Donald Trump ordered U.S. meat processing facilities to stay open, forcing workers to relive Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle in order to prevent shortages of chicken, pork and other products.
Meanwhile, new data from the CDC suggests that the death toll from coronavirus could be much higher than expected, just as Republican governors start to open up their states for business.
And lastly, at least some of our elected representatives are paying attention to what’s going on. during the crisis to stop big companies profiting off of the economic chaos to the people’s detriment.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Welcome to Meatcast, the podcast that’s all about meat and the meat industry, at least for the next 90 seconds or so.
America’s collective thirst for flesh has grown so rampant that Donald Trump today classified meat packing facilities as quote “critical infrastructure,” hoping that it would give companies leeway to prevent any shortages of chicken, pork and other animal products.
The problem, of course, is that giving companies leeway to prevent shortages at nearly any cost is always, always going to blow back on the workers. And meat is no different.
Reporting by Facing South and other outlets found that meatpacking plants have become hotspots for coronavirus outbreaks, and new demands on workers already struggling to get adequate protection on the job will only make things worse.
Tyson Foods, one of the largest offenders in the new deadly practice of forcing underprepared and underpaid workers to labor through a pandemic, may have ignited the story when it claimed that millions of pounds of meat would disappear from the supply chain if plants were forced to close.
But reporting by The Counter, a nonprofit newsroom focused on America’s food infrastructure, shows that the system isn’t likely to break down if plants are forced to shut down for a period of time to protect their employees. In other words, Tyson is playing up the pandemic to a sympathetic president in order to stop itself from losing any money. That sound you hear is Upton Sinclair rolling in his grave.
Corona Death Count Off By Thousands
The coronavirus’s devastating death toll may be worse than we thought. Per new data from the CDC, there may be 9,000 more total deaths spread across seven particularly hard-hit states than previously counted.
What the data shows is that there’s still a big gap between the normal deathrate in many places -- how many people die of ordinary causes over a given period of time -- and the reported deathrate during the crisis, even when you factor in the recorded deaths from coronavirus. Most likely that means we’re dramatically understating the number of deaths from the disease.
Experts also think there’s another wrinkle: fear of the virus and stress on America’s already pitiful healthcare system have caused more Americans to die from other causes that they didn’t get help for.
We’re starting to get this information right as a contingent of loyal governors are pushing to re-open states for business, which is obviously a terrible idea.
Warren and AOC Take on Corporate Greed
Let’s face it, at this point, Congress has almost entirely failed the American people when it comes to the coronavirus. But there are some factions of the Democratic party who are still trying to get things done, despite the fact that the full House won’t be in session at all until sometime after May.
On Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexadria Ocasio-Cortez introduced a joint bill to prevent corporate mergers for the duration of the coronavirus crisis, basically hoping to stop predatory corporations from forming monopolies while the entire economy is in chaos.
Since Congress is barely functioning at the moment, it’s highly unlikely the bill has a chance of passing anytime soon. But with big corporations in a feeding frenzy over that sweet Federal slush money, it’s pretty clear that something has to be done.
The bill, called the Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act would put a moratorium on corporate mergers until the FTC says that small businesses and workers nationwide are no longer under quote “severe financial distress.”
In the last great recession, big banks climbed all over each other, merging and trading assets like crazy to try to shift the pain of the financial catastrophe away from themselves.
The idea of AOC and Warren’s bill is to put a stop to all that happening again. It’s not like the big corporations are in dire straits, either, when so many of them cashed in on the first stimulus package’s small business loan program.
That mistake was so egregious that even the Trump administration is trying to smooth things over a bit: Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin recently announced that he would be auditing any company that got over $2 million from the program.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
At least 40 people who either voted in-person or worked at polls in Wisconsin’s primary last month have now tested positive for COVID-19. And yet, the Republican death cult still widely opposes vote-by-mail!
Vice President Mike Pence visited the world-renowened Mayo Clinic on Tuesday to thank its doctors for their hard work on combatting the coronavirus, and promptly became the only person in the building to mess up the clinic’s strict mask rule, refusing to don a face covering yet again. Great leadership from the VP there, you love to see it.
Justin Amash, the perennial wet blanket currently about to lose his seat in Congress, is moving on to greener and dumber pastures, this time by running for President as a member of the Libertarian Party. We should all welcome any shred of votes he manages to bleed from Trump, although given his general reputation as a giant twerp, it probably won’t be many.
And finally, don’t count on getting any more money from the federal government: the Trump administration says that it favors payroll tax cuts instead of any future direct funding. You know who payroll tax cuts don’t help? People who aren’t on a payroll, like, say, the 26 million plus Americans who are out of work.
That’s all for the Majority Report’s AM Quickie today. Stay tuned for Majority Report this afternoon.
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Jack Crosbie
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn