A recent episode of Last Week Tonight had a quote about COVID-19 which really jumped out at me:
One estimate for the cost of global prevention runs between $22 and $31 billion dollars a year but… the cost of COVID-19 in the U.S. alone is estimated to be over $16 trillion.
So to put it mildly, it's fucking worth it.
Wow. The cost of COVID-19 is roughly 1000 times greater than the cost of prevention? That's absurd. But even so, it’s not the part that stood out to me on my first watch through. I can't do mental math that fast, not while watching that brooding mountain (snap off my toes, you big, unwashed buffalo).
No, the bit that stood out to me is the "it's fucking worth it". Because it's missing an important qualifier.
Who is it worth it for?
Sure, when looking at the $16 trillion cost to the U.S. as whole, then almost any price of prevention would be worth it. But the thing is, throughout this pandemic, the rich have actually become richer. Far richer. In fact, according to The Guardian, the wealth of ten billionaires alone has increased by 400 billion dollars during this pandemic.
And what's more, it's the billionaires that control the government's purse strings. Because according to this recent study, "business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence."
If it actually made sense for those in power to deal with COVID, then they would.
But for the super wealthy? Today’s global catastrophes are tomorrow’s global opportunities. And nobody becomes that wealthy by letting good opportunity go to waste.