A Little Money Won’t Cut It in the Pandemic Crisis

Ideas and Issues
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New Orleans        On the USA pandemic map, there’s a big fat circle around New Orleans now along with New York, San Francisco, and Boston, some of the oldest cities in the country.  Of course, Miami and Los Angeles are also hotspots.

In New Orleans, we can already see the impacts of exploding unemployment at depression levels.

Our port had already been hurt by the Trump’s tariff wars.  A ship and offshore supply company near the river on the daily course that Lucha and I walk in the pre-dawn closed before the end of the year.  There vans would often be pulling out at 430 or 5am when Lucha and I would pass by.  No more.

Now the Anytime gym next door is shuttered along with all other gyms in the city.  Restaurants, bars and bakeries were either shutdown or forced to close as customers disappear, hunkering down in their homes.  Fair Grinds Coffeehouse laid off twenty people after the Mayor’s order.  We’re surviving on takeout at the bigger location open for three or four hours per day, but had to close the smaller one when we only sold one cup of coffee in several hours yesterday.  Surviving at this level doesn’t mean that we are making enough to pay all of our bills, so we’ll see how long we can keep open without relief.

We’re in huge company of course.  Hotels are laying off as conventions cancel, the airport cuts flights, and tourism plummets.  The authorities are also asking them not to take guests.  Our nephew, a bartender, and his partner, a chef, were both laid off.  Getting through online to apply for unemployment has been virtually impossible for them, although newspaper reports indicate applications are up almost 50% already for the successful hackers.  A news item says that the Trump administration has asked states to delay publishing unemployment claims information, but who are they kidding, we can see it everywhere from auto plants to corner stores.

Evictions and foreclosures have been halted, but people still have to pay rent and make house payments of course.  Student loans have to be paid even though the payments are not going towards interest.  Utilities might delay shutoffs, but they are sending out their bills.  Same for cable, the internet, your phone, and, oh, did I forget groceries.  The bills keep coming even when the money stops rolling.  America, welcome to our world!

Here’s the problem.  Americans need a bailout, not a handout.  A thousand dollars will help, but let’s not pretend that by the time it gets to Americans it will be anything other than too little and almost too late.  This will be the classic situation whether there will be way more month than there is money for tens and tens of millions of Americans.  Langston Hughes haiku prayer that “I wish the rent was heaven sent” will be on everyone’s lips.

My old mechanic used to say, “Don’t bring twenty, bring plenty,” when I would drop off my truck for repair.  The message to the White House and Congress needs to be about the same.  Don’t send  just a grand.   They won’t send twenty, but they sure need to send plenty.