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Pandemic Paradox: Self-Interest Kills American Capitalism

The coronavirus pandemic requires a temporary replacement of capitalism with socialism, because the free market can’t work when we can’t go to the market. If we can all subsist at home on Zoom chats and government checks until scientists develop an effective vaccine for covid-19, we’ll be able to return to our regularly scheduled capitalist trips to our shops and bars and Disneyworld by Easter 2022.

The coronavirus trips up capitalism with its practical blockage of access to the market. But it also questions a core tenet of America’s preferred (or at least professed) economic ideology, the primacy of self-interest.

Capitalism assumes that if we all act according to our self-interest, the sum of all of our uncoordinated actions will more efficiently meet almost everyone’s needs than any central planning scheme. You do what you want, I’ll do what I want, and by the grace of the Invisible Hand, most people will get the beans and Buicks they want, and get them a lot faster than when the kolkhozes and Lada factories were waiting for orders from Brezhnev.

But right now, most people realize their self-interest lies in not traveling, not shopping, and not going out. The doctors say so. Go to the beach, go to the bar, go to the Brown County Fair, and you’re going to get sick (and not just from the walking tacos). Even without orders from the City Council or suggestions from the Governor, a majority of us would be going out less and spending less. We’re not freaking out, we’re making rational choices for the sake of self-preservation.

That act of keen self-interest, multiplied by 327 million Americans, produces feedback effects. Not knowing how long the coronavirus and our countermeasures may persist, we reduce our spending further: it’s in our immediate self-interest to put off buying a new couch or new car or new house because we need to save our cash in case we lose our jobs.

Our elected officials, supposedly good capitalists all, are encouraging behavior that runs against our rational self-interest. My mayor brags about buying takeout to support our local restaurants and exhorts all of us to do the same, but pure self-interest tells me that, instead of spending $40 on one family meal, I can buy five loaves of bread and twenty cans of soup that allow my family to eat in for several meals and reduce our trips and possible exposure to coronavirus. Our senior Senator tells us we should buy gift cards to help our Main Street businesses stay afloat, but why would I spend money on promises of products that I might need in an uncertain future from a business that may not even be open to give me those products after a month or five of coronavirus recession when my self-interest says I should either use that money to buy things I need now or save my money for definite purchases as needs arise later?

Ordering take-out and buying gift cards aren’t acts of self-interest. They aren’t capitalism. They are gestures of altruism, of sacrificing immediate self-interest to help someone else. Random uncoordinated altruism won’t keep everyone fed and sheltered during a pandemic any more than it provides affordable schools and nutrition to every American during normal economic times.

We have built an inflated capitalist economy on convincing people to buy lots of stuff they don’t need. The coronavirus taps an interest that overrides that inflated consumer interest: our primal interest in not dying.

Self-interest in the time of covid-19 necessarily means economic contraction. Millions of people lose their jobs, and absent enormous government intervention—i.e., collective planning, community action, socialism—people go hungry. Amidst pandemic, self-interest can’t sustain the economy as we know it. And we can’t wait around for charity to effectively or efficiently meet all of our neighbors’ needs. We can each do our part to give our neighbors practical assistance (from a safe distance, of course, with lots of hand washing before and after), but we cannot depend on capitalist forces to help us survive this pandemic and its unavoidable economic consequences. We must work together as a community, as a society, to solve problems through socialism.

45 Comments

  1. Donald Pay 2020-03-27

    I’m struck by this, “Ordering take-out and buying gift cards aren’t acts of self-interest. They aren’t capitalism. They are gestures of altruism, of sacrificing immediate self-interest to help someone else.”

    We don’t eat out a lot, except Saturday or Sunday lunch and birthdays, and when we do it isn’t going to be one of Grudz’s gravy-laden meals. We prefer to cook our own meals, which is easier now that we are both retired. But it might be in my self-interest to keep businesses surviving through this, and thus what seems like an act of altruism to me right now might serve my self-interest later.

