Late Capitalism Diaries: The Worst COVID Scams
There is no cure for the coronavirus, but these people still think you should give them money.
If there's one thing that can save us from a global pandemic, it's capitalism.
Maybe you think that a sense of shared humanity uniting us in collective action — with those least at risk looking out for the most vulnerable — would be a better approach than embracing greed and short-term profit. But you're wrong.
Capitalism teaches us that money is the only thing that's real and the only solution to every problem. So when people are desperate and afraid because a deadly and wildly contagious virus is killing hundreds of thousands and ravaging the global economy, what they really need is someone to give their last few dollars to.
Thankfully, the ancient, venerated tradition of the snake oil salesman is alive and well, and the following good Samaritans were more than happy to strip confused and struggling people of every last dime in exchange for "cures" that primarily treated the problem of having too many dimes.
Americans have lost tens of millions of dollars to scams related to the coronavirus pandemic. Because if there's one thing that could maximize the efficiency of the end times, it's capitalism.
Kenneth Copeland: The Wind of God
Kenneth Copeland is not, as you might be thinking, the haunted mask from Goosebumps. He's a carefully preserved 83-year-old televangelist who preaches his own version of Christianity to an audience of millions.
You might be surprised to see a preacher at the top of a list about capitalism. After all, aren't churches considered non-profit? Shouldn't they be, like, funding charities to help the sick and the poor?
That's certainly true of churches that worship Jesus, but Kenneth Copeland — like most televangelists — preaches the Prosperity Gospel of Jesus™, which says that if you have faith in God, you will be rewarded with lots and lots of money and that the best way to demonstrate faith in God is to give the little bit of money you have right now to...Kenneth Copeland.
Essentially, the Prosperity Gospel is the worship of capitalism, and Kenneth Copeland has proven himself worthy of Capitalist God's favor by amassing a net worth of at least $300 million. Clearly, God wants this man to have money, so why not give him yours?
While Copeland's plan to destroy COVID-19 by blowing it away with "the wind of God" — which looks remarkably like a toddler blowing out birthday candles — was not directly expensive, the force of that wind is only as powerful as your faith, as measured in dollars sent to Kenneth Copeland.
So if there's still a pandemic going on, that means you haven't sent enough money to Kenneth Copeland. Thousands who gave him money met in person at the 40th annual Southwest Believers' Convention in Fort Worth Texas — an area that has seen the incidence of COVID-19 cases more than double in the last month.
And remember, if you start feeling sick, just spray a violent fountain of spittle from your mouth, because faith in Jesus™ is the only mask you need.
Jim Bakker: Colloidal Silver
Staying in the realm of Televangelsim, it's important to note that Jim Bakker is not, in fact, Wolf Blitzer after being corrupted by the One Ring. He has, of course, been corrupted by his monomaniacal love for the precious, but in this case the precious refers to your $125.
That's how much it would have cost you to get your hands on a bottle of Silver Solution when Bakker was promoting it back in February 2020 with the help of Sherrill Sellman, a "natural health expert" who assured Bakker's viewers that Silver Solution had been "proven by the government that it has the ability to kill every pathogen it has ever been tested on, including SARS and HIV."
As for COVID-19, which Bakker referred to as "this influenza that is now circling the globe," Sellman didn't want to oversell it, stating that Silver Solution "hasn't been tested on this strain of the coronavirus, but it has been tested on other strains of the coronavirus ... Totally eliminate it. Kills it. Deactivates it."
In reality, colloidal silver — the active ingredient in Silver Solution, has not been shown to be an effective treatment for literally anything ever. It can, however, permanently turn your skin a nice gray-blue color...which is cool.
Bakker's promotion of Silver Solution as a COVID cure resulted in him being sued by the state of Missouri.
Celebrity Chef Pete Evans: The Biocharger NG
Pete Evans promotes Biocharger NG
According to Australian celebrity chef Pete Evans, the BioCharger NG, which he was promoting and selling back in April 2020, is "a pretty amazing device," and it had better be with a price tag of nearly $15,000 AUD (around $10,500 USD).
Described on his website as a "subtle energy revitalisation platform," the BioCharger NG looks a lot like a Tesla coil in a glass case, but it purports to be so much more.
Evans' website describes the power of the device's "four transmitted energies" to "stimulate and invigorate the entire body to optimize and improve potential health, wellness, and athletic performance," which is all vague and pseudoscientific enough to fit in with the rest of Evans' paleo diet, anti-vax shtick.
Where he got himself into trouble was in asserting that among "about a thousand different recipes" programmed into the device, there were a couple that could help with "Wuhan coronavirus."
Australia's Department of Health would fine Evans over $25,000 for making these false claims.
According to the Australian Medical Associations official Twitter account, the BioCharger NG is in fact effective at being "a $15,000 fancy light machine," so that's cool.
Alex Jones: Toothpaste
You may know Alex Jones for his friendship with President Donald Trump, or for his deep and abiding concern for the sexuality of the friggin' frogs, but you may not know how he makes his money.
Having been banned from YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc., Jones' conspiracy-heavy InfoWars videos aren't exactly raking in ad revenue. Instead, Jones makes his money by selling health and survival products at a steep markup. Often presented as the best option for combating the elaborate conspiracies that never stop targeting his viewers in particular, these products are sold through Jones' website.
Speaking through a throat that is 90% gravel, Jones informs his loyal followers of the tremendous benefits they can receive by buying "cutting edge" scientific products like the supplement that Alex Jones took for 45 days to turn slightly redder, or any of the other various products that require him to go shirtless.
But when it comes to COVID-19, Alex Jones knew back in March 2020 that the only cure was... toothpaste. In this case, toothpaste infused with "nano-silver" which is just a fancy name for colloidal silver–which sadly has not added any beneficial properties since Jim Bakker tried the same scam back in February.
The toothpaste and other colloidal silver products that Jones had promoted as COVID treatments were removed from the InfoWars site in April after an FDA warning.
Genesis II: Miracle Mineral Solution (AKA Industrial Bleach)
The Genesis II "Church" of Health and Healing is not quite a church at all — nor does it really have anything to do with health and healing. A more accurate name for it might be the Genesis II Industrial Bleach Garage, but that might not be as enticing to prospective customers who — until recently — could order "Miracle Mineral Solution" as a cure for everything from Autism to (of course) the coronavirus.
The Grenon family of Bradenton Florida had stockpiled dozens of barrels of industrial bleach in their home in order to sell it as a miracle cure to strangers on the Internet. While they couldn't officially advise their customers to drink the bleach, they were assured that a dilute mixture of MMS could solve any and all of their health problems. They were shut down in July 2020.
Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro: Chloroquine/Hydroxychloroquine
President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil and President Trump of Trump Tower have a lot in common. They both like to hide information on impending environmental disasters, they have both been censored on social media, and they both loved taking hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19. And while it wasn't as fun as injecting disinfectant, at least it was technically medicine.
As for the fact that extensive studies have not shown the anti-malarial drug to have any benefits when it comes to the coronavirus, who cares? It also didn't matter that spikes in demand for the drug led to shortages for people who really needed it, along with some accidental poisonings. It didn't matter that there were serious, even life-threatening side effects associated with hydroxychloroquine. These two just loved it!
Was it because both of their governments stockpiled millions of doses, and they wanted desperate people to buy them? Did they have some secret personal financial investment in the drug's sales? Who knew? They just loved the stuff!
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