Opinion: America’s Economy Cannot Handle a Crisis

Editor’s note: BUnow invites those with differing viewpoints to contribute their own pieces.

As of March 26, the United States has become the most infected population in the world for the COVID-19 virus. While many countries, such as Italy, are dealing with the human impact of this virus, America is not too concerned. Our doctors, healthcare providers, nurses and scientists are among the world’s elite. The major problem for America isn’t the impact on human health, but rather the economy.

Over 3 million Americans have filed for unemployment. This is a huge amount of American workers out of work. According to Forbes, 78 percent of American workers live paycheck to paycheck. That number may be lower, as Bernie Sanders claims it’s closer to about half. Still, that is a lot of people who are out of a job. This means people will have to rely on Trump’s stimulus plan that plans to give Americans $1,200 per individual, which may not be enough for many people. 

There are some benefits to capitalism. The free market allows businesses to compete for prices and deliver new innovating technology. However, our current corporatist economy cannot handle any type of crisis. If Americans can’t work, they don’t get paid and then they can’t pay their bills. Republicans know this, too. Donald Trump said he wants to “open up the economy” by April 5. Meanwhile, America has the most cases of the virus in the world. This goes against the CDC and the majority of scientists’ advice.

Many countries have economic security plans in place for their citizens. Every developed nation in the world has a minimum two-week paid time off for workers, except America. By having this in place we can require all workers to take two weeks off, and have a complete national shutdown. This would have been a rough two weeks, but it beats prolonging this pandemic for months at a time. 

Also, millions of Americans get health insurance from their employers. Again, America is the only country that has a for-profit healthcare system, while every developed country guarantees healthcare as a right. Now, millions of Americans will lose their health insurance during a pandemic.  

We also could implement a universal basic income. Andrew Yang, who ran for president in this election, proposed that all Americans over 18 will receive a monthly check for $1,000. This is a system built for automation, when most of our jobs are taken over by robots, but it does work well in times of chaos, too. If we had a system like this, Americans would be able to pay for their bills for the remainder of the pandemic. If we rush workers back to their jobs, this will cause even more sicknesses and will kill people. This would also be used for people to create small businesses and grow their local economies. 

The truth is America was completely unprepared for this epidemic. China delayed information and the Trump administration did not take it seriously until it was too late. Our economy is heading for a recession as this virus gets worse and worse.

This article is not about spreading fear or anxiety. This virus is not that deadly compared to others in the previous years. However, I’m hoping Americans will see this as a wake up call in case something worse were to happen. Any sort of disturbance to our economy could cause a collapse. Climate change, solar flares, sickness and automation will drive millions of Americans out of their jobs, and this would cause devastation to our economy. The good news is we will recover from this virus and hopefully legislators will work on preparing for future catastrophes.