The current economic status of Americans is both confusing and depressing to view from the inside or the outside. We have companies that have retooled their machines to make much-needed supplies. While they bask in Lady Fortune’s nod, our smaller businesses that sell boutique items manufactured elsewhere will be shuttered for the near or far future. Small towns, small businesses, and the little guy are all being affected by COVID-19 in different yet similar ways. The Pay-to-Play stimulus deals aren’t as far-reaching nor fairly distributed which will have the longest and deepest impact on our economy. The college economy isn’t just mom and dad’s responsibility, it’s a vital part of our normal capitalism which is being ignored.
College kids deemed dependents of their parents didn’t receive stimulus checks even though there are 76 million of them. It sounds crazy to think that we have denied nearly 76 million shoppers, credit card holders, renters, and workers, yes let’s stress workers, their economic recovery. Though these “kids” are claimed by their parents, they still lost jobs, their homes as schools shuttered and went online while their ability to pay their own bills was lost in the system. Credit card companies will be the ones to suffer the “imbalance act” since 56% of college kids had credit card debt, that’s nearly 43 million customers that won’t be making their monthly payments. Remember the credit debacle of the Great Recession when people stopped paying. That is about to repeat itself.
Let’s not forget all the property owners whose renters abruptly left the building as college kids were ushered home for everyone’s safety. Just as an example the Hyde Park and Lincoln Park areas of Chicago are home to some of the highest property rental rates and they’ve become ghost towns. These rents are high since 4 college kids will split a two-bedroom apartment with a $2000 a month rate. Since the economy is staggering who will replace these high renters? Property owners can attest to the value of making sure college kids are an intricate piece of a vital economy.
College towns are good for comedies such as Neighbors and Animal House but they’re also a real place with a real economy. As an example, Michigan’s three largest college towns generate over $18 billion into the state’s economy while Penn State and it’s brethren universities generated over $6 billion. From small breweries that have populated college towns to local mom and pop diners, they are all economically devastated. At least 20% of their business customers are directly from universities. These small businesses are being unfairly denied the Corona loans as larger companies ate up the funds within minutes. It’s not just that these businesses are hurting since all economic activity has stopped except in Big Box stores but their futures are definitely different. You figure these businesses no longer have the population that can return when stay-at-home orders are lifted. They will lose at least two months of their annual customers plus the summertime and then what will enrollment be like in the Fall? If mom and dad don’t have jobs to return to then who pays the tuition? If universities aren’t granted funding for their losses this year since they must refund housing, meal plans, and other fees will college towns really recover?
Generally, we all lose something in an economic downturn, possibly the second Great Recession in our short, short new century. But this is going to be very different for some than others. College kids should be a part of the next stimulus since they are an integral part of the Pay-to-Play system. Their paychecks are taxed without receiving refunds each year like the rest of the adults. They have bills to pay and lives to live to encourage economic machination for the next decades. If they were to receive the funding they could have stayed in those little college towns and paid rent and went back to businesses. Yes, for our safety almost everyone went home, but they didn’t need to go home empty-handed. Spread the wealth in a balanced manner so everyone not only is #AloneTogether but succeeds together in the aftermath of COVID-19.
Coming in May 2020, We The People: Policy For Progress my first published collection of political solutions for the people. Look for it in the Kindle Bookstore.
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