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Taking stock of Thanksgiving
Every year, my Mexican family chokes on a roast turkey in mole sauce, a famous Puebla-style dish suitable for our American Thanksgiving. We gather around our table, thanking for our livelihood, the food on our table, and for some, the resilient immune system that struggles under the weight of chronic health issues and meager health care.
Many of my family have been frontline workers during the pandemic, most of them suffering the financial losses from unpaid sick days when they contracted COVID-19. Federal and state pandemic relief provided a brief respite, but premiums paid and other temporary supports have almost entirely disappeared.
Like thousands of North Carolinians, they find themselves with the structural problems that have always existed: a deficit in health insurance coverage that engulfs them entire and harmful working conditions now exacerbated by disrupted supply chains.
What they need – what we all need – is bold and transformative public policy that overthrows our broken systems and delivers affordable, quality health care and safe working conditions with adequate workplace supports like time off. paid family and universal child care.
Some of these proposals are the subject of federal negotiations. After months of back-and-forth, the Build Back Better plan, which promises one-time investments in a generation in early childhood education and beyond, finally passed in the United States House – not 24 hours later our governor signed the law the first comprehensive state budget in three years.
There are a lot of milestones to be thankful for this year, but there are also a lot of losses to mourn. The biggest loss for us, it seems, is the failure of our policymakers to expand our state Medicaid program to serve thousands of other low-income residents who bear the scars of unemployment and d ‘prolonged underemployment, and decades of unmet health needs. The consequences probably shortened their lives.
We have been fighting for affordable health care for those in desperate need for a decade, and we are not giving up. In a few days, I’ll be holding the hands of my loved ones as we walk around the table and talk about what we’re grateful for. I’m grateful for a lot of things, but most of all I’m grateful that they’re still around. They are still with us, so I continue.
Victoria Crouse, Raleigh
Project Director, NC Kids Count
It’s time to reexamine the wealth gap in the United States
There is a lot of talk these days about people who don’t want to work, and some blame unemployment benefits. In 2010, Charles Wheelan speculated in “Naked Economics” that “ethics aside,” the downside to a huge wealth gap could be that it ceases to motivate us to work.
Here we are, about a decade later, where the wealth gap is even bigger, watching ‘billionaire boys’ take off into space, wondering why low-skilled workers don’t want jobs that don’t. not offer enough to live on. And I wonder why NC schools do not find enough staff.
Are we finally at the point where the wealth gap no longer makes Americans believe that anyone can make the fantasy of fabulous wealth come true? Instead, could the wealth gap render essential work in vain?
For a stunning summary of the growth in inequality since the pandemic, see NC Policy Watch Director Rob Schofield November 15 “Monday numbers”.
To see how bad it was already in January 2020, watch the Tony Dokoupil video of CBS challenging Americans to share a pie to demonstrate the distribution of wealth. Spoiler alert: top 20% get nine out of 10 coins. Dokoupil’s experience shows that Americans vastly underestimate the disparities, even though the lack of enthusiasm for low-wage work suggests it is being felt.
Let’s not leave “ethics” aside. For a long time, the redistribution of wealth served as a scarecrow for the anti-social spending movement. It’s time to challenge the myth that the rich get richer for themselves. In fact, there is a deep well of human capital to which our billionaire boys have almost tax-free access, and they should be paying their fair share for it.
It is both wise and right to rethink how wealth is distributed in our society and what we can do about it.
Amy Marschall, Raleigh