The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Current State of America
In late December 2019, US President Donald Trump began the process of shutting down the United States of America to nearly all outside travelers, focusing first on the Far East, then parts of Europe and eventually the entire world. What did this unprecedented step taken by the President of the United States mean? It clearly meant the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak originating out of Wuhan, China — under reported by the government of China and wildly underestimated by the World Health Organization — was extremely dangerous to the United States as well as the rest of the world. There we stood, in late 2019, with a highly contagious, novel strain of a respiratory infectious disease heading towards us like a runaway freight train.
Obviously the question of blame for the disease itself, the outbreak release and the lack of attention belongs to a triad of responsible entities: Wuhan, China where the outbreak originated, the government of China for its lack of transparency in reporting the magnitude of the outbreak and the World Health Organization for its complete and total lack of attention to a more than obvious potential pandemic.
I now move to the other blame – the blame for the lack of preparedness in the United States for the COVID-19 outbreak (or any major pandemic).
In researching the beginning of the demise of American supply chains and manufacturing, we must go back to 1980 and Ronald Reagan during his campaign for the presidency. Reagan made a strong pitch to the voting public for a North American free trade zone comprised of the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The idea at its basic core was sold as a good deal for the U.S. and was widely considered one of Reagan’s best political and commercial ideas. Although it took two versions of trade agreements and thirteen years to get NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) finally passed and operational, it did finally make it into ratification in 1993.
During those thirteen years the Congress of the United States did not sit by idly waiting for the floodgates to open, sending U.S. businesses out of the country to China and other countries in the Far East. They quietly passed legislation after legislation making it easy for U.S. companies to relocate manufacturing entities abroad. Large U.S. manufacturing businesses embraced the idea of cheap labor, low cost materials and unprecedented opportunities for profit while lining the coffers of election campaigns with donations of magnitudes never before seen.
The system of campaign contributions has been a hot button issue in Washington D.C. for many years dating back to 1944 with formation of the first Political Action Committee by the Congress of Industrial Organizations with the sole intention of helping to reelect President Franklin D. Roosevelt. According to many sources and specifically Open Secrets and The Center for Responsive Politics, federal campaign contributions from individuals and PACs donating more than $200 have grown exponentially since the 1990 election to the current cycle. During the 1980 election cycle the top sector (finance, insurance & real estate) contributed over $70 million with the top 10 sectors donating over $300 million fairly evenly to both Democrats and Republicans.
Tracking the same information through the 2015-2016-election cycle, the volume of donations for the same top 10 sectors accounted for over $4 BILLION in contributions. The Federal Election Commission tracks this data while leaving many ambiguities in the reports, categorizing sectors as “Other” and “Misc Business” in order to avoid direct links to some specific industries. The volume of money donated to individual candidates, PACs and lobbyist groups leads us to another obvious answer for placing blame for the United States being in the position we are during this current COVID-19 pandemic, the political system and the political machines of Washington DC.
Looking back though the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s it is very difficult to find concrete analytical details on the loss of American manufacturing through legislation and or government policies but in reviewing specifically manufacturing of apparel (shoes and clothing) plus medical equipment and pharmaceuticals, it becomes painfully apparent the policies and laws developed and instituted by our executive and legislative branches directly lead to the demise of American manufacturing to the benefit of large companies and the political machines of the country. Small towns lost manufacturing plant after manufacturing plant losing thousands of jobs causing economic hardship at all levels of business throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s with an even stronger push to purge American manufacturing from 2000 through 2017.
Why did major companies, political leaders plus executive and legislative branches of government not recognize the economic and social destruction of these actions? Follow the money to the DC Swamp! The loss of American manufacturing throughout the past 30 to 40 years has put America in the dire position we are in today. We are unable to react to pandemics, natural disasters and global trauma without an overwhelming dependence on supply chains directly connected to foreign countries. We became reliant on China and other Far East countries for medical supplies, pharmaceutical ingredients, durable goods and many other necessary day-to-day products required to fill hospitals, stores and provide for the common well-being of our nation. We’ve weakened our preparedness, undermining our national security and threatening our basic freedoms.
To categorize blame for the demise of American manufacturing and supply chain dependence on foreign powers in one specific area would be understating the situation. I place the blame on the entire Washington DC swamp, including Congress, the executive branch, lobbyists, campaign donors, big businesses and the media.
How do we fix the issue? We must first expose the federal government for what it is, a power-seeking entity only concerned with self-perpetuation, election cycle after election cycle. We must then look to elect strong independent leaders with no ties to political machines, lobbyists or large corporations. We can and must put in place policies and legislation rewarding American manufacturing and entrepreneurship, with concrete ties to towns and cities across the country. We must thoroughly incentivize the hiring of American citizens at living wages to fill manufacturing plants and supply chains across the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of what our political leaders have done to this country over the past 40 plus years. It should serve as an inspiration for a new political climate to emerge, one of strong independent thinkers capable of making difficult decisions favoring the country, its citizens and the public interest — not the special interests.
I stand ready to join with independent thinkers and leaders to take back America in the name of freedom and liberty.