    This has been a argument within the field of evolutionary biology for a long time. Why do we help strangers, sharing little connection to our own genome, survive? There are various theories and models. “Group selection” has gone in and out and in and out of fashion as a hypothesis. “Kin selection” is a more accepted theory. “Lifeboat ethics” and the idea of “the commons” argues for a more selfish approach.

    My neighbors are medical professionals working in hospitals. They eat out all the time, not because they wouldn’t prefer a nice leisurely cook-in dinner. They often work ungodly hours, and are too whipped at the end of 12 or 16 hours to cook. They eat hospital cafeteria food, and pick something up on their way home. On days off they sleep, and get take out or delivery. They depend on easy, quick food that they don’t cook.

    Let’s assume that I get sick and am carted to the hospital. Because I haven’t supported local restaurants with my altruistic dollars during this crisis, those places are closed. My nurse, who depends on such sustenance, comes to work hungry and with hypoglycemia. He (male nurse) makes a serious med error as a result of being a little foggy and gives me too little of a life saving medicine. I crash. My doctor (female) would normally rush to my side to save me, but she’s at home cooking because she couldn’t pick up a quick meal at the restaurant that would have been there had I kept it going by buying take out during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m dead, because tI didn’t help keep the restaurant from death.

    Yeah, this is kind of a stretch, I admit, but it stresses that we are all in this together. In the face of an existential threat to my individual survival and the survival of the social order that keeps me alive, we all have to do extraordinary things and make extraordinary sacrifices, or we all go down.

  2. Buckobear 2020-03-27

    Yet another aspect of this emergency is that the “economy” is finally recognizing what really drives it, the people who put together the widgets, who cook and serve those meals, who deliver the goods and unload the trucks; that is, the workers.
    No amount of “capital” will get anything done without the muscle to make it a reality. Invest all you want in a business. If you have no one there where the rubber meets the road, you might as well just set the Benjamins on fire.
    For so long, most businesses have regarded the employees as merely another line on a balance sheet; another cost to be minimized; and this increases proportionally to the size of the organization.
    Most companies will run on inertia without the executive floor as long as it has motivated workers.
    We’re finally being shown graphic evidence of what (and who) really makes our “economy” work.

  3. jerry 2020-03-27

    Well said Cory. Many places are putting up donation requests and go fund me for their business operations. These businesses will fold and disappear if they don’t take matters into their own hands and send certified letters to landlords telling them that they cannot pay their lease until further notice. Why should landlords profit over our misery.

    Capitalism has a huge fault line. Cory points to many, but the main point of capitalism is that someone has to lose in order to make a profit.

  4. jerry 2020-03-27

    Self interest by Thomas Massie, a koch republican from Kentucky, put all members of congress in danger so he could get them to defeat his dumb arse selfishness. WAD is exactly what he is. These kinds of selfishness proves beyond a doubt the failures of capitalism for self interest groups and oligarchs.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-03-27

    Donald, I appreciate your taking the time to develop that stretch. It makes sense… in the same way that a contractor friend of mine once said that he’s a socialist because it’s in his self-interest to promote policies that make sure everyone is taken care of.

    I think Adam Smith would agree with you that self-interest doesn’t necessarily mean complete self-absorption and a “consequence horizon” that does extend past your short-term personal satisfaction. Smith assumed that capitalist actors were still moral agents who would not seek their own gain by harming others.

    But as practiced, American capitalism doesn’t ask every producer and every consumer to engage in multi-paragraph economic analyses about their daily economic choices. We just don’t have time, certainly not for every individual purchase. American capitalism says, don’t worry, and don’t think so hard: make reasonable choices based on your immediate needs, let millions of other people do the same, and self-interested entrepreneurs will figure out how to meet those needs more efficiently than any central planners could.

