By Dedrick Asante-Muhammad and Anneliese Lederer
We are living in an intense time — a time when major public policy failures and social inequality are revealing themselves after being hidden by a seemingly strong economy.
Over the last few years, record low levels of unemployment and a booming stock market helped conceal the still weak levels of household wealth, public infrastructure, and overall socio-economic fragility of most Americans. The coronavirus crisis is now laying those failures bare.
Many analysts failed to recognize that though “the economy” had been in recovery for nearly 10 years, most Americans have less wealth now than they did before the Great Recession. From 2007 to 2016, median white families lost over $11,000. Black and Latino families lost about half of their total net worth.
The coronavirus crisis is also showing that the problem goes beyond individual assets. Our weak public health, education, child care, and unemployment benefits, among other things, left the nation one crisis away from bringing down the entire economy.
That crisis has arrived.
Take the example of school closures. Since March 12, local and state governments have been closing school districts to limit the spread and speed of Covid-19. There are now nearly 40 million public school students who are home from school.
School closures were an essential and vital public health decision. Still, they’ve shown that schools were an underappreciated foundation for our economy and people’s daily lives.
For workers with children, shutting down public schools — with little to no other public support to replace this loss — means at best a radical change of trying to work from home, teach from home, and provide child care all at the same time. At worst, it means sacrificing pay and possibly your job to care for your children as the country heads into recession.
“It’s important we realize how this virus hasn’t just created new problems,” as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently explained, “but poured gasoline on the crises we’ve long had. It’s okay if you didn’t see the extreme urgency” of these crises before, she added. “But I hope you don’t unsee them later.”
The old saying of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is more relevant than ever as the country prepares to spend trillions on the coronavirus crisis. Now is the time to recognize we’ll never beat a global pandemic and recession without strong mechanisms to deal with social inequality and the public good.
Now is the time to invest the trillions that have been made available by this crisis into a new 21st-century public infrastructure. The need for this investment has long been recognized — from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s call for an Economic Bill of Rights to the civil rights movement’s 1967 Freedom Budget — but never realized.
One way or another, the United States will withstand the coronavirus. But the public in the wealthiest nation in the world cannot continue to be one crisis away from economic collapse.
Dedrick Asante-Muhammad is the chief of Race, Wealth, and Community at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC). Anneliese Lederer is the director of Fair Lending and Consumer Protection at NCRC.
Take responsibility says
You’re worth more, monetarily, when you have a better skill set and you work your way up the ladder and pay your dues. A McDonalds cashier has a skill set that has a certain value. A First Grade Teacher, has an education and a higher value due to the skill set. A Doctor or Nurse has a different skill set …..and they all have Levels of compensation/pay according to that skill set. You earn money like that. So stop asking for more because you exist. You must earn it. Become more, do more.
If you cannot support your own family, stop having children. Stop relying on the government to give you money. Stop having children if you cannot take care of them. Start saving and planning for a rainy day. The fault is yours. Everyone in this country has the ability and resources to improve themselves. The most money and grants and free opportunities are not given to white Americans. Jobs are not given to white Americans, stop crying and whining. It is childish and immature and quite disgusting. Stop having children to get more food stamps and a bigger tax refund, human trafficking is what that is- children for money-Take care of what you have and work hard. Educate, follow a plan for improvement and levels in your current profession to earn more. Or yes, you will have to work multiple jobs at lower wage positions. Again, stop having more mouths to feed and more fiscal responsibility. If you need food stamps or rely on the school system to feed your children, then stop having children and realize they are your responsibility. And if you have animals in your household while complaining about money- well that is just simply stupid.
Stop whining about having to take of your children when there is no school…grow up and take responsibility for the health and welfare of your children, they are yours, or stop having children, this is a world wide crisis, grow up and think about your responsibility as a parent. Or stop having children.
I couldn’t agree more. Well said and Transcends all Races, and Cultures. The Children are the most affected.
Inquiring mind says
Ok, so let me ask you this. What about the working class that have degrees, no criminal charges, minimal children (that are taken care of without public assistance), own their home, and have years of experience within their field YET are either underpaid, or still struggle to find suitable employment that adequately financially compensates for their qualifications/worth? which are then left no other choice but to work more than one minimum wage paying job in order to make ends meet? Who’s responsibility is it then? Are you still inclined to believe it is those individuals fault/responsibility?
I am a public school teacher with 15 years of experience. Last year my health insurance that I get through the county went up 15%. I paid over $14,000.00 to cover my families insurance, but when my husband needed cataract surgery, so he wouldn’t go blind, I still had to pay a $3,000.00 deductible. I just learned it will probably go up again another 7%. How does that make sense when I’m paid less than $50,000.00 a year. I bring home less every year because the cost of everything is going up except salaries?
