Covid-19 – Anatomy of a Contagion: Fear

Fear is a normal response to a perceived threat or danger, like moving away from a swarm of bees in order not to get stung or veering away from an incoming car that ran a red light to avoid an accident. This normal reaction is called flight-or-fight. It is common to all humans and animals alike.

Most of us react the same way during the flu season. We stay away from people who are sick to avoid catching the virus. We frown on people who sneeze or cough who do not use a paper tissue. We behave in a normal way by keeping our distance for fear of being infected.

What has been propagated since the outbreak of covid-19 does not reflect a definition of fear. What the outbreak resembles instead is a type of social phobia; a fear that is disproportionate to the true danger that a thing, event or disease poses to our survival.

Phobia alters the way we react and behave. It changes the normal way we think and act as rational human beings. This type of fear leaves people vulnerable to indoctrination and manipulation, making them vulnerable to subservience. It entices people to surrender their freewill and freedom to cult leaders, group-think, institutional powers or the State in return for a promise of safety and protection.

As a greater number of people become immune from the source of fear they will realize that the phobia has been more damaging to the economy than the biological infection of casualties that have mostly contributed to the death of people of over 65 years of age.

The casualties are nothing close to the predictions made by officials. Based on statistics provided by the CDC the number of deaths in the US so far, is similar to causalities caused by an acute flu season.

Covid 19 ~ 165,000 – 200,000 deaths out of a US population of 328 million: Most of these deaths are not directly caused by the virus but are a contributing factor to an already existing condition like high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

Heart disease ~ 647,000 deaths per year in the US: Does the government decree people to become vegan?
Driving fatalities per year ~ 1.35 million people die per year in the US: Does the government decree people to stop driving?

What will become evident once the dust settles is the extent of the damage done to many sectors of the economy. It is estimated that approximately 30% of world economy has been affected by the lock-downs. The greatest damage was done to commercial real-estate investments, the tourist, the aviation, the service economies, restaurants, small businesses, bars and pubs and the gig economy that hire young people.

The lock-downs and social distancing have contributed to an ongoing paradigm shift to an e-commerce business model introduced by Amazon and copied by other retailers, accelerating a move away from shopping in brick and mortar stores, promoting online buying by a captive buyer at home. The shift benefited several additional sectors like; the delivery businesses, the media and web sites that provide the news, opinions and entertainment that generates advertising money.

To what extent are the media and online sources of information responsible for exploiting people’s fear of catching the virus? A fear instigated by one’s health concerns and propagated by a search for news about the disease. This in turn generated high ratings, higher page views/rank and advertising revenues.

To find some answers on how this vicious circle went viral one needs to look at the language used at the origin of the contagion: How it originated, how it evolved and how it was disseminated, because as Emile Benveniste explained: “language re-produces reality”.

One can retrace the origin of covid-19 to words/images used by news sources. Terms like; lab, experiment, bats, pandemic and death are graphic images that make great headlines. Wuhan, China and eating bats, inspires a natural tendency in people to discriminate against an ethnic group. Discrimination that goes back to the way the Chinese were treated during the rail-road construction boom in the nineteen century.

Words like coronavirus was used instead of flu, even though the flu is a coronavirus. Label like covid-19 made it sound alien giving it a nice science-fiction ring to it. The virus was described as a pandemic sounding like epidemic.

Reports of cases rather than deaths from all over the world provided unlimited and continuous sources of information on the subject to an audience glued to their TVs and devices.

News outlets were not inclined to report accurate facts about the virus as it would discredit authorities that ordered lock-downs that generated advertising money and contributed to a paradigm shift beneficial to FANGs type businesses and their stock market valuations.

The fear pandemic is slowly abating as a result people will realize that the damage done to the economy is the real symptom of the disease…

The Mighty US Dollar: Why It’s the Reserve Currency of the World

The US dollar has come a long way since its introduction in 1792. Over time, it evolved into the world’s reserve currency, holding the highest level of confidence and liquidity, surpassing all other currencies in circulation.

In times of geopolitical turmoil, and a lack of trust in other monetary systems, the US dollar becomes the currency of choice of foreigners and foreign institutions that convert and park their money in US dollars. The currency closely associated with the history of a nation that became the dominant power of the world. This power is eminently represented in the trust in the US dollar. There are 20 countries using a currency called ‘dollar.’ However, the US’ economic dominance eclipses the visibility of all other dollar denominations in circulation.

