- Current U.S. debt is $22 trillion, the highest it has ever been (Pew Research Center, 2019).
- The U.S. Internal Revenue Service collected nearly $3.5 trillion in 2018 (IRS, 2020).
- The current U.S. spending plan is $4.8 trillion in 2021 (govinfo.gov, 2020).
Reading this information about our government income and spending, I am confounded. Can someone please tell me how and where we will get one trillion dollars to pass out to families during this Covid-19 crisis? And, if we can manage to obtain an extra trillion dollars, why haven’t we used it to support the poor and disadvantaged before now?
Long before Covid-19 entered our vocabulary, our country has been in dire circumstances meriting crisis management. Consider just a bit of the evidence:
- The housing market in many cities has priced its citizens out of basic shelter. More than half a million people in the U.S. are homeless (Council of Economic Advisers, 2019).
- Our public-school systems are failing at an alarming rate. Many of our public-school teachers work in dangerous conditions, with large class numbers and outdated facilities and materials.
- Many Americans cannot afford proper healthcare. Our hospitals and clinic are not equipped for national health emergencies.
- Our society imprisons more people than any other country. Many investigations reveal appalling conditions in both federal and state prisons.
- After China, the U.S. pollutes more than any other country in the world (epa.gov). We are not moving fast enough to address climate change.
Our country struggles with all of these problems, and on top of that, we’re $22 trillion in debt. In 2019, our government spent $393.5 billion in paying interest (pewresearch.org). Imagine the good we could have done with those billions!
As Covid-19 is proving, we are fully capable of making dramatic changes to our way of life. It’s not that we can’t fix our national debt and social problems; it’s that we choose not to. We could provide jobs that stimulate our economy. We could provide better educational and healthcare systems. But we don’t do it because our country’s influencers have other priorities.
We are talking these days about flattening the Covid-19 curve by changing our habits and controlling our behaviors. The deadlier virus in America is wealth inequality. Now is the time to flatten that curve, especially now that we see how our society can make drastic changes when we put our mind to it.
We all have time on our hands as we work to flatten the Covid-19 curve; consider spending some of that time figuring out ways our nation can flatten the wealth inequality curve. I’d recommend the following books, among others:
- The Problem of Wealth: A Christian Response to a Culture of Affluence, by Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty
- Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance, by Edgar Villanueva
- Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, by Anand Giridharadas
- Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins, by Miguel A. De La Torre
Send me a note if you know of reading material or a podcast that would help us to flatten the economic curve. I’ll do my best to share your suggestions with women across the nation.
We change our world by speaking truth to power and challenging each other to read and study our nation’s pressing issues for ourselves. We need to stop listening to pundits paid to give a slant and ask God for discerning hearts and minds. We need to pray for the strength to act.