GRAND THEFT CORONA
In 1983, I had an apartment on Martin Luther King Blvd. in Newark, New Jersey’s Central Ward. I looked out of place in the neighborhood. But the rent was affordable and I worked within walking distance.
Though in that “Brick City” of 325,000 there were at that time zero grocery stores, there was a bodega half a block from my steep stone stoop. I used to go there to buy milk and those tasty, cellophane-wrapped FrozFruit coconut ice pops. I became friendly with the store’s owner, an amiable, diminutive, mustachioed Puerto Rican gentleman in his forties who often wore a Guayabera shirt.
When I approached the counter one summer Saturday morning, the owner seemed uncharacteristically glum. I said, “Hey, what’s up? Is something bothering you.”
He frowned and said, “Last night, when I was closing, I put all my money for the week, $7,000, in the backseat of my car. But I couldn’t remember if I switched on my burglar alarm, so I went back inside to check. When I came back out, my cash box was gone. It took two minutes.”
Stunned, I offered, “Maybe they’ll catch the guys and you’ll get the money back.”
He frowned at my naive optimism. (I didn’t actually believe what I had said. I was just trying to cheer him up). He replied, with dismissive resignation, “Nah, it’s like you, brother. When you’re gone, you’re gone and you ain’t coming back.”
When one experiences theft directly—even if it’s just the contents of one’s purse or wallet—s/he feels indignation and anger and thinks that those who robbed them deserve punishment. People feel the same, strongly negative emotion when someone deceives them in a business transaction. The amount of money involved doesn’t even have to be very high.
Over 10 trillion dollars were foolishly spent on the Corona overreaction. Extremely out of his depth, both scientifically and economically, Trump irresponsibly sponsored six-trillion-dollars of CARES Act giveaways. His terrible judgment during this period, and his continuing vaxx promotion, must never be forgotten.
Biden & Company stacked four trillion more dollars of debt/contrived money on top of that, plus he mandated the jabs. Neither he nor Trump should ever again hold public office.
But most people didn’t think twice about these potlatches. They were too busy washing their hands, ordering DoorDash, buying masks and waiting in lines for 40 cycle PCR tests. To many, the government’s panicked and politically-motivated spending sprees didn’t register; they seemed unreal and diffuse. The funds were created and distributed electronically. Besides, most of us got, and many were mollified and distracted by, seemingly free money via “stimulus checks.”
Nearly 90% of the $800 billion of PPP “loans” were never repaid; nor were these vast sums ever expected to be. Additionally, at least $600 billion of “Covid relief” money was stolen via fraud or embezzlement. Most of those who sneakily dipped their buckets into this Amazon-at-flood-stage river of dollars will never be caught or prosecuted. Like the Newark merchant’s cash box, the missing money won’t ever be recovered.
The giveaways continue. For example, there’s still a widely-advertised tax credit for Covid employee retention. This scheme, which was estimated, in March, 2020, to cost the US Treasury $50 billion, had, by May, 2023, already cost $152 billion. And counting. Almost no one knows this is happening; they only notice when their own taxes increase.
All of the “Covid Relief” numbers are far too big to understand unless one has a good numbers sense and sits quietly in a room with some blank paper and does some ciphering. People thought it was a good idea to spend limitlessly and futilely on Grandma without considering the costs to her adult children and grandkids. Hey, Grandma used to make us cookies; she’s worth whatever we’ve got. And even what we don’t got. Even if we can’t, through the full range of “mitigation,” keep her alive for another two months in a nursing home, where she’s seldom visited. If she has to live in isolation and die alone to “stop the spread,” so be it.
But the effects of these giveaways are real, profound and lasting. Some entities and people made nearly incomprehensible sums. Forbes reported that a record 493 new billionaires were created in 2020-21. Despite being semi-mothballed for an extended period, hospitals made record profits of $20 billion from Covid relief. Pharma companies have made at least $100 billion from the failed vaxxes. And Gates-owned Gilead, which made the Remdesivir that many blame for hospital deaths, cashed in big-time. So did Zoom, Amazon and Netflix et al. Over 40 new shot, mask or test makers became billionaires, even though the masks and tests were scams and the shots flopped and killed or injured many.
The government’s issuance of all that fiat money has made you significantly poorer. There are five times as many dollars in the money supply now than there were in January, 2020. Thus, you’re paying 18% more for the things you buy today than you did in March, 2020. It’s also harder than ever to buy a first home. Those who can afford a down payment will pay far more mortgage interest for decades. They’ll/you’ll also pay more in taxes, in perpetuity. And if you didn’t already own an inflation hedge, such as real estate, stocks or metals—the prices of which have increased because all of that printed money had to go somewhere—you’ve missed out on a wave of profit-taking that better-capitalized people have caught. Inflation has devalued trillions of dollars of aggregate household savings. The relatively few rich got richer and the more numerous un-rich became noticeably poorer.
Inflation has a ratchet effect; once it occurs, it can’t be reversed. The Fed won’t sponsor deflationary measures. But the government spending/printing all of this inflationary money bothered people less than if somebody had slashed their car tire. Oblivious to cause and effect, most people—and their elected representatives—strongly supported policies that caused this inflation. They gullibly concluded Covid was an unprecedented health crisis that justified locking down a society and trashing an economy, even though humans had never before taken such measures.
While demagogues conned people about grandma, those impoverished by the massive Covid spending binge will have to work many more hours over many years to pay their bills. Consequently, some will live less long.
Studies show what should have been obvious, in March 2020, to anyone who could think: there were functionally no differences in health outcomes between the nations and states that went all-in on lockdowns, masks, tests and shots, and those that didn’t. By supporting “Covid Relief,” people got robbed far worse than they ever have. They effectively welcomed the bandits into their bank accounts and homes.
Most Americans believe that any bad outcome can be overridden or somehow redeemed. While this notion has emotional appeal, it seems unfounded. Not everything that’s broken can be put back together.
Aside from the widespread loss of wealth and the attendant social stratification, the experiences that young people could have had: the new friendships, the school bands and plays, athletics, proms, parties and graduations; and for adults, meetings of life partners, the unstarted families and gatherings, voyages and other uncreated memories were stolen from billions of people.
And that time, those experiences and those resources are like you, brothers and sisters: they’re not coming back.
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