperion

    I think Phil sees through the fictional anarchist’s smoke screen. If I filter out the hyperbole which points to a personal AOC like agenda, I do see some real issues here in the great US of A. There are three main problems to solve from my view from the couch, none of them easy. First, our education system is a failure, our judicial system is a failure, our government is a failure. Secondary to the top three is financial and economic model is a failure for the nation but a true miracle of immeasurable wealth for the 1%. Tertiary to it all is an uneducated, uniformed, unproductive, superstitious, rumor mongering segment of the population that cannot and will not work together, not even to save their lives, the country, or the world. So, lots to resolve there. The people that are keeping it all together and shouldering all the burden are getting fewer and disillusioned. There is always the big solution of manmade or natural disaster that hastens the sixth extinction. That takes the burden off of humans to solve their problems. No more responsibility or accountability for ourselves. We can go up in flames holding hands in a giant circle pointing at the person on our right as the one to blame. I do agree that all the haters should get off the government dole and move to China, Russia, India, or Iran. If they want true individualism without government then Syria or Yemen are great places to live. I don’t understand why someone sits in their own feces when they can get up and move anywhere in the world to find their dream. Oh wait, that might be hard work. Never mind. Let’s just sit in our dirty diapers and sling poop at imaginary monsters while a few brave and determined people actually try to make a difference in a positive and enlightening way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Phil Huston

      Tertiary to it all is an uneducated, uniformed, unproductive, superstitious, rumor mongering segment of the population that cannot and will not work together, not even to save their lives, the country, or the world…Let’s just sit in our dirty diapers and sling poop at imaginary monsters while a few brave and determined people actually try to make a difference in a positive and enlightening way.

      Can I get an Amen?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sha'Tara Post author

        You have a very loud “AMEN!” from me, Phil. I Like the direction you and Hype have taken this discussion onto.


  3. Hyperion

    And Sha’tara, I hope you didn’t think my usual caffienated rant was directed at you. Your free spirited views of the Evil Regime are well established. I was ranting at my own neighborhood to which you are safely isolated from. I was thinking I subscribe to local and world news and not a peep about Canada except Madame Trudeau testing positive for COVID-19 and a tiny blurb about Canada not yet seeing any ramp up in cases. So you likely picked a great place to live as long as you don’t get around Mrs. Trudeau. It has always fascinated me how Canadians are fully engaged in America’s travails and some of it quite mean spirited but in all my years I’ve never once heard an American speak ill of Canada or her people. You guys are either the best liked people in the world or no one has ever heard of Canada except Canadians. Or, we Americans are too busy wrapped up in our own problems to take on Canada’s too. What do you think it is? As far as the author, he is one of those that advocated for the homeless right to poop in the street but refused a tax increase to pay city poop shovelers a decent wage. He also is the same group that builds expensive homes on mudslides and natural fire lanes. Soooo, we folks in the other 49 states ignore them. Village idiots are not the same as a court jester or Town Crier. The jester and Crier serve a useful purpose.


    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      You’re probably right, that most of the world knows little or nothing about Canada, in particular Americans who for the most part don’t even know much about their own empire except the few myths regarding the revolution, the civil war and attendant mostly fictional heroes. They might know about the Kardashians and “the King” and George Washington chopping down the baloney tree… Reminds me of that internet cartoon caption (some day I’ll learn how to post images on my comments) that went something like this: “I told that teachin’ lady there’s only three letters I need to know, U, S and A.”
      OK, so it’s relatively easy to beat up on the ignorant, the welfare and homeless who appear able but unwilling to work. It needs to be remembered that the predatory capitalist system that is destroying the economies of the world literally created these hopeless cases. They groomed consumerism with promises (they’re called commercials and ads) and with easier and easier credit. They deliberately did not teach these same hopeless cases how to reason the why’s and wherefore’s, i.e., consequences. Lied to from the crib and mis-educated, they grew into social parasites. They grew into what they were guided, trained, pushed and expected to be because it meant increasing corporate profits. “Train a child in the way he should go, and he will not depart from it.” That works both ways and now the consumerist “West” is saddled with millions of lazy, entitled people to dummied down to hold any kind of decent job. They certainly won’t be joining Jose, Pedro and Jesus in the produce fields.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hyperion

