We can provide paid sick leave and universal healthcare and take care of everyone in times of crisis. But just where we direct our abundance of resources will always be a political choice.
As the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues, please remember that the United States remains the richest country on Earth. We have an abundance of resources. We can provide paid sick leave and universal healthcare and take care of everyone in times of crisis.

But just where we direct our abundance of resources will always be a political choice. We can’t afford to forget that, especially not when we have some elected leaders, the very people responsible for leading the way forward, choosing instead to personally profit.

Fortunately, we have plenty of historical examples and bold new ideas to help guide us and ensure we bail out people, not the rich and corporations they run. More on those ideas in this week’s issue. We hope you're taking care and staying safe!

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies Inequality.org team
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restaurant worker
Where We’re Looking to Give in Times of Crisis
Coronavirus may have upended all of our lives, but the economic effects of social distancing have had a particularly strong impact on many workers already vulnerable to the cruelty of our American economic order. Fortunately, many of our longtime allies — from restaurant workers to caregivers — have been organizing since pandemic day one to help mitigate the inequalities so many of us face. We’ve highlighted a few of the actions you can take to support people now taking an economic hit.
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headshot of Steven Mnuchin
A Bailout by Any Other Name Would Still...Stink!
If U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has his way, he’s been insisting all this month, the coronavirus relief package that gets through Congress will not include a single dollar for corporate bailouts. But what about that $50 billion that Mnuchin is asking Congress to approve for the airline industry and those billions more he wants for “severely distressed sectors” like casinos and cruise ships? None of these proposed outlays, says Mnuchin, would amount to a “bailout.” The Trump administration, he told Congress two weeks ago, merely wants to start “providing certain things for certain industries.” Mnuchin, a veteran Wall Street investment banker, made the same no-“bailout” claim last week to a closed-door meeting of Senate Republicans. Then what should senators, asked one of the lawmakers, call the billions the White House wants for Boeing and other reeling corporations? “Freedom payments”? Much laughter, the Washington Post reports, promptly ensued.


man in suit with dollar sign in his hand
We Can Have CEO Pay Bailout Conditions with Bite
Corporate bailouts have become a key sticking point in the stormy Capitol Hill fight over the multi-trillion-dollar virus stimulus. If any financial aid does flow to the airlines and other distressed corporations, the top priority must be protecting their workers by banning layoffs, pay cuts, and rights violations. We also need to protect taxpayers from having to subsidize excessive executive pay. The Republican approach to CEO pay at bailed-out firms essentially amounts to a joke. The GOP plan would merely ban raises for two years. CEOs who made $10 million in 2019 could earn $10 million in both 2020 and 2021. House Democrats are demanding stronger restrictions, including a cap on airline CEO compensation of no more than 50 times median worker pay. Sarah Anderson has more.
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Franklin Delano Roosevelt headshot
How to Wage War, FDR-Style, on Our Pandemic
The United States, Donald Trump is now proclaiming, stands at “war.” We are facing, in the coronavirus, “an invisible enemy” that could claim the lives of more Americans than every shooting war America has ever fought. But that terrible toll need not be inevitable, public health officials remind us, if we all sacrifice for the common good. In 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt faced the same basic challenge as we do today. To overcome the fascist forces aligned globally against us, FDR understood, the American people were going to have to sacrifice as never before. That sacrifice, FDR also understood, would have to be shared. The war’s burden, he believed, had to be “equitably distributed” to ensure that “a few do not gain from the sacrifices of the many.” FDR met his challenge. Will we meet ours? Inequality.org co-editor Sam Pizzigati has more.
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This week on Inequality.org 

Ericka Taylor, Not This Time: Watch out for Wall Street in a Pandemic. Back during the Great Recession, we bailed out Wall Street. This time, we need to make sure the bailout serves the rest of us.

Omar Ocampo, Should Zoom Be a Public Utility? Online platforms like Zoom and Skype have become basic public necessities as our lives are upended by the coronavirus. Should they be nationalized?

Basav Sen, Five Ways Using Stimulus Funds for Energy Efficiency Would Reduce Inequality and Protect the Planet. An economic rescue package must include a nationwide initiative to retrofit homes and public buildings for low-income and people of color families and communities.

Brian Wakamo, The Government Needs to Act Now to Save Lives — and Build a More Equal System. Medical supplies are disproportionately available to the wealthy. To fix these inequities, we need an immediate, massive, humanitarian response to coronavirus from the federal government.

Robin Carver, In a Pandemic, Service Workers Need Paid Sick Leave —Now. It’s well past time we joined the civilized world by giving workers federally mandated, paid sick leave. Our health and our lives depend on it.

Elsewhere on the Web

Jan-Werner Müller, We Must Help One Another or Die, New York Times. Things change when you realize that no gated community can keep a virus out.

Ken-Hou Lin and Megan Neely, We are entering a recession — but what did we learn from the last one? The Conversation. Government can either decide to continue the “trickle-down” approach to first protect banks and corporations or can learn from the New Deal and provide support directly to the most fragile communities.

Polly Mosendz and Andres Martinez, Fleeing to Hamptons, Buying Beans: NYC Virus Fears Trace Wealth Gap, Bloomberg. People with money can afford to spend on their wildest fears.

Bryan O'Malley and Michael Kink, Taxing the Rich Can Help New York Fight Coronavirus, City Limits. It doesn’t take courage to move forward with popular policies that will benefit and protect all of us. It takes political will.

Corbin Smith, An MVP Act of Charity Exposes Billionaire NBA Owners’ Coronavirus Greed, Daily Beast. In a crisis, we let as many rich people as possible step up to the microphone and talk about everything they’re doing (up to paying their fair share in taxes) to fix our problems.

Roger Harrabin, Climate change: The rich are to blame, international study finds, BBC. Only by changing the vastly unequal distribution of energy to provide a decent life for everyone will we protect our global climate and ecosystems.

Mark O’Connell, Real estate for the apocalypse: my journey into a survival bunker, Guardian. The booming business of doomsday luxury accommodation.

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