A Slower Recovery 4/5/20

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

Sugar is my weakness. I know I need to control my craving since I am, after all, diabetic, but I’ll admit, when it comes to sweets, I can’t get enough. That’s just the way I am.

Money is candy to corporations. I can’t blame them for making money; if a business doesn’t make money, they won’t business very long. The problem, though, is left to their own devices, it is just human nature for the CEO’s and business owners to seek money, as much money as they can. It’s their candy. This is why “self-regulation” is a fundamentally flawed principle.

Corporations used to take care of their people. They had training programs, retirement and insurance benefits, paid sick leave and fair pay. But, when addicted to that money, all of these things come with a price tag. The benefits of taking care of employees with benefits like this are overshadowed by the lost profit associated with them.

For too long, we’ve had politicians that are too friendly to corporate America. They’ve been cutting and resisting regulations that hurt the bottom line for these companies. As such, these benefits have been cut, often in ways that I believe should be illegal, and in a truly moral society would be.

For example, my sister lives in a state that started a higher educational program where you could pay for college credits early. The benefit for the state is early money, and for the participants it meant paying before tuition increased. The requirement was that they can only be used in state, so if my sister’s boys went to college out of state they lost that money, which I think is fair. It’s just the cost of the agreement. What was NOT part of the deal was that when this same state decided to terminate the program, they did so WITHOUT honoring the pre-purchased credits, and WITHOUT refunding the money. This same state has a lottery they claimed supported education, but after years of running the program with the schools complaining that they haven’t seen any of the money, the state went to the court systems and sued to keep the money. This is a state example of the dangers of government with business mentality.

Nationally, there have been several problems. Corporations are addicted to government handouts to bail them out every time their profits begin to drop. This administration is in its third bailout in less than three years. The first were enormous tax breaks that have dramatically increased national debt and threatens to economically bankrupt this nation which is already morally bankrupt. The theory of the tax breaks was basically just Reaganomics, the “trickle down” effect. Unfortunately, while the government gave corporate America this money, they did so with absolutely no oversight or hard requirements, relying instead on “self-regulation” and faith that corporate America will “do the right thing.” While the corporations were supposed to spend the saved money on infrastructure of the corporation and employee salaries and hiring. A few corporations did this, but so few that they were actually named individually, but far more used the money to buy back stocks to increase the profit of the owners.

When news of the viral outbreak became known, some senators sold millions of dollars’ worth of stock, the timing of which seems to correspond with a private meeting regarding information of the impact of the virus. The claim of one of these senators is that he sold the stock based on publicly available information of world-wide spread of the virus, but the timing is particularly suspicious and most likely dealt with information on how the virus will impact America specifically. Either way, this action shows both a lack of faith in the American stock market, and the dangers of profit minded senators.

Back to my point about corporate America’s addiction to government Corporate handouts, when the stock market dropped, the first thing that happened was a $1.5 trillion “infusion” of money into the stock market. This had the effect of raising the market for literally 45 minutes. The thing that bothers me most about this second corporate handout is that, after buying back so much stock with their previous handouts, they could raise money, if they really needed it, by reselling that same stock. That the American government is too corporation friendly is clear when one considers that they have no pity for citizens who make such little money that they only have one or two months of savings available, but are willing to spend trillions of dollars so corporations don’t lose profit. Personally, I don’t have much respect for corporations that don’t have a “war fund” reserve to bail themselves out.

Now, a third bailout in a $2 trillion package has been passed. I find this interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it also included another half trillion dollars for corporate America as an unregulated slush fund in the hands of the vice president, again with no requirements or oversight. I’m also disturbed that the above mentioned bailout occurred rapidly and apparently without even going through legislation, but the second, designed at least in part for citizens, had to go through Congress with weeks of debate that could only be passed with the slush fund.

Here’s more bad news for corporate America. The benefits that have been resisted by the government and corporations are going to slow down the recovery even after the virus has passed. Here are the missing programs that are going to harm our recovery:

• No universal (single-payer) health insurance means that people without insurance will resist doctor visits when they are ill, testing if they have to pay for it (which they do), and will have prolonged illness because they cannot afford proper treatment. This means that people who don’t know they carry the virus will be out spreading the virus because they have not been properly informed or advised, causing the disease to be around longer than they would if people could go to the doctor.

• Insurance premiums have been increasing. While this means lower cost insurance, it also means that until the premium is actually met, people are paying out of pocket. Now that many Americans are losing income, it becomes difficult to pay these premiums. For all intents and purposes, until the premium is paid, these people are basically uninsured.

• No sick leave (with or without pay) means that many people are losing their jobs rather than being kept by corporate America. These employees are the ones that are already trained, plus they lose their benefits, including those who have health insurance benefits. This means that these even more Americans have no insurance because of layoffs due to shuttered companies. These employees are being laid off because these companies care more about their profits than their people. I have friends arguing that this crisis is not the president’s fault, but it’s not the fault of the employees either. Because of the aforementioned problems, the practice of laying off employees instead of keeping them on sick leave so they can keep their benefits will further extend the time it will take for the nation to get past the virus.

• No PAID sick leave means that even those employees who are on sick leave without pay will be seeking new employment so they can afford to keep up with their bills.

So, what will happen when, finally, the virus threat is over? These corporations, no doubt hoping to rapidly gear back up, will discover that their own “self-regulating” policies will basically prevent this from happening. I predict that they will be surprised at the expense and time required to hire new people to replace all of the employees that they’ve laid off or that they’ve lost because they don’t pay sick leave. The employees they get will have to be trained, which will cost more money, and more time.

Corporate self-regulation is going to hurt our recovery long after the viral threat has gone.

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