Putting Profits over Lives

The Coronavirus is a symptom of a much bigger problem that leaves people all over the world woefully unprepared in better times, and now has blind-sided us and caught us with our pants down. The root cause of the problem is the proclivity of the privileged few who choose profits over lives. Not their lives, ours. The dispensable lives of the disposable masses.

Pardon my gloom and doom, but what got me in this foul mood on this bright Sunday, day seven or eight of lockdown, was a heartwarming line on the home page of the Bank Hapoalim website: “Na’avor et zeh yahad – We’ll go through this together…” Please, there is no “together” here. Hapoalim, Mizrachi, and the mythical “friend from Chase Manhattan” haven’t earned the right to call for “togetherness in the these difficult times.” All those big-time bankers who profit from ruination and reconstruction, the greedy tycoons they finance and the groveling governments who covet their support with cow eyes on all fours, where were all those loan sharks, high rollers and sleazy politicians when our health systems became so underfunded and neglected?

Why is spending sufficiently on hospital beds such a big fucking problem? By what economic rationale is it unprofitable to stock up on breathing machines and other life-saving equipment, and employ enough doctors, nurses, lab technicians and hospital orderlies to hold the fort under extreme emergency conditions?

The answer: The very same rationale for spending billions of dollars on nuclear weapons that, thank God, haven’t been used in seventy years, but still serve as “doomsday weapons” and bring in mega profits for those who manufacture them; spending more billions on naval destroyers and bombers that are rarely used in modern warfare and couldn’t swat a terrorist’s nest without killing innocents, but still line the pockets of defense contractors; and throwing out many more millions on election campaigns enlivened by billboards with brain-dead slogans that enlighten no one and leave us at the mercy of dimwitted leaders who are an embarrassment to humanity.

It is no coincidence that the very same idiot, he whose name should be stricken along with his tweets, the same moron who thinks that Climate Change is a left-wing conspiracy, is also the poor excuse for a POTUS who suggested that the Coronavirus is no big deal.

It is no surprise that our too clever to be wise leader, Bibi Netanyahu, the same Bibi who led us to three wasteful elections in a year with a dysfunctional Knesset and no government to speak of while our health system was falling apart, is coming off now like he saved Israel from Corona.

And it’s tragic that so many Italian, French, Spanish and American people, and so many others, are paying such a high price for the shortsightedness of their leaders, and the selfishness of the big power brokers who put profits over lives.

About the Author
Avi Shamir is a freelance writer, editor, translator and the author of "Saving the Game," a novel about baseball. A Brooklyn College graduate with a BA in English, Avi has contributed to the Jerusalem Post, The Nation, Israel Scene, In English and The World Zionist Press Service.
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