    Right now, our greatest self-interest lies in shutting down the normal consumer economy. Sure, I can argue that buying gift cards at take-out diners helps protect the ability of medical personnel to eat out and eat fast and stay strong enough to serve us when we get sick… but (a) that action—making an extra trip out in public, where I might get infected or might infect someone else—increases my potential of getting sick and creating more work for our medical personnel, and (b) good grief, wouldn’t it just be a lot more efficient for the community/state/Congress to send shipments of MREs to every hospital?

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-03-27

    Bear, among the many possible outcomes of this public health crisis and economic recession, what are the chances that the masses will be scared into rediscovering the value of labor rights and labor unions?

    We all cope with upheaval in different ways. My method of dealing is to think about immediate policy responses, to consider the moral/social/political/economic lessons we can learn, and to contemplate the potential revolutions in public attitudes and social interactions that could result from this experience.

  7. John 2020-03-27

    Two thoughts. First, we collectively forgot Lincoln’s lesson that labor is superior to capital. Full text, here: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/lincoln-congress-speech-_b_1127058
    “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”

    Second, Ed Yong foresees two possible endstates in: How Will the Pandemic End? https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/03/how-will-coronavirus-end/608719/

    “One could easily conceive of a world in which most of the nation believes that America defeated COVID-19. Despite his many lapses, Trump’s approval rating has surged. Imagine that he succeeds in diverting blame for the crisis to China, casting it as the villain and America as the resilient hero. During the second term of his presidency, the U.S. turns further inward and pulls out of NATO and other international alliances, builds actual and figurative walls, and disinvests in other nations. As Gen C grows up, foreign plagues replace communists and terrorists as the new generational threat.

    One could also envisage a future in which America learns a different lesson. A communal spirit, ironically born through social distancing, causes people to turn outward, to neighbors both foreign and domestic. The election of November 2020 becomes a repudiation of “America first” politics. The nation pivots, as it did after World War II, from isolationism to international cooperation. Buoyed by steady investments and an influx of the brightest minds, the health-care workforce surges. Gen C kids write school essays about growing up to be epidemiologists. Public health becomes the centerpiece of foreign policy. The U.S. leads a new global partnership focused on solving challenges like pandemics and climate change.”

    I think Yong’s second outcome is more plausible – after the nation wastes a year of more of national leaderlessly playing state-city whack-a-virus as out-breaks re-emerge. The virus killed Reaganism and Norquist’s nonsense. Government servants are here to serve, to share highly specialized education and experience.

  8. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr., 2020-03-27

    What about the Laffer curve, could that help us right now? Or, has it been flattened by the virus? There is great irony in how even our conservative Republican friends have come to embrace Keynesian economics right now; which only further proves that these conservative Republican friends of ours only really embrace supply-side economics for pure self interest and not for the interest of the whole, but when that dream world for them is in danger, then they run home to Mama and the Democratic Party and pay homage all a sudden to Keynes and Galbraith.

    This panic reaction by our conservative Republican friends proves the limits of capitalism and its vulnerabilities to a dependency upon planned obsolescence and the finding of new markets. But when a virus shows up that destroys a market’s ability to replenish and or expand, then socialism, brief or not, becomes the only solvency for a capitalistic market that had become dependent upon a growing predatory element up until the crisis, which ironically, only the virus itself could match.

    Marx indicted capitalism because wealth was generated based on the development of capital and less on the development of tangible products which could further strengthen and/or sustain an economy. This current collapse of the greater consumerism of our economy and the need for stuff speaks to a further weakness of capitalism; and that is when it produces products that are of little value except to the predatory marketer, who sells and profits from them.

  9. Richard Schriever 2020-03-27

    I am still buying garden plants, seeds and home improvement/repair and maintenance items – as that is not only in my self-interest, but it gives me something to do while hanging at home.

  10. Jason 2020-03-27

    I concur! Thanks for putting this all in perspective Cory.

  11. Debbo 2020-03-27

    The Roger Cornelius Memorial cartoon by Marty Two Bulls.

    is.gd/MSrquP

  12. Debbo 2020-03-27

    Reason Magazine has a great piece on the ethics of responses to COVID-19. There’s no paywall.

    is.gd/L9gBgN

  13. mike from iowa 2020-03-27

    Good link, Dbbo. Personally I would send this question to bcb and lobby him to answer it for me. He always gets around to seeing these issues from all sides. I do not. I am not necessarily ethically challenged, I just take too many shortcuts for the good of humanity.

  14. jerry 2020-03-27

    I read your link Debbo and it seems to me that it fits into what trump is saying, kill off a bunch of people so the economy gets going. One thing is missing, in my view, the 100 thousand deaths are those deaths that would come by doing something, like even triage treatment. If there are no ventilators, masks or testing to go around, I think the numbers will be much higher than 100,000. In fact, here is a quote from a doctor in Rapid City on what she has personally seen in Rapid City.

    On Wednesday, she posted on Facebook “the thousands of testing kits she was promised for COVID-19 were “diverted to more critical areas.”

    She said Wednesday that thousands of patients had called her desperately seeking COVID-19 tests, many who were ill with high fevers, cough and respiratory symptoms.

    She wrote that many of these patients had been to the emergency room or urgent care clinics and were told they didn’t qualify for testing, after testing negative for influenza or strep throat.”

    We are having many deaths that are not tested for the virus. So you see, 100,000 deaths is just a number that means nothing in a pandemic that we don’t test people on and that we can’t even catch up on burying them, who are also full of virus for the funeral homes. Maybe the corporations, like the rest of the individuals, need burying as well…to save mankind.

  15. jerry 2020-03-27

    Sorry, that post came from the Rapid City Journal’s very good reporting 3.27.20

  16. Debbo 2020-03-27

    Another part of the issue is that the question is only made necessary by hugely inept governmental response beginning with the disbanding of the emergency response team created by the Obama administration in response to Ebola.

    Due to that terrible mistake and all the ensuing ones they’ve made, medical personnel and civilians are having to make soul crushing decisions.

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-03-28

    JKC mentions our predatory economy’s production of products that are of little value. That problem seems to arise when entrepreneurs shift from meeting needs to creating needs, to persuading people that they need a bunch of things they don’t really need or that they should indulge their wants and gratify every impulse immediately. Such thinking is tolerable in times of trivial discomfort and relative stability—heck, we can even indulge our petty desire to put an incompetent bully in the White House to help us aggrieve feminazis and liberal snowflakes and enjoy the spectacle of a restaging of All in the Family in the White House (Dingbat is a Croatian supermodel, Archie has the hots for Gloria, and Meathead is put in charge of Middle East peace—gotta admit, it’s a bold television concept, and if I were CBS or Hulu, I’d bankroll it!). But let one crisis arise that forces everyone to get real, and the huge chunk of our economy built on indulgence, luxury, and contrived needs goes poof.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-03-28

    Single-name John ;-) raises a question that weighs heavily on my mind: what zeitgeist will emerge from this pandemic?

    I can see a path to the second, hopeful stream he draws. That communitarian thinking could stem in part from being shaken out of the daze of indulgence I describe in the previous comment and having our priorities reset to a more serious look at our needs as individuals and as communities. We’ll look at the White House, say, “We can’t afford to play around with that again,” and will only elect serious managers and technocrats who demonstrate they know how to do the job. We’ll buy less crap and focus on saving money. We’ll drop our fantasies of rugged individualism and build a much strong social safety net that is in place in normal times to meet everyone’s basic needs, amidst small personal mishaps (darn! got in a car accident, couldn’t work, needed affordable health insurance) and national calamities.

