We do not send people with $24 in their bank account with two kids to feed on a $14 retail store job to Congress.
Nor are there state governors struggling to make car payments and who are relieved if there are a few extra dollars left over after paying the rent, or making the mortgage payment, to buy new shoes for a child.
Yet these are the people who are now deciding how many people will face financial hardships in the coming weeks, months, years, and even decades as they try to find the right measurable response to a pandemic that ironically has been spread globally in arguably a record time by people that travel a lot who tend not to live paycheck to paycheck.
Listening to millionaires on both sides of the aisle bellow – including our very own senator whose spouse happened to dump tons of stocks after she received a closed door briefing months ago on the coronavirus – you begin to understand there really is an alternative reality in places like Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
It is a relief that they understand the most vulnerable when it comes to becoming extremely ill and even dying from the coronavirus are the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
It is a tragedy that they either downplay or do not acknowledge that the most vulnerable when it comes to the cure they are running with are young adults and even the middle age.
Those older in America for the most part have a steady stream of income even if it is just Social Security. A much higher percentage own their homes free and clear. For the most part they will be able to survive a prolonged shut down of the economy much better than many.
Whenever governors, talking heads, and high level politicians talk about the young today, they speak as if they are selfish brats who could care less if their actions could make others sick. To emphasize their storyline we are treated with endless references to spring break shenanigans, the young and healthy frolicking on beaches, and isolated instances of young people making light of the situation.
It is clear we are living in two different worlds. It’s not the young versus the old but rather those who are in positions of political power at the state and national level and those that circle in their orbits versus everyone else who either has to work every day or survive or who have worked all their lives and are trying to cling on to what they earned.
The millennials I’ve talked to in the last few days aren’t popping beers on a beach between working in a tan, and playing volleyball. They are trying to make sure their last check combined with what money they had before the plug was pulled on their job by government edict covers their next car and insurance payment and allows them to pay the rent. One guy was sharing how he is pretty sure he can get by spending $10 on food per week for the next four weeks given he will have less than $50 to his name after making the previous mentioned payments. I’d like to see the Newsom household get by on $10 a week for food per person.
One might dismiss that by saying we’ve all been there especially after losing a job but there is a big difference. Almost everyone the 28-year-old counting his pennies knows is in the same boat.
The $1,200 that is supposedly on its way from the nearly $2 trillion coronavirus emergency package will help people but it obviously won’t be enough even if those who qualify for unemployment by being in jobs long enough are able to get “boosted” benefits that politicians keep yapping about.
Pundits and political leaders keep couching the argument in justifying the actions they are taking as one of people worried about their financial well-being while people are dying.
Yes, people are dying. Yes, people are getting sick. And yes, this is a true pandemic. We do not know the true depth of what will help with the coronavirus. There is little reason to dispute the experts with their various models because there is no conclusive data one way or another. The death rate among those that develop symptoms we know is higher than the flu but how much higher is still a number that has not been nailed down.
Why that is important is the time will come much sooner than the people in charge may hope it does where they will need to cease taking a chain saw to the economy and instead apply a scalpel.
There are those pointing out the scary numbers of increased suicide, domestic violence, depression, drug use and such that came out of the Great Recession when people lost their jobs and lost their homes.
That, in itself, should not justify lifting restrictions tomorrow but it does underscore the fact that every action the government takes to help someone will hurt someone else. The policies in place will ultimately save lives from being taken by the coronavirus but the cure will ultimately lead to others taking their lives or robbing it of quality.
The government, as usual, is playing the game it has been playing since it got away from basics and started placing tariffs on some goods after the American Revolution. That game is picking winners and losers with government policies and the tax code.
Before anyone out there starts slamming capitalism or our republican form of government anchored in democracy as being evil because of that, the game is no different when played by other political/market systems, monarchies, dictatorships, or any organization with a hierarchy.
The problem with what is going on today is little consideration is being given to whether the cure will do more damage than good when everything is tallied.
If you think you can shut down the economy in the fashion we have and do so for three months or more as the experts say we need to do without causing serious irreparable financial harm that some or many will suffer from for years or even decades, then you are doing so from a perspective shored up by accumulative wealth or at least an essential job that keeps the money coming such as the $174,000 annually a congressman and senator pockets plus other living perks.
You certainly aren’t among the one million Californians that have filed for unemployment in the past 12 days.
There’s little doubt we will get through this.
But whether we — including young, healthy millennials who are among those of us bearing the brunt of a cure — can do so and ultimately attain the same standard of living enjoyed over the years by those who our collective sacrifices are designed to benefit the most is an open question.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.