Depending upon your circumstances, two glaring problems are associated with the Economic Impact Payments, also known as the Stimulus Checks. People gripe all the time about sending money “to” the government, so why should we be carping now about this reversal of fortune? Money “from” the IRS? What’s not to like?
First, for many millions of families, in what we can call Group A, $600 falls woefully short of meeting the basic needs of food, shelter, and medical care, all endangered by the catastrophic downturn brought on by the pandemic. $600 does not even qualify as a “down payment on more to come,” the blithe expression of many a smiling lawmaker. Let’s be clear: $600 is a flat out insult and people in dire economic straights have said as much.
From another point of view, the Stimulus Checks, believe it or not, provide too much money. For sure, any money getting “out there” and spent, does in fact help fuel our consumption economy and bring about a measure of prosperity. But, for another many millions of families, which we can call Group B, $600 is a relative trifling amount that could be used for an enhanced vacation or some other non-essential luxury.
The Economic Impact Payments were doled out equally to all qualified Americans regardless of need—a supreme injustice that so many of us have in our power to mitigate until another more substantial round of stimulus is implemented.
One simple solution, therefore, is readily apparent. Whether they are inclined to do so, the many millions in Group B could give away this “pittance” of found money to those in Group A either directly to someone they know in their community, or indirectly to an organization that will get the job done.
As someone in Group B, I daydreamed throughout December about how I could put that $600 to best use knowing full well that in good conscience I could not keep the money when so many in my community were suffering. What if—I thought—scores, or hundreds, of people like me, would pool their efforts and send huge amounts to organizations that are doing outstanding work for our neighbors who happen to be down on their luck?
I personally chose to give my $600 to A Single Bite, whose expanded mission now includes “Neighbors Feeding Neighbors” in Sullivan County. In the words of Kirsten Harlow Foster, a Homestead Mom and co-head of A Single Bite along with her husband, Sims,
“We are at an important juncture at A Single Bite and hope that others understand that the urgency surrounding food insecurity remains strong. Sadly, the demand for meals has not let up and in fact we continue to see more people reaching out in need.”
As I told Kirsten, I do not view my contribution as an extraordinarily generous gesture, but rather one that I feel duty-bound to make. I hope others, many others, will feel the same way and will consider a contribution to A Single Bite (asinglebite.org) or other caring organizations.
—Pete Comstock, Jan. 13, 2021