Mittwoch, 17. Juni 2020

The Quality of Leadership - 21st Century New Deal

This analysis is also published on CNN host Michael Smerconish:

When in "The Last Days of Mankind" Karl Kraus (Austria's renowned writer and journalist) described what led to the cruelties of WW1, who would have thought of 2020?

What do we miss when it's "saving lives" vs. "saving the economy"? It's a dilemma only for those unwilling to rescue both. In Covid-19 Crisis not humankind is endangered, but humanity when a public health crisis turns into a widespread public safety crisis by irresponsible leadership destroying culture and civilization, paving the way for the rise of the strongmen.

"Saving lives is key" must implicate rescuing people financially. Anything else was inhumane. If we are serious, we must do more than applauding, but taking our governments into account to increase public health, health care personnel's salary, to avoid future pandemics. Otherwise leaders and experts rationalizing public health sector decades-long appear as first arsonists, now firemen.

Leaders and experts imposing stay-at-home orders without flanking measures by proper financial compensation only amplify cleaving society in two. While well-offs fear dying by the virus, the people primarily fear dying economically. Isn't it rich of leaders to sustain a corporation-favoring system abandoning majority population evidently?

Responsible governments must flank imposed Coronavirus measures with proper financial compensation for the people to prevent worse evils. Some pacifyingly may opine: "That's happening already." Is that so? With every passing day money isn't reaching the people sufficiently populists arise. Is this intended? Why not getting the money directly to the people, otherwise impoverishing? Why not saving everyone financially, but wasting precious time with eligibility criteria?

In the spirit of Albert Einstein's "If I were to remain silent, I'd be guilty of complicity" we must get this right, otherwise the "First Wave" was about the virus and the "Second Wave" is about widespread poverty.

Even in wealthy countries known for annually attracting millions of tourists for arts & culture, due to Coronavirus measures creatives and artists are banned from work (reopening of do-it-yourself stores while concerts, galleries, cabarets staying under tight restrictions), unemployment is skyrocketing and many businesses died economically, despite government's "what-ever-it-takes"-announcements.

So, civil society's growing concern is audible: What's left of a country's image known for arts & culture, when the cultural scene is left to die in Covid-19 Crisis? What remains of a culture without artists? Are leaders acting responsible when taking culture for granted, consuming arts while letting artists & creatives "die" considered not system-relevant?

In the spirit of American poet Robert Lowell's "The light at the end of the tunnel is just the light of an oncoming train" leaders dividing a society by "system-relevance" create a dangerous cocktail of anti-government resentment while tensions rise in society and a dark suspicion spreads on the streets: Is this all about market adjustments? In these dire times neoliberalists trigger civil society's resistance against leaders not rescuing the people. Is it a neoliberal train running over businesses, artists, creatives considered inconvenient? Is it a Darwinist train to wipe out opposition, so only the strong survive?

Now, current measures save lives physically but create a cultural wasteland of "No Culture - Nix Kultura" while expecting blind loyalty. Still many rally around the flag - what a hotbed for populism.

Aren't we supposed to know, where blind loyalty led to historically? In a society constantly alarmed of the virus spreading, another virus spreads: FEAR. People in fear are easy to control - according to the totalitarian regimes' handbook. People fearing reprisals don't criticize governments. So, arts and satire die.

Yet, there's civil society's resistance against leadership stuck in a bubble, detached from businesses & arts, and limiting human rights triggering American environmentalist Edward Abbey's: "A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government" even the "when the government fears the people there is liberty; when the people fear the government there is tyranny"-faction.

Leaders and experts indulged in numbers games, pitting culture vs. economy for public health, seemingly forget: "Recession costs lives too".

Desperate circumstances demand desperate measures, right? Aren't these days of US-wide protests desperate enough for governments to act responsible? Responsible leadership was wise to walk the talk ("what-ever-it-takes"-announcements) by introducing Universal Basic Income to sustain market liquidity plus public safety to avoid widespread "well-offs in gilded cages surrounded by impoverished masses"-reality. Furthermore UBI could mitigate losing evermore people to "conspiracy theories", "alternative facts", radicalization by feeling abandoned without prospects.

