I’m guessing that it will be less than a year before we start seeing even more massive social unrest and violence in the streets as a result of unemployment and hunger, probably on a scale greater than that of the Great Depression of the 1930s. This excerpt from an article in The Intercept makes clear why:
The Unemployment Crisis Is a True National Emergency
The incompetent criminals ruling the U.S. are about to push millions of Americans off a terrifying financial cliff.
IN SOME ALTERNATE reality, the government and corporate and union and religious leaders of the United States got together in February and told us: “The novel coronavirus is scary, and we’re all going to have to get creative and work together to crush it. Lots of jobs are going to momentarily vanish. But no one in this country will be scared of going hungry, because no one will. No one’s going to be scared of being thrown out of their home, because that’s not going to happen to anyone. This country has the power to take care of everyone’s basic material needs, and we will.”Here in this reality, we’re governed by a blend of the criminally incompetent and incompetent criminals. As things stand today, they’re about to push a large fraction of Americans off a terrifying cliff. It’s so mercilessly cruel, economically destructive, and even contrary to their own self-interest, that if we’re going to stop them we probably need to figure out why.Our rulers did demonstrate a spasm of rationality with the passage of the CARES Act in March. It was partly a cash-grab by big business but did get lots of people a $1,200 check and provided an extra $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits on top of state benefits.
Without these benefits, the 30 million people who lost their jobs in March and April would have already plummeted into the void. And because everyone’s spending is someone else’s income, as they fell they would have grabbed onto tens of millions more and taken them down as well.
And in fact, this downward spiral began to happen in mid-March. As the danger of Covid-19 became clear, consumer spending dropped by an astonishing 30 percent in a matter of days. But as soon as the government cash started flowing, spending began to recover, and it’s now more than 90 percent of normal. In poorer zip codes, it’s returned to almost 100 percent.
This has kept the lives of tens of millions of Americans merely bad, rather than totally impossible. But the supplemental unemployment benefits expire at the end of July. The GOP opening bid is to extend them but to cut the amount from $600 to $200. The reason, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin explained in the Oval Office, is to prevent malingering: “We’re going to make sure that we don’t pay people more money to stay home than go to work.” In addition, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that the Republican “red line” in negotiations is making it essentially impossible for employees to sue employers on the grounds that their workplace is failing to protect them from Covid-19. Furthermore, under the proposed new rules, employers and even the Trump Justice Department would find it easy to countersue workers for bringing a coronavirus lawsuit.
Rationally, of course, this makes no sense. For most of the unemployed, there aren’t any jobs to go back to, and won’t be until the pandemic is under control. If their unemployment benefits are cut, people without jobs will desperately cut back on spending, leading to more unemployment, which will lead to less spending, and so on. The process will be accelerated as states and cities, which until now have attempted to avoid slashing payrolls in hopes that the federal government would rescue them, finally do so.
This may plausibly lead to basic material deprivation — true hunger and homelessness — on a scale few alive today have ever seen. According to the Census Bureau, the number of America’s 249 million households reporting that they sometimes or often do not have enough to eat has already jumped from 22.5 million earlier this year to 29.3 million in July. With Republicans opposing an expansion of food stamp funding, as well as the renewal of the CARES Act supplemental food program for children, that is likely just the beginning.
Read the full article here
UPDATE: For something even more despicable than mere incompetence, check out the next article in Sierra Voices, here: “A Nice Depression Now Will Benefit the GOP in 2022 and 2024“