After a volatile day of trading on Wall Street Thursday precipitated by ongoing fears of the economic effects of the global coronavirus outbreak, CNBC analyst Rick Santelli suggested it would be better to infect the world population with the disease all at once to help stock prices.
"This is your brain on capitalism," said activist Joshua Potash.
This is absolutely horrifying.— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) March 5, 2020
Rick Santelli on @CNBC says we should consider giving coronavirus to everybody to just get it over with.
That way it won’t wreak so much havoc on the economy.
This is your brain on capitalism.pic.twitter.com/Uv5UYyKtxy
Santelli, who is credited with helping kick off the racist, extreme right-wing Tea Party movement in February 2009 by ranting about then-President Barack Obama's Homeowners Affordability and Stability Plan, told CNBC anchor Kelly Evans Thursday that the "catalyst" for Thursday's market decline was local news reports on the virus.
"Just watch your local news," said Santelli. "There's your catalyst."
"All I know is, I think about how the world would be if you tried to quarantine everybody because of the generic-type flu," Santelli continued. "Now, I'm not saying this is the generic-type flu—but maybe we'd be just better off if we gave it to everybody."
"And then in a month, it would be over," Santelli continued, "because the mortality rate of this probably isn't going to be any different if we did it that way than the long-term picture, but the difference is we're wreaking havoc on global and domestic economies."
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Progressives and market observers were quick to mock Santelli's comments.
"I sometimes worry after doing TV interviews that I may have gotten a fact wrong, or over-simplified an argument, or advocated for a Darwinian genocide to protect the stock market like this gentleman did," tweeted political science professor Seth Masket.
But the real world effects of what Santelli called for were no joke, said The Nation's Jeet Heer.
"Assuming the most conservative estimates of 0.5% mortality, this is a call for the death of 37,500,000 people worldwide or 1,750,000 Americans, all in order to shore up the stock market," Heer said.
Activist Robert Fortuna, a clinical psychologist, called out Santelli on Twitter for his callous comments.
"The projected death of 11 million Americans would be a fair price to pay for better long term stock growth, says a capitalist extremist," Fortuna said.