It looks like we’re going to be able to pay rent after all since the Senate finally reached a firm agreement on the emergency stimulus in the midst of the worst public health pandemic in the United States to date—rivaled only by the polio crisis.
The recent passage of the sweeping emergency stimulus package (and the direct payments) won’t be enough for a majority of Americans, especially those with children or working class people. It’s a one-time payment of $1200 for single filers; $2400 for couples; and $500 per child—and even that caps at some point. As more states are shutting down borders and closing non-essential businesses, people across the entire country are losing their jobs, their private health insurance, and basic job protections. Sanitation workers in Pittsburgh have collectively organized strikes against the city until they are awarded on the job protections. Not only do they deserve these protections they should already have, but they deserve compensation far beyond business as usual for showing up for work with the paramount risk of infection. They, along with countless service industry and healthcare workers, are the most essential thread holding the country together in a time of absolute panic—not the bankers.
A key government concern is getting money directly into the hands of people so that they can make their rent. This obviously came with massive, dare I say, “trade-offs.” As many pundits struggle with the dichotomy of saving the stock market so that the rich don’t lose too much money and basic humanity, the airlines and Wall Street got their bailout money (again). At this point, if airlines continue unrecognized as a public utility and remain not nationalized, I can only regard this flawed stimulus as outright theft. If this global pandemic does not force anyone to take a hard look at the consequences of unfettered capitalism, I don’t know what would. We are in a complete death spiral of a public health crisis and the ruling class, who has stood to gain over the last forty years of the neoliberal revolution, has an intractable problem with aiding the change of our economic system so that it benefits more people broadly and prioritizes them over profit. At this point, there are no good arguments against progressive wealth taxation and Medicare for All. All we can do is wash our hands and try our best to self-quarantine. My heart breaks for those who do not have that same choice.
In a more positive light, despite the infectiousness and deaths related to COVID-19, there have been many recoveries. And in this time of social distancing and self-quarantine, there are many good things to read and many good podcast to listen to—which brings this to the next housekeeping announcement: We’re starting a show! In the near future, Lodestone Blog will be trying our hardest to produce a weekly podcast/show we have been excited about for sometime, but never had the resources to start. Episodes are written and equipment is being purchased. In the meantime, I will try my best to post daily (or almost daily), as a sort of practice to not only strengthen my own writing, but try to inform anyone who might be out there reading with my own thoughts on current events. I also plan on reading more papers during this quarantine to try and engage you, the reader, on more subjects related to economics and the political economy. Until next time.