Class Warfare Blog

March 15, 2020

The Triumph of the Anti-Collectivists

A Robert Reich column on the Coronavirus pandemic contained this little nugget.

While we’re at it, let’s admit something more basic. The system would be failing even under a halfway competent president. The dirty little secret, which will soon become apparent to all, is that there is no real public health system in the United States.”

And Robert Reich is no one’s apologist for the Trump administration.

I have never felt that our public health system here in the U.S. was particularly robust. And I am old enough to remember standing in line on our high school football field as we were to receive the polo vaccine, along with everyone else in the country. And I do perceive that we have slid a bit during my life, more so in the last few decades.

This is hardly a surprise when one of our two, count ‘em just two, major political parties is adamantly anti-collectivist. The Republican Party, so you don’t have to guess which one, is against any and all collective actions of our people and especially our governments, except in a few small areas: national defense, police, and courts of law (primarily on contract law, property rights, criminal law, etc.). They are against all other collective actions. So far, they want Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to be privatized. They want the postal service to be privatized, they want the health care system to be entirely private, they want our public education system to be privatized, etc.

They want to do away with environmental protections, all regulation of businesses, everything they consider to be “red tape” limiting the actions of men of commerce. No minority protection laws, no legal social reforms, no labor laws, etc.

The motivation for this is simple. If people can bond together to form, say, labor unions, then many weaker people can become as strong or stronger than a few powerful people. If such collective actions be not allowed, then the strong can lord it over the weak, forever and ever, amen.

Remember President Obama’s “You didn’t build that (alone)” comment, alluding to the vast public contribution to all businesses in this country? (The public provides the roads, the power grid, sewers, water on demand, and other infrastructure, the court system, the permitting systems, etc.) Do you remember the scorn that comment was received with by GOP stalwarts. They immediately responded with incredulity because they believe in the “special man of history” theory, that history is created by special individuals, individuals like Napoleon, George Washington, and Hitler. Likewise, all business would not exist except for some, obviously smaller in scale, special person, the “Job Creator” who started the business up. No one was trying to deny that those people were key people in those efforts, but imagine what kind of businesses those would be if the owners had to train all of their workers in basic literacy, because the public schools didn’t exist. Imagine if they had to train even the most basic skills (typing, using hand tools, etc.) because workers did not come to them already prepared for such work. You do not have to imagine these situation because we can learn all about how workers were treated by studying labor history. Oh, you didn’t learn labor history in school? Hmm, could it be that efforts to include labor history in state school curricula have been blocked for at least half of a century? (It be.) I wonder who would do such a thing? Oh, and if you haven’t studied any labor history, it wasn’t pretty. (For a short course, just listen to Tennessee Ernie Ford’s rendition of the song “16 Tons,” the 16 tons alluding to a daily quantity of coal needed to be dug by a single coal miner to get paid.)

The GOP is against any expansion of collective action of private citizens and certainly government and is actively working to contract the rights to so act, because in a one-on-one battle between a rich man and a poor man, the rich man wins every time.

The GOP is a political party bought and paid for by the wealthy. The sad thing is that the Democratic Party, which used to be only partially bought by the wealthy, isn’t really far behind. If you want evidence for this, look to the recent rallying of support for Joe Biden against Bernie Sanders in the current presidential race. Which one of those two candidates threatens the status and power of the wealthy more (or at all)? Are you surprised that so many Democratic candidates cut and ran away all of a sudden, endorsing Biden as they exited the stage? I’m not. Threatening the wealthy is not an easy path to power. Sucking up to them is.


  1. Regardless of where you land politically the fact is we live in societies. This each man for himself thing gets tiresome. I see some value in some conservative principles as well. I live out in the country where there are very few services. On a good day police or ambulance takes about 45 minutes, so we have to take care of ourselves. But I do use the roads to go to work and the mail to receive my packages. I use a doctor that went to state schools. I remember Obama got trashed for his comment about not getting there alone. There is no place left to pioneer and settle away from the benefits of society, so suck it up people.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by jim- — March 15, 2020 @ 9:41 am | Reply

  2. Actually there are many people who are homesteading and living off of the grid (it ain’t easy) but they are a small minority of folks.

    The question is always “how much or how little?” and our parties insist on making the issues “all or nothing” to have more leverage in debates (Bernie wants to raise your taxes! Yes, but he also wants to raise your income, the question is always “how much?” ‘Trump reduced your taxes! Yes, a little bit and only temporarily. He lowered the taxes of the rich a great deal and permanently.”) The details matter and we have a details-averse polity and political parties.

