Here in the U.S., our economy’s outlook is in such straits (apparently) that a so-called Conservative president has been moved to release trillions in free money.
Here are the big-categories where all that money is going in order of amount from greatest to least:
- Individuals (both in stimulus and unemployment benefits) – $560B
- Large Corporations – $500B
- Small Businesses – $377B
- State and Local Gov’ts – $339B
- Public Health – $153B
Here’s a nifty graphic from Howmuch.net if you’re interested:
But, as many have pointed out, the plan for how this money is spent is mired in murky politics, when it should be transparent since, it’s taxpayer money after all.
Still though, even without diving deep into the details, something just doesn’t smell right. Here are a few of my own thoughts on how this money is being divided up.
Starting with Individuals.
$300B is going straight to individuals. But only if you’re under the income limits established ($75K p/year for individuals and $150K for married couples).
First off, if you live together, unmarried, and you each make less than $75K p/year, then you’re effectively gaming the system, which means married couples are getting screwed.
Secondly, what if you lost your job this year? That stimulus money would sure come in handy, but too bad; you made too much money LAST year. Oh, sure you’ll get more money in unemployment benefits each week, which brings me to my next point.
If you made less than $700 a week before the pandemic, why do you deserve, or even NEED, an additional $600 in unemployment benefits EACH WEEK now? For these people, the pandemic is an unexpected, and unearned boon. Why isn’t this benefit scaled based on prior weekly income rather than just given out to anyone willy nilly?
Finally, how long will this go on? I’m sure the idea is “just until you get back on your feet and get a job” but we all know there are many in our society who have no intention of ever trying to get a job again, or for that matter, can get a job paying the same as they will be getting in their unemployment checks.
Have you priced out a new automobile in the last week? Or checked airline ticket prices? Guess what? The prices are about the same.
No one appears to be in a hurry to fire-sale their products or services yet, here we are, giving away billions in free aid. Now, I understand that these companies employ workers. I get that, I do.
But think this through: If you don’t lower prices now, no one is buying. Which means, when the economy DOES get back on its feet, you’re going to have skilled workers standing around doing nothing because there is already a full inventory of product. Automobile manufacturers aren’t going to build new cars and have them sit on the assembly line while they clear out the 2020 models. Or maybe they will. Just maybe the fire sale won’t come DURING the pandemic, but after. If that happens, I’m less concerned.
On the other hand, if businesses lower their prices now, people will spend that stimulu–perhaps unwisely, but at least the bulk of it won’t go straight into the hands of landords and credit card companies–and by the time the economy kick-starts, manufacturing will be right on track for a great holiday season.
I have no issues with this money. I’ve seen far too many struggling small businesses already in my community. My only beef with this category is that this money is largely coming in the form of loans, not grants and in payroll deferrals, rather than forgiveness.
State and Local Governments – There is already a separate category for “Public Health”, which means this category gives governments what exactly? Where is the transparency accountability for all this free money? Will state and local governments NOT collect taxes? Will they be handing out free money also? Sounds unlikely. So, if government offices are shut down, what precisely do they need MORE money for? They’re still going to collect taxes; they will not have a huge revenue shortfall like the private sector. So we’re basically paying governments for doing almost nothing more than they were doing before Covid-19.
These are just a few questions I have, which I don’t hear anyone asking. Conservatives don’t want to monkey with the movement this close to an election, and Liberals are dancing in the streets and wondering how ELSE they can coaxe more money out of a president who is anything BUT fiscally conservative.
Anyway, that’s how I see things.