by J. David McSwane 2022
Book Review by Ray Herrmann
Our panicked government then tries to downplay the severity of COVID and of the need for masks, all while throwing literally $Billions at "Contractors". This flood of unvetted money attracts the unscrupulous who scheme to defraud us. Their schemes and failures disrupt the supply system resulting in lower supplies and in poor quality for those items at many times the price.
The book starts by following the scheme of "contractor" Robert Stewart Jr. who rents a private jet (for $22,000/day) just to impress the government. His wild claim to deliver 6 million N95 masks by 3M (at 6 times the standard price) falls through, but later in the book we hear of his two other schemes to defraud the government. Stewart had a record of deceit and his company was just formed a week earlier, but the government had set aside any vetting process, so anyone with am email address and a story could get a lucrative contract.
In 2011, the government, led by congressman Denny Rehberg(Republican) and supported by the Tea Party pressed for a 5% cut to the CDC budget, which led to a $38 million in cuts to our stockpile, thus leaving us vulnerable to a pandemic. The ensuing COVID pandemic then caused panic in our government, setting the stage for the corruption that followed.
The corrupt and newly formed "Contractors" actually made supplies worse creating chaos: by contaminating the supply with counterfeits, by hoarding China production while cutting or ignoring U.S. producers and by their failure to deliver product.
During the first Pandemic year, the world gained about 500 new billionaires (China was first with 205 new billionaires, US second at 98 new billionaires), while aid mostly failed to reach small businesses.
The book documents many other multi-million schemes that this "free money" governmental policy spawned. Most schemes explored here were about getting N95 quality masks, but there were other phony schemes to get Respirators and many to swindle money out of the governments Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Even many banks, such as JPMorgan Chase had swiftly doled out loans without proper vetting in order to rake in the charges. Contrary to the government purpose of supporting the small businesses, JPMorgan Chase wouldn’t even consider loans of less than $1000.
Also covered was the anti-vaxxer movement championed by the false claims of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. who, along with others used the COVID-heightened fears to stir controversy, increasing followers and contributions of $millions. Schemers included Joseph Mercola of Florida, which runs the world's most popular "alternative health" news site and sells unproven supplements and equipment on his "Mercola Marketplace" website. Mercola set up StopCovidCold.com to marker Vitamin D supplements as a COVID-19 preventative and he also promoted at-home inhalation of small amounts of hydrogen peroxide as a treatment for COVID-19 (which can damage the lungs).
The dangers with Nursing Homes were also touched on. They are generally run by profit hungry entities who tend to cut costly skimping on staff and by replacing high salary RN's with low cost helpers.
In general, Pandemic Inc. documents the problems resulting when Capitalism combined with Government panic and public fear, leads to inefficient and costly response to situations. The rich gain, while the commoners loose.
This book backs up its claims with numerous references and Links to supporting stories in its 32 page "Notes" section (listed by page referred to). Some of these LINKS are listed below (If any of these Links don’t work, try pasting a portion of the text in the SEARCH window of your browser):