Trump recently used executive authority to order meatpacking plants to remain open and, according to the Associated Press, the American counties with the highest infection rates are home to meatpacking plants.
But why did Trump issue that order?
I think we can assume that he didn't issue the order because he's genuinely concerned that Americans will have nothing to eat. Trump is not capable of being genuinely concerned about anything or anyone but himself. It seems obvious to me that he signed the order for political reasons, but it may not have been for the specific reason anyone expected.
Trump was reportedly concerned that empty shelves would look bad for him, and that may be the case, but CNBC reports that Trump's meatpacking order was his response to his advisers asking him to halt exports to China and thus breaking his "biggest and greatest" trade deal.
Trump's deal, which kept all of his tariffs on the books, is still more or less functioning even if more Americans have to die to preserve it.
Another reason the trade deal still appears to be holding is that Trump is under pressure from U.S. producers not to do anything that might spark retaliatory tariffs from China, and thereby limit their ability to export products to a market where demand is slowly recovering after coronavirus shutdowns.
This countervailing factor was on display most recently when some of Trump’s advisers recommended that the president halt the export of American meat products to China for as long as the American meat supply chain, disrupted by coronavirus, was struggling to supply even U.S. consumers with enough meat.
Instead of restricting exports so that all the meat being processed went to Americans first, Trump signed an executive order effectively forcing meatpacking plants to stay open despite high rates of coronavirus infections among their workers.
At no time, said White House officials, did the president seriously consider limiting exports to China.
So, Trump definitely made a political calculation when he ordered meatpacking plants to stay open, but it was for an even more self-centered reason than even I expected.
We could have halted exports and let the meat plants close for safety reasons, and that may have still led to shortages, but Trump's primary concern was not safety or even necessarily a meat shortage. His primary concern was keeping the pace of exports.
This is why workers are getting sick by the thousands in American's meatpacking industry.
It's for The Deals.
The meatpacking workers who are getting sick today work in the agricultural industry, of course, but it's not them who benefit from The Deals.