By Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog
In just 24 hours the UK saw nearly a half-million people volunteer to deliver food and medicine to the nation’s 1.5 million elderly and vulnerable people. Nearly 750,000 signed up, so many that they had to turn people away.
In the US the situation is the opposite: there are no shortage of stories such as NPR’s, Coronavirus Drives Away Volunteers Just As They’re Needed Most. But it’s not just the local holy-rolling church and the local food bank – the professional charity services have seemingly turned tail and ran away even though soldiering through a crisis is their job. In an “only in America” type of headline – The Peace Corps isn’t just bringing home 7,300 volunteers because of the coronavirus. It’s firing them.
With 17 million made jobless in 15 days, but with no government aid system to help them permitted to exist under US neoliberalism, food banks are not only increasingly short on food but short on people to hand out what little food they have left. Their malnutrition situation is so very dangerous that The New York Times reported that, “Uniformed (national) guardsmen help ‘take the edge off’ at increasingly tense distributions of (food) boxes,” and without even commenting on what an abnormal “edge” that is to have.
Doesn’t that all seem very American?
But in the UK national solidarity is now off the charts, and it’s not of the fundamentally conservative, nonsensical “Keep calm and carry on” variety from 2008: commentators say that the volunteer wave is healing the divide caused by Brexit, as well as erasing generation gaps because WWII-era Brits are seeing what their youth can and will do in a crisis.
How can we explain this disparity?
I think I should relate that to an Iranian this disparity is especially perplexing.
After all, “Marg bar (down with) England” is always right up there with, “Marg bar the United States”. Those two comprise 40% of the reliably unholy pentagon of your standard “Marg bar …!” chant, along with Israel, the MKO/MEK hypocrites, and those who oppose the guardianship of the Islamic jurist principle.
But look at all those volunteers – has England changed drastically and grown a conscience? Has Iran got it wrong? Are we supposed to stop marg bar-ing them now?
What?! Have you lost your head during this corona crisis?! If anything, we should be adding marg bars, not reducing marg bars! For example: why not “Marg bar Wales”? Don’t you think they feel left out often enough? And why are we leaving Scotland off the hook?
So the very notion of not marg bar-ing England practically makes me want to add a, “Marg bar you!”
But I get carried away easily, so I think it’s time for a marg bar on jokes in this article.
The reason for the difference is quite simple, but very sad
Are all of America’s healthy men and women aged 20-40, who have a statistically infinitesimal chance of dying from coronavirus, too busy to volunteer? Of course not – they’re mostly on lockdown now.
Are they too self-centred to volunteer? Is this more out-of-control Western individualism? Are they too lazy? Have they been scared into submission by an atrocious and irresponsible national media?
I honestly don’t think it’s anything like that: I think it’s that Americans are scared of the health care costs they might incur if they got sick while volunteering. Contrarily, able-bodied, young, patriotic Britishers have the National Health Service.
It’s really that simple: young Americans want to help their elder class, but they can’t go (even deeper) into debt to do so.
And that is really a sad, sad commentary on “Capitalism with American characteristics”, isn’t it?
I’m sure we can all immediately perceive how so very many negative, anti-social, self-defeating, wasteful and truly lamentable cycles of all sorts are kept in constant motion by the atrocious neoliberal principles which have been foisted on the US populace since 1980.
(Similarly, the US food bank charity is a recent development that exploded beginning in the Reagan era.)
Think of all the helplessness, hopelessness, anomie, anger, bitterness and (that old American standby) rage which could have been alleviated in America by both the act of volunteering and the benefits volunteering would bring, but which cannot even be attempted due to the incredibly difficulty of mere self-preservation in the US?
In their article To Fight Coronavirus, U.K. Asked for Some Volunteers. It Got an Army The New York Times does not mention this obvious explanation for the difference between these two across-the-Atlantic brothers. They either cannot put two and two together, or they refuse to broach the simple fact that the UK can marshal such a force because their youth class has no reason to fear indebtedness due to volunteering.
