There an enormous amount that could be written and has been written about covid-19, social distancing, testing (inadequate testing), the effects of widespread economic shutdown, etc. However, the biggest problem — by far — that I see is the US government has taken a split approach to handling the pandemic that makes absolutely no sense and is highly destructive.
The Trump White House has told the country for months, based on what seems to be sound scientific logic from public health professionals, that we need to engage in unprecedented physical distancing across society in order to prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths (or even a million-plus deaths) from a nasty virus.
However, the US Congress and Donald Trump’s administration are not providing the money to help people with the basics of survival. Tens of millions of people are out of work, are out of money or quickly running out of money, and cannot pay their bills or afford to buy food. The unemployment rate in the USA is effectively around 23%.
It’s clear that this combination — telling companies to shut their doors and people to stay home but then not giving them money to survive — is tearing our society apart. As Bernie Sanders says, this is probably the worst point in US history since the Civil War.
Apparently, despite some Democratic efforts to get people more money in this health and economic crisis, Republicans in Congress don’t want to give people any more financial support. Do they not understand that people can’t pay their bills and are running out of food? Do they not see this is a fundamental role of the government to protect and provide for its citizens in a time of crisis?
European countries are ensuring that their people have money and food. Asian countries are as well. How is it that the richest country on Earth cannot provide the most basic of help to its people?
Sure, some people are now getting money through unemployment, but many are not. in Florida, one of the most populous states in the country, it has been notoriously hard to even get the website to work to file for unemployment, but even for those who got through the system, most have not received money or any clear response from the government. Only about 28% of the 1.6 million people who have filed for unemployment have gotten any kind of recognition from the state.
There are a lot of complicated ways the US government could try to help the country survive, but in an immediate crisis like this, the solution should be quick and direct. The United States government needs to send people — normal people — a lot more money. The United States government needs to provide people with the basics of survival that they lost when the country shut down.
If we were in an actual war overseas, we wouldn’t expect the warriors to find their own food and pay their rent via some private-sector means while they fought the war on enemy soil. That would make no sense. But that is effectively what the US government is doing right now.
That’s destroying this country.
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