Compensation is based on value . A degree in a STEM field has a higher value than a liberal arts degree, thus STEM grads earn more.
Leslie Leslie says
What is suitable? Any job that pays money should be! Life is a series of choices! If you want to work even during covid-19 work is available! Question is are you!
The people who voted for Trump are the same people who he screws over, are they stupid or what? Don’t vote against what is in your best interest. Vote smart.
Gary R says
Vote like your life depends on it! Do we want Biden to wake up one morning and think the nuclear football is his TV remote?
WTF are you talking about? Nearly total employment and you are complaining? No one could have forecast the covid19 pandemic and minimum wage jobs were not ment to be for raising a family. They were for part time, retired and young people! Get your head out of your butt and deal with it snowflake!
I agree but its not that cut and dry. Employment was high but inflation adjusted income was near 70s wages . Things were very good at the top. Due to Monetary stimulus Asset prices soared due to cheap money In case you haven’t noticed the Middle Class as we used to say has all but disappeared. Leverage was the game. Last I knew 65% of Americans do not have the means to invest in Financial Markets today or don’t participate. IMO due to the extreme way Technology has taken over the mainstream Employment Environment some of the less trained and Educated along with older less computer skilled Americans do attempt to and continue to raise Families on outdated hourly earners levels thru multiple positions. Young, Part time, and Retired is America and PC. Take a look around here and its mostly the positions and the People you speak of. Seems to be a transitory problem that will work itself out. The avg. American with the lack of, or overly expensive access to Healthcare, and many other necessities ETC ETC. most consume the money they had and then some. All this taking place and solely sustained by historically low interest rates the sky would have fallen sooner or later . The Companies workers who enable Corporations and Business to dazzle Wall Street with EPS/Market share/Profits should pay those they Employ more
It never will be s strong economy for many working poor. The main reason for this is a poor choice made by many. Poor education, drug use, or too many arrests on their record. That’s not my problem, it’s your problem. Your mistake, not mine. There will always be working poor due to poor choices in life.
Your quoting Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, the Democratic Socialists who singlehandedly torpedoed the major Amazon expansion to her district that would of provided hundreds of good paying union jobs to her district and the residual support business that follow. Seriously ?
Patrick Henry says
Or it shows a lack of self reliance and an over dependence on a fragile government.
“Many analysts failed to recognize that though “the economy” had been in recovery for nearly 10 years, most Americans have less wealth now than they did before the Great Recession. From 2007 to 2016, median white families lost over $11,000. Black and Latino families lost about half of their total net worth.”
And the longer-term data is even worse – middle class wages have been essentially flat since the 70’s.
A good first step toward the massive reevaluation of, and needed restructuring of our system would be:
Never again vote for a Republican. Their record is clear.
The facts are easy, USA and everyone in it is much better off with trump as president!! He is doing the best job and probably the best president in history. Nobody even comes close to all his achievements for this county!
What flavor koolaid you drinking lol. With folks like you listening to his self indulgent bullshit everyday and night lying about things he did and said minutes, days or weeks ago no wonder God sent the virus, to cull the herd. The Worst and slowest in denial response of a National or Global Crises ever. That’s what he owns and you can cheerlead all you want that’s the facts and just the beginning of his failures. Choosing money over lives, that its a hoax and will disappear, while COVID19 barrels down the highway. Quicker action taken by the Administration initially thru Intel and we may have been out of this mess already. lmao Because he is a pathological liar doesn’t mean anyone with half a brain should believer him. Boy are you in for a dose of reality. OHH that’s right just started getting one didntcha WHELP you all wanted zero or negative rates how you liking it. The Market meltdown is by no means over. Strap in and get ready for the ride. Its Technical Market Analysis 2.0
Mike Cocchiola says
Lots of hard-line conservatives here. Can’t afford children or dogs, don’t have them. Have a low paying job… get another, and another. Don’t have a home, your problem. America owes you nothing. We’re not a country, we’re just a giant business and you’re the losers.
Look, conservatives, some facts. The top one percent of Americans hold more wealth than the entire middle class. The middle class has had 7% growth in net worth since 1995. For the top one percent, it has grown by 187%! Are you saying that the enormous gap in wealth is fine with you? Are you saying that some of that wealth shouldn’t be taxed a bit more to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour? That we can’t pay teachers, firemen, police and other public service employees enough to afford families and homes? That we can’t provide health care for every American? That we can’t pay for higher education for every American who wants it? That we can’t feed and house the poor and homeless? There is by far enough wealth in America to do all of this. And billionaires and millionaires will still have some of their billions and millions.
