Let’s get one thing clear about the COVID-19 pandemic: the virus itself isn’t discriminatory but the poor have been significantly affected by people not taking this virus seriously. We’ve written before about how the early signs of the pandemic affected young people and have led to a recession, and today’s story merely just reminds us of the great divide between the Rich and the Normal—aka low-income households, young people, people of colour and international students. I am once again here to remind you, contrary to the Instagram posts and tweets, the rich do not care about you.
When the virus first hit and as numbers in low socio-economic areas of New York City skyrocketed on the daily, celebrities gave a vapid message of hope and collective action with a cringeworthy video of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” performed in their empty spare rooms and spacious backyards from their respective mansion homes. In June, TikTok stars were seen attending a house party at Jake Paul’s mansion home in California, where none of them were seen wearing a face mask, as Los Angeles reported at least 150,000 cases—California state is now at 946,000.
Last week, Kim Kardashian West flew herself and her friends and family to a private island for her birthday and shared a series of tactless tweets about how “humbled and blessed” she was that she could do that right now, completely missing the pre-existing privilege that she could do that in the first place, pandemic or not. Then, the very next week, her sister, Kendall Jenner held a 100-plus gathering for her 25th birthday ft. Doja Cat, the Weeknd, Jaden Smith, Justin and Hailey Bieber and more, in the height of nearly ten million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States and the U.S. presidential election. California COVID-19 laws currently state that people of only up to three households can gather at one point in time right now, meaning that Jenner’s birthday bash was not only irresponsible but illegal.
But the double standards for the rich don’t stop there! Even here in Australia, Dannii Minogue was given an ~exemption~ from hotel quarantine and allowed to quarantine in her private home on the Gold Coast after returning from the United States. The news came as returning travellers in NSW were told they’d have to pay up to $3000 to stay in mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 days, unable to see the loved ones they flew all the way back for. And now, following the United Kingdom’s upcoming second lockdown, the rich are *literally* getting in their fancy jets and fucking off, leaving the pandemic to the non-rich lower class… again.
Earlier this week, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a second nation-wide lockdown, after reports that the country’s second wave would be even more severe than the government’s worst-case scenario. The British government believes that the virus could kill 85,000 people over their winter period, on top of the previous 60,000 people who have died since the pandemic appeared on British shores earlier this year. I’m gay so maths isn’t my forte, but even I know those figures are fucked.
“Unless we act, we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day,” Johnson said in a sudden press conference on Saturday night, per Sydney Morning Herald. “No responsible prime minister can ignore the message of those figures.”
Britain’s second lockdown begins on Thursday and bans British residents from travelling overseas for anything but essential work until at least the 2nd of December. In response, Air Partner, a large aircraft charter, said, via The Guardian, there has been a “sharp rise” in ~private jet bookings~ out of the country before D-day. And these aren’t regular priced plane tickets, mind you, we’re talking £24,000, one way, for five people, which is approximately $43,720 AUD.
According to Victor, a private jet charter company, via Bloomberg, “a private jet also emits as much as 20 times more carbon dioxide per passenger mile than a commercial airliner.” So, not only is this another example of the rich and privileged being able to freely avoid the consequences of a global pandemic, but another moment of the entitled making our current climate hellscape even worse, and leaving both issues to the less-wealthy and younger generations.
Last month, a new report found that the world’s richest’s fortunes rose by 27% during this pandemic. Yet not a single one of them is willing to help advance research into a vaccine or offer economic relief for the millions around the world unemployed and at risk. Any tweets about “thoughts and prayers” or words without action when they can so clearly do something are just that, empty words and thoughts. If 2020 has told me anything, it’s that the rich very well could choose to help improve the lives of everyone, they just don’t want to give up a fraction of their fortune to do it.
Now I wonder, maybe we shouldn’t eat the rich. I mean, would something this nasty even taste good?