Column: This nation needs to help its people more...people who actually need it

Mike Christopherson
Crookston Times

    Can you sense it? Can you feel it?

    COVID is closing in.

    Months ago, when Polk County had its first confirmed case of COVID-19, it was breaking news on the Times' website. Same for the second case, and the third, and the fourth. When the county's first death from COVID was announced, it was breaking news. Same for the second death, and the third, and the fourth.

    In those early days, journalists looking for story material would hop on social media and ask people to respond if they knew someone who had contracted the virus. The responses amounted to barely more than a trickle.

    But, today, for most of us, the protective COVID bubble that insulated us from the virus has popped.

    Several roommates of our college-senior son in Duluth have tested positive recently. The same goes for his girlfriend. Their symptoms – one was asymptomatic – range from  what might mirror a cold or flu, to a lack of taste and smell, to stomach issues and major fatigue and body aches. Somehow, our son as of this writing has not tested positive.

    So we're all supposed to just get it, right? We just have to live our lives, right, and not live in fear? We can’t let COVID-19 dominate us. OK, fine, if that's the way it's going to be, that's the way it's going to be. We'll all just get it and "get it over with," as so many like to say, and many will suffer barely a sniffle. But others will be sick. Others will be very sick. People will fill hospitals and ICUs. People will die. Later on, with this "novel" coronavirus labeled novel because it's new and medical professionals are learning more about it every day, people who thought they cruised through their infection will experience a wide variety of health problems afflicting anything from their heart to their kidneys to their brain, and those maladies will be tied to COVID-19.

    If that’s the strategy, I wish someone would just admit it, so we can finally ditch this two steps forward, two steps fiasco-dance we’re doing every day.

    The best news is that better treatments are being identified every day. If everyone could get the treatment our president got, wouldn't that be something? Maybe within six months or so, an effective, safe vaccine will be available to the masses.

    But until that day comes, our nation needs to show its people and its businesses the money. Developed nations all over the world with less infection rates than the United States are providing consistent financial support to help their people navigate these crazy, ominous times. In the U.S., people got a little more than a grand to last them the entire pandemic, which still has no end date.

    If you Google a combination of words like “U.S. currency” and “Federal Reserve” and “printing money,” your head will be spinning around 90 seconds after you click on a few of your search results and start reading. But what will come through crystal clear is that, since March, the Federal Reserve has printed more money than perhaps it ever has before. It’s legal and constitutional and all of that, and some will even argue it doesn’t necessarily add to our nation’s astronomical debt/deficit.

    But once our greedy politicians got to play middleman, how much of that money has gone to individuals and businesses who actually need it? True, when you see the long list of local and area businesses and agencies and organizations that have received federal CARES Act relief, it’s easy to be impressed and think your government is responsive and that as a taxpayer you’re getting bang for your buck.

    But your government is more responsive to the rich and powerful than it is to those lacking the financial clout to influence the powers-that-be. The rich and powerful who find every possible loophole and use every trick, legal or otherwise, to pay as little, if any, taxes as possible get government support they don’t need, or deserve.

    Our federal government since last spring has printed trillions of dollars of currency, a literal mountain of cash. And you got a $1,200 check, and maybe a boost in unemployment benefits if you became unemployed or under-employed as a result of the pandemic. And if you were underpaid enough at your job to make more money via your unemployment check when you were laid off, furloughed or whatever else, you were called an opportunist, lazy, and a freeloader, or worse.

    This dreaded pandemic has exposed a lot of ugliness, incompetence and inequality in our country, but nothing uglier than our government’s response to its citizens who are guilty of only trying to make a go of it each day for themselves and their loved ones.

Mike Christopherson