By now, you might have heard about the catastrophe Covid’s becoming in India. Or maybe you haven’t. Then there’s Peru. South Africa. Mexico. Argentina. Indonesia.
Covid is now at the stage — if it wasn’t already — of becoming a colossal, terrible global tragedy, a catastrophe of epic proportions.
But one of a special kind. One that teaches us how ill-prepared we are, really, for an age of catastrophe.
The grim, bitter truth — one that nobody much in the West will want to hear — is that the world is suffering a Covid catastrophe because the Western approach to Covid has created a global catastrophe. What do I mean by that?
Poorer countries can’t get vaccines. So a second and or third wave is simply ripping through them. They’re countries like India, for example, or Mexico. These countries have made many mistakes, to be sure — India’s ultra-nationalist, Trumpist leader, Modi, just like Trump, declared victory over Covid, and then resisted doing much about it. Nations like Mexico have incredibly dense population centres through which pandemic is all but guaranteed to spread. Poverty is not just about money.
But there’s a larger truth at work here. Poorer countries can’t get vaccines.
Why is that? Because the West didn’t let them — and still won’t. That’s not just morally offensive, because it’s literally going to cause millions of needless deaths. It’s stupid, because new variants will come back to infect the West, too.
Why can’t poor countries get vaccines? Because the rich West has literally made it impossible for them to. Canada and America blocked drugs rights waivers at the WTO for Covid vaccines. So now there is very, very limited production — instead of vaccines being open-source that can be produced across the world in many locations.
How limited are we talking? The West left the poor world to basically be supplied by one place: the Serum Institute of India. That’s one major producer for something like half the globe. That’s about 4 billion people, in case you were wondering.
How did the Serum Institute of India end up producing a vaccine? It got lucky. It signed a deal with Oxford University. That was back when the researchers at Oxford said they wanted to make vaccines free or very low cost — not just as in financially free, but donating the rights to any pharmaceutical company.
And then something dark, weird, and strange happened. According to everything I’ve read, on the advice of the Bill Gates Foundation, Oxford changed its mind. It sold its rights to AstraZeneca. Who, of course, created a giant monopoly.
That’s how half the world ended up in the impossible predicament of hoping for one institute in India to make all its vaccines.
That hope was always too much. Because when India’s second wave hit, thanks to Modi’s nationalist folly, it spread like wildfire. And India then basically said: “We’re keeping all these doses meant for you guys, because now there’s not even enough for us.”
Do you understand how wicked and gruesome this story really is?
Let me try to sum it up as plainly as I can. More than half the world doesn’t have enough vaccines. Not because it had to be that way. But because the West wanted it that way. Powerful institutions and figures in the West. All those “negotiators” who blocked access to vaccine patents at the WTO, on the behalf of big Pharma companies, with the assent of their Presidents and Prime Ministers. The bizarre scandal of Oxford privatising its vaccine after pledging not to and selling it to AstraZeneca.
What is the lesson here?
Vaccine capitalism has failed the world. In an epic, astonishing, nightmarish fashion. Why is it that one Western institution appears to have been capable of blocking the entire world from getting vastly more vaccines faster?
Because capitalism. Why is it that Western nations have repeatedly blocked opening vaccine patents? Because capitalism.
Think Joe Biden’s such a great guy? What about Justin Trudeau? Wonderful folks, right? Then why are they letting a massive, massive human catastrophe unfold across the world? That’s going to cause death on an horrific scale? Which Arundhati Roy has already described as a crime against humanity?
My feeling, and my bet, is that the average Westerner couldn’t give a hoot about the story above. They’ve become selfish, materialistic, individualistic, vain, stupid, ignorant — at least Anglo nations, like America and Britain have been. And so there’s no outcry in the West to vaccinate the world.
Wait, why should we do that anyways? Are you an idiot?
Sorry to sound confrontational, I guess. But you should know the answer to this question.
One, we should vaccinate the world because it’s the decent thing to do. That is how we prove our own moral fiber, and keep ourselves morally healthy. Otherwise, we degenerate into nations of Nietzschean narcissists, like America, beyond good and evil, where nothing matters. We lose our souls by letting atrocities persist.
Two, we should vaccine the world for an eminently pragmatic reason. The longer we wait and the longer it takes, the more new variants will mutate and spread, which will “escape” the vaccines that even we rich Westerners have, and cause havoc all over again. Want to spend another winter like the last one, because of Covid-20? I didn’t think so. It’s going to happen, though, at this rate.
Third, we should vaccinate the world because capitalism has privatised a public good. Let’s be totally clear: Covid vaccines are public goods. All of them. They were financed and developed with public funds, at public institutions, on the public dime, for public purposes. The “Oxford AstraZeneca” vaccine? It’s just the Oxford vaccine: it was imagined, created, and made in research labs — AstraZeneca just manufactures it. The mRNA vaccines? All created with public funds, in research labs, at universities.
The West, in other words, created vaccines as a public good. And then it let capitalism come along and privatise the gains. That’s why poor countries are paying vastly higher prices than rich ones, by the way — a gruesome fact which Pharma companies explain away with corporate jargon like “vaccine prices will vary by location.” It’s just profiteering. Of the most obscene and immoral kind. Profiteering on a human tragedy, an historic catastrophe, on death of epic proportions.
Vaccines were a public good created by the West, and public goods are created to be shared. Why is that? Because they have “positive externalities,” aka good spillovers for all of us. Take a public park. I’m better off when you’re fitter, saner, kinder, because you go to the park every day. We invest in public goods precisely because they benefit all of us together more than they benefit each of us individually.