    But after the influenza epidemic of 1918–1919 (three waves: spring 1918, fall 1918, winter 1919), and the subsequent economic depression of 1920-1921 (25% contraction during flu, 38% contraction afterward) we chose the indulgence and denial of the Roaring 20s. We bought new toys and went dancing. A lot of people will want to party after this crisis passes, and they may be in no mood for serious politics… or they may be in the mood to let a new dictator take over, make us feel safe while we party and he continues to destroy the Constitution.

    Then again, the 1918–1919 pandemic also encouraged nations to invest in public health and socialized medicine.

  19. jerry 2020-03-28

    Senators EB5 Rounds and Thune bought us all of the failings of trump and his dismal approach to this pandemic that is causing much unneeded pain and loss of life. Both knew that there was a crisis coming as they read the intelligence reports as well as trump gets them read to him. Yet they kept trump in office when we could have gotten rid of him through impeachment.

    The blood that is on trumps hands is also on EB5 Rounds and Thune’s hands as well.

  20. jerry 2020-03-28

    Without leadership, we will see the 1918 days returning regarding the military spread of the pandemic. Like 100 years ago, the same pattern has returned regarding poor leadership in and out of the military. This means that, like Cory said, we’re a long way to Tipperary.

    “As America edges ever closer to being the deadly epicenter of the historic coronavirus pandemic — which has already infected over 80,000 and killed over 1,000 nationwide and led to unprecedented shelter-in-place orders in multiple states — there is growing concern among troops, their families, and epidemiologists that the Department of Defense hasn’t done enough to slow the spread of the virus in the military, which includes 1.4 million active-duty service members and has historically been vulnerable to outbreaks.

    The latest Defense Department figures show the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. armed forces rising fast. There were 224 confirmed cases among service members as of Wednesday morning; 81 among military employees; 67 among military dependents; and 40 among military contractors.

    On Thursday, the military newspaper Task & Purpose — which has done excellent work documenting the coronavirus outbreak in the armed forces — obtained an alarming document sent by the Department of the Army at the Pentagon to all U.S. Army commands.

    “Mitigation measures taken by the U.S. Army to blunt the spread of COVID-19 have proven insufficient,” the message read. “COVID-19 continues to spread geographically as the number of infected persons continues to rise.” ” https://www.huffpost.com/entry/us-military-coronavirus_n_5e7d2001c5b6256a7a276e7f

    Thanks to EB5 Rounds and Thune, this will be their legacy.

  21. bearcreekbat 2020-03-28

    Okay mfi, here is my take on the ethical questions posited in Debbo’s link.

    (1) The 1st hypothetical indicates that my choice can mean that 50K people will in fact die, not that my choice will merely increase the chance that they might die, nor that I will be one of the doomed group; and that my choice will either cause or prevent these deaths. The only benefit from the deaths would be the convenience and pleasure of survivors. Under these circumstances I would choose to take whatever action available to me that would prevent these deaths.

    (2) I disagree with author’s characterization of the subsequent hypotheticals. They are is not simply a rephrasing of the 1st hypothetical, rather, they change the substance of the 1st hypothetical’s premises. Instead of certain deaths, now the revised hypotheticals posit only an increased “risk” of death. While they calculate this increased risk based on a presumed actual death count, they no longer assume that these deaths are certain to occur. In addition, they now add the decision-maker (me) as a member of the group facing this risk. They also give everyone some control over the actual risk increase by giving people the choice to alter individual behavior. And they ask whether members of the group as a whole, rather than a single decision maker, would be willing to assume the increased risk. In my view these changes to the premises make this a completely different ethical question than posited by the 1st hypothetical.

    If and to the extent the author intends me to understand that my choice still would definitely cause or avoid the deaths of anyone in the revised hypotheticals, I would choose to avoid causing any deaths; but the changes in the premises seem to put that part of the hypothetical into doubt. If my choice doesn’t definitely cause deaths, then under these circumstances my personal ethics would have me choose to slightly increase my own chance of death since this is posited to provide a meaningful and substantial benefit to society as a whole.

