Thu. Jun 4th, 2020

#CoronaChronicles: Realizing Financial Ramifications

Columnist Kasy Heath begins the #CoronaChronicles series by discussing her personal financial struggles

Never in a million years did I think that, at 23 years old, I’d be filing an unemployment insurance claim for a server gig. Yet, that’s what I did last week; after three days of being repeatedly kicked off the website from it crashing from the influx of applications, and four hours of trying to get someone on the phone before I was hung up on.

I’m approved now, but the benefits haven’t set in yet, and the amount that I’m getting leaves me several hundred dollars short on my bills. Rent and utilities, of course, are first and foremost for the cash that I do have, but health insurance, car insurance, car note, groceries, phone bill and credit card payments were, until recently, up in the air. I was in a position where some bills weren’t going to get paid, and my pantry would more than likely not be filled enough to last me and my fiancé the recommended two weeks.

At what point would not paying my car insurance get my registration revoked? How long do I have to forgo my car payment before they take my beloved teal Prius that I nicknamed “Squirtle”? How much is the interest rate and late fee on this or that credit card? How many people in my friends and family circle have iPhones and I can just use my Wi-Fi to get in touch with them without paying my phone bill? How forgiving is our landlord if cash runs out?

Currently, state and local municipalities are doing their own thing. Meanwhile, the federal government is acting 50% laissez-faire (get these hospitals around the country some damn ventilators and masks, now, President Donald Trump), 50% informed about the gravity of the situation and 100% taking too long to make these decisions — especially if they want the public to actually adhere to them. I have lost complete certainty of my future.

F****** terrifying doesn’t accurately communicate the anxiety of going homeless, losing my car or ruining my already-iffy credit.

Luckily, this wonderful institution practiced the “Pro- Humanitate” that they’ve been preaching — they’re currently helping me in the most vulnerable financial position I’ve been in since I’ve moved out and handled all of my own bills. I’ll forever be grateful for Wake Forest coming through for me, but very few people have such help afforded to them.

Millions of others are having to ask themselves the same aforementioned questions, and are even more terrified than me if they don’t have a significant other to share bills with, have children and/or expenses that exceed mine with no job and no immediate funds to tap into.

What this pandemic is ultimately doing is showing just how heartless these politicians can really be.

I’ll forever be grateful for Wake Forest coming through for me, but very few people have such help afforded to them.

While some local and state governments have stepped it up with relaxing unemployment benefits, are getting creative with how to keep their healthcare systems functioning for the moment and putting moratoriums on evictions/foreclosures/utility shut offs and other measures, there are other local leaders who are still allowing people to be evicted, still letting people get their water and lights cut off, refusing to shutdown their areas to mitigate the virus and are being the biggest a**holes of the 21st century.

I identify as a Democratic-leaning Independent, and I thank God that Democrats blocked the Senate Republican Bill twice, because it would’ve left too many poor Americans in the cold, and would have given too much wiggle-room for big corporations to resume their screwing over of workers who work way harder than corporate executives, but receive a fraction of the pay, no benefits and no paid leave to protect them.

All I’ve heard from conservative politicians as far as “helping” Americans is economy, economy and economy. Economics are important, yes, but right now we should be more focused on humanity, humanity, humanity. If we were focused on the social experience, there wouldn’t have been a problem with expanding food stamps, Medicaid, weekly unemployment benefits on top of state employment and other government programs.

The grimmest part is that, even with new provisions that entail more money in the pockets of those who struggle the most, it still won’t be enough. Why? Because the federal government more than likely won’t learn from this. After thing’s blow over, they’ll resume neglecting the same Americans who’ve been most vulnerable, some of which voted them in office in the first place.

I’m not done speaking on the government’s handling of the coronavirus, but I’ve reached my word limit. I’ll resume the scrutiny next week for #CoronaChronicles.