Business as unusual: COVID in perspective

I live in the New York metro area.  When the pandemic first struck, I would go to my window and notice what I didn't see.  I didn't see ambulances lined up on my block, and I didn't hear drivers calling, "Bring out your dead!"  I concluded that whatever we were experiencing, it wasn't the Bubonic Plague.  So, at the height of lockdown mania, I never stopped going into Manhattan to run my ordinary errands.

I rode the subways in the spring of 2020 when they were so empty that no more than two or three passengers might be seated in each car.  I walked through Midtown when the streets were deserted.  I felt as if I had broken a taboo by venturing there.  Back then, you saw maybe a lone jogger on Fifth Avenue or Madison Avenue, or a stray pedestrian walking a dog.

The construction workers, however, were out in force.  No lockdown was imposed on any construction site.  Did working in construction confer immunity to the virus?  Of course not.  New York is a real estate town, just as other localities at other times and places might have been mining towns or cattle towns.  Wealth in New York is heavily concentrated in real estate.  The presence of the construction workers during that eerie period was an expression and manifestation of the power and influence of the real estate industry.  Business as usual.

Almost a year and a half later, the subways are crowded again, and the streets have come alive.  Meantime, we've all learned a lot about COVID-19.  We know that, except for the fragile elderly and people suffering other serious diseases, COVID is essentially nothing more than a bad flu.

We know that the universally promulgated vaccines are not really vaccines.  They're a form of genetic therapy, a treatment modality that had been in the works for decades and that the biomedical profession had been itching to try out.  A global experiment in the application of this treatment has been conducted, and we know now that the substances used are neither entirely safe nor effective.

Most curiously, we know that other medications are available that have been demonstrated to be both safe and effective, and also far less costly than the vaccines that are not vaccines.  Yet these medications have by and large been withheld in many countries, including our own.

Contributors to American Thinker have courageously provided much insight and information about COVID, sometimes having to disguise their identity in the process.  I'm grateful to them all.  I would specifically like to reference Peter Skurkiss, a contributor who brilliantly observed that, if everyone were vaccinated, it would be impossible ever to conduct an authoritative study of the long-term effects of the vaccines because a large enough control group of unvaccinated people would not exist.

Nevertheless, our government (among others) continues to stoke our wildest fears about this manageable virus and goad us all into rolling up our sleeves for an injection that's at least as frightful as the disease it's supposed to protect us from — for up to six months per shot.

What do we make of all this?  The COVID anomalies play to our deepest cynicism.  We're tempted to say it's all about money.  Go to Pfizer's web page, for example, and you'll find that the company's second-quarter revenues for 2021 increased by a whopping 92% over Q2 revenues for 2020.

Alternatively, we could be philosophical.  We could reflect on the tendency of human beings to get locked into faulty patterns of thought and righteously seek to override the opposition.  Authorities once resisted the idea that the Earth orbited the sun, not the other way around, and punished those holding contrary views.

Yet, somehow, greed and human frailties, though inherently part of the problem, fail to fully clarify the matter.  Instead, we find ourselves in the position of the befuddled citizen who confronted numerous anomalies in each verse of the old Bob Dylan song, "Ballad of a Thin Man."  "You know something's happening," Dylan wailed, "but you don't know what it is.  Do you, Mr. Jones?"

To scope things out, maybe we and Mr. Jones need to look a little farther afield, beyond the evening news and Sunday morning panel shows.  One of the basic facts of modern political life tends to elude conventional policy discussions.  It nevertheless adds a bit of perspective to the COVID enigma: it's the fact that the nation-state is gradually losing sovereignty to commercial entities that don't identify with territories and borders.

A major revolution is taking place without comment.  Most of the world was once divided into domains ruled by kings.  The people living under those regimes, be they feudal barons or serfs, might not have been able to conceive of hereditary monarchs losing ground to other entities.  But it happened.

Commercial entities came into existence that forced the monarchs to share and ultimately surrender power to the representatives of a new merchant class.  These entities continued to evolve and today have shaken off the constraints of the nation-state.  Some are more powerful than nation-states.  Most have the resources to purchase the votes of lawmakers and collusion of functionaries here and abroad to impose policies favorable to their interests.

Are the COVID anomalies an expression and manifestation of the power and influence of the transnationals?  Business as unusual?

About a hundred years ago, a celebrated American journalist named Lincoln Steffens visited Soviet Russia and declared upon his return, "I have seen the future, and it works!"  Of course, he saw only what the Bolsheviks wanted him to see.

Be that as it may, we might be lucky to have endured the COVID experience.  It has provided a glimpse of a possible future we may not have otherwise foreseen — a future that, for us, doesn't work.

Sheldon Bart of the Foundation to Illuminate America's Heroes ( is completing a book about a heroine of a more sane American era.

Collage by Andrea Widburg.

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