The new lockdown-induced poverty

If you deny people the right to provide for themselves, you have a responsibility to provide for them.

Lockdowns are preventing millions from going out and earning a living.  The fact that their jobs may be deemed nonessential doesn’t lessen their need to pay for food, rent and utilities.  There are more serious problems in the world than boredom.

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The U.S. government will provide some minimal relief—one-time-only checks to be mailed to households, extension of unemployment compensation benefits, etc.

But it doesn’t appear as if it will be enough to offset the coming lockdown-triggered recession.  I think a recession would have happened even without a pandemic, but the lockdown will bring it sooner and make it worse.

Deaths and infections from the coronavirus are doubling every few days.  The lockdown is necessary.  A lot of people are going to die in U.S. states who would have lived if their governors had ordered lockdowns sooner.

At the same time, I can understand why those governors hesitated.  The governors who’ve waited longest are, in general, the governors of the poorest states.

Usually, when huge numbers of people suddenly lose their jobs and are plunged into poverty, they take to the streets to protest and strike.

But under lockdown, it’s illegal to take to the streets.  Repressive governments suppress uprisings by, among other things, ordering curfews.  Because of the pandemic, these curfews are already in place.

If a government orders a lockdown, it has a duty to make it possible for everyone, no matter who, to observe the lockdown without fear of hunger or homelessness.

Leaders of some countries realize this.  Others don’t.  The ones that don’t can expect an explosion of mass defiance sooner or later.


Somebody’s Screwing You and It Ain’t China by Caitlin Johnstone.

Location Data Says It All: Staying at Home During Coronavirus Is a Luxury by Jennifer Valention-DeVries, Denise Lu and Gabriel T.X. Dane for the New York Times.

Jobs Aren’t Being Destroyed This Fast Elsewhere – Why Is That? by Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman for the New York Times.

New Inequalities and People-to-People Social Protection by Nora Lustig and Nancy Birdsall for Vox & CEPR Policy Portal.

Services Sector Falls Off Cliff: First Data Points from the Eurozone Where Lockdowns Started Earlier by Wolf Richter for Wolf Street.

‘I just want to go home’: the desperate millions hit by Modi’s brutal lockdown by Hannah Ellis-Peterson and Shaikh Azizur Rahman for The Guardian.

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2 Responses to “The new lockdown-induced poverty”

  1. silverapplequeen Says:

    People can always take to the streets anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    I am very glad to be retired and equally glad my wife is a nurse. She will not be getting laid off. Son works for the Census, got a 2 week paid furlough. Daughter just completed EMT training and her fiance is in construction which is considered essential work. We are pretty well set for now.

    The pandemic will be financed with a huge increase in national debt plus a big surge in inflation. You can’t inject five trillion into the economy any other way. You have to fire up the digital printing presses to create “money” that isn’t backed by any increase in wealth. I think this is far beyond the Fed’s ability to control.

    When inflation does kick in, I’m expecting double digits. Not the hyperinflation of the 30s in Wiemar Germany but 10-20% feels likely. I’m sure you remember the misery index of the 70s oil embargo? Double digit inflation and double digit unemployment.

    Again we’re well set up for it. Our debts are at a very low fixed interest rate. Our assets are diversified and inflation would probably be buffered. But if it weren’t for CA Prop 13 and Prop 101, we could probably be taxed right into the streets. Without some force of law to restrict it, government will always tax the middle and working class while the influential will influence their taxes away.


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