Convoluted Interconnectedness 4/8/20

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

There are many lessons to be learned in the Coronavirus Crisis. One of the things that I’ve come to realize is the convoluted interconnectedness of the people in our society. There are so many easy solutions that turn out to be far more complicated than we might think.

Earlier I posted a blog suggesting that I have no compassion for large corporations, the ones largely benefiting from the trillions of dollars in relief so far (one and a half trillion was rapidly sent out to “support” the failing stock market, and the first Congressional passed support bill included another half trillion for corporations as a “slush fund”). These corporations should have sufficient saved resources to weather storms like this (AND continue paying employees laid off because of it). I feel as if the politicians trying to help “save” these corporations while criticizing citizens for not saving enough as hypocritical and particularly heartless. Today’s post, however, really is not meant to address these corporations. Frankly, if they need money, I feel like they should be selling the stocks they’ve been buying back from previous economic giveaways and incentives for the purpose of increasing profits.

But it’s important to remember that there are many small business owners who don’t have the size to easily weather this storm. For example, I have several friends who are landlords, but on small scales. The Trump organization is a landlord corporation on a different scale. This organization has many properties and claims to have millions of dollars of value, and I’m sure is eligible for loans to help them get through this problem even if they don’t get any governmental handouts (which I’m sure they do).

The impetus for this blog is a meme I saw on a social media site suggesting that unless rent is suspended, money from the government to citizens to help with the crisis is just support for landlords. I reposted this meme, in a rather tone-deaf manner I must admit, because I have several friends who are, or have been, landlords. Unlike a mega corporation, these are small scale landlords who actually do care about their tenants and properties, but they’ve always had very few (no more than three and usually less) properties. Whether people pay rent or not, these individuals are responsible for bills (such as electric, sewage, taxes and so forth) and upkeep. Even if they can make repairs themselves (meaning they don’t have to bring is specialists such as plumbers or electricians), they still have to pay for parts.

So, we have an interesting situation here. Citizens should be getting up to $1,200 to help out with bills (although I’ll be getting less). This is based on the federal minimum wage (currently set at $7.25) monthly wage. Oh, sometimes it would be a little more or a little less since the number of days can fluctuate from month to month, but this is about what is made by people on minimum wage. Recently, there have been many news outlets that have done studies and written stories about how minimum wage is not enough to pay for an apartment anywhere in the nation.

So we have a problem. The “relief” from the government is minimum wage, which is not enough to pay for rent in most places, but small rental property owners can’t afford to give up their rent. What do we do?

This is another effect of economic inequity. It seems as if every effort to raise the federal minimum wage has met with insurmountable opposition. Large corporations tend to fight these movements claiming the economic harm that would be created because of the profit loss in their companies, while their CEO’s salaries and end of year bonuses increase without limit. Today the difference in pay between the lowest paid full-time employees and the CEO’s is larger than it has ever been in history. In the meantime, inflation continues to march on. Rent increases, utilities increase, gas increases, goods such as clothes and food increases, and those working minimum wage has been the same since 2009. Rent has gone up as the cost of maintaining properties has increased, but for eleven years, income for many people has remained stagnant.

I wish nobody hardship, but I am hoping that people who have been opposed to federal minimum wage increase will see the problems faced by these workers. Ironically, many of these people making minimum wage are deemed “essential”; fast food workers, grocery store workers, public transportation workers and so on are also the ones making minimum wage. Unfortunately, many people will not be able to pay rent based on what they will be getting from the stimulus package, which in turn will hurt the property owners. Because we are all connected.

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