Human sacrifice is not good for the economy, and neither is class warfare

Wednesday in The Guardian online there was a piece by Jonathan Portes titled "Don't believe the myth that we must sacrifice lives to save the economy." This is an attempt to rationally rebut the notion that "the economy" is some kind of god or gods which demands continual human sacrifice if the universe is not to collapse. We saw this notion before in the the history books -- it was promoted in the pre-Columbian Aztec Empire. "The economy" is, then, the Huitzilopochtli of today. Portes, a professor of economics (a religion in its own right) in the UK, is here taking the "let's all be reasonable" approach.

At any rate, Portes says they think this kind of "economy as god" stuff in the UK too. Portes starts:

Is the cure worse than the disease? The Times claimed today: “If the coronavirus lockdown leads to a fall in GDP of more than 6.4% more years of life will be lost due to recession than will be gained through beating the virus.” It’s hard to know where to start with this nonsense.

Portes then goes through the various arguments against the "lose lives to strengthen the economy" notion. The strongest one comes first:

More broadly, restoring the economy to normal requires, above all, confidence. Amid continuing uncertainty both about their own finances and the wider economy, households won’t spend and businesses won’t invest. And that simply isn’t going to happen until the spread of the diseases has been contained.

This is the argument that is most likely to sway our Congress here in the US. The economy depends upon optimism, and letting the virus kill a lot of people isn't going to produce optimism. But as you read over Portes' further arguments you can see Portes pointing to the actual intent of the "sacrifice lives to save the economy" argument. Here's the most revealing one.

It wasn’t the sharp fall in GDP in 2008-9 that reduced, over the course of the next decade, life expectancy for the poorest in our society. It was how the government chose to address the economic fallout of the global financial crisis – by underfunding and understaffing the NHS and social care, and by eroding the basic welfare safety net that people depend on when times are hard. As we are now discovering, these were false economies that left us less, not more, prepared for this crisis.

So that's the strategy, then. Underfund healthcare, and then get out there proclaiming "we gotta end some lives if we're to save the economy." The point is, of course, that a healthy economy isn't really the goal of those who say "we gotta end some lives if we're to save the economy." The real goal is class warfare -- the ruling class wants to cull the working class so that the remaining workers will think to keep their noses down if they want to live. Of course such a strategy is not "good for the economy." It's good for class warfare, though, and it keeps the idea of human sacrifice alive in our culture.

And as long as we're in the business of myth in the service of class warfare, there's this opinion piece, published today in the New York Times:

The Road to Coronavirus Hell Was Paved by Evangelicals

In it, Katherine Stewart argues:

Donald Trump rose to power with the determined assistance of a movement that denies science, bashes government and prioritized loyalty over professional expertise. In the current crisis, we are all reaping what that movement has sown.

So yeah -- if you were reading all of this and scratching your head, thinking "why is Cassiodorus going on about human sacrifice when this is supposed to be a discussion of the economy?" -- well, there it is. If you want to know why human sacrifice persists in our society, look no further than organized, fundamentalist religion..

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louder than killing off the poor.

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PriceRip's picture

          equate progressive taxing as class warfare. So just looking at your title will trigger that Pavlovian response.

          You have described the core of the problem: The inability of most people to understand how economics really works allows them to use their ignorance to further their other goals (or agendas).

          I have seen this many times: The inability to focus on the core issue(s) creates a fog-bank of distractions that make progress impossible.

          Oh yea! Did you read the one about the evangelical preacher … (never mind : it is a very sick joke) …

RIP

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"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

Cassiodorus's picture

that our health care "system" is doing the best it can.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/coronavirus-teenager-d...

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"Advertising? Wow! So, people need help figuring out what to buy and then y-you help them?" -- Rick J19Zeta7

Raggedy Ann's picture

That's what the elite are committing by wanting everyone to die for the economy.

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"The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." Socrates (469-399 BC)

Lily O Lady's picture

@Raggedy Ann

Negligible homicide would be an insignificant amount.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

Raggedy Ann's picture

@Lily O Lady
Oh, I guess you didn't understand my comment, now worries. Pleasantry

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"The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." Socrates (469-399 BC)

Lily O Lady's picture

@Raggedy Ann

I, however, disagree with them.

Sorry I missed your joke. I’ll try to do better next time.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

When a person became too old, they were "renewed".

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Lily O Lady's picture

@MrWebster

become Soylent Green. Now it looks like I’ll just go to waste.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

@Lily O Lady Forced euthasian for the elderly.

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OzoneTom's picture

Using the Spanish Flu as a model where cities enacting shutting of schools, establishing quarantines and restricting business hours experienced economic advantages in recovery rebound:
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/new-fed-study-finds-efforts-to-slow-pa...
Stay home for Easter.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@OzoneTom because most of the countries who suffered its effects were also conducting information suppression about it so as to "improve" troop morale in World War I -- the main exception being the Spanish, who were at least honest about what was happening because they did not take part in World War I.

Thus the idea of the "Spanish Flu" being any sort of model is pretty laughable.

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"Advertising? Wow! So, people need help figuring out what to buy and then y-you help them?" -- Rick J19Zeta7

longtalldrink's picture

They are coming for the masses. They believe we are coming after them...so this is their offense strategy. They are highly aware of how unpopular they are (right now-always?) and could care less. They are worried about being knocked off their perch. You see the way they act like babies if one little thing goes wrong...that was rich dudes jumping out of buildings during the 30s Depression.

