We Wish to Inform You That Your Death Is Highly Profitable
To Trump, our illnesses and deaths are a necessary cost of doing business
Have you heard the good news? Donald Trump is suggesting our freeze on businesses as a measure to curb coronavirus may end as soon as Monday. Yes, allowing people to go back to work could lead to more widespread infection, but the deaths of a few hundred thousand — if not a few million — more of us is a small price to pay for rescuing the American economy from collapse. In the president’s words, “we can’t have the cure be worse than the problem itself.”
Trump’s message is clear: The economy is not here to serve human beings; human beings are here to serve the economy. Those of us who die in service to the Dow Jones Industrial Average are mere externalities to the higher priority of capital growth. Like the destruction of the environment, our illnesses and deaths are a necessary cost of doing business. We cannot surrender to the depressing verdicts of doctors and scientists, lest we deflate the hope and optimism that make America great.
Those who will benefit most from our sacrifice — the billionaires whose fortunes are based almost solely on the economy’s continuing ability to grow — are already preparing for their escape. They’re booking private jets, ready to depart for their isolated doomsday compounds once they feel they themselves are at genuine risk.
It’s a variation on the “insulation equation” I wrote about a couple of years ago after meeting a group of billionaires who wanted advice on how to maintain security for their doomsday bunkers in the event of societal collapse. The object of the game, as they see it, is to earn enough money to insulate themselves from the very damage their ventures have both directly and indirectly created in the first place. It’s a self-perpetuating nightmare: The more environmental and social damage they do, the more money they must earn to protect themselves from the devastation they leave in their wake. And the more committed they become to saving their asses and leaving the rest of behind when a real crisis emerges.
Like the destruction of the environment, our illnesses and deaths are a necessary cost of doing…