The debate over rising inequalities between the haves and the have-nots in the US has been ignited once again by personal-finance guru, author, and radio host Dave Ramsey arguing against the stimulus checks proposed by President Joe Biden and saying, “If $600 or $1,400 changes your life, you were pretty much screwed already.”
Instead of stimulus checks of $600 or $1400 for meeting ongoing expenses, Ramsey favors a $1000 emergency fund. He likened the stimulus to “peeing on a forest fire,” perhaps meaning that the money will be spent without making a dent in the underlying problem. His supporters concur with his view that the focus should be on fixing the underlying financial weaknesses.
With many Americans already precariously placed financially, even before Covid-19 had even reared its head, his remarks appear to have caused widespread outrage with the “contempt and disdain” for strugglers, that seems to drip from his remarks. An Economic Well-Being Report of the Federal Reserve Board in 2018 found four in ten Americans, not in a position to cover a $400 emergency expense. On similar lines, a CNN reports the same year found that one in four Americans had no emergency fund whatsoever.
This is a sad fact for America and most financial gurus would agree with Ramsey. America has a spending problem both individually and as a government. We are looking at a national debt of over $50 TRILLION or 202% GDP in 2025.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has only worsened the situation. In fact, for most people, whatever little they had by way of emergency funding has long since run out. Hence, his recommendation of a $1000 emergency fund is null and void ab initio. The only way people in dire financial straits are able to keep their heads above water is through stimulus checks and unemployment benefits.
Ramsey’s “you were pretty much screwed already” response has been likened by Twitterati to ‘withholding food or water from a dying person.’ A critic wrote, “If you’re already struggling, just throw away the whole person.”
Conscious of the offense caused by his remarks, he has clarified that he was “not talking down to folks.” He knows what it means to be bankrupt as he has been there and that he now tries to help people needing financial assistance.
Meanwhile, the wait for the $1400 stimulus checks continues for millions of Americans that are most likely a drop in the bucket for those that lost their jobs.
The sad reality is that we are now seeing states like California that were locked down versus states like Florida that have stayed opened versus had very little effect on the spread of the virus but did destroy millions of jobs and kill the economy. Arguing over stimulus checks won’t replace these people’s jobs, what we need is people to be held accountable.