Put another way, how are you best off? When everyone in the world has a vaccine, fastest and cheapest. That’s when your chances of getting Covid-20 are minimised. But we are now living in the opposite world. The world is not getting vaccines fastest and cheapest — but slowest and most expensive. Why?
Because capitalism profits most when there’s artificial scarcity. That’s why more than half of humanity is now in the horrific position of relying on one institute — one — to make all their vaccines. The one institute that got lucky and struck a deal before the profiteering began. And yet one institute can’t provide all the vaccines the world needs. So the world now must pay the ransom the Pharma companies demand. But most of it can’t do that, and so it’s looking desperately, to China.
What a story. It fills me with anger, rage, disgust, of a certain white-hot kind. Vaccine capitalism is a massive, massive failure. Didn’t anyone with a working brain know it was always going to be?
This approach — destined to fail — exposes the moral hypocrisy and intellectual stupidity of the West, both. It is making itself worse off in the end, too — but I suppose that’s OK, as long as the rest of the world suffers immensely.
What a tragedy. But you know what burns me up the most? The fact that the average Westerner will never know. Never give a hoot. Never educate themselves. About the simple, damning facts above. They’ll go on living in their bubbles of self-satisfied delusion, never asking: “How come the world doesn’t have vaccines?” And so they’ll never hear the answer, either.
Because, for money’s sake — the money of the already super ultra mega rich, mostly — the West didn’t let the world have vaccines, the very ones it created for the public interest reason of giving them to an entire world, only to backtrack once the choice had to be made. The West chose death on shocking, astounding global scale instead. And that, my friends, makes me wish there was a hell.
I’ve heard that you should only take advice from people who are successful at what you’re trying to accomplish.
You wouldn’t take Olympic weightlifting advice from someone who has never picked up a barbell. You wouldn’t take investing advice from your friend who is always broke.
So why would you take dating advice from your perpetually single friend?
Well, maybe you should.
They could be single by choice
Just because someone is single and has been single for a long time doesn’t mean they’re terrible at relationships. They could be single by choice, yet have been actively dating for years.
These people have a repository of dating stories and experiences to share, and lessons from which you can learn.
My best friend is in her mid-thirties. She’s been single for a long time now by choice — after spending the entirety of her twenties in a relationship with an older man. And she gives some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten.
Her wisdom gained from being super in a relationship to super not in a relationship has helped me get through some tough spots. Just because she’s not interested in dating anyone now doesn’t mean she is unsuccessful in dating, or lacks experience, or doesn’t give good advice.
She once compared dating to driving around a parking lot, looking for a space. As you get older, most of the front-row spaces (the good people) are already taken. But sometimes, if you keep circling the parking lot, you might luck out and see a space you thought was a Kia Soul at first but is actually an open spot.
They can tell you what works and doesn’t work
Even if your single friend is constantly breaking up with someone or being broken up with, they still have valuable insight to share.
By listening to their stories, you can piece together what works and what doesn’t work. And just because it works or doesn’t work for one person doesn’t mean that the same will hold true for someone else.
One of my friends has been single and dating for a while. Something she told me that has worked for her in the past, is that when she starts to get feelings for someone or feels herself getting emotionally invested in the other person, she makes sure to tell them.
She’ll say, “This is where I am emotionally, and if we continue down this path, I’m going to want to be your significant other. If that’s not something you’re interested in or open to, we should talk about that.”
It’s stating what she wants and what she feels, and it opens the floor for the other person to do the same — or to get out, if that’s what they want.
I’ve used this in my most recent dating situation — except, stupidly, I accepted the guy’s wishy-washy, noncommittal answer instead of delving further into a deeper conversation.
I ended up wasting a lot of time with someone who was never going to commit to me — but now I know to do better next time, and to actually have an open conversation about it.
They can share human advice
The same goes for your single friend who has never dated anyone. They’re still a person, right? They’re still living a human life and having a human experience. They can give you advice on how to talk to another human or give you another human’s perspective on whatever you’re going through.
This is where I come from when I give advice to my married friends. I’ve never been married, so I don’t know what it’s like to have that kind of bond with someone. But, I do know how I would handle myself in an argument and how I would express my wants, needs, thoughts, and opinions. I do know what’s a reasonable request and what’s not. I do know how to compromise.
So no, I don’t know what it’s like to be married or in a long-term relationship, but I do know what it’s like to be a person that has to deal with other people — as most humans do.
Your single friends can be good sounding boards, so don’t forget that they’re there for you.
They can give you insight you hadn’t considered
I’ve been single for most of my life, but I’ve also been dating since I was eighteen. I’ve only had two short-term “boyfriends” and many “situationships” — not-quite-relationships — and from those, I’ve gained a wealth of experience. But not necessarily experience on how to have a long-lasting relationship.
The advice I have to share is about how to figure out what you want and how to find what you want. I can’t dole out words of wisdom on what to do if you’re living with your significant other and you’re having a fight — I’ve never experienced that.
But I can tell you how to ask for what you need in a diplomatic way. I can tell you how to ask the right questions on a first date to get a better idea of who the other person really is. I can tell you how to know when it’s time to walk away from a dating situation. I can tell you how to know if someone is really interested in commitment or not. I can tell you the red flags to look out for.
Bottom line is, good advice is good advice — who cares if it comes from someone who “isn’t qualified”? If someone says something that resonates with you and strikes a chord in your heart, then go for it. Use your own judgment.
Don’t discount something someone says about your relationship just because they’re single — they might have more insight than you think.