The bailout of Wall Street took no debate, no discussion, and no wringing of hands about where to find the money. $1.5T was immediately pledged to pump into an institution that produces nothing that’s going to keep anyone alive.
Compare that with WWII- when companies making things like golf-clubs or shock absorbers were re-tasked to make bayonets and machine guns. Where people pulled up their wrought iron fences and donated it to the war effort.
There are things we need right now- and Wall Street hedge fund traders are the last of our worries- but first on the minds of our politicians.
Even if we were to quickly pivot to making more ventilators, hospital beds, anti-microbial cleaners, decontamination machines, latex gloves etc. there is a fundamental problem with the US economy- in that we’ve become a service economy. Many of our jobs outside of health care (and there are a large number in health care) are in entertainment, hospitality, retail where the idea is to cater to the masses- large groups. When we ask that everybody hunker down and isolate in place, their revenue stream goes away. Instantly. I was in Milano’s, a college sports bar, on Thursday night- and the place was dead. The University of Dayton students had been sent home, the NHL game that was to be played to an empty arena had been cancelled, and people were staying home. When our waitress can’t take home $75 in tips, when the restaurant owner can’t sell enough food and drink to open the doors, what happens next? A business still has to make lease payments, and cutting the payroll tax doesn’t matter much if your employees have no customers. Dunderheads in Congress are you listening?
It goes down the line, first the restaurants close, the employees can’t pay their rent, then their landlords can’t pay their mortgages, then the banks don’t have their money and start foreclosures, but, wait, the courts are closing down because they have congregations of 100 or more people… soon, no one has anything to do, except health care workers, police and fire, lawn care, house painters, farmers and a bunch of jobs that don’t really have much human interaction.
This is why suspending all loans, telling banks to increase credit card limits by 20%, forcing them to cut cc interest rates to 10% for as long as this crisis lingers, sending $1000 a month directly to every man woman and child in this country as a “Universal Basic Income” is critical, and maybe, taking the giant step to set all medical costs to the price that medicare has negotiated and implement single payer health care. Because when people put off treatment, when they put off testing, when they don’t take paid time off to get healthy- this virus will continue to spread and cause even more havoc for longer.
Yet we have idiots saying UBI has to be “needs based”- why am I giving $1000 to Mike Bloomberg? Because, this is a crisis of apocalyptic proportions. Bloomberg will likely donate the money- as will many other Billionaires to working on the cure, or making sure people don’t go hungry. And the numbers of folks who don’t need the money are minuscule compared to the huge number of Americans who can’t put their hands on an extra $400 if they wanted to.
We’re looking at millions of people dying in a very short time. And unlike a zombie apocalypse, we can’t even tell who is a danger to us- our friends, neighbors, co-workers, or our government that isn’t making good decisions. The grocery store shelves are bare in Dayton Ohio. Some “capitalists” went around to every dollar store and bought up all the hand sanitizer, masks and disinfecting wipes they could- and then tried to sell it on Amazon at grossly inflated prices. It’s this kind of “Me not We” thinking that ends up getting people killed. Maybe even them- when people realize who the dickhead is.
If voters were smart, they would realize that there is a limit on capitalism and good reason to limit it- this is what “Democratic Socialism” is, an engineered democracy that makes sure it’s “Not me, US.” Yes, that’s the slogan of one Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders. When you understand that a living wage, paid sick leave, universal health care (or Medicare for all) and not gouging people for credit cards or student loans, actually makes our country stronger than a “healthy stock market,” or a military that is more expensive than the next 25 countries together (most of whom are allies). When you put the purchasing power in the hands of the many instead of the few- the system works better for all of us.
And although Andrew Yang is no longer a candidate, the idea of Universal Basic Income as a social safety net, instead of food stamps, welfare, medicaid and all these other “needs based” systems goes away, especially if we start with universal health care. You might think it’s stupid expensive, but, I’ll guarantee you the Corona Virus will kill both more people and more peoples wealth faster than our US Military did in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 20 years at a cost exceeding $11T with residual costs that still can’t be calculated (cost of VA care, disabilities, lost potential etc of the hundreds of thousands of walking wounded and their families).
When I published”The Coronavirus Siesta Solution” two days ago, there wasn’t much buy in. Now, when you realize that when left on their own, people without leadership do stupid things like clear out stores by buying all the toilet paper. I was happy to see our Mayor announce that they wouldn’t be shutting off anyone’s water for non-payment and evictions will be put on hold, however, she hasn’t said how landlords will make their payments. See, above.
We have access to more information and ability to coordinate a response than ever before. If we’re smart, we’ll use it. If we elected smarter politicians, we’d have had a plan in place, or, be thinking outside the box to address the coronavirus crisis.
You can do your part in Ohio on Tuesday for voting for Bernie Sanders. Or, keep your head in the sand.
(addition) Please put your common sense solutions to issues in comments. ie. Stagger grocery days by first letter of last name. Limit TP and hand sanitizer purchases to one ea. Set up quarantine facilities in hotels. Set up drive by testing stations. etc.