11.05.2020 Author: Vladimir Odintsov

Consequences of Coronavirus Pandemic are being Kept Under Wraps

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As the global battle against the Coronavirus rages on, many fairly important processes are taking place in the international community. But current ruling elites have sought to keep silent about them and have stopped media outlets, answerable to them, from openly reporting about these developments.

Clearly, one of the key issues for these elites is the pandemic’s political and economic consequences, which are bound to result in sweeping changes, i.e reassessment in many nations about whether their current governments should stay in power or not and a similar rethink about regional and global elites and their future, and the creation of new alliances between countries. There is a long-felt need to move towards a system based on multilateral ties and away from unilateral nationalism and unilateralism, promoted by Washington and its allies, which clearly does not work. Only by working together can countries soften the blow that will stem from the looming global recession and problems within societies. But this article will focus on something else instead.

The increase in social inequality has been shocking lately. It is, therefore, only reasonable that this issue has become a source of disagreements in various nations, which can, in turn, lead to rebellions against elites in many of them. Hence, this topic has become increasingly taboo among state media outlets due to censorship measures taken by current ruling governments.

Still, the theme has unwittingly attracted the attention of the public as reports about the increasing poverty among the common men and the constantly growing (despite it all) wealth of the current elites continue to be published. For instance, Chairwoman and Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Kristalina Georgieva has recently stated that the Coronavirus “pandemic sweeping the world will turn global economic growth sharply negative in 2020, triggering the worst fallout since the 1930s Great Depression”. In addition according to IMF projections, “over 170 countries will experience negative per capita income growth this year”. In such a climate, information that many of the world’s billionaires (who have not been particularly charitable towards the poor and the worst affected groups during this difficult time for the entire planet) have not only managed to keep all of their wealth but to also earn even more money, undoubtedly, elicits the same reaction from millions who have lost everything to the pandemic as that of a bull to a maleta (a red cloth fixed to a stick). In fact, Sasa Post has recently reported on this very topic. According to the article, the Coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on the global economy and in many countries, food riots are expected, unemployment is on the rise and businesses are going under. And while some are trying to survive, others do not seem to share their plight and are, on the contrary, getting richer. The report states that 34 of the world’s “richest billionaires in America saw their fortunes rise in the tens of millions of dollars”. From January 1 to April 10 this year, eight of them increased their net worth by $1 billion, in part because of their participation in the fight against the Coronavirus. Prominent names among them include Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon; Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX; Eric S. Yuan, the founder of Zoom. These men and “other members of the club of billionaires” increased their total wealth by up to approximately 10%, which is equivalent to $282 billion dollars since the beginning of March 2020. According to the article, their “combined net worth is now $ 3.229 trillion”.

A new study, entitled Billionaire Bonanza 2020 by Inequality.org (the Program on Inequality and the Common Good of the Institute for Policy Studies), about a recent wealth surge among America’s billionaires as US unemployment rate approaches 15 % cannot but attract our attention. The examples provided in the document confirm that the current pandemic is exposing the fact that “extreme wealth inequality has become a pre-existing condition” in the United States and a number of other Western nations that follow in US footsteps. “The current pandemic is exposing our central economic and social reality: Extreme wealth inequality has become America’s ‘pre-existing condition’,” the reports states.

Another increasingly important issue is the growing distrust felt by citizens of many nations towards their political elites, who proved to be incapable of organizing an effective response to the pandemic in a timely manner, and as a result, tens of thousands of people have already died. These ruling governments have also shown an obvious reluctance to deal with pressing problems facing common men, such as improving healthcare and social security systems, preferring instead to enrich themselves.

In the current climate, in many of these nations, inhabitants are increasingly willing not only to simply move abroad for work after restrictions, put in place to limit movement of people in light of the pandemic, have been lifted, but to change their country of residence and citizenship. Hence, these individuals hope to be able to benefit from all the already available systems in their new home. Undoubtedly, the flow of people will be substantial and will lead to, on the one hand, decreases in populations in many unfortunate in this sense nations (many of which are in Europe) that have suffered the most in light of the pandemic due to the irresponsible attitude of their political elites. On the other hand, such a movement of people will be a challenge for many other countries as they will be forced to provide shelter to a new wave of migrants and will face numerous accompanying problems, such as increased spending on their accommodation, food, healthcare, social security needs, etc.

Yet another important issue, which arose not so long ago, is the confrontation between the United States and China that has been intensifying thanks to Washington and the support of its allies. It all started after the White House began to pursue its “America first” policy. The resulting trade war between the USA and the PRC then led to Washington labelling China as its “strategic opponent”. During the Coronavirus pandemic, the animosity intensified further to the point that Washington accused Beijing of causing the outbreak, and even demanded compensation possibly amounting to many billions of dollars for the damages incurred as a result. In such a climate, as the negativity directed towards China by the United States as well as a number of its ally nations keeps increasing, Beijing started actively seeking to maintain its dominant economic position in the world by stoking nationalistic sentiments among its citizens and making ideological changes in its policies. And this, in turn, could lead to a new Cold War between the West and the PRC and its allies. And Russia increasingly views itself as one of China’s partners. So in other words, instead of easing tensions and seeking peace, something that the entire world strove towards for decades, we can expect a new global confrontation as a result of USA’s actions. But who will benefit from all these developments? Election campaign in the United States and in its allied nations will eventually come to an end. But why should the rest of the world remain hostage to short-lived political games played by the current elites in the West and suffer more and not only from the political and economic consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic?

Vladimir Odintsov, political commentator, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.


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