The watering hole is shrinking, as the African saying goes, and the animals are starting to look at one another differently. The weaker ones are feeling their mortality, beginning to understand that they just might not make it through this economically, or even physically. Others, the big, entitled carnivores, are gazing around and licking their chops.

They’re going to do just fine. Better than fine, probably.

Carnivores know the fix is always in where they’re concerned.

As Donald Trump, their greatest champion, put it last week: “That’s been the story of life.”

Carnivores always prefer to gorge out of sight, but they’ll do it in plain daylight if they have to. The point is, they always win. Always.

Generally, when their excesses are examined in the media, it’s done under the abstract frame of “growing inequality.” They become richer and more powerful every year, posing as job creators without whom we’d all be subsistence farming.

They mock government, demanding it “get out of the way” and let them be the winners they are. When called on their literally infinite greed, they cry “class warfare.”

But at the last moment, they always elbow their way to the front of the bread line, demanding that government rescue them before anyone else. The business model never changes: privatize profit, socialize loss.

I remember in 2008, after the Wall Street carnivores drove the global economy into meltdown, talking to some of them in Lower Manhattan.

They seemed surprised that anyone would question their right to massive social assistance. And boy, did they get it. As small and medium businesses, never mind ordinary mortgage-holders, were cut down in waves, they helped themselves to hundreds of billions in bailout money, then took it and headed straight to the stock-market casino, where they got super-rich again, before hiring lobbyists to gut any legislative attempt by Congress to curb their excesses in the future.

And now, as most of us wallow in fear, wondering whether there will be medical resources to save us if we are stricken by the horror that arose from a Wuhan wild animal wet market, it’s pretty obvious the carnivores are positioning themselves to come out of all this healthy, and maybe even richer.

Two such are U.S. senators Kelly Loeffler and Richard Burr.

Loeffler, a Georgia Republican said to be the wealthiest member of Congress, walked out of a private briefing on Jan. 24 with several administration officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, and started unloading millions of dollars worth of stocks. Then, as the disease progressed, and stock markets began their long slide, beggaring ordinary punters, she dutifully praised Trump, her champion, who was telling Americans there was really nothing to worry about, go ahead and shake hands and come to his rallies, and that the virus was a hoax promoted by liberals and the fake news media to discredit him.

Senator Richard Burr, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, did more or less the same as Loeffler. So did some other powerful politicians, and it’s a safe bet they tossed their donors on Wall Street a heads-up, too.

These are predators at the very centre of power and privilege, and the inside information that comes with it. As Trump has acknowledged, they’ll also have priority access to virus testing. They already do; Sen. Rand Paul, who tested positive for the disease over the weekend, was, according to his staff, asympomatic. Entire professional basketball teams are being tested as a caution. Ordinary Americans with symptoms, meanwhile, have a hard time getting tested, let alone those who aren’t displaying any sign of sickness.

“That’s been the story of life.”

No Canadian politician would say such a thing. But shit flows downhill here, too. We’ll see.

In any case, good medical care and insider information aren’t the only perks the big carnivores regard as their right. No, sir.

Congress is currently contemplating unleashing an unimaginable amount of money into the economy. $1.8 trillion. That’s nearly two million million. The value of an entire city.

Democrats have held it up because the Trump administration wants wide discretion in handing the money out. Dems suspect it will become a “slush fund” for the president’s carnivorous friends.

Story of life. I’m also pretty sure I can predict which states will get whatever money is left over once the carnivores are sated.

Canadians should have the same concerns. Ottawa is about to spend a proportionally massive amount. Patronage and privilege exist here, too, people.

The difference is, this is not just a matter of “growing inequality.” At this point, it’s something else. If transparent, enforceable, objective criteria are not laid down for allocation of virus testing, precious medical care and supplies, and blasting geysers of taxpayer cash, the carnivores will do what carnivores do. It’s their nature. And the story of life becomes the story of death for those without connections, wealth or power.

Which, admittedly, is also the story of life.

My former profession has always genuflected to power. But social cohesion at a time like this depends on a perception of fairness. Shining some light on the carnivores is actually journalism’s job description. Behave more like watchdogs, and less like guard dogs.

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