This disparity – and the explanation is hardly complex, although the ramifications are embarrassing for the US to honestly discuss – is precisely the kind of issue which fake-leftist media similar to The New York Times are steadfastly not discussing in favor of obsessive Trump-bashing and corona “deathboard-watching”.
Because fake-leftists in the US are so prone to turning their rage into false righteousness – this is not a problem caused by Trump: Obama made huge cuts to food stamps for a million households in 2014, which increased the number of people forced to rely on food bank charity, and his health care reform was a pathetic capitulation to the health care corporations and their medical lobbyists. The problem is not Republicans – Democrats are just as rabidly anti-socialist and pro-neoliberalism.
But in a pandemic any nation is necessarily going to live and die on the strength of its existing health care system. The US has to go on lockdown (they say) because their terrible health care system cannot bear even a moderate strain; the same rationale also silently explains why the average American cannot dare to attempt to humanely alleviate the ramifications of such a drastic, anti-lower-class measure.
I’m sure that many American readers are no doubt feeling quite mixed feelings about how such a simple thing – a promise of merely decent health care – could have made such a huge cultural difference during this time of huge cultural upheaval. America has just as many cultural divides to heal as Britain… but they are forced to remain alone, helpless, scared, hungry, untreated and debt-fearful.
One often has to laugh to keep from crying, so permit me one last marg bar – for those who are obsessively making every waking moment and every tiny thing about one subject and one subject only: marg bar
religious corona fundamentalism.
The corona fundamentalists in the US could instead spare some time to wonder why it’s too expensive to volunteer for charity work.
Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!
Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020
Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020
A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020
MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media – March 25, 2020
Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020
If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020
Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020
Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020
(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020
Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020
Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus – April 5, 2020
‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response – April 10, 2020
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.
Things that present a common threat to the existance of our species need to be honestly and directly dealt with in a cooperative and coherent manner for the good.
It is crystal clear who is, and who is not, trying to do that.
Clear as Night and Day.
has anyone see this?
I hope it is in the right place..it seems relevant here
I have volunteered with Foodbank in California. They receive awesome food and the volunteers enjoy the milk, butter, cream, fresh eggs and meat very immensely. The people that come to get food get candy, sugared canned fruit, salad dressing (no salad) out the wazoo, dented cans of all natural “soup” and odd lots of hippie organic drinks that were improperly mixed and taste, uniformly, of dirt. It’s worse now. No one can live on moldy pizza crust and candy. Trust me, if you’re dealing with an American in any way shape or form, you’re getting robbed. I was born here. 63 now.
I spent 14 years there and in my experience the reason for not wanting to volunteer is probably simpler than the insurance.
They simply don’t seem to care about anyone – even their ‘best’ friends. Only in the US I have seen young people (mid 20s become jealous of their best friends because these friends got promoted) – and they openly get upset and say so.
Or seeing people with a seemingly large number of ‘friends’ move places – and nobody is there to help them.
I have experienced some surprisingly ugly events myself – people I have thought were my best friends there became very jealous and even angry (one of them was shouting at me) when they found out I was about to have an exhibition in a gallery in LA.
And these are (very wealthy) people I have helped very many times, got them work, projects, helped them with ideas etc…
I have so many examples – once I got a young friend in SF involved in my business (to help him learn since he had never done anything similar). After a few months he stole my idea and even my domain name.
Plus so many people from different parts of the US – always agree to do business (they learn to act business wise and hope to get something for nothing) – as soon as they have to actually commit – they are nowhere to be found….
I have only seen such extremely antisocial behavior in the US – and I have lived all over the country.
Their selfishness is the main reason nobody wants to help anyone – even worse I think it makes them happy to see even their ‘best’ friends fail
It’s a real sickness. It’s a country of crooks really
This is true, I was in MTN-Rescue some 20+ years when in USA ( years ago )
The State had passed a ‘good-sam’ law, meaning that is an active rescue person with medical training that if you climbed the mountain to bring injured down you wouldn’t get sued.
The fact is it doesn’t matter, because in the USA you can be sued for anything any time. The UK has strict limits on lawsuits, so that is probably a major factor.
