Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
We are living in difficult times. We have the COVID-19 pandemic which is claiming thousands of people a day while infecting far more, many of who will be permanently damaged by its effects. We have an economic meltdown going on with businesses going under, millions of people losing their jobs, and the unemployment rate skyrocketing, and many people left without enough to survive on, and that counts the 1,200 subsidy, and increased unemployment coverage, but in many cases people lost without any health insurance.
Of course many of the now failed business offered no health benefits to their employees, but others like Craftworks Holdings, owners of numerous restaurants and brewery restaurant chains, started shutting down many of its most profitable locations in January and February, including our own version of cheers, Gordon Biersch, Virginia Beach, closed every one of their remaining restaurants on Sunday, notified 18,000 employees that they were fired with no severance, and made sure they had ended their policy to continue health coverage under COBRA before they did it. However, I am sure that the CEO left with a golden parachute worth more than the server ace that they denied all their employees.
But now, in barely few weeks six and a half million people had to file for unemployment assistance in March, over 3 million of those last week. It is worth noting that it is expected that the unemployment rate will reach 10% and not go down significantly until sometime next year. We are talking numbers not seen since the Great Depression, and it will get worse because so many American companies shut down their American operations and replaced them in countries where they could profit from near slave labor them then pay American workers what they worth. Now, like in 1929 we are watching what we knew collapse before our eyes, while our President, Herbert Hoover, maintained a policy of austerity, which only deepened the depression in the United States and put more people out of work with no safety net. Shantytowns, nicknamed Hoovervilles popped up all over the country as people lost their homes.
In the summer of 1932 as the Great Depression crushed the economy, and resulted in massive unemployment, and no relief from the Republican Administration of Herbert Hoover, and the Republican Senate stopped a House attempt to pay WWI Veterans a bonus for their derive that was deferred thousands of World War Veterans payments until 1948. In response, veterans from all over the country camped out, many with their families at Anacostia Flats, across the Potomac from the White House and Capital Hill. Eventually the veterans numbered nearly 17,000, with thousands of women and children.
They were accused of being the leaders of a Communist attempt to overthrow the government, which would be backed by the Marines in Washington DC. President Hoover refused to meet with their leaders, and ordered the Attorney General to send the Metro Police to drive them office. That attempt failed with the death of two veterans. Hoover then ordered in the Army, and its Chief of Staff, General Douglas MacArthur took direct command of a force of infantry, cavalry, and tanks, the latter commanded by Major George Patton. On the afternoon of 28 July MacArthur took action, even disobeying orders of Hoover to not drive the veterans out of their camps on the Anacostia Flats. MacArthur not only did that but burned their shelters, wounding over 50 veterans and arresting over 150 more.
What happened in the United States set off a ripple effect around the world, especially in countries like Germany which had racked up massive loan debts, to help it out of the earlier Weimar depression, World War One and the Great Influenza. Then the American bankers called in their loans and the fragile Weimar Democracy was ripped apart by extreme political movements, the Communist Party of Germany KPD, and the National Socialist Workers Party, the NSDAP, or the Nazis, led by Adolf Hitler.
The German problem is that Hitler was much better at wooing the Conservative parties of the German Right Center to Support him, than the KPD was in its relationship to the mainline, slightly left of Center Socialist Party of Germany. The KPD hated the SPD worse than the Nazis. They hated democracy worse than Soviet Rule, and in the German Civil war of 1918-1920 wich went on during the Great Influenza, the SPD worked with the Army, conservatives, and business to show that they were responsible and to be trusted. Eventually this odd coalition held Germany together, and despite the humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles held the country more or less together and prevented the KPD from establishing an authoritarian Communist dictatorship. For this the KPD never forgave them and would not join a left wing coalition government which might have provided enough stability in the Reichstag and Republic, ride our the storm, but “My way or the highway ideologues” of any stripe do that all the time. The KPD hated the Republic more than it did the Nazis.
Of course this whole situation was due to a number of factors, Imperial Germany’s defeat in the First World War, the attempt by the Independent Socialists the predecessors to the KPD to overthrow the Republic the day it was born throwing the country into a bloody civil war, compounded by a continued Allied blockade, mass starvation, compounded by the Great Influenza that killed another 426,000 Germans on top of the over two and a half million military and civilian casualties suffered during the war. Then there was the punitive Treaty of Versailles which imposed great territorial losses on Germany, saddled her with massive war reparations which were finally paid off in 1995, left Germany with a military hardly capable of defending it, and forced to accept full responsibility for the war. Humiliated, Germany was torn by right wing coups, resistance led by organized labor, and the great Weimar Inflation which wiped out the life savings of most Germans, and massive unemployment. Despite their best efforts, the SPD was blamed for all of the above, by the Right and the KPD.
The H1N1 pandemic was just one of many factors that resulted in the eventual collapse of the the Weimar Republic, and it did not help the United States, which lost over 600,000 people to it.
Pandemics have direct and indirect effects. Some of those indirect effects are more deadly than the virus itself. I expect that will be the case in many countries as a result of the novel Coronavirus of 2019. It’s effects will be felt for many years to come. It is going to change the course of history, but God only knows how, and I don’t believe that the deity himself or herself has any idea how it will play out. But as for me, I cannot be a bystander. I must both speak out and care for those in my care and those infected or dying from this horrific pandemic. While doing this it is my full intent and purpose to live through it and to bear witness against those who let it happen.