As I write this column, there have been over 3 million cases and 132,000 Coronavirus deaths in the United States. Who could have imagined!
Every day it becomes more and more clear that the federal government is simply going to have to come up with a lot of money soon, in the form of bailout, stimulus, loan, and aid packages, in order to get the economy and the country back on track. It’s not a political thing, its basic financial facts and reality.
The list of people and entities is far too long, but the ones that come first to my mind are people who can’t pay their rent, mortgages or other necessary living expenses; and state and local governments, that are so deeply in the red that it is scary, with reduced income and sales taxes, but higher operating costs. These governments are already reducing services and they are laying off employees, some of whom we would all agree are “essential.” Then there are hospitals that too have lost revenues, but also have increased, skyrocketing costs, because of the virus, and some rural ones that are already closing.
Then there are the K-12 schools, that everyone wants open, but are already looking at less state aid, and, under any reopening plan, will incur many more “safety” expenses. Where is that money going to come from, if not the federal government?
I haven’t even reached the business, especially small ma-and-pa businesses, child care centers, arts programs and venues, and the numerous other cultural, wildlife, and educational entities.
I know that I keep bringing up the national debt, and who will eventually have to pay more taxes to get it under control, but, as I have said, this wasn’t a self-inflicted problem that we caused by what some would say was overspending and living above our national means. Congress comes back on July 20, and then leaves again from August 10 to Sept. 7. I hope that they will address all of these needs. Again, it is not political at this point, it is an economic reality, and it might help me end all of my Coronavirus dreams where I can’t help but see the dollar signs that go along with these needs — $$$$.
On a different subject, the Governor cancelled the New York State Fair, which has grown dramatically over the last several years, and was even going to have more days this year. This will result in yet another severe economic hit to Central New York, the state and the vendors. I guess I will have to do without my deep-fried Oreos fix, which should make my wife happy.
On another subject that we have been tracking, the 30-year home mortgage rate fell to 3.07%, yet another all-time low since 1971, and the 15-year rate fell to 2.56%. As we have discussed, there are differing opinions as to whether a difference in rates of between 1% to 2% makes refinancing viable, but if you are thinking of refinancing or purchasing, now is the time to do some math and get some good advice as to whether to move forward.
This has nothing to do with finances, unless, as an advertiser, you have to pay more for it, but I swear that television commercials are getting louder and louder these days. It is noticeable, even to me, who is getting older, and whose hearing is not supposed to be as good. On the other hand, I just may be watching too much television. There may be hope. According to rd.com, some televisions in Japan come with built-in technology that automatically balances sound levels. In the meantime, hold onto the remote when it’s commercial time.
On yet another subject that got my attention: During this pandemic, a number of those who do naturalization ceremonies for new United State citizens are doing drive-through ceremonies. Naturalizing new citizens was one of the most rewarding things that I was honored to be able to do when I was on the bench. The stories of so many of the new citizens that I spoke with after the ceremonies were great examples of the American Dream. They had worked hard in their new country, been very much in control of their personal finances, and had often started small businesses that they were so proud of, as they were proud to be new citizens. I continue to be awed by all of the creative solutions that people are coming up with in these difficult times.
Speaking of economic winners and losers even in these difficult times, cbsnews.com had a report on how the previously struggling plexiglass industry has seen a 30-fold increase in orders. One company that makes a patented cubicle wall extender said that sales have soared 3,000% since March.
On a final subject — that I include not for any political, social, or cultural purpose, but as yet another example of creative thinking, whether you agree with it or you don’t; and how there can be economic winners and losers, even in the most terrible of situations, like our pandemic — there is the story of Newton Falls, Ohio. On July 4, the City Manager signed a proclamation designating the city a “Statuary Sanctuary City”, for statutes of figures that include Columbus, Lincoln and Washington, but not any Confederate figures. I actually heard the City Manager interviewed on the radio. He was very much about opportunity/economic development, not at all political, or even prankish. Who knows if the offer to take any unwanted statutes will ever have any takers, but there are a lot of people who now know that Newton Falls, Ohio exists.
John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous weekly columns at http://www.mpnnow.com/search?text=Ninfo or at http://www.monroecopost.com/search?text=Ninfo.