Dick Kovacevich, former CEO of Wells Fargo bank, thinks most Americans should return to work in April, urging that we “gradually bring those people back and see what happens”.
Lloyd Blankfein, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, whose net worth is $1.1bn, recommends “those with a lower risk of the diseases return to work” within a “very few weeks”.
Tom Galisano, founder of Paychex, whose net worth is $2.8bn, believes “the damages of keeping the economy closed could be worse than losing a few more people … You’re picking the better of two evils.”
The “economy” that the bankers and billionaires are eager to restart had been growing rapidly before the pandemic. But most of its gains had gone into corporate profits, as shown by the meteoric rise of the stock market until a few weeks ago.
The bankers and billionaires now urging Americans get back to work own a huge share of that stock market. The richest 1 percent of the population owns roughly half of the value of all shares of stock. (The richest 10 percent own more than 80%.) So when they recommend Americans get back to work for the sake of the “economy,” they’re really urging that other people risk their lives for the sake of restoring the bankers’ and billionaires’ stock portfolios.
Stephen Moore, who is advising the White House, warns: “You can’t have a policy that says we’re going to save every human life at any cost, no matter how many trillions of dollars you’re talking about.”
While it’s true that we can’t save every human life at any cost we need to keep in mind which Americans we are talking about.
The trade-off average Americans might make between getting back to work and exposing themselves to the virus is likely to be quite different from the trade-off bankers and billionaires make
Workers bear the biggest burdens during economic downturns, especially if they lose their jobs and don’t have enough money to pay the bills. Eighty percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.
Late last week, lawmakers made an important step to prevent such hardships. The $2.2 trillion coronavirus bill provides jobless Americans an extra $600 in unemployment benefits per week for four months, and includes contract and gig workers. The bill was almost scuttled when Republican lawmakers objected that this would boost incomes of some job losers higher than their pay when they worked. Apparently, these lawmakers hadn’t noticed that the pay of the typical working American has stagnated for decades. Even four months of extra unemployment benefits may not be enough. The richest nation in the world surely has enough resources to keep its people safe at home for as long as it takes.