When I’m not taking advantage of being on lockdown by promulgating more pithy prose, I tend to spend more time in front of the television than I normally would. Understandably, a good portion of the commercials lately have some reference to the Wuhan Virus.
There is one recurring theme that is starting to get under my skin; “We are all in this together,” uttered in a treacly tone guaranteed to cause if not an acute case of diabetic coma, then at least the gag reflex in your not so humble scribe. While I understand there is a place for feel-good commercials (my personal favorite is Mean Joe Greene Coke commercial), there is a limit to the amount of video sugar I can ingest.
Private companies promoting this stuff is fine. However, I’m not sure I like the idea of government using this feel-good propaganda to manipulate the populace, especially when the primary assertion, is false. We are certainly not all in this together. Government edicts have actually divided us into a nation of Haves and Have Nots.
On one side, we have the folks in “essential” positions, which insulate them somewhat from some of the financial burden. Long haul truckers, grocery store workers, are mostly doing okay. Along with them are people in jobs that allow telecommuting. They are also doing okay…for now. Then there are the government employees at all levels. They are also continuing to get their paychecks, just like clockwork, little-to-no burden-sharing there.
At the opposite end, are our fellow Americans who have been well and truly devastated by this shutdown. They are the ones who can ill afford to forgo a week’s pay, much less 2-4 months worth, or worse, the permanent loss of their jobs. You know them, many of them by name; your regular waitress at the IHOP, your barber/hairdresser, Uber Driver, and the list goes on. These folks can’t telecommute. To serve you, they have to be in your presence and you, theirs. If government edicts prohibit that, they don’t get paid.
So, while one part of our nation can still make a living, another is not only locked down, but cannot afford living expenses without government subsidy, which doesn’t go very far. As we open our country back up, state by state and, in some cases, city by city, this divide will grow.
The Have Nots will be at a disadvantage and even more so than at the start of this adventure. Even presuming they get back to work rapidly, they likely have depleted whatever savings they had. They may have incurred additional debt to just stay alive. Even retirees drawing on their IRA’s took a hit as they were required to sell more shares in order to generate the same monthly income they had planned on previously. It will take months, maybe years for them to get back to where they were when all this started.
The Haves, on the other hand, did not need to incur additional debt. They were able to pay their bills and, in many cases, were even able to sock away some extra cash, as there was really nowhere to go and limited opportunities to spend money. Back to the stock market. While the retirees in the paragraph above were cashing in their IRA shares at way undervalued prices, those with means, the Haves, were busy buying them up. 6 months to a year from now, share values will be back up, but too late for the retirees and the rest of the Have Nots. The gap will get even wider.
I am by no means a class envy type of person. However, I am the type of person who gets very angry when government brings harm to innocent people. Before this shutdown, there were, of course, Haves and Have Nots. Always have been and always will be. Bad decision making and political posturing took that bad situation and made it much, much worse. Sadly, the situation is cheered on by many of the Haves who keep promoting a shutdown that continues until “we are safe,” or “we have a vaccine.” That’s easy for them to say. For the Have Nots, not so much. They can’t afford another day, much less another week or month. So NO, we are not all in this together, not by any stretch.
Other thoughts on this issue