By Hu Xijin Source:Global Times
US President Donald Trump standing with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force team, speaks during a press briefing in the press briefing room of the White House on March 14 in Washington, DC. Photo: AFP
The US economy added 2.5 million jobs in May, defying previous expectations of further losses, and US President Donald Trump was quick to highlight his achievements at a press conference on Friday. On the same day, the US stock market also skyrocketed. The employment surge is of course a good thing, but something feels wrong that the US administration is unabashedly delighted with everything that’s transpiring.
It is evident that although the epidemic situation in the US has somewhat eased, it is not completely under control. Just a day before the employment data was released, the US reported 20,208 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 956 deaths. Although the figures are below the peak, globally the US is still one of the worst-affected countries by the COVID-19. Currently, only Brazil’s newly confirmed cases and deaths have surpassed that of the US.
Under such circumstances, the US employment numbers have greatly increased. Most of these 2.5 million jobs are generated by the food services and drinking places, which indicates that employment growth has come at the expense of unrealistically relaxing social distancing restrictions.
The US has proven itself to be a stronghold of capitalism. American society fundamentally functions around capitalism, and this political doctrine has shaped the US’ code of conduct, ideology, and even the thought-process and habits of the Americans.
No society can afford long-term lockdown. As the epidemic eases, work and production must be resumed. However, in the US, the resumption of work and production has definitely been placed above the COVID-19 fight. When the federal government is encouraging a comprehensive resumption, it does not care whether the recovery will cause the epidemic to rebound.
Washington has manifested an increasingly predictable attitude: As long as the economy is effectively restored, it is less or barely important whether more people are infected and embrace death.
The reemployment of many in the US is certainly a piece of rejuvenating news; however, it also reinforces the risk of infection. The White House should adopt a sensible and mixed attitude, instead of simply deeming it as a national achievement.
Without the COVID-19 fight, isn’t it easy to boost the employment rate? The alleviation of the epidemic was not a strong driver of US job growth in May. The growth was due to the value choice that economic recovery is more important than the COVID-19 battle.
Are the American public really undaunted by the risk of death? I do not believe so. Because of the way US society functions, the American public has failed to keep themselves away from the grip of infection. When capitalism requires people to restore the economy and bear the risk of infection, American society will be forced to make a value choice. Americans will unconsciously accept it and cooperate with it.
Americans have accepted the social risk that around 20,000 are infected and hundreds of people die of COVID-19 every day. I believe there are two possibilities next. One is that this “barbarism”, or such so-called courage, will gradually become the national competitiveness of the US. Another possible consequence is this reckless move will eventually lead to a serious epidemic rebound in the US, breaking public tolerance, and leading to another chaotic situation.
What I want to say is human beings still know a little about COVID-19. The virus has already triggered shocking changes, and there are still huge uncertainties in the future. We must not underestimate the ability of the virus to make unexpected changes.
The author is editor-in-chief of the Global Times. [email protected]