“70% of whatever the wages you were making prior to being unemployed.” -Mark Meadows on what the Republicans in Congress have finally decided is what they can stomach.
Their rationale for not wanting to extend the $600/week? They don’t like that some people have been making more than they could by working.
They “DON’T LIKE IT.” That’s their rationale. So, here we go...
PART 1: Math
Average US unemployment insurance weekly amount: $37
Additional weekly Pandemic Emergency Assistance: $60
Weekly income on this current unemployment insurance: $97
Average Monthly income, therefore: $4,157.14 (weekly, divided by seven, times 30
Average annual income on this relief: $50,578.57
Is that more than I’ve made some years? Hell yes it is.
Is that more than I made last year? Shockingly, no.
Know why? Because I hustled my ass off. Wrote three books, wrote and produced and directed two original children’s musicals, learned and performed in two tourist trap shows, booked and performed a union theatre contract, toured an elementary school show, and filled in the gaps with headshot photography, voice over work, and over a dozen other one-or-two-off jobs (for reference, I worked for more separate and individual entities last year than in any other year of my life; it was in the ballpark of 25 individual employers, mostly 1099’d as an independent contractor).
And you know what I did, even in March as this pandemic was literally killing off my entire industry? I paid my f***ing taxes.
That’s right. I sent the government money. In March. Right around my birthday, in fact, not for nothing.
And now… Now they’ve decided that they “don’t like” that people are potentially making more from the unemployment insurance than they could by working, and they want to “compromise” by giving us “70% of whatever the wages [were] prior to being unemployed.”
Homies, YOU GONNA DO THAT MATH?
And if you are, HOW?
Because, surprise surprise, I’m not the only gig worker in the US. In fact, According to a 2019 Gallup poll, 36% of US workers were involved in the gig economy as of 2017.
THIRTY SIX PERCENT.
And just to drive this home, 42% of young people freelance.
Nearly HALF of folks my age and younger, and over A THIRD of the COUNTRY are working paycheck to paycheck for multiple employers with no fixed salary or wage and the Republicans want the already understaffed, overwhelmed, and unwieldy EDD’s and Social Services across the country to somehow calculate 70% of each of these people’s “wage” from before we were unemployed?
WE. DON’T. HAVE. WAGES. TO. CALCULATE. FROM.
Y’all are behaving like the economy still works the way it did in 1929! Spoiler alert: IT DOESN’T.
Calculating percentages of gig income for over a third of the country’s work force is a mathematical impossibility given the resources we have. Look at Wisconsin! I have friends there who filed for unemployment in April and they still haven’t seen a cent! Here in California, too! I saw a video of a friend weeping when she was finally just APPROVED for her unemployment claim LAST WEEK. IT’S LATE JULY, MOTHERF***ER! She filed in MARCH.
So the Republicans have decided to whine and whinge about “I don’t WANNA let people have enough money to live on” and their solution is to propose providing a percentage of a nonexistent sum for over a third of the people who pay their congressional salary.
Ready for the thesis to this math lesson?
Nonexistent Sum = $0
70% x $0 = ….You ready?… ZERO F***ING DOLLARS.
So, no, McConnell and Meadows. This plan WILL. NOT. WORK.
Okay, PART 2: Ethics
You don’t “like” it?
YOU DON’T “LIKE” IT?
You know what I don’t like? Not being able to even audition or be considered for work because my entire industry is shut down until 2021 at the earliest (and yes, even the Greenhouse Theater Center in Chicago has finally, apparently, cancelled their run of “Judy & Liza” which opened last week and earned them and the actors involved a one-way ticket out of the actors’ union for life).
You know what I don’t like? Not knowing if I’m going to have enough money to pay my rent because I can’t work ANY of the gigs I used to do.
You know what I don’t like? The fact that we’re STILL in lockdown going into MONTH FIVE of this while every country with capable and sound leadership nipped this in the bud back in April or May.
Let’s be very clear about one thing: WE. WOULD NOT. NEED. THE MONEY. IF OUR GOVERNMENTAL LEADERS. HAD DONE. THEIR F***ING. JOBS.
Trump had every opportunity to stop this pandemic from wreaking the havoc it has. He could have said back in January or February, “Shut everything down for four weeks, everyone gets the equivalent of 80% of what they made for that much time in 2019 automatically, and then we’ll evaluate the safety of reopening.” (Gee that sound familiar… Oh yeah, that’s because that’s what New Zealand did and they get to have Summer 2020.)
But that’s not what happened. Instead it took until July 21st for Trump to even acknowledge that wearing a mask will help slow the spread of this thing.
Meanwhile we’re up to 149,000 dead (it was 145,000 the last time I went on one of these rants LAST WEEK, y’all…) and he’s still minimizing the impact that the disease itself is having.
So you want to talk about what you “don’t like”? Quit your jobs. All of you Republicans. Quit. You do not deserve to represent the American people. You are absolute monsters if your rationale for trying to take away our literal only means of survival is that you “don’t like it.”
And on top of all of that, the reason you want everyone to be forced back to work? Because you want the economy to reopen. While the pandemic still rages. So even your reason behind you reason for wanting to take this money away is to threaten our lives. It is FATAL to go back to work. God, look at the pictures of Karen and her friends at brunch while her poor server looks like an extra off the set of Contagion. THAT is what they want for a third of the work force of America. They want us risking our lives so Karen can get her mimosa on a patio. And they’ll kill anyone and everyone they can with absolute impunity via this death by a thousand cuts to our unemployment along the way.
Oh, and just as the cherry to this section: these congresspeople make $174k/year. That’s 3.5x the calculated annual income for anyone collecting the average unemployment benefits right now. If any of us “making more than [we] would by working” is so repulsive to these Republicans, gee, I don’t know… maybe the change doesn’t need to come from the way we’re supporting these hustlers and go-getters, maybe the change needs to be at a foundational level that could shift the distribution of wealth in this country so that $50k/year doesn’t seem like, “HOLY SHIT I’VE NEVER MADE THIS MUCH MONEY NO MATTER HOW MANY 90 HOUR WEEKS I WORK!”
Because that’s not a sustainable economic plan.
PART 3: Conclusion
1. The economy does not function like it did in 1929 with the majority of the work force in 9-to-5 salaried or hourly jobs; over a third of the country works gig to gig and to deny that is to blindly ignore fact and instead, choose to believe (and legislate based on) a fantasy.
2. Republican Congresspeople “not liking” that some people are making more with this assistance than they would by working is not a valid reason to take away the ability of Americans to survive. Period.
3. The problem isn’t that some people are making more on unemployment than they would by working, the problem is that Americans have found it so impossible to even make a living wage in this country that making more on pandemic unemployment is a possibility at all.
Without that additional $600/week, homelessness is going to skyrocket like we’ve never seen (a 45% increase according to a Columbia University study). That’s an additional 250,000 people without permanent shelter. On top of the 568,000 already homeless as of January 2019.
And the pandemic is still creating a new 65,000 cases and 1,000 deaths per day.
And meanwhile, those of us in the performance industry can’t go back to work, even if we’re stupid enough to want to.
So: CALL YOUR REPS.
Call them. You can email, too, but call them. All of the numbers are on my advocacy page and instagram, so it’s super easy to find and do.
Because without this money, at minimum a third of America is absolutely screwed.
P.S. And to you, Madam “Find Something New,” I’m glad to hear you’ve never watched a single minute of television, never listened to a single song, never once turned on the radio or Spotify, and certainly never once set foot inside a theatre or performance venue of any kind. Oh, what? You have? Gee golly, Mrs. First Lady, I didn’t realize you didn’t know that those were actors you were watching…