The Plan Is to Save Capital and Let the People Die

In the hysteria regarding the COVID-19 infections, we're not hearing of a plan of how to make sure we protect the workers of our country from the economic and health consequences of the global pandemic. The immediate shock is now over, what is needed now are ideas and plans on how to keep workers in our country safe.

A long-term or permeant situation that will go past this summer is needed. In These Times lays out a direct plan how workers can and should be protected in the long-term. For this plan it is clear that the current federal administration doesn't have the workers' or the people's interests at heart. All the emergency policies being rolled out now are to protect the status quo and the 1 percent, while creating worse conditions for small businesses and working class families.

It's scary and frightening to read an article like this and to see, in real time, the inaction of our government in protecting our citizens and our families, but we need this discourse to get to the point where we're all safe and we're all healthy while preserving our Republic.

An Injury to One is an Injury to All …

The Plan Is to Save Capital and Let the People Die

Whether Americans know it or not, their government is not working for them. Their government is working on behalf of capital. Humans are now a mere second-order, instrumental factor to be considered based on how it affects capital.

by Hamilton Nolan, April 9, 2020

Fantasize for a moment that we could set aside politics and operate based upon common sense. What would the federal government do to best mitigate the devastation that this pandemic will visit upon human beings? It would, first of all, provide free healthcare to everyone. It would distribute medical resources nationally based on the greatest need. Then, to protect people from the necessary economic deep freeze we are all in due to social distancing, the government would pursue measures that would get everyone through this time in one piece: It would subsidize the nation’s payrolls, so that workers could stay in their jobs and businesses could restart easily; it would suspend rent, for people and businesses alike; it would send everyone a monthly basic income to pay for necessities until this is over; and it would avoid allowing small businesses to go bankrupt, because those represent millions of jobs that people need to return to.

Those are all obvious steps to take if your goal was to protect humans. But imagine, instead, if you had an entirely different goal: protecting capital. What would you do then? Well, you would prioritize the health of corporate balance sheets, rather than human bodies. You would keep the healthcare industry, now booming, in private hands; you would stimulate consumer demand via unemployment benefits, rather than by keeping workers on existing payrolls, in order to create an enormous pool of cheap and desperate labor; you would pursue tax cuts for the investor class; you would welcome the opportunity to allow debt to pile up on individuals; and you wouldn’t be too sad about small businesses going bankrupt—they are, after all, just ceding market share to bigger, richer businesses. You would use this crisis to create a greater, not lesser, concentration of wealth. You would emerge on the other side with more, not less, inequality. The truth is, it would be easy.

Now, guess what the U.S. federal government is doing? It is allowing the unemployment rate to skyrocket, as tens of millions of workers are fired; it is allowing countless small businesses to go bankrupt, from incompetence and neglect; it has not even considered a national suspension of rent, nor a strong national policy of paid sick leave, much less a national system of free public healthcare; as millions of needy people struggle with decrepit and broken state unemployment systems and wait weeks or months for their emergency checks to come, and essential workers are forced to agitate or walk out to gain hazard pay, the administration plots a new bill featuring a capital gains tax cut and “a waiver that would clear businesses of liability from employees who contract the coronavirus on the job.”

We are told we’re a nation at war. In real wars, we have higher taxes on the rich. This time, we are giving investors a tax cut.

Whether Americans know it or not, their government is not working for them. Their government is working on behalf of capital. Humans are now a mere second-order, instrumental factor to be considered based on how it affects capital. In this perilous time, capital must be protected and nurtured, and we must draw resources from our entire society in order to help capital survive, in the same way that the body will draw blood from other organs to save the brain. People can be sacrificed—capital is irreplaceable. We are navigating our way through this so that capital comes out okay on the other side. It is no exaggeration to say that tens or hundreds of thousands of Americans will die because we are choosing this approach, rather than an approach that prioritizes human life. They will die because we did not dedicate resources before this pandemic to building an adequate system of public health care, and they will die because we made the decision during this pandemic to put the needs of capital first. We did not keep working people on payrolls, because that would be less advantageous for the owners of capital. We did not nationalize factories, nor pharmaceuticals, because that would be less advantageous to the owners of capital. And of course we did not release the prisoners in the jails being ravaged by this disease. What would that do for the stock market?

When this is all over, politicians will stand up and say that the heroes of this crisis were the doctors and the nurses and the grocery workers who kept going, because we needed them to. But that will not be true. Doctors are getting pay cuts because they are no longer making revenue for their employers with nonessential procedures; nurses are becoming sick and dying because we didn’t stockpile enough cheap plastic masks; grocery workers are forced to beg and plead and strike for a couple of dollars extra per hour, at the risk of their own lives. The true heroes of this crisis, from the perspective of those in charge, will be the private equity firms that rush in to buy up distressed businesses, and the hedge funds that pour money into cheap debt, and the investors that scoop up the homes that people will be evicted from. They are the ones that renew the blood of capital, you see. They are the ones that will rescue us. They are the ones who will shepherd our precious capital through this dangerous time, and into the promised land.

They will have earned their capital gains tax cut and legal protections and government bailout and their hefty profits. Where else do the ten million of you people who are now unemployed expect to get jobs after this? Hm? Be grateful. Your willingness to work for very little after this means that you may be valuable enough to make it profitable to not let you die. Congratulations

Hamilton Nolan is a labor reporting fellow at In These Times. He has spent the past decade writing about labor and politics for Gawker, Splinter, The Guardian, and elsewhere. You can reach him at


April 27, 2020 at 1:52 PM

By: john whitfield


Couldn't have said it better myself. We shall overcome ! j.w., retired delegate, quarter century plus CPS instructor.

Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

4 + 4 =