By Cooper Banks
Considering “we” versus “me”. It was already extremely difficult for people before this virus threw the entire U.S. economy in doubt. Now, it’s probably too much for a lot of people to process at all, but…we’re told we should.
Especially if you’re currently out of work.
Fair warning, this is going to be a rather unpleasant read if you’re out of work. Why? Because, well, I’m not. And because it’s almost all about “we”, and almost nothing about “me”.
But keeping the “we” perspective in mind will help you digest it as you read (or listen, as the case may be).
So, one Portland economist suggests high unemployment is exactly what “we” need to beat this virus.
“We know that any time you’re laid off that’s adverse to your health,” says Joe Cortright, Director of the Portland-based think tank City Observatory.
So, even he starts with the obvious “me” perspective just like I have. Then he crosses over to the “we” perspective. “Even though some people may get laid off the rest of us may experience less traffic, less congestion, certainly less air pollution.”
Cortright continues, “and the evidence (actually shows) in recessions the overall mortality rate goes down.”
So, because fewer people are traveling to and from work, fewer people die. Cortright insists that’s simply what the data shows in the bigger picture.
He goes on to say, “unemployment is actually the treatment for the pandemic if you think about it. We’ve gotta have a time out.”
We broadcast Cortright’s thoughts during Portland’s Afternoon News this week;
Cortright reminds us that folks who are out of work will get $600 more in unemployment benefit per week than they would otherwise. That’s thanks to the recent $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed by the President.
Through this measure, the government is also attempting to cover payroll checks for a lot of people. Everyone will get $1,200 checks from the federal government, presumably each month through early summer (though, that schedule it shaky).
So, some financial assistance is there. Money is coming for people. The money will continue to come. There are bans on evictions here in Portland, so housing shouldn’t be a major issue.
All of this public assistance may not be quite enough, but “we” can also have a measure of confidence in assistance in the form of charity. In the U.S., such charity has always come to the fore during times of crisis.
Plus, “we” can count on innovation as well. Innovation in charity or in business. Innovation in entrepreneurship. Perhaps you are out of work, and you’ve had an idea for a business for a long time. Perhaps now is the time to put that idea to work as best you can, maintaining social distance of course.
But if you think of it a little like combat.
We’re taking fire right now (from this virus) and “we” still aren’t sure exactly where this enemy is and how to counter-attack it. So “we” have to just hold still a moment while our public health officials figure this thing out.
Also — remember the famous quote, “Necessity is the mother of all invention.”
You can also trust that. Personally, it gives me hope that scientists will come up with COVID-19 treatments and a vaccine in record time and give us all a chance to get back to work sooner rather than later.
I can’t believe this nation and its people would ever just let 17-25 million people starve from being out of work.
I just don’t believe that would ever happen.
It will be hard. But it will be o.k.