I was involved in many rescues and mostly all I got was ‘thank you’ letters from victims. But I have seen many times in massive accidents, where large groups are involved that the lawyers arrive find somebody who can file a claim, and then they proceed to name all party’s in involved, and that includes the cops, firemen, ambulance drivers, hikers, climbers, medic’s, They go after their property, their insurance; Eventually they find a party with assets and they move to ‘settle’ they always settle, as if you go to court its an infinite lottery ticker for the lawyers.
I can relate to that. One day someone needed help that was sorta medical in nature. I offered an opinion and a remedy. What I got back was “are you a doctor”. Learnt to shut up.
Then paradoxically Americans donate more money to charity than the world combined.
are you sure? I have never noticed that in my whole 14 years spent there. Mostly wealthy people (the ones I know all inherited their money or got AOL shares early on etc), just donate to their friends’ non-profits (and I’ve seen a few such non-profits promoting BS fake art, with art charities worth billions but since the person in charge can’t tell what’s really art – they help destroy art by promoting mediocre brown-nosing ‘artists’ often brought from Israel and given grants by such ‘charities’ and donations.
I have honestly never seen (or at least I don’t remember it) anything done in good faith while I lived there.
I think the biggest problem in the US is that they have been so extremely brainwashed to rabidly and forever compete against everyone including their siblings and ‘best’ friends.
So many people are not even in touch with their cousins…that’s unheard of in Serbia where I am from and I am sure in most other countries.
I’ve lived in England also – there is more of a community spirit there I think (at least when I lived there in 90s/early 2000s
It’s because the US is one giant get rich quick scam. Everything from the leaders, religous figures, movie stars, musician’s, and any other public figure all exude this behavior. So the common people have the worst examples to go by, because its what the very system promotes. So this short, futile life is just a race against each other. Its hard to build genuine relationships when everything is constant race. This is the pure definition of materialism. Throw in some exceptionalism, and other forms of mythologizing and you have a dangerous concoction.
you are right Ahmed –
these 2 books explain America really well.
the first one was referenced in Michael Lewis’ BOOMERANG. Written by an English prof from UCLA:
and the second one (written by an old prof from Yale) was referenced in the first one – both are really good
both these books match my experience 100% and are very inspiring and eye-opening
I tweeted this out because it is accurate & important, but I cannot support either monstrous country for: Balfour; The elite zionist money of both; A century of war theft & destruction of lesser peoples; & the resulting continued unwavering support of the thief & murderer of Palestine by the Israelites – So I’ve untweeted, so sorry – In fact carona karma, if self introduced by such ‘people’, might serve the planet well.
My local church asked for volunteers to distribute food to the needy who are “…healthy and under age 60”, unfortunately while I feel healthy, I’m over the age limit. I have no idea how the response was, with everything “locked down”.
We also fought with the USSR against Hitler and the returning troops brought in the Welfare State thanks to the wartime spade work of the great T and G leader Ernie Bevin and Clem Atlee. Its called industrial class warfare.
It seems that the so called most powerful and richest nation on Earth is in rapid decline.
– “While it’s easy to blame time and apathy, Grimm’s research has largely focused on the socioeconomic factors that might be driving down the ability or willingness of Americans to donate their time and money.”
– “Among the metro areas that saw a decline in volunteer rates, lower homeownership rates and higher levels of economic distress were a common theme.”
– “When fewer people engage with each other, that’s where you’re going to have greater level of social isolation and lower levels of trust in each other.”
What is not reported is many church congregations are helping people in need in their own congregations. There are many that don’t go to church so they are isolated and depend on government to help them.
I also suspect that in the UK the people still feel like they have a country – something to fight for and to preserve.
I honestly don’t know, but I often wonder if the people of the US feel they have a country that they would give (or even risk) their lives for anymore.
