The Rich vs. The Poor in the Fight Against Coronavirus
Income inequality is becoming even more of a sore spot as COVID-19 wreaks havoc on the economy and jobs, effectively wiping the slate and putting us all back in the recession from a decade ago. Many who were living paycheck to paycheck are hovering over a bank account login desperately waiting for a stimulus check or and unemployment check to pay their bills. The rich, on the other hand, have overwhelmingly been unaffected, though they are not immune to the virus. In population dense cities like New York, areas such as Queens have disproportionate number of positive case in a cramped immigrant community, while the rich are fleeing New York altogether to go to summer homes.
The wealthy are not immune to the virus (see Tom Hanks or Prince Charles), but just the privilege of being able to self-isolate puts them at an advantage in fighting the virus. Many paycheck to paycheck employees are working in hospitality still and are being exposed to the public daily with little to no protective gear. Meanwhile, a few of the very wealthy have procured ventilators and drugs such as hydroxychloroquine–currently under analysis for its potential benefits–while the states themselves are still struggling to provide ventilators for those who are actually sick and actually need them.
Even the economic impacts of the virus are hitting the rich a little differently. The stimulus package that Congress passed has some specific language that will benefit the very rich. A clause in the bill allows commercial real estate developers to offset paper losses from the depreciation of their buildings against taxes on profits from other investments like the stock market. A New York Times report says the estimated cost of the change over 10 years is $170 billion.
It’s impossible to know how the virus will affect the poor and the rich in the long term, whether it be financially or physically, but for now there are stark differences that are increasingly frustrating to those who were not born with money.