Wasn't the worldwide marathon for finding a Covid-19 vaccine to rescue mankind more efficient if flanked by UBI saving the people? Otherwise Coronavirus Crisis magnifies every country's systemic grievances and resistance against governments' efforts to restore a system serving the wealthy few only. That's why civil society took to the streets pre-Covid-19: Social injustice by accumulation of capital in the hands of the "richest 1%", accelerated by the majority population's Great Derailment by leadership saving only the "richest 1%" during 2008/2009's Great Recession - too big to fail/too big to jail.

French Premier Emmanuel Macron's extension of the state of health emergency until July 24th bought the government time, as Yellow vests movement hushed by Coronavirus measures. China even uses Coronavirus Crisis to finalize Hong Kong's annexion.

So, more than economically and medically the world in Covid-19 Crisis pays an horrendous price culturally for its leaders' ignorance and stinginess, indulged in numbers games, while blood is running in the streets.

Systemically, governments deligitimize themselves without flanking measures by direct financial payments but further ignoring dire facts on Main Street. Irresponsible leadership represents government Darwinism, shareholders and special interest groups.

Leaders communicating: "If you don't follow the orders and hunker down, it will get worse" provoke to ask: For whom it's getting worse? Definitely for those already excluded from society, pushed to the sidelines, put out of the market pre-Coronavirus by irresponsible leadership failing to prevent this malaise in the first place.

A "21st Century New Deal" is needed with responsible leadership, financial reforms and regulations to break up irresponsible multinational corporations' oligopoly.

Psychologically, when so-called developed countries' leaders talk about heading the richest countries on Earth, it's all about their Egos. How on Earth a country can be called rich, when most of its wealth is hoarded by its richest 1% while the 99% impoverish, living near or under the poverty line already? Following these bizarre logic, then most countries on Earth are to consider rich. Perhaps, that's logical to leaders and experts having replaced common sense by selected statistics, annually convening in Davos or Jackson Hole for digging a hole for us evermore. Why does media - supposedly the people's advocate (Watergate Scandal) - replicate this bizarre logic and numbers games?

If our society was a train, the privileged few at the front separated from most people in the rear wagons ablaze by the actions of irresponsible leaders boldly announcing: "To prevail, the front must be uncuppled from the rear, the people are to cooperate and sacrifice themselves for their leaders."

If that sounds dystopian, think of 2020: Leaders and experts easily able to ride out this disaster financially, hesitate to save the many in financial dire straits exploited by decades of irresponsible policies pleasing the shareholder value.

Psychologically, most people would save lives by staying at home, if having a home and staying at home didn't mean their own financial death warrant. Leaders and experts appear irresponsibly from the Otherworld: Imposing stay-at-home orders without flanking measures by sufficient financial compensation enable peopling to stay put to follow government orders.

This mentality of leaders stem from a special reality: a self-affirmative well-funded bubble reducing empathy for the misery those leaders' behavior creates, expecting those already struggling pre-Coronavirus to self-sacrifice for "higher purpose": a rescue plan for selfish leaders' luxurious lifestyle. This Crisis showcases leaders without morals demanding morals from their people.

In 2020, if humankind is to progress, not regress into dark times of history, the people deserve responsible leadership now, not self-serving leaders doing just enough to sustain their own privileged lifestyle, otherwise widespread unrests are only the beginning, followed by war used to distract from bad leadership. The last mass unemployment resulted in WW2. History rimes again, for those who can "hear". The quality of leadership depends on how leaders care for the people in times of need.

Governments imposing stay-at-home orders in a sweep, thereby taking people's livelihoods, need to compensate the people quickly. Otherwise the picture is bleak: Populists profit from leadership considered advocates of the wealthy few. For, one thing is for certain, rescuing the many would look different than what we see today.

Figures and balance sheets of neoliberalists deciding who's to live and who's to die, in a world not short of money, are not key. But the quality of leadership depends on British moral philosopher Jeremy Bentham's fundamental axiom: "the greatest happiness for the greates number" of people.

Dr. Dr. Immanuel Fruhmann
Systemic Analyst and Philosopher