Columns, Coronavirus, Opinion

2020 Breakdown: Profiteering during this pandemic should spark outrage

“Crises have a way of revealing, don’t they? You really get to see the core of a person when the chips are down. How will they react, who will they fight for, whose side are they actually on?” Krystal Ball, political pundit and journalist, asked recently on her show.

Unfortunately, Ball could not be more correct.

While thousands of people are lying sick in hospital beds and millions of others have claimed unemployment, the privileged seem to be faring quite well in the midst of all this chaos. So well, in fact, some have found clever ways to profit off of the pain and suffering caused by this pandemic. 

Two Republican senators, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr and Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler, are among these profiteering elites, dumping stocks and raking in profits.

Chair of the Senate Intel Committee and member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Burr received nonpublic and essential information. He learned of it and its implications weeks before the public did. 

So what did the good ol’ senator do with this vital information?

Burr dumped up to $1.72 million in stocks about one week before the markets began to tank, ProPublica reported. While dumping stocks of companies he knew would soon become vulnerable and lose value like hotel and resort chains, he was reassuring the public that “the United States today is better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats,” in a Fox News op-ed he penned with another senator. 

Loeffler joined the likes of Burr, trading millions in stock just before the markets crashed, according to multiple news reports. In addition to dumping travel stocks that have since lost value, Loeffler managed to buy stocks for Cisco, one of the few companies gaining value as many Americans transition to working from home and online. 

Clearly, these senators are only fighting for themselves and are on the side of their bank accounts, not the American people. 

Their shady dealings wreak of insider trading, earning the two senators some well-deserved backlash and triggering investigations by both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI. 

But the gross and unconscionable profiteering doesn’t stop with our very own elected officials. No, multinational conglomerates like 3M are essentially holding critical personal protective equipment hostage, charging U.S. officials “10 and sometimes 20 times the actual costs of these masks,” according to Jared Moskowitz, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Despite its claim that it has “gone above and beyond to manufacture as many N95 respirators as possible for the U.S. market,” Moskowitz reports 3M, the largest manufacturer of respirator masks, would not sell him any. 

“3M is an ice cream store that doesn’t sell ice cream apparently,” Moskowitz said. “Since when do we have a U.S. company that sells masks and I try to offer them money and they won’t sell them to me?” 

3M is actively producing masks in the United States and then sells them in foreign markets like Canada and Latin America. 

Other medical equipment manufacturers are following in 3M’s footsteps. Large shipments of American-made medical essentials are being sold and distributed to foreign buyers rather than to parts of the country in desperate need of supplies, the Intercept reported

Companies in the drug industry, a sector for legally price gouging and profiteering, have decided to do what they do best during this outbreak. In January, as coronavirus cases rose in China, Gilead Sciences increased the price of remdesivir, a potential coronavirus treatment drug, according to The Hill. 

Some investment bankers have been heavily urging companies like Gilead and Cardinal Health to increase prices on drugs, according to the Intercept. 

The list of elites clamoring to make an extra buck off this crisis is seemingly never-ending. If not for politicians, who is looking out for the everyday American?

Sure, a one-time payment of $1,200 to U.S. adults that qualify is something. But compared to the millions and billions being made for those at the top, it is unconscionable that those in positions of power show no genuine care for the average American. 

The profiteering and exploiting of Americans and our economy during this global pandemic should spark outrage. Human pain and suffering are not things to be profited off of. 

Comments are closed.