TUMBY BAY - Many businesses all over the world have been caught out by Covid-19 through the disruption of supply lines. Goods are not coming into countries because of the closure of borders.
Australia has been particularly affected because home-grown manufacturing has declined significantly and just about everything except agricultural products come from overseas, and China in particular.
Calls are now being made to re-establish all the local manufacturing gutted by successive governments over the years or moved offshore to cheap labour countries by greedy businesses.
Added to this problem has been the practise of many businesses keeping the bare minimum of products in stock to save on storage costs, so-called just-in-time inventories.
Because of this practise, certain goods disappeared from the shops very quickly when the coronavirus restrictions came into force.
This finely balanced supply and demand situation is a consequence of the neo-liberal philosophy of maximising profit wherever possible and by any means.
This philosophy is also what has informed the lack of funding by many governments for non-profitable aspects of their economies, like public health, transport and education programs.
This is why countries like the USA and the UK were so ill-prepared to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
The infrastructures needed to deal with the pandemic had been so run down that they had no hope of dealing with such an emergency.
There had been a hint of these shortcomings in the USA when Hurricane Katrina occurred in 2005. Hurricane Katrina was a Category 5 tropical cyclone that caused US$125 billion in damage, particularly in the city of New Orleans and the surrounding areas, and over 1,200 deaths.
In that case, neo-liberal philosophy ordained that New Orleans, largely populated by poor African Americans and Latinos, was expendable.
There is a sense of this philosophy in the approach of Donald Trump and the Republican state governors to the Covid-19 pandemic but there is also strong evidence that the lack of preparedness for such an event has had a major negative impact too.
To support this argument you only have to look at countries that have handled the crisis well, like Australia and New Zealand, to see what difference strong social services like a good health system can make.
Rabid neo-liberal regimes fail their citizens miserably when it comes to dealing with crisis. Whether they care is another matter. The example from Trump’s America is that they don’t.
Where else could you see wealthy people buying their own ventilators while people were dying because there were too few of these life-saving machines in the hospitals?
There is also an interesting lack of contrast between what is happening in neo-liberal countries and third world countries, especially those with corrupt regimes.
Both are equally unable to deal with a pandemic like Covid-19.
Imagine what would happen in Papua New Guinea, with its rundown hospitals and other services, if a second and third wave of the pandemic strikes.
And that possibility is entirely on the cards. The 1918-19 influenza epidemic that killed 50 million people worldwide did the most damage during the second and third waves.
And, of course, there will be more pandemics after this one. Scientists have been warning us about the increased likelihood of pandemics for some time now.
As climate change fails to be addressed and exploitation of the planet’s resources increases, the conditions for such events exacerbate.
Among other things humans will have to modify how they produce their food and other needs to survive.
At the very least mono-cropping and intensive animal husbandry will need to be reconsidered.
But that doesn’t fit in with a neo-liberal philosophy of profit above all else.
That will have to change if humanity hopes to survive.
Whether it will change is another question.