  22. Debbo 2020-03-28

    Rachel Maddow tweets a first rate description of what Bumbling Blackmailing Blowhard needs to do right now. It’s really good.

    is.gd/7yRtV1

  23. mike from iowa 2020-03-28

    Egotistical sack of rabbit ruminations wants his John Henry on the bottom of every relief check sent. It really is all abut drumpf.

  24. jerry 2020-03-28

    Indeed mfi, I got my “President trump’s guide to the trump recession” today. All hail the guy who is is giving billions to the corporations and banks. Be glad those checks will be sent as we will be in such hard times in the months after, that we will only remember what the Democrats did to help the working folks when they do another 5 trillion to help right this ship. As our dollar plunges, is the new story line.

  25. Donna K 2020-03-28

    Why couldn’t stupid Trump just send us amazon gift cards instead? Economics 101.

  26. Debbo 2020-03-29

    Poor Brazil. Their president is even worse than Braindead Bozo!

    “Bolsonaro says his response to the disease matches that of President Donald Trump in the U.S., but the Brazilian leader has gone further, labeling the virus as ‘a little flu’ and saying state governors’ aggressive measures to halt the disease were crimes.

    “On Thursday, Bolsonaro told reporters in the capital, Brasilia, that he feels Brazilians’ natural immunity will protect the nation.”
    is.gd/o3iQlY
    (It’s an AP story in the paywalled Strib.)

    “Bolsonaro, 65, shows no sign of wavering even as the nation’s tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases approach 4,000, deaths top 100 and Brazilians overwhelmingly demand tough anti-virus measures. Pollster Datafolha this month found 73% of people supported total isolation, and 54% approved of governors’ management of the crisis. Bolsonaro’s backing was just 33%.”
    Same source

  27. jerry 2020-03-29

    Looks like republican governors are suppressing virus data. Surprise surprise.

    In Florida: “Florida is just shy of 2,500 COVID-19 cases, as Florida’s Department of Health confirmed 129 more cases and one new death Thursday evening, bringing the state total of confirmed cases to 2,484. The death toll is now at 29, up from 23 on Wednesday.

    But news reports detailing three more deaths at the assisted living facility in Broward County — where three residents have already died from COVID-19 — were not reported in the state’s latest numbers on Thursday evening.

    Nor was the death of a Margate doctor in Broward reflected in the state’s numbers, as state health officials have listed the number of deaths in Broward at three since Saturday.”https://www.miamiherald.com/news/coronavirus/article241520586.html

    The states are listed here and so is the information from other websites. https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/3/29/1932338/-Republican-Governors-appear-to-be-suppressing-COVID-19-data?utm_campaign=recent

  28. Clyde 2020-03-29

    I agree Jerry. Sounds like South Dakota has another death from C virus but no one seems to know about it yet.

  29. jerry 2020-03-29

    Sssshhhh, 90 more cases today in South Dakota…that we know of. But we must have secrecy so no one knows there is a problem. Dead men tell no tales ask Benda.

  30. jerry 2020-03-29

    100,000 to 200,000 deaths says Dr. Anthony Fauci on State of the Union
    @CNNSotu
    ·
    4h
    Dr. Anthony Fauci says there could potentially be between 100,000 to 200,000 deaths related to the coronavirus and millions of cases. “I just don’t think that we really need to make a projection when it’s such a moving target, that you could so easily be wrong,” he adds.”

    There, governor, now what cities are these folks from. Might as well let us know so we can shelter in place away from those locations, or else be prepared for more deaths and more infected people here.

  31. Debbo 2020-03-29

    Governors that lie and kiss Fraudster’s Fat A$$ get medical equipment. Sickening.

  32. jerry 2020-03-29

    $17.00 bucks a day is what trump republican Mnuchin says will get you by. No problem, just adjust your rent to…say a buck a week, car payment a buck a week, see, you can do this if you really believe $17.00 a day will get you by. Who’d have thunk it.