I think people have a hard time reconciling the fact that anyone under 40 (or even 50) has about the same chance of dying of Covid-19 as getting hit by a meteorite, with these insane restrictions of ‘lockdown’. Closing parks everywhere, limiting the number of people in a grocery store etc. If the focus had been on protecting the vulnerable from the beginning this would all have made sense. Now I see 25-year woman with a crazy, hand-made, ‘mask’, outdoors.
Ramin, Thank you for such an informative and entertaining article. I had to laugh out loud. I had been waiting for the hands of Karmic Justice to strike down this evil empire. But the way I see it now, the evil empire is going down under the weight of its own odious Hubris, Avarice and Selfishness. The way the Roman Empire imploded centuries ago. If the Book of Revelations is true, Babylon the great (which is none other than the odious evil empire) will be burnt to a crisp and simultaneously be rocked by a cataclysmic earthquake. Then the burning and the rocking will only be the icing on the great delicious cake.
Ramin, you summed it up very well. Americans, after having been brainwashed for tens of years have gone into so much debt so that they can’t even breathe, let alone take chances with the virus and getting even deeper into debt. Never mind dealing with police state and paying thousands in penalties for just being on the street.
many use credit cards to buy all kinds of crap they don’t even need.
My former roommate (armani model and a Malborough Man with his own production company) had about 10 expensive surfing boards.
His credit card debt was about 50k .
When I asked him why he borrowed so much money to buy so many boards (when one of them would be enough) – they were all stacked behind our garage.
– he replied: “Where else could I borrow??”
He did not questions the necessity of having 10 expensive boards he barely uses.
I ‘ve seen this often – so brainwashed they don’t even stop to think if they need expensive crap they are buying – especially if multiplied by ten.
And they mindlessly pick the most expensive way to borrow money from predatory banksters; credit cards.
What this shows is that the PTB can marmelise the economy and then get folks to work for ‘nothing’ as ‘volunteers’.
Will you see Tescos reducing their prices or actually paying these folks to deliver their food?
Of course not.
Tescos is wallowing in cash as all its SME competition has been shut down.
The British may have an “army of volunteers,” but they will need it.
Leaked phone calls from the United Kingdom’s Home Office reveal that the Boris Johnson Regime has basically given up on stopping the COVID-19 pandemic and reverted back to its infamous “herd culling” strategy in everything but name:
“Leaked recordings of a Home Office conference call on Tuesday, exclusively obtained by Byline Times, reveal that the Government has all but given up in its fight against the Coronavirus and is intent on simply finding “a method of managing it within the population”.
The recordings show Home Office Deputy Science Advisor Rupert Shute stating repeatedly that the Government believes “we will all get” COVID-19 eventually. The call further implied that the Government now considers hundreds of thousands of deaths unavoidable over a long-term period consisting of multiple peaks of the disease.”
Leaked Home Office Call
Reveals Government Wants Economy to ‘Continue Running’
As ‘We Will All Get’ COVID-19 Anyway
all I see, is that the elites want billions gone, as very many of them have said repeatedly in the seventies and eighties, and now, we are allegedly in some shared situation where we cant help the coming news of vast starvation and entire regions not getting rain and drying up. We cant send them help, because we conveniently have a “situation” also, and they cant get shipped anywhere either as borders are sealed. Lovely. We are not waiting for this alleged “thing” to calm down, we are on hold till the billions are gone. There are entire regions where they import their food, because all they grow is coffee, or bananas, or carob ect ect. In us, and other spots we will watch while govts claim they are doing this or that, but actually they will not. If you can tell me where a country has a leadership that is not deeply tied into obedience to the larger force, do let me know.
Leaders are always tied to a larger force, even if the force does not reside or concern themselves with the ones on the planet. Its simply natures way.
Maybe it is the hyper-individualism of Americans. During the Korean War, American POWs in Chinese or North Korean hands were more likely than those of other nations to look after number one and leave sick comrades to die. One NCO was convicted after the war of dragging comrades who suffered from dysentery out of the hut they were in and leaving them to die in the snow. Less dramatic examples of individual selfishness were legion. Collaboration with the Chinese was often less motivated by Communist belief or “brainwashing” than by individual desire for privileged treatment.