Pandemic Winners, Losers

Al Jacobs

There’s an adage from a far earlier time claiming “No matter the circumstances, there’s no calamity so horrendous that someone does not profit from it” … or as the slogan goes, “It’s an ill wind that blows no good.” And as I look back over the various calamities I’ve witnessed, many benefited certain groups or individuals. More specifically, I admit to having been a beneficiary of some of those misfortunes.

One such unexpected benefit I credit to our nation’s unhappy involvement in the Korean War. As a member of the naval reserve while attending college, I suddenly found myself called to active duty in 1950 as an enlisted man. But before they deployed me to the war zone, I applied for and received a Secretary of the Navy appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. I spent the entire Korean War in Annapolis, Maryland, where I earned my diploma and received an officer’s commission.

Others, however, were not so fortunate. My closest friend, a pre-med major, while on summer break, found himself drafted into the army. They assigned him the job as a stretcher bearer on the Korean battlefield; he never lived to see his 22nd birthday.

To compare our Covid hardship in any way with the horrors of the Korean War may seem outlandish, but perhaps there are more similarities than immediately come to mind. For one thing, regardless of whether the numbers are fully verifiable, the reported U.S. death toll due to the coronavirus during this past year is approaching 400,000. You may compare this to the actual number of American fatalities during the Korean combat, 1950 to 1953, of 33,686. But despite the obvious differences, one thing is common: in both instances you may identify both the winners and the losers.

Let’s start our search by picking out the obvious victims of this pandemic. Those persons whose contracting of the virus causes profound and extensive discomfort or death are undeniably losers. Whatever misery may befall a person, ill health is the most pernicious … which explains why Benjamin Franklin listed health in first position when he declared: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

Following those accursed bodily ailments, the distress which seems to most bedevil humanity is fundamentally economic. The outrage expressed by society as to the way the authorities conducted themselves, relative to the public’s financial well-being, could have been inscribed as the eleventh entry on Moses’ Ten Commandments. Upon official declaration of the pandemic, the very first atrocity perpetrated on the general population was a nationwide lockdown.

In California, some six million mostly healthy and productive citizens suddenly found themselves without employment and mandatorily consigned to their residences. Tens of thousands of businesses closed, with only those personally favored by our governor permitted to remain profitably functioning. Thus Walmart and Target became essential, while independent stores which sold clothing, novelties, and similar items were deemed unessential. These determinations were not appealable. The losers are easily identified: those who lost their employment, businesses, assets and freedom of association. They literally became imprisoned, though never convicted of any crime.

There are other losers. They’re the workers who must continue to provide our supplies and services while their children are locked in their homes and falling behind in their schooling – despite evidence schools are not a source of the viral infection. And you may include those kids with academic deficiencies who’ll never catch up and will drop out entirely. You may also include in the losing group those college students locked in their dorms and studying online with no contact with other students or instructors. Add to that pupils of all grades whose magnitudes of depression reached critical levels and lost all desire to continue their education.

While we’re considering the fate of employees who continue to work, visualize those whose jobs are gone as they wait forlornly in unemployment lines. Many have no idea whether they’ll be employable at the end of this extended ordeal. And if not, will there be other opportunities for them to pursue? Despite an occasional cash stipend by a governmental agency in response to political pressures, they’re mostly on their own.

On yet another front, we mustn’t ignore the elderly parents and grandparents who’ve not seen their progeny for months. Even more pathetic are those oldsters who are suffering the ravages of an incurable ailment as they die alone, deprived of even a loved one’s final goodbye because of enforced visitation rules. You may then add to the list those people who choose to blunt the pain of isolation with alcohol or drugs. Or possibly even more pathetic are the addicts whose rehab centers are closed, and who slip back into the addictions they managed to escape from at an earlier time.

Finally there are thousands of the disillusioned, who’ve simply succumbed to the belief there’ll never be a return to normalcy, so the requirements of mask wearing, social distancing, and all of the mostly meaningless requirements currently instituted will continue indefinitely. It can be argued these persons will be the most unfortunate of all, for they’ll find themselves tied to the miseries of the year 2020 for the rest of their lives. This will be analogous to the stories once told of those elderly individuals, with a history dating back to Great Depression of the 1930s, who would never again deposit money into a bank account because of losses incurred a half-century earlier.

It’s now time to identify the winners in this viral bonanza. I can easily pick out the persons residing in first place. They’re those individuals, lauded as authorities, who’ve become famous – and in some instances prosperous – thanks to their governmental or professional positions. Their names are now legend: most notably National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, as well as Andrew Cuomo of New York, Gavin Newsom of California and the many other governors who proclaimed their right through executive authority to rule by decree.

Next on the list will be such persons as Secretary of California Health and Human Services, Dr. Mark Ghaly, Los Angeles Public Health director, Barbara Ferrer, with authorities in each city and state similarly positioned for favorable notoriety.

Then, standing comfortably in line, will be those who promote the vaccines. As a Californian, you’d better avoid a batch from Moderna because of an adverse anaphylaxis side effect. And if you’re in Norway, be aware of 33 deaths from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine … which also resulted in seven deaths in Germany. As for a reason: Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the FDA advisory panel, described the U.S.’s upfront financing of all the vaccines. He said “The government essentially paid for overlapping phenomena, which is to say the vaccines were mass-produced without knowing if they worked or were safe, so overlapped phase III trials, which would never normally happen.” What’s abundantly clear is the vaccines were jammed through as a political expediency. Although the favored interests are making fortunes, regardless of the efficacy of these substances, their safety and effectiveness are yet to be determined.

And finally we’ll encounter the nation’s epidemiologists, and particularly those who are raking in massive fees in the testing racket. The fact this nation’s testing programs are meaningless at best and corrupt at worst will not dissuade those who can profit from them to heartily endorse and promote the charade.

A final word: At some time in the future the COVID-19 pandemic will end. The actual reason for its eventual termination will be that it no longer generates a sufficient windfall for its designated profiteers. Until then you will continue to conduct yourself as your leaders direct. Why America devolved into this madhouse is a sad story indeed.

Al Jacobs, a professional investor for nearly a half-century, issues weekly financial articles in which he shares his financial knowledge and experience. Al may be contacted at


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