During this pandemic, many Americans find themselves staying at home, socially distancing when they do go outside and wondering what they can do to help. We are in awe of the courage and perseverance of the healthcare professionals, first responders and all the essential workers from truck drivers to store cashiers who continue to put themselves in danger in order to serve America.

The realization that our lives may never get back to pre-coronavirus times was stated quite clearly by Dr. Fauci at a recent White House press briefing. However, we hear from the president and other politicians that once this pandemic is over we will quickly return, like a rocket ship, to the strongest economy in our history.

The question we all have to ask ourselves is do we want to return to an economy where more than 50 percent of American households cannot afford a $500 emergency? I need everyone to think very seriously about this one fact and what it says about the “greatest economy in history,” but more importantly what it says about our society in general. Over the last 40 years Reaganomics or trickle-down has been the economic rule in our country. The belief being that the wealthy and the leaders of industry and commerce know what’s best for all of America and if they are allowed to keep more of their money, usually through lower taxes, that prosperity will eventually reach the rest of us.

The tax reform act passed by Congress in December 2017 and touted as a factor in our recent economic growth, is another example of trickle down economics. Individuals, that would be most of us, got a small tax cut amounting to approximately 35 percent of the total that gradually disappears by the year 2027, while the corporations got the lion share of the tax cuts and those cuts are permanent.

Unfortunately, trickle-down at its best, has been a very slow drip for a vast majority of Americans, as the gap between the wealthiest few, the 1 percenters, and the rest of us has grown ever wider. The last 40 years has seen the greatest accumulation of wealth at the top than in any other period of our history.

For the most part, when given the choice, corporate America puts the money in the pockets of their executives and/or stockholders not in the pockets of the American worker. Corporate welfare that puts companies ahead of people has no place in today’s America. To help Americans deal with the economic shock that came with the pandemic, Congress passed three separate bills to help prop up the economy and bring immediate aid to those hardest hit by the layoffs and business closings.

The very same workers I mentioned before who can’t afford a $500 emergency

With the Trump administration blatantly sidestepping congressional oversight of the most recent $2.2 trillion aid package, who will look out for the most vulnerable in our society? Who will make sure that this vast sum of money gets to the small businesses, their employees and the self-employed as intended and not just corporate America?

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, will Americans make sacrifices or changes in their personal lives to ensure the economy works for all citizens? Dan King photo

It will be up to us, the American worker, taxpayer and more importantly, the American voter to hold all of our leaders accountable during this unprecedented time of economic upheaval. Many of us, those on the top third of the income ladder, need to understand that we will have to make changes and sacrifice in our own lives in order to move toward an economy that will work for all Americans in their pursuit of the American dream.

Perhaps this is the moment in history when America can live up to the ideals written almost 250 years ago in the Declaration of Independence, which still ring true today: “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure those rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any form of Government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter it.”

We have the power to change the direction of our government and our lives, that power is called the right to vote and it is protected by the Constitution of the United States. But first we must decide what direction that will be, both economically and socially. In order to effect change our leaders must hear from all of us, I urge everyone to contact your congressional delegations both national and state and let them know how you feel.

Look in the mirror, America, and take a stand for what we all know is right and just.

Bill Junker is a Kennebunkport resident.

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