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Well done is better than well said-Ben Franklin

Lily O Lady's picture

@longtalldrink

outta buildings after the 1929 crash. Turns out it was a rumor that proved untrue.

One justification Trump gave for restarting the economy was that there would be “thousands” of suicides if the US went into a depression. Somehow he overlooked the real probability of millions of deaths due to Covid19 if we don’t flatten the curve. ‘Cuz reasons.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

snoopydawg's picture

@Lily O Lady

from lack of health care. And food unless people get a bigger check. But as this essay points out the PTB don't give a rat's ass how many of us die. Funny how no one talks about the 24 or more veterans that kill themselves every gawd damn day in this country! How many people are dying from not being able to afford just insulin alone?

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"I will be the best, the best, you know, you know the thing!”
- Joe Biden

Grope and Hope

TheOtherMaven's picture

@snoopydawg

Doesn't have to be heavy science, either - light reading like Hawthorne's "Lady Eleanor's Mantle" or Poe's "Masque of the Red Death" would be a good starting point. Or any popular history of the Black Death.

Their wealth will not protect them. Their social class will not protect them. Running away and hiding will not protect them. They are in this just as much as we peons, and the sooner they realize it the better.

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

Cassiodorus's picture

@TheOtherMaven to their escape dwellings in New Zealand?

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/feb/15/why-silicon-valley-billiona...

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"Advertising? Wow! So, people need help figuring out what to buy and then y-you help them?" -- Rick J19Zeta7

TheOtherMaven's picture

@Cassiodorus

in their hermetically sealed abbey-fortress.

They were all...dead wrong.

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

Alligator Ed's picture

Is the cure worse than the disease? The Times claimed today: “If the coronavirus lockdown leads to a fall in GDP of more than 6.4% more years of life will be lost due to recession than will be gained through beating the virus.” It’s hard to know where to start with this nonsense.

Portes then goes through the various arguments against the "lose lives to strengthen the economy" notion. The strongest one comes first:

More broadly, restoring the economy to normal requires, above all, confidence. Amid continuing uncertainty both about their own finances and the wider economy, households won’t spend and businesses won’t invest. And that simply isn’t going to happen until the spread of the diseases has been contained.

Therein lies the fallacy: Restoring the Economy to Normal

Normal is fucking us, the ant-people, over and over again. Lay down and let me do it again. With this bailout for the Rich, bigger and better than the 2009 bailout, will come loss of jobs, loss of hope, despair, drug addiction increases, suicide and early death.

Hoping for a merciful death, swift and painless is not to be our fate. We ants are being ground to death by glass slippers crushing us on rough pavement.

As this COVID-19 seems daily evermore to be a coordinated attack from both sides of the Duopoly, I think that Bill Gates, Hillbots, Obama-ites and their masters (Rothschilds, Soros, and other unnamed players with billions with which to buy compliance, have war gamed this virological disaster. The final dry run was Event 201. Watch the videos of that conference. It makes me think of a semi-civilized repeat of the Wannsee Konferenz.

Wannsee Conference

The Wannsee Conference (German: Wannseekonferenz) was a meeting of senior government officials of Nazi Germany and Schutzstaffel (SS) leaders, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942. The purpose of the conference, called by the director of the Reich Main Security Office SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, was to ensure the co-operation of administrative leaders of various government departments in the implementation of the Final solution to the Jewish question (German: Endlösung der Judenfrage), whereby most of the Jews of German-occupied Europe would be deported to occupied Poland and murdered. Conference participants included representatives from several government ministries, including state secretaries from the Foreign Office, the justice, interior, and state ministries, and representatives from the SS. In the course of the meeting, Heydrich outlined how European Jews would be rounded up and sent to extermination camps in the General Government (the occupied part of Poland), where they would be killed.[1]

Discrimination against Jews began immediately after the Nazi seizure of power on 30 January 1933. Violence and economic pressure were used by the Nazi regime to encourage Jews to voluntarily leave the country. After the invasion of Poland in September 1939, the extermination of European Jewry began, and the killings continued and accelerated after the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. On 31 July 1941, Hermann Göring gave written authorization to Heydrich to prepare and submit a plan for a "total solution of the Jewish question" in territories under German control and to coordinate the participation of all involved government organisations. At the Wannsee Conference, Heydrich emphasised that once the deportation process was complete, the fate of the deportees would become an internal matter under the purview of the SS. A secondary goal was to arrive at a definition of who was Jewish.

Substitute "ant" for "Jew". This is where we are now. Obergruppensführer Wilhelm Gates along with Hildebeest Klinton und retired Reichsführer Obama have shown us the way to monetary Dachau: Arbeit Macht Frei. Work will set you free. But Die Drei Kameraden don't tell us that free means kaput. You are freed from slavery only by dying.

40 acres and a mule! Not even mule shit will they give us without charge, at onerous borrowing rates.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@Alligator Ed https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/n7jmad/venezuelan-president-nicolas-m...

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"Advertising? Wow! So, people need help figuring out what to buy and then y-you help them?" -- Rick J19Zeta7