Normally when over a half-million people die from something entirely preventable somebody is held accountable. So far, that hasn't happened in the United States.
In Taiwan, population 24 million, 10 people have died of Covid in the 14 months since the beginning of the pandemic. Ten.
In Vietnam, population 97 million, it's 35; Thailand, population 70 million, has seen 85 people die, while Australia, at 25 million people, has lost 909 people to the disease.
South Korea, with a population of 51 million, has seen 1634 people die and Canada, with 38 million people has lost 22,000. (Stats here.)
Those countries populations total a bit over 305 million, about the same as the US, and in total they've lost 24,663 people to this disease. The United States has lost over 530,000.
That's a hell of a difference.
In every one of those countries public health officials and senior government leadership (presidents, prime ministers) required or heavily promoted normal pandemic public health measures like wearing masks, avoiding crowded indoor venues and hand-washing.
Here in America, Donald Trump — thinking the virus was a threat to his reelection — told his 70 million followers and the rest of America it was "just like the flu," "nothing to fear," "no big deal" and would "miraculously disappear."
No need for anybody to do anything except go to work and enjoy shopping to keep the stock market cranked up because, he lied, the disease was "totally under control."
Since Bob Woodward published his book Rage, we know that back in January of last year Trump knew that the coronavirus was "deadly stuff" and at least "five times more deadly" than the flu. He knew this a full year and two months ago. But he lied to you and me, and his followers believed him then and continue to.
So now a half-million-plus Americans are dead. One in more than every 670 Americans.
More Americans have died from the virus that Trump let rage through America — hell, he encouraged it raging through America — than from every war we've fought since the beginning of the last century.
Virtually all of these deaths in America are the result of Donald Trump refusing to do anything serious or consequential about the virus, and lying through his teeth to the American people over and over and over again.
He even lied about how sick Covid made him, and he lied by omission when he and his wife got secretly vaccinated while he was still president and hid that fact from the American public.
And now multiple Republican governors around the country are following in his footsteps, promoting their own statewide versions of Trump's death cult.
Greg Abbott's decision to open Texas up, for example, will inevitably lead to thousands of deaths and tens or perhaps even hundreds of thousands of permanent disabilities. He has blood on his hands, just like Trump.
Similarly, a handful of rightwing activist groups that are heavily funded by business lobbying organizations and rightwing billionaires are pushing hard to get vulnerable people back to work and juice their profits.
They, too, are intentionally taking actions that will lead to disease, death and disability just for their own personal benefit and profit.
Sweden tried this for a short while, listening to a deluded rightwing economist, but they figured out that it was killing their people and was stupid policy…and they stopped.
Here in America, these Republicans have not only doubled down on deadly policy, but they and their rightwing "news" outlets continue to encourage people to engage in risky behavior that is killing Americans.
In the largest sense, this is nothing new. Almost to a person, these same people have been denying that burning fossil fuels are altering our planet's atmosphere leading to wildfires, floods, droughts and other extreme weather events that also are killing people.
It's like the Republican Party has become a death cult. Except that they're not doing these things because they revel in people dying; they're doing it because it makes them and their donors money.
Normally, when people take money to kill other people, we put them in prison for the rest of their lives.
We do that in large part to prevent future people from thinking that making a profit by being hit men, arsonists, or killing people in other ways in exchange for money or power is acceptable behavior.
We even have a slightly less severe category of penalty, "negligent homicide," for people who don't directly take actions that they intended to kill people, but screw up in ways that have that effect anyway. Like texting while driving, leading to a deadly car accident.
Today Americans are dying at the rate of around 2000 a day, and nobody has yet held Donald Trump accountable in any consequential way for his actions that killed over a half-million human beings.
There's no discussion in the media about, "How do we hold him accountable?"
There's no debate about what the penalty should be, how long he should be in jail, how much the families of the victims of this pandemic should be able to sue him for damages.
And, because there's no accountability for Trump's murderous lies and behaviors, political hustlers like Greg Abbott feel that it's just fine to take huge contributions from rightwing billionaires and business groups who want them to "re-open the economy," which will lead directly to thousands more dead Americans. Abbot didn't even bother consulting his science advisors, according to press reports, before making the decision and the announcement.
Dead parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, friends and coworkers, children. By almost any definition, the people responsible for the actions that led to these deaths are killers.
And they're not only getting away from it; they're profiting from it.
Average Americans are believing these politicians, so in Idaho we see children burning masks, and all across America people are regularly confronted by fools who refuse to wear masks and are gleefully spreading disease because they believe idiotic conspiracy theories suggesting it's all a hoax.
If half the states in America stopped enforcing their laws against shoplifting, the result is fairly predictable. Nobody would be stupid enough to even suggest that.
We hold people accountable for behavior that harms others in order to stop that kind of behavior from spreading.
Today, a behavior far more deadly than shoplifting is spreading across America like wildfire, leaving hundreds of thousands of dead bodies in its wake.
So far, prosecutors and personal injury lawyers have left the realm of consequences to politics, assuming that politicians who make decisions as craven and deadly as those Trump made will be dealt with at the ballot box.
But that's not working, and these vile politicians are continuing to encourage people to do things that directly lead to the deaths of innocent others.
America and our media must start a conversation about accountability that goes way beyond just attacking the Governor of New York State for juicing his nursing home death numbers.
We need real accountability, and we need it now.
Originally posted on thomhartmann.medium.com.