    Liked by 3 people

    Comment by Steve Ruis — March 15, 2020 @ 10:18 am | Reply

  3. Reich is, alas, correct about the state of the health care system. I have a lot of relatives who work in the system at various levels and they all tell me the same thing, at the administrative level the whole system, even with the “non profits”, is centered on one thing and one thing only, making money. One thing that became clear after SARS, MERS, swine flu, etc. was that we were woefully prepared for a pandemic situation. There were many recommendations that we needed to stockpile more basic supplies, diversify the supply chain so we weren’t dependent on one or two manufacturers in countries like India and China which would be hit hard by a serious disease, etc. And everyone nodded their heads and said yes, that would be a good thing. And then did absolutely nothing about it because it would have cost money to prepare for an event that they believed had a low probability of occuring. And, well, that low probability event has now happened and here we sit scrambling to try to get even basic medical supplies. All because stockpiling supplies and diversifying the supply chain was considered “fiscally irresponsible” by businesses whose sole responsibility is to keep the cash flow at as high a level as possible.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by grouchyfarmer — March 15, 2020 @ 10:51 am | Reply

  4. I should add that all of Wisconsin’s GOP legislators in D.C. voted against the bipartisan supported emergency support legislation. Why? Well, a cynical old fart might believe it’s because they don’t give a damn about the people in their districts and only care about keeping all that yummy money flowing into their campaign coffers from special interest groups.

    Liked by 3 people

    Comment by grouchyfarmer — March 15, 2020 @ 10:55 am | Reply

  5. You paint an ugly picture, Steve. Do you think we will ever be able to paint over it with brighter and warmer colors?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Nan — March 15, 2020 @ 1:34 pm | Reply

    • The funny thing is I have been a Pollyanna my whole life! See what they’ve done to me! :o)

      On Sun, Mar 15, 2020 at 1:34 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 15, 2020 @ 10:02 pm | Reply

  6. These last 3-5 decades in the U.S. do seem to indicate that we are slipping back into a modern form of Feudalism without the military/protection obligations by and for the Peasants. Although it could be argued that much of our current lower military ranks are filled with America’s less fortunate, disadvantaged, and trying to escape poverty. The comparisons are uncanny. We have certainly gravitated to a nation of oligarchs, not just in the business private sectors, but now within our government… from the county-municipal levels to the state level and into the federal offices.


    Comment by Professor Taboo — March 15, 2020 @ 3:15 pm | Reply

    • I don’t know if I’d call it feudalism, Professor, but we’ve certainly gone back to the days of the “robber barons” from the mid 1800s to about the 1920s. As Wikipedia put it – “Historian T.J. Stiles says the metaphor “conjures up visions of titanic monopolists who crushed competitors, rigged markets, and corrupted government. In their greed and power, legend has it, they held sway over a helpless democracy.””

      It was a “Guilded Age of corruption, monopoly and rampant individualism” and the barons like Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Astor and the others pretty much ruled the country, including using the US military and state militias to support their corrupt business practices (look up the Banana Wars sometimes, or the use of state militias to break strikes).

      This is pretty much what we have now, only instead of Astor and Rockefeller the names are now Zuckerberg and Bezos and Dimon.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by grouchyfarmer — March 16, 2020 @ 8:27 am | Reply

      • You’re right grouchy, it isn’t identical and there are chronistic differences. 👍🏼 You are spot on about us returning to a Guilded Age of corruption, monopoly, and rampant individualism. I am indeed familiar with the “Banana Wars” and the U.S. extensive exploitation of the Caribbean, Central and South America throughout the early 20th-century. In fact, I often argue (against Republicans) that America has a significant amount of responsibility and accountability—similar to our treatment of the Native American Indians—for the current immigration/refugee, economic instability via Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanisms, very lucrative bilateral, and multilateral FTA’s for the U.S., Canada, and other European corporations we have created/exploited in and from Latin America.

        The most controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement cases had involved public interest laws and regulations that U.S. and foreign corporations claimed reduce the value of their investments. That meant North American and European corporations could sue those countries for profits they say they could have made had those regulations not been put into effect. These types of lawsuits have financially wrecked poor Central American countries often struggling to provide basic quality of life programs and services for their people. See my Black Underworld Inc. series for more if interested.

        Hence, our southern border problems today since at least the 1920’s. Also is the fact that U.S. corporations (via scapegoat job-contractors) consistently hire cheap, Latin labor to exploit their legal vulnerabilities as much as possible until they get caught, or rather their scheme/exploitation gets disclosed. Then they pay small fines to U.S. courts via settlements, then soon return to the exploitation simply thru a different domestic contractor/small business. And repeat ad infinitum since the 1970’s and 1980’s. If exploitation isn’t thru illegal workers, then the Cartels jump in with drug and sex trafficking.

        Washington D.C. and Red-state Republicans today can whine, scream, and belly-ache all they want, but they and their endorsing U.S. corporations FEED the very corrupt, problematic immigration/refugee crises and system we’ve had for 20+ years. It’s a sad joke really. 😞

        Liked by 2 people

        Comment by Professor Taboo — March 16, 2020 @ 2:33 pm | Reply

  7. They are against all other collective actions.

    Hardly. They’re great and generous socialists when it comes to bailing out capital markets, inefficient farmers, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by john zande — March 15, 2020 @ 4:19 pm | Reply

    • Like I said, only is very localized actions (anything that affects the fat cats pocketbooks or protects their property).

      On Sun, Mar 15, 2020 at 4:20 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 15, 2020 @ 10:04 pm | Reply

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