        Your wit is always evident Sha’tara. I was giggling then read about the baloney tree and snort laughed 🤭. It is true, all of it. We Americans have a small demographic that sticks its monkey butt in the mass media camera and the whole world thinks they know everything about us. Not everybody is created equal and most of the homeless do have mental issues that prevent them from fully assimilating. But those aren’t the ones that piss us off. It’s the parasites who choose to be parasites. It’s the people we caught coughing on produce at the grocery store to upload on Facebook that need to be re-educated in a way they can’t forget. It’s the people who stole a huge load of N95 masks destined for hospitals treating patients that need re-education. The people who are healthy, able, strong, and fit who choose willingly to plug the social toilet and spread disease as a joke have tread on our good will. I still see more positive people doing good things than the minority of bad seed. I meet young people everyday that show me they have a good head on their shoulders and are ready to take over. They are as good or better than any generation before them but you can’t see that from your news feed because our disgusting national media only has one agenda, elect liberal unqualified leaders. You do know that all the media moguls are 1%’s. Do you think they will give up their wealth and position for a rabble they created. Nope, they have the believers right where they want them. You can see that on the news. Trump butt hurt is at the bottom of every digit that goes out on the wire. You can see that and you believe it because it’s all you know, the same as everyone else watching the media build lies on top of lies until the most ridiculously unprovable farce is worshipped as truth. You can see that and believe it because you have no other frame of reference. But those of us that know better aren’t buying it. There are problems, big problems but they can’t be solved by lies, spun facts, hate, dissolution, anarchy, atheism agnosticism, religion, government, or books in the library. The media does not exist to inform. It exist to milk its believers dry to keep that media mogul living the good life. Show me a wealthy liberal socialist and I’ll show you a satanic worshipping scam artist. Harvey Weinstein comes to mind along with his buddy Epstein. Follow their money and you’ll find corruption in places the media doesn’t want you to know because it might interfere with their agenda. Leave these village idiots to their own demise and follow your own mind, it’s a lot sharper than those people trying to brain wash you.


      2. Sha'Tara Post author

        Without going into much detail, I’ll tell you what I do KNOW about your country. There are 2 Americas. There is the America of ordinary Americans, and those people, for the most part, have hearts of gold. Any foreigner can (or at least could, pre-Trump) travel in your country and if s/he got in trouble and asked for help, so is my experience, someone would go out of their way to help. Personal experience in Oregon some years back, then again in Fort Worth some years later.
        Unfortunately that is not the America that the world experiences, it’s the predatory capitalistic MIC America led by CIA operatives, Washington, Wall Street, the Pentagon and a host of America-based mega corporations that starve, poison, dispossess, slaughter people all over for resources, profits, power, even fun at times (wait until the ICC opens up on US war crimes which Washington is doing its damnedest to shut down); destroy countries through sanctions and military “advisers”; bully, threatened, then attack to force regime change and install America-friendly dictators. Fact and history, undeniable.
        Finally, the saddest part is that ordinary Americans CHOOSE to remain oblivious to this frenzy of murderous filth oozing out of their power centers and paid for by their own blood, sweat an tears, while, like the erstwhile Germans of Nazi days, they insist on believing, supporting AND demonizing any country, however insignificant, say Cuba or Iran… or can I mention Grenada again? as enemies of America.
        There is ample good reason why America is virulently hated globally, as was Nazi Germany. The Germans turned into murderous Nazi swine and you, as a people, are probably ready to walk that same path of self destruction. Just know this however: Germany got “lucky” that the US/British capitalist empire chose to provide a bulwark against Stalinist expansionism after the defeat of Nazi Germany. No one will be there for America when it falls, as it must. The invaders will only be aware of your nation’s capital crimes of exploitation and your war crimes which number in the millions with hardly a nation unaffected. They won’t care about your good people. You will experience the dark side of exceptionalism. That is not just a prophecy, it’s a simple projection. The only way out of this certain nightmare is to have the courage to disavow your regime and its rulers, religious, political and financial.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Hyperion

        I think this is a little bit glazed by a particular laser focus. That’s okay Sha’Tara. Everyone believes what they like. I was there in a lot of those places you described and I’m pretty close to the realities of who the real evil is. Everything else is an anecdotal opinion backed by Al Jezeera and fake Facebook accounts. I think we could start with imperfection and then do a world comparison and our grade on the curve would be good enough to take honor roll if not Suma Cum Laude. We definitely have some bad actors but have you not noticed the ramped up activism in America? Twitter storms are real. Ask ole Harvey Weinstein and Epstein how it went when the public got wind of their real life’s work. We choose our battles and some are still out of reach, but that doesn’t stop us from calling them out. Coke, the Oil Companies, and Monsanto are on our hit list. Most of those oil companies and Monsanto aren’t even American Companies. But we got our sights on them. We really need to stop trying to please the world and just do our own thing. Do we really care if the world starves to death when we have a million residents in poverty and facing 30% unemployment soon? And we are definitely not racists. We elected the first Orange dude in history as our President. That hasn’t been done anywhere before. We even decided it was better to elect a man of rare color even if he had no qualifications. That’s how open we are to diversity. Come on Sha’Tara. Give us a little credit for choosing color over capability.


      4. Sha'Tara Post author

        Love your satire! Quote: “And we are definitely not racists. We elected the first Orange dude in history as our President. That hasn’t been done anywhere before. We even decided it was better to elect a man of rare color even if he had no qualifications.” Can’t add anything to that, for sure!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Hyperion

        I thought you would like that. We can claim that one as a different kind of real.


  4. usfman

    The Corona Pandemic might be a blessing in disguise for those lucky ones who do not get the disease and regain self examination through both mind and heart.



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