Giving to those most in need
By Shanti Argue
In the last month, millions of Americans have lost jobs, been furloughed, or seen their customers disappear into social distancing. The ripple effects of this are being felt throughout the economy, and the fastest way congress can address the shortages is a supplemental check to millions of Americans regardless of their job status.
This makes total sense – things have changed so suddenly that verifying people’s incomes and job status would waste precious time. The fastest way to get money to people who need it is by giving money to everyone, because many people have seen their income evaporate overnight, especially small business owners.
But there are some households who have been less impacted, either because their jobs are critical (health care, emergency workers, grocery suppliers, delivery drivers, child care, etc.) or they are able to work remotely (technology, government, legal, business, etc.) who will also receive these unexpected windfalls.
My family happens to be one of those. Although our retirement accounts look ugly due to the recent stock market down turn, our income has remained steady and we know we have been more fortunate than most: we are healthy, we have money to buy what we need to make it through these trying days at home, retirement is still a long way off, and we have faith that things will recover.
For us, and many others, this unexpected government check will be a bonus rather than a rescue. We already feel so fortunate just to be “safe” physically and financially that we feel morally compelled to redistribute our check to those in need.
Paying it Forward
Our family is embracing this opportunity to “pay it forward” by compiling a list of valuable people and industries that are hurting from social distancing. From the obvious: the local food shelves, churches, and restaurants and breweries, to the less obvious: musicians, artists, hairstylists and dog walkers.
The zoo. The science museum. Art museums. The orchestra. Theaters. Many nonprofits have seen their fundraisers cancelled, ticket sales and entrance fees are non-existent, and their staff (who already work for less than they deserve) might not get paid.
Just compiling the list is an exercise in gratitude. There are so many millions of Americans out there contributing great things to our economy and our culture!
Once we get our check, we will decide which organizations to donate to and take great joy in redistributing the stimulus.
Better to Give than to Receive
To others out there who have financial security but will be getting checks anyway – I implore you! The purpose is not to pad your bank account – it is to stimulate our faltering economy! For the good of our country, for the sake of your community – if you can afford to re-gift your government check – give it away!
Don’t worry if you need to keep your check – that’s what it is for! There is no shame in buying groceries and paying rent. Today’s circumstances are totally unprecedented and many people have been economically sidelined and this check won’t even be enough.
But if you have enough, it truly is better to give than to receive. You will get more value out of strengthening your community than you would from keeping this “extra” to yourself. Even the act of identifying meaningful recipients is a gift in and of itself. Working together, we can ensure that our communities emerge from this disaster intact.
Shanti Argue is a reader, writer and mom who can’t imagine a better place than Rochester to raise a family.