Nobody in America – the civilized 21st century America, not your’s – should have a trillion-dollar business and $100 billion in wealth and pay zero taxes while others starve. Amazon is not America. Those teachers and firemen and policemen, the poor and the sick the young and the old… that’s America and we can take care of everybody. That’s making America truly great!
Leslie Leslie says
What is suitable? Any job that pays money should be! Life is a series of choices! If you want to work you will! If you want to increase your education especially if you Are in the lower pay scale it’s available! Unfortunately the Progressives love to complain about the poor but their districts are the worst for the poor! They are all just So Out of touch with reality! President Trump is the best President in a long long time! He is Action with multiple of distractions thrown at him! No pass for this President! But he is 100% Action!! There are multiple if agencies that actually help the poor and raise them up when they are temporarily down! So unless you are activity volunteering by serving our people or creating solutions for our community. Back up your words with action! What are YOU doing to make this Community Great Again?
The problem is that this country has created an entire class of people living a subsistence off the government. All these programs designed to “help” people have done the complete opposite. In the past, there was a deterrent to having more kids than you could afford: hunger and shame. Now, if you pop out kids, you get paid to feed them, house them, and clothe them if you are unwilling or unable to do it yourself. The schools are feeding the kids meals every day; when I was young, my parents didn’t have a lot, but they both worked and we always had cereal and milk for breakfast. On weekends we had pancakes and eggs. And this whole nonsense about minimum wage is ridiculous. Minimum wage is just that, the legal minimum amount you can be paid. It’s intended for teenage gas money and maybe an occasional Friday night donation to the keg party. It was never intended to raise a family. Now there are occasional extenuating circumstances, such as death or illness of a bread winner, and I’m all for a true safety net for those situations. The real way to financial success it to get an education, preferably in a degree field where there are good paying jobs, such as healthcare or engineering. Learn an in-demand trade. I can assure that welders are making a whole lot more money than a master’s degree in philosophy, and they are not burdened with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans. If you want to stay out of poverty, don’t get pregnant before you are married and financially stable; don’t get hooked on drugs or alcohol; get a job, any job. It may not be your career choice, but it will pay bills, and motivate you to do better by improving yourself. You can work your way up in McDonald’s and eventually make money you can raise a family on. I started working at 11, making a dollar an hour mowing lawns. It was one of the proudest moments of my life when I bought that 60 dollar twelve speed Windsprint bicycle with the money I earned. I’ve cleaned houses, toilets, offices, mowed lawns, dug ditches, painted houses, and helped my uncle who is a master carpenter. I started my own small business at 26 years old, which launched me into my current career. I read that ten million people applied for unemployment in the last few weeks. I also read that American and Canadian farmers are losing crops because they can’t get enough foreign laborers into the country. What is the real problem here? Too many participation trophies awarded for doing nothing doesn’t prepare one for the real world, and articles like this simply promote the idea that everybody is a victim.
@Dedrick Asante-Muhammad and Anneliese Lederer
The rich get richer, and the poor have children. Who knew?!
But seriously, how do you see a path to progress in a country where one of its two political parties is literally ruled – not led – by a vicious talking pig?
DONT be so kind the Orange blowhard
Thank you so much Mike Cocchiola. . . all valid factual points. Unfortunately your words are completely wasted on many in our community.
The close minded FOX cult does not care for reasoned debate based on facts.
The obvious hypocrisy here is that often the exact same people who BLAME the POOR for being poor, are the same as those who are either racists (in denial of course), or who adamantly are against uplifting/assisting the disenfranchised by:
1. Opposing higher quality “Public” education. . . preferring to support (majority “white”)charter and religious schools
2. Opposing FREE birth control and any abortions. . . which would keep family size more limited
3. Supporting the unraveling of “ANYTHING” accomplished by the “First Black President”.
4. Supporting efforts to suppress the vote by gerrymandering and false claims of “fraud”
5. Daily discrimination in a thousand different ways
And the “Make America White Again” beat goes on and on and on
Here comes the “TROLL”!
Tired of nonsense grow up folks says
Shows how much you know…not everyone should go to college. Also I am not paying for anyone to go to college. I am paying for myself thanks. There are a ton of other jobs that don’t need a degree, And we need people for them, they pay great as well, trades men etc..
Abortion is murder. If you are adult enough to have sex, you deal with those responsibilities. Buy protection or make sure you are having sex with someone that’s will be a good father/mother.
Obama was a horrible President and we need to undo all that he did.
