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Tuesday, 31 May 2016

189. Zika. Rio. Where is Chief Brody when you need him?

What does the landmark 1975 man-eating-shark film JAWS have in common with Rio and the Zika virus 2016?

Everything. Sadly.

In Jaws, the presence of a man-eating great white shark is discovered. It devours a young woman in the fictional town of Amity just prior to the lucrative tourist season. The mayor of the town refuses to heed warnings because money will be lost. Chief Brody wants to safeguard people. He is ignored and further tragedy strikes.

Fast forward to 2016 and the Olympic Games are due to take place in Rio. There have already been deaths on construction sites in the rush to get arenas ready for the prestigious event (The same is happening in Qatar for football arenas). State officials and large companies have their corporate seats booked. Profit from advertising is set in figures so high I cannot even imagine them. 

But Zika virus has put in a significant and disturbing appearance. Over 91,000 cases were registered by the Brazilian health authorities between February and April this year. Then, last week, 150 international scientists and medics submitted an open letter stating, it would be “unethical” for the games to go ahead in the light of recent findings about the Zika virus in Rio.

Rio has refused to postpone the games and the W.H.O (World Health Organisation) has not supported the scientists – remember how slow they were with Ebola? It is worth also noting that the W.H.O is a partner of the I.O.C (International Olympic Committee)!

And if you want to try the 'benefit to ordinary people' argument then come to Britain and show me any ordinary people who benefited from the 2012 games...

Zika is the Shark. Rio is Amity. The scientists, calling for postponement, represent Chief Brody. We know what happened next.

Last week I posted a blog entitled Pursuit of Profit is a Terminal Illness. I was referring to environmental vandalism and how pursuit of profit negates any sensible response to ecological destruction. Rio also demonstrates that money and the wants and desires of the powerful matter more than human life. Here are some other examples -

Cast your mind back to the invasion of Iraq where, against evidence and huge public protest in Britain, Tony Blair’s government illegally invaded a country at the behest of then US president G.W. Bush. The Bush family had been cosy with Saddam Hussain’s family but things went sour and, as always, the West had greedy intentions on Arab oil. Against common sense, against law, against humanity and decency, thousands of young American and British soldiers were committed to bloody war and were killed or maimed (See blog 75 about US soldier and Iraq veteran Lindy England) Not to mention the gross carnage of Iraqi civilians, the devastation of a country that has yet to recover and the subsequent birth of a new breed of global terrorism – whose leaders have recently captured Fallujah.

The latest boats, full of desperate migrants, sank near Pozallo. Many hundreds of human corpses will literally become food for sharks as people flee destabilised countries and then become prey for smaller man-shaped sharks – the people traffickers.

Recently in Britain, the slow-burning crisis faced by the steel industry erupted. But it was the UK government that refused to back EU legislation to protect European countries from Chinese steel over-production. Short-term pursuit of profit lead to economic disaster in UK business, affecting the job security of thousands of ordinary workers and their families.

We know the British arms trade sells to corrupt regimes. There is huge profit to be made so the UK government ignores the moral imperatives.

The government dragged its heels on cigarette related health legislation (see blog 47 Smoking Causes Government Insanity) Why? Profit.

Public services are struggling under the weight of debt to private companies. Under legislation such as PPI, where private firms ‘invested’ in, for example, the health service, they obtained a share-holder profit strangle-hold forever on the public purse.

Many local government amenities have been contracted out to private companies since the 1980s. This way local councils offload their responsibilities but public funds are again plundered for profit with the inevitable result that services suffer.

Rio is just the latest in a dreadful litany of miserable situations where financial return matters more than people.

The famous statement in Jaws uttered by a shocked Chief Brody (played to perfection by Roy Schieder) on first catching a glimpse of the monster shark is -

“You’re gonna need a bigger boat…”

I would suggest – in our world – in 2016 -

‘We need a different crew’


Thank you for reading.

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