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August 4, 2021 | Big Governments Make COVID-19 a Federal Case

Is an American author of books and articles on economic and financial subjects. He is the founder and president of Agora Publishing, and author of the daily financial column, Diary of a Rogue Economist.

POITOU, FRANCE – We love a good parade as much as the next guy.

And a good war.

The sound of the trumpet! The shine of the medals! The thrill of the ranks… marching to victory!

Out on the battlefield, the front-line troops give ‘em hell… while back at home, mom and dad follow the glorious fight on the wireless… proud of their sons and daughters…

And as long as the money keeps flowing… who cares what is really going on?

Career Opportunity

“War is the health of the state,” as the writer Randolph Bourne put it.

Especially a war it can’t win, adds Bill Bonner.

And now, with “breakthrough infections,” new “variants,” and vaccinated people still getting sick…

Hey, like the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs, and the war in Afghanistan, the War on COVID-19 is turning out to be a career opportunity for the feds…

…and a real moneymaker for their main suppliers – the drug companies. Forbes reports:

Operation Warp Speed (OWS)—the U.S. government’s Covid-19 relief program—would dole out $22 billion to Big Pharma.

The amounts of money were the kinds of sums normally seen in the smaller defense budget line items, but were massive for a public health project—$2.5 billion to Moderna, $1.2 billion to AstraZeneca, half a billion dollars to Johnson & Johnson, and $1.6 billion to a small company called Novavax. Only Pfizer opted out of ponying up to the trough at first—it didn’t want to devote resources to coordinating with the US government on its work.

In July, Pfizer signed a $1.95 billion deal to sell one hundred million doses of its two-shot vaccine to the United States, enough for fifty million people.

It turned out to be a profitable move for Pfizer. The New York Times:

Pfizer Reaps Hundreds of Millions in Profits From Covid Vaccine

The vaccine brought in $3.5 billion in revenue in the first three months of this year, nearly a quarter of its total revenue, Pfizer reported. The vaccine was, far and away, Pfizer’s biggest source of revenue.

Federal Case

When COVID-19 came to light, all over the world, authorities might have treated it like any other health challenge.

They might have alerted local officials… and warned vulnerable people to take cover.

Instead, for better or for worse, almost all of the major nations – save, perhaps, Sweden – made a federal case out of it.

They went to war.

They attempted to stop the virus… isolate it… to trace carriers… to block transmission… and to stifle its spread. The strategy seemed reasonable enough, if your aim was to treat it as an enemy.

But the virus must have broken the code. It seemed to know what the field marshals were up to. It changed its tactics.

Its new Delta variant is said to move quickly. It sneaks through our lines – even those of the veterans who are fully vaccinated.

And here’s the latest from the front, The Washington Post reporting:

Florida breaks record for new coronavirus cases as surge of infections rips through state

The data shows the severity of the surge in Florida, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak and now responsible for 1 in 5 new infections nationally. The previous peak in Florida had been on Jan. 7, when the state reported 19,334 cases, according to the CDC — before the widespread availability of coronavirus vaccinations. Florida has reported an average of 15,818 new cases a day over the past seven days, according to data compiled by The Washington Post.

The best wars – from the feds’ point of view – are those where the enemy never gives up… but can’t win either.

Then, the conflict drags on for years.

The feds spend trillions… get battlefield promotions… and reward their friends with contracts (guaranteeing a rich retirement for the insiders as “consultants” to their former suppliers).

Criminal Victims

So far, there is still no conclusive evidence that going to war with the virus really pays off. The headlines are full of alarums.

But the death statistics show little connection between the war effort and the body count. Despite its sans souci approach, Sweden still has fewer deaths per 100,000 than the U.S., U.K., France, or Italy.

Argentina is notable, with a higher fatality rate than any of them… and also the strictest control measures.

We spent nine months there last year. Roadblocks kept us from going anywhere. Everything was closed. The whole country was locked up… You needed a special permission to come in or go out.

And now, Argentina is leading the way to the future (we fear) by turning the victims into criminals. Yes, the gauchos are cracking down. Here’s a message received from friends:

Today’s Infobae newspaper says that 20 people are down with the Delta version of COVID-19 and that five others have been arrested for violating articles 202 and 205 of the Argentine Penal Code.

Article 202 of the Argentine Penal Code says [in an awkward translation]:

“Shall be punished with seclusion or imprisonment for three to fifteen years a person who spreads a dangerous and contagious disease to others…”

Article 205 of the Argentine Penal Code says:

“Will be punished with imprisonment for six months to two years he who violates the measures adopted by the competent authorities for impeding the introduction or propaganda [it probably is supposed to say propagation] means “of an epidemic.”

Found and Fined

All over the world, as we reported last week, the warriors are running out of patience with the malingerers and peaceniks.

Far from giving up the war as a lost cause, they want a surge.

Here’s the latest from the Earth’s underside, The Daily Mail:

Australia uses helicopters and the ARMY to enforce its ‘Zero Covid’ lockdown as thousands of police flood Sydney to enforce the rules and hand out $500 no-mask fines – with just 17% of adults vaccinated

Sirens blared across the city and a draconian message was broadcast from the skies, as millions were told: ‘This is public health order—do not break rules—you will be found and fines issued.’

Yes… COVID-19 appears to be here to stay… along with a long war against it.

And tomorrow, we look at yet another enemy… and another “transitory forever” war.

Stay tuned…




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August 4th, 2021

Posted In: Bill Bonner's Diary

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