    At least now, all will be able to see how much Native people have been forced to live with for too long now. As that is the case, then why not be equal and count the Native workforce into the Anglo workforce to get accurate unemployment readouts for the state.

  33. mike from iowa 2020-03-29

    Got my postcard of drumpf’s best tips for weathering pandemics and I expected to see blame Obama as tips 1-infinity. Since I didn’t see that I tossed the rest.

  34. Debbo 2020-03-29

    That’s funny. 😀😀

  35. jerry 2020-03-29

    Different kind of virus casualty in Germany

    “Thomas Schaefer, the finance minister of Germany’s Hesse state, has committed suicide apparently after becoming “deeply worried” over how to cope with the economic fallout from the coronavirus, state premier Volker Bouffier said on Sunday.

    Schaefer, 54, was found dead near a railway track on Saturday. The Wiesbaden prosecution’s office said they believe he died by suicide.”

  36. Debbo 2020-03-29

    That’s sad. I’m afraid there will be, or already are others. 😢😢😢

    One thing about the psychopaths/sociopaths that make up the current deministration, they don’t feel the shame they deserve. Hence the pathology. That’s why we have to elect a Democratic tsunami. The deministration and GOP leadership have committed multiple crimes and must be called to justice for them. It’s the least we can do for the people whose deaths their responsible for. The very least.

    Not revenge. Justice.

  37. Debbo 2020-03-29

    Some good news coming out of Bungling Bozo’s deministration! An airlift of medical supplies!

    is.gd/tK2iAw

  38. jerry 2020-03-29

    Debbo, here’s hoping that republicans don’t bungle these deals up. China is geared to manufacture. we ain’t.

  39. Clyde 2020-03-29

    My dad said the saddest thing about the 30’s depression was all the suicides. Guess there were a lot of them.

  40. Debbo 2020-03-29

    True Clyde. I don’t know where to find stats on that. They probably wouldn’t be very accurate anyway, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that wasn’t the highest suicide rate this nation has ever had. Maybe the Civil War was higher?

    Except for a few people who make a rational decision, all the rest of suicides are heartbreaking.
    “Suicides of despair.” 😢😢😢

  41. jerry 2020-03-29

    Yes Clyde, true. One of the only things that saved many from suicide was Governor Tom Berry. Berry had Roosevelt’s ear and because of that, money and hope came here to South Dakota and to the rest of the rural areas of the country. Pits were dug for the livestock to be destroyed in. Of course this was difficult times, but leadership, and as fair price for their livestock meant they had something, farmers got subsidies to pay farm debts and taxes. That was a real stimulus that Hoover wanted no part of. Roosevelt did and he had help from Tom Berry and other governors who knew the stakes. Any family that was here during that time, knew where the country was going without leadership.

    Who do we have now? Someone who won’t level with us and treats us with no respect whatsoever. Someone should tell her to check the archives of South Dakota government during those days. Maybe she would then realize what leadership is all about. First thing is you don’t leave the marginally poor and the poor on their own. Provide leadership and get Medicaid Expansion up and running now.

    The governor has the power to make that happen. She is the leader of her party here and she could make life damn hard for legislators that would go against her…or she could continue her ways and leave those funds on the table in spite of what she clearly knows.

  42. jerry 2020-03-29

    New York State, passes 1,000 deaths in this pandemic and it ain’t got started yet.

  43. Debbo 2020-03-30

    Davenport, Iowa- 50.3 per 100,000. OMG. 😢😢😢 21.3 in 1932, 21.5 in 1908.

    It was probably significantly higher, but I’ll bet many weren’t counted because they left home first or it was kept secret. Among Roman Catholics the undercount was likely especially high because suicide was considered a ticket straight to hell and if the deceased was the husband/father, the wife/mother was often blamed by the “church.”

    Really bad in Iowa and Nebraska and the West Coast. Had to be a nightmare for those families.

    It’s a superb link Mike. Gracias.

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