The foreign exchange, called ‘FX’ or ‘forex,’ is the marketplace where countries from around the world exchange currencies. It is the largest market in terms of trading volume, surpassing the credit markets and the trade of goods and services. About half of the approximately $5 trillion of transactions that are settled daily are denominated in US dollars.

It is estimated that approximately 70% of the physical paper dollars in circulation are held outside the United States, mostly in $100 notes.

What helped make the US dollar the reserve currency is exemplified by the fact that a dollar issued in the 1860s is still a legal tender today, unlike the fate of many other currencies.

Federal Reserve Notes, are commonly known as money: Amedium of exchange that guarantees the fulfillment of a transaction. Its value is generated by confidence in the government and its institutions to manage the economy in a trustworthy and competent manner. These institutions would not exist without the underlying reality that a currency is backed by the total productive capacity of its people.

There are approximately 30 million small businesses in the United States. They hire close to 60 million workers. A small business is defined as a businesses with fewer that 500 employees. To be fair, the total number small businesses includes individuals that are independent contractors. Overall, these businesses account for 97% of all economic activity in the US.

Communities across the nation rely on individuals and small businesses for production of jobs, goods, services and the general economic well-being of the population. The the sum production of all goods and services generated by the US workforce is defined as Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It creates revenues and profits that is taxable income levied by various levels of government, who in turn distributes the money for public works, services, social benefits and the defense industry.

The total productive capacity of Americans is generated by entrepreneurial spirit and all types of of labor, beginning with the settlers and all other immigrants that followed who came from varied parts of the world to the US to benefit from and contribute to the economy. They enabled the creation of a global network of contacts that favored global trade and economic growth.

As Alexis de Tocqueville observed during his journey in the country, Americans are not concerned by lofty ideals of virtue or righteousness. They are driven by self-interests, profits and wealth, principles that underline the American Way of life.

America’s entrepreneurial spirit produced the US’ dominant role in the world economy. It is secured by its military power and the global reach of Corporate America. And is responsible for US’ dollar status as the reserve currency of the world.

The strength of the US dollar will inevitably cause dislocations to other currencies and the world economy. When this happens, a reassessment about its role as a reserve currency will likely occur, and a new era in the global economy will unfold.

Read more about the symbols on US Dollar here.

In Memoriam: Elda Rizzotti

On April 9th my mother passed away at the age of ninety of heart failure. She expired her last breath in a Montreal hospital after being transferred from her senior care facility. She felt lost and alone during the last days of her life. None of her children could visit and be at her side because of the lockdown.

Elda Pietrella was born on August 28th 1929, weeks prior to the Crash of 1929 and died at the height of the covid-19 fear of contagion that infected and paralyzed a normally working society.

She lost her father when she was 15. He died while her mother, my grandmother Augusta, was pregnant with my uncle Toni. She was the oldest daughter with one sister and two brothers. After completing her fifth grade she left school to work at a farm in the outskirts of a small town of Provesano in Friuli, Italy, to help support her family. She lived through the folly and devastation of the Second World War.

She met my dad Giuseppe Rizzotti in a neighboring town of Barbeano. They got married on May 7th 1949.

She joined my father in Tangiers International were he had found work. The city where I was born. Two years later political change was brewing under the surface and my father, mother and I went back to Spilimbergo, Italy, were my sister Antoinette was born.

The lack of work in Italy compelled my father to move to Montreal, Canada. Three years later my mother, my sister and I left Naples and sailed across the Atlantic and landed in Halifax, Canada: A long train ride away from Montreal, Quebec.

One year later, in 1957 she gave birth to my brother Jimmy. Her children were born in three different countries/continents.

My dad was a ship. My mother was his harbor…

Last time I saw my mother less than a year ago, she told me about when she was pregnant with me, that women had warned her to get ready for the pains of childbirth. She revealed with a smile that I popped out with ease. She felt no pain, only joy.

She was a beautiful and loving mother, unconditionally devoted to her family, and tough as nails.

I am the intertwining union of my parents genes, the flesh and blood of my mother: A wholly trinity.

She will always live in my heart.

She leaves behind in sorrow, her children: Michael, Antoinette, Jimmy and her grandson Gabriel. And all the people she graced by her presence…