We could be following the lead of countries like Germany, which has created a short-term government work program for which a half-million companies have already signed up their employees. Or the United Kingdom, which is paying 80% of freelance workers’ incomes as well as most salaries for companies that retain their workers. Japan is paying up to half the cost of domestic travel and handing out coupons for tourist locations, while Australia is looking to younger workers by aiming to preserve 120,000 apprentice jobs. Switzerland is fast-tracking relief for small businesses hit hard by the pandemic so they don’t have to navigate a labyrinthian bureaucracy or wait weeks to get an infusion of liquidity.
Meanwhile, here in the US, our “small business” lending program has been looted by huge corporations, and hobbled by cronyism. Minority business owners are being almost entirely shut out. And every day we’re greeted with headlines like, “As Hunger Swells, Food Stamps Become a Partisan Flash Point” and “USDA Let Millions of Pounds of Food Rot While Food-bank Demand Soared.”
Recruiting a cadre of hundreds of thousands of young workers to conduct contact tracing would actually be a game changer in short-circuiting the current COVID-19 outbreak and limiting future outbreaks. On the economic side of the coin, experts say that a significant increase in disease surveillance capacity is key to restarting the economy safely in conjunction with testing, which the regime has failed to ramp up with any sense of urgency.