Stephen Smith says
You are right. Not everybody needs to go to college. But what they do need is an education system that allows them to learn the skills they need to enter different trades. Unfortunately our education system is one of haves and have nots. As long as schools are financed through property taxes there will be a disproportionate number of school districts that cannot afford to provide the type of education needed. Property rich districts can afford to have programs and options that are unavailable to poorer districts. Some schools cannot afford to buy the latest textbooks, have Labs or Industrial Art programs. Teachers are underpaid in poor districts making hiring difficult if not impossible. We as a people need to re-examine how we pay for education as well as how we deliver it.
As for low paying jobs. That is the decision of employers as to how much they will pay. They know that there are only so many jobs for each high paying trade and take advantage of that fact to pay as little as possible for those educated people unable to find jobs in their field.
Gary R says
Opposing higher quality “Public” education. . . preferring to support (majority “white”)charter and religious schools. LOL. Not true. Just a self-righteous comment. Why Americans Think So Poorly of the Country’s Schools
Are public schools generally meeting Americans’ expectations? Or are they teetering on the brink of failure?
Land of no turn signals says says
Boo Hoo,the world needs ditch diggers too.
What a relief to see here writing those Americans that really try hard and see the reality and are the only ones that have always made America #1, like Sherry, Cocchiola, Pogo, Joe , Steve. The Orange Duce supporters do not grasp the reality of the so called welfare queens insult and the so called non existing “entitlements” just by digesting the news. What ” entitlements” the ones shown by the ethnic deaths for not being able to afford preventive health care insurance as we do not have Universal insurance for all, but sure spend trillions in the war machine? What entitlements the ones working for minimum wage with no benefits part time jobs so the greedy corporate world gets wealthier? Or the same entitlement of not making enough wages to afford fruits, veggies and a healthier diet and life style that allowed the pandemic to kill them in such higher numbers. How come I never felt in my life that my fellow American in need are taking anything away from my earnings, while other are brainwashed to believe so? The only thing I know that is destroying our middle class and the poor is just the unlimited greed of the rich and the ones they put in power to serve them well. Look just at the price of gas now $1,89 or lower…that is what we should be paying all the time, but go tell it to the oil Czars! To the contrary I paid 1/3 higher price in my groceries yesterday. Gouging us again in time of need.
Everyone can thank former Governor Scott now Republican Senator Scott for Florida for the lowest unemployment rate in the US,
$250.00 a week. I wonder if Senator Scott could live on $ 250.00 a week? You bet not. Also, it was his way of keeping down the unemployment figures and making it appear to companies coming to Florida that is had low unemployment in the state. Now in this health crisis they also have a failed Unemployment system that no one out of work now can get in touch with them to file, another thing that Scott did on purpose and the current Governor has yet to completely fix. So, the next time you want to vote for a Governor for the State of Florida you may seriously consider a Democrat because the Republican in the State of Florida are not for the working- class people that live here.
Thanks so much “palmcoaster”. . . right back to you! I always appreciate your commentary.
Actually I’m happy to see other voices chiming in here like “TheTruth”. You have pointed out yet another despicable failure by our state government. Not only are our unemployment benefits (at $275 a week) a complete DISGRACE. . . but, since the on-line system is non-functional. . . our hard working citizens MUST RISK THEIR LIVES to stand in long lines to complete “PAPER” claims forms! HOW HORRIFIC! AND TRAGIC!
And, just like trump, the “finger pointing” to the past (REPUBLICAN- Scott- now Senator) governor begins!
A great way to save $$ and make the unemployment statistics look (FALSELY) low. . . make it almost impossible to collect that poultry $275 a week! Our governor “should” be completely humiliated and ashamed. The trouble is, DeSantis is NOT. He threw away whatever moral compass he MAY have had when he signed onto the brainwashed “CULT” that is killing our country!
REPUBLICANS in Florida should be thrown out of office!
This from Politico:
Already anxious about Trump’s chances in the nation’s biggest swing state, Republicans now are dealing with thousands of unemployed workers unable to navigate the Florida system to apply for help. And the blowback is directed straight at Trump’s top allies in the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Rick Scott.
Privately, Republicans admit that the $77.9 million system that is now failing Florida workers is doing exactly what Scott designed it to do — lower the state’s reported number of jobless claims after the great recession.
“It’s a sh– sandwich, and it was designed that way by Scott,” said one DeSantis advisor. “It wasn’t about saving money. It was about making it harder for people to get benefits or keep benefits so that the unemployment numbers were low to give the governor something to brag about.”
Republican Party of Florida chairman Joe Gruters was more succinct: “$77 million? Someone should go to jail over that.”
With hundreds of thousands of Floridians out of work, the state’s overwhelmed system is making it nearly impossible for many people to even get in line for benefits.