The fall of ancient empires isn’t hard to decode when you have centuries of hindsight in your favor. But some of the commonalities the fall shares... utter decadence, corruption and greed. Hubris usually plays a pretty big role in the run up to the fall, and lends itself to spectacular failure when all is said and done.

When taken as a whole, the response to the corona virus is as decadent as the Roman senators having grand parties as the city is literally on fire.

If you think it is our nation alone, you would be mistaken, as the excesses of globalism and the serious issues it creates for sovereign nations are on display all across the globe.

It’s almost like trying to re-orient the global economy and becoming dependent on communist countries for the dirty work that actually powers your nation has actual, real world consequences. Color me shocked!

It is quite fitting that Congress had no problem helping shore up multi-national corporations and big business in travel and recreation industries. I am not begrudging a lot of this help. Though is it too much to ask the cruise lines to port their ships in the U.S., rather than foreign countries to avoid taxes when they have hat in hand at Uncle Sam’s doorstep?

It’s absolutely not surprising that when it came time to help Main Street, and everyday Americans most affected by this crisis, that the entire legislative process turned into a wish list of party wishes, both left and right. The debacle of what passed as debate on Monday on the Senate floor was infuriating and useless to the American people. As is the current bill being peddled in the House, which at 1,400 pages at last count has been in the works for more than just the last week. Shockingly the Democrat’s answer to this virus is looking quite similar to the Green New Deal, with funding for paying off U.S. Postal Service debt and The Kennedy Center. Beyond politically craven maneuvers, its just gross. People put out of business with zero warning, held at the mercy of politicians favored pets for government largess.

It really doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how we got to Trump.

The Republicans apparently thought abstinence program funding for schools which runs out in May could be added to this phase three legislation since it’s an already existing program. I’m still trying to figure out why a school program needs funding in March as part of emergency legislation in the first place... you know, since no kids are even in school at the moment.

Don’t think I didn’t notice which respected figures, like Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein, just to name two, who magically managed to sell stocks that took a big hit after Congressional briefings and the seriousness of the pandemic finally reached the balance sheets of major industries.

If we look long enough at Congress, I’d bet you find excesses that would make the French Court at Versailles blush.

Don’t think America has the cornerstone on dumb politicians... .look to our north where Canadian hospitals short on protective equipment have requested release of stockpiles to help fight the virus only to find out Prime Minister Trudeau sent over 16 tons of supplies to China as humanitarian aid. Virtue signaling politicians are nothing new, but weakening your nation’s chances in a pandemic so as not to look racist and xenophobic is about as decadent of a  decision I have seen made. Bonus points for giving the aid to the same country that has continually lied and hid the truth about the virus since it escaped their country, and actively stockpiled supplies before telling the world exactly what was headed their way.

Between calls of “Everyone is going to die from the virus” and “If we don’t work it will be the Great Depression” I’m happy to turn off the television and continue my social distancing in peace and quiet. Way too often we hear two extremes, when there is a perfectly sane path to take that can keep much of a good portion of our country working, while tailoring responses to areas where the virus is hitting hardest. Not everyone will be able to work, and the government response should be somewhat tailored to those hardest hit. It hasn’t escaped notice that densely packed cities on the scale of New York City and the metro area are harder hit than my small town in Tennessee, or the West Side. Distance is more a way of life in rural areas, not in an unfriendly way, just the opposite. It’s almost easier to be kind when you aren’t surrounded by people every moment of the day.

Meanwhile, our press is busy debating if the president is responsible for a couple who decided the bottle of fish tank cleaner in their cabinet was equivalent to a medical treatment prescribed by a doctor because the main ingredient sounded similar to the malaria drug being tried in New York.

How utterly useless.

It’s time for Congress to get serious about long term planning a sensible new path for America. All this help for business and affected Americans should be on a concurrent path with legislation to incentivize crucial industries like pharmaceutical and safety equipment manufacturing to relocate domestically. Low or no-interest loans, order guarantees or commitments for government purchases; and country of origin, or ingredient origin labeling on all prescriptions are easy enough to implement in easy to understand bills. Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of the 20 pages of legal protections included with every prescription we could add a line telling us where exactly our drugs are sourced.

Loans could even be forgiven for repatriating supply chains of critical products like antibiotics and antivirals that can absolutely be the difference between life and death for so many. Legislative language can require mandating production reaches certain levels or becoming a favored manufacturer. Businesses could commit to manufacture as a government supplier with long term contracts or cost sharing agreements that provide value to both taxpayers and manufacturers would be worthy ideas to debate. Being a little creative with American innovation and hard work definitely beats trading with many on the most favored nation list.

It’s also a way to bring some balance back to the American economy and American workers.

The decadence can be a warning. It is a siren to correct the path we have been meandering down. It’s time to deal with reality, with the knowledge that there isn’t always such good times that we invented things like “the patriarchy” so there would be something to complain about.

We can absolutely work our way into a renewed America after this crisis. A renaissance in manufacturing. A move away from being mindless consumers to one of tangible makers. None of it will be easy for the country, but then again, nothing worthwhile usually is.

Staff columnist Toni Butero can be reached at tbutero@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 862-2222.