This global pandemic has definitely messed up the American economy. But worse, it has completely destroyed the way of life for so many Americans. You may not see it, depending on what part of the country you’re in, but in some places, longstanding jobs — they’re gone for good. When someone in one part of the country says “there’s plenty of jobs here, I don’t understand why we need an unemployment extension” – I want you to think, not about yourself, not about your city, or even your state, but think about cities and states across our great nation.
The situation is not the same everywhere, but because of the severity of the pandemic, we need to take action in a way that makes sure all Americans are protected. This is also why there’s a need for another stimulus package, and I’ll be completely honest with you – $600 is just not enough. Nowhere in this country will you find an average rental for that amount and then you factor in the cost of living – eating, necessities, etc – you just can’t get by on one $600 check, many many months after a single $1200 check.
Where the government currently stands: 11 weeks of extended unemployment with $300/week additional federal assistance
Where I believe we should be: 6 months of extended unemployment with $500/week additional federal assistance
My reasoning: Americans in states hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic have found many businesses closing their doors for good. Sadly, a lot of small businesses have closed with no chance of recovery, due to lack of action by our current government. But, there are some larger (not mom-and-pop) businesses that had to let a lot of staff go because of the pandemic. West Texas, where I currently reside, the prime example is the oilfield. Many have lost their good paying oilfield jobs – and a lot of those jobs will never come back. Some of these workers? They’ve been working in this industry their entire life – maybe not for the same company all these years – but they’ve done the same job, or stayed within their industry. They’re not their youngest and having to start all over again with something completely different? That’s a major challenge some cannot easily adjust to. I’ve talked to people, who want to learn something new, who are seeking to learn – or seeking direct training for different positions in different industries as they worry about their unemployment running out. We can’t let these hard working people lose everything they have due to a global pandemic.
Aid for Small Businesses
This subject is a little different as the scope of how aid has been handled across current bills and the new package are broadly different. I’d just like to keep this one short and simple. Stop bailing out giant corporations and even more important, stop letting politicians pocket money that is part of a financial aid package. We need to keep our small businesses in America open. Failing small business owners and failing those who contribute to the diverse and colorful fabric of our nation with their cozy cafes, independent book and music stores, “Mom & Pop” grocery/convenience stores – there’s one of the nicest little “country stores” that I spent my life going to when growing up in the small village of Richmond, Maine. I’d much rather see them thrive over seeing Walmart’s profits and numbers skyrocket and Family Dollar ready and waiting to demolish the charming little store to put in one of their generic stores with no heart or emotion in them. I hate going into stores that give that “cold” feeling. Always have. I’d pay an extra buck for a purchase at the little shop on the corner any day. If we fail small businesses, we’re killing part of the American Dream. We just can’t do that.
Stimulus Checks for the People
Where the government currently stands: $600 checks (although President Trump has shown interest in a $2000 check)
Where I believe we should be: $2000 checks monthly, per adult, including retroactive pay from the beginning of the pandemic and payments for six months after the pandemic is over.
My reasoning: Politicians have become complicit. They have fallen in line that “the stock market is the economy” – and I hate to tell them this, but the reality check is much needed, the American people are the economy. Once again, WE are the economy. Without money in our pockets, not only can we not pay bills, we also can’t buy things. That last little bit sounds stupid, doesn’t it? But you know….if people don’t buy things…money stops flowing and the economy halts. People need the money to survive – in what is really (hopefully) a once in a lifetime global crisis. Families need help. Some can’t return to work because of lack of childcare or fear of their child getting the virus at the childcare facility. Many are schooling at home and many parents have to be there to take care of their families. We’re in really strange times, and we have to have a solution that works for everyone. $2000/month to all adults is not a lot to ask for the country that has quite the inflated military budget.
Healthcare, Masks and the COVID-19 Vaccine
This is another touchy subject and I am not a medical professional so I cannot give medical advice. We have doctors and scientists that create our medicine, it’s their place to speak. With that being said, I do believe we need to find a system of “universal healthcare” that works and guarantees all Americans have access to free or super-affordable healthcare. We are the only developed nation that doesn’t have a form of universal healthcare. We’re America. We’re supposed to be the great nation that takes care of its citizens and provides a comfortable and safe life. Without healthcare, that’s hard for many to do. This isn’t the place to touch on the broken assistance programs, but honestly, when you can’t get decent healthcare – it costs you more in the future – and leads to some disabilities that could’ve been avoided if proper universal healthcare existed. I do believe the COVID-19 vaccine MUST be free to all who want it, and it should go to front-line healthcare workers, essential workers and those at high-risk for complications due to COVID first and foremost. Some people are afraid of the vaccine due to it being “rushed” and I can understand your fear – but we definitely have to protect ourselves and everyone around us, and the vaccine is a step towards eliminating the virus. I wouldn’t push for mandatory vaccinations, as it is not my decision to make in regards to another person’s body, but I encourage it. Most importantly, continue to wear a mask. It doesn’t violate your rights or freedom – it’s protecting YOU and EVERYONE around you. Continue social distancing and avoid hosting large parties or events. If we want to get through this without losing many more lives (and we have lost FAR too many thus far) – we have to think smart and think about the people around us, not just ourselves.
The Path to UBI
I’m sure by now you’ve heard of UBI – Universal Basic Income – and the many variations of the idea that have come into play, popularized by Andrew Yang’s 2020 run for the Democratic presidential ticket. With UBI, everyone would have a floor. There are many studies that prove that it doesn’t discourage those from working and that it improves the mental and physical health of the recipient of the dividend. This is another moment where it’s proper to remind you – we the people are the economy. Universal Basic Income could be the path to many new businesses starting up, that people couldn’t have done otherwise. It gives people that are working hard and *just* making ends meet a little hand up that they deserve. The fact that very few Americans have any money in savings for an emergency is another reason that UBI is necessary. If we’d already enacted UBI as law, I can guarantee you that people would’ve made it through this pandemic a lot easier. It’s also the path to ending poverty, and I believe if we can get a temporary UBI for the duration of the pandemic, it will prove how good it is for the American people and we will move forward to finalize the “right amount” and make UBI a permanent reality in America.
Now, how much is the right amount? Well, during the pandemic, no question, $2000/month per adult. Yang’s original proposal was for $1000/month per adult. Others have floated higher numbers. I’d like to see the final number land somewhere between $1000 and $2000 monthly. I haven’t settled on an exact number but after talking to a lot of people across this great nation, I am leaning to a number closer to the $1200-$1500 monthly payment as the permanent UBI.
Now, as Americans, I want us to bond together – find unity amongst political parties and take action on this crisis that we are facing. A global pandemic is not the time to play partisan games. People are being hospitalized in drastic numbers and the death toll, sadly, keeps climbing. We need to do everything we can to put our differences aside, find common ground and do what is morally right: take care of our citizens and get through this pandemic together, so we can resume life again. I hope all of us come out of this pandemic better, stronger and smarter than we were before. I hope we learn that every moment is precious. Every memory is special. Every human life matters. We will take on this virus head-on and win – but we have to work together. We have to pass legislation that helps all Americans, regardless of their situation, mask up and just get through this thing. I know we can do it. We’re strong, we’re proud — and we’re Americans. Let’s beat this thing.
As always, stay strong and spread positive energy in any way that you can.
Peace and love,