Mathias' Blog

Occasional musings and technical posts…

28 Mar 2020

Life's Not Fair -- Being Thankful in the Time of COVID-19

That’s not fair!

Last night the huge $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill was finally signed into law. As has been extensively covered the past week, part of this bill includes direct cash payments to most Americans. Free money, cool! But, as details came out, I realized that I won’t be receiving any of that cool cash, and my first reaction was “that’s not fair!”

After a little bit of thought and reflection, my second reaction was “that’s not fair, but I have no standing to complain.” As countless parents have told their children, “life isn’t fair”, and that’s not always a bad thing. I am doing well, and as the United States is really starting to be impacted by COVID-19, I am thankful to be in a very secure position:

  • I am still receiving my normal, regular paycheck from $DAYJOB. I have job security, work that I can be performing remotely, and am not in danger of being laid off or furloughed. If worst comes to worst, I’ve got tons of sick time and vacation I can charge. Unlike so many others, I am not suddenly looking at a lack of income.
  • Additionally, I have plenty of money in savings, and could comfortably live for a couple of months with no additional income. This is exactly what emergency funds are for, and provides as a huge source of mental comfort. For so many Americans even being able to have one month’s worth of expenses saved up is such a huge challenge, and I am well beyond that.
  • I’m generally healthy, and not in any of the higher risk categories. I’ve also seen a few tables of mortality rates by age group and it’s practically zero for me. (I can’t find a reliable source to cite, so I’m not linking to any of those tables here.) That being said, I am staying home as much as possible, as I don’t want to accidentally catch the virus and then pass it on to others at higher risk without realizing it.
  • With technology today, it’s easier than ever to stay in contact with people while remaining home. And, working from home is allowing me to check in on several of the local amateur radio nets each day, which is kind of fun to be able to do. If worst comes to worst, I’ll still be able to communicate with the wider world with my ham radio license, using nothing more than solar and battery power.

While it would be nice to get $1,200, the amount of critical aid it would provide me is significantly less than it might give to someone who no longer has a paycheck coming or doesn’t have an emergency savings fund for whatever reason. If we have to choose who to help, it should be those who can most benefit by the assistance. We can’t just look at the absolute value of money when making decisions like this, but need to consider how much impact it will make on those who receive the money. (This is also why I’m in favor of higher taxes for the very rich, as the impact of higher taxes will have significantly less impact on them than on those who are at the other extreme.)

So, life isn’t always fair, and that’s not always a bad thing. If you’re better off than your neighbor, especially in this time of crisis, give them some help. Keep calm, stay safe, and stay home! Lastly, because this is the Internet, here is the requisite cat picture of Beruthiel looking cute:

Beruthiel looking cute

Beruthiel looking cute