Reference News Network reported on November 27 that the number of hungry people in the United States may be greater than at any time since 1998 during the coronavirus epidemic, based on data analysis. At the same time, American billionaires are still winners.
Many people “starve as the norm”
According to the newspaper’s new federal data analysis, more Americans have starved during the deadly coronavirus epidemic than ever before. This is due to the economic downturn and the government rescue program. The former has seriously affected millions of Americans, while the latter has expired or is about to expire at the end of the year.
Experts say that the number of people in the United States may starve today more than at any time since 1998. The Census Bureau only began collecting comparable data on households’ ability to obtain enough food that year.
According to data collected by the Census Bureau from late October to early November, one in eight Americans sometimes or often overage, affecting nearly 26 million American adults in the past week, several times more than most of the comparable data before the pandemic. In families with children, the number has risen to more than one sixth.
“It’s a combination of the virus and unpredictable government response,” said Jeremy Everett, director-general of the Baylor University Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty in Waco, Texas.
Houston, with a population of 7 million in the city, has experienced the worst hunger surge.
This summer, the epidemic overwhelmed hospitals, and weak oil prices hit the local economy severely, making the situation worse and Houston failed.
Recently, more than one in five adults in Houston went hungry. Hunger rates in Hispanic and African American families have increased higher than white families, which is a serious consequence of economic weakness, causing so many people to find ways to get food even in dangerous circumstances.
On the 21st, thousands of cars outside the NRG Stadium lined up in multiple long lines, proving that the statistics were realistic. Now, a new wave of the epidemic may lead to more severe economic pain.
However, in a country where millions of families are relatively unaffected by the epidemic, the hunger crisis does not seem to have attracted widespread attention. In March, the stock market rebounded strongly after a sharp fall, recovering all losses. This makes the White House and some lawmakers optimistic about the economic situation. Congress began the Thanksgiving holiday without any progress on the new pandemic assistance agreement, even though food relief centers across the country were in short supply before the holiday.
Stacey Dean, who is responsible for food aid policy at the Center for Budget and Policy Prioritization Research, said: “Difficulties are widespread and unbelievable. A large part of the United States is saying, ‘My family can’t afford food anymore’. The lack of breakthrough in this issue is really disappointing.
Brian Green, director of Houston Food Center, said that the biggest problem of Houston Food Center at present is to find enough food. Food in the food relief center is mainly purchased with donations, and also accepts donated food. Previously, American farmers were hurt because the United States was engaged in a trade war with China. The Department of Agriculture bought surplus food from farmers, usually apple, milk and pork products. The TCDC also benefited from it.
However, the funding source of the plan expired in September. Other federal anti-epidemic programs are still buying hundreds of millions of dollars of food and donating them to the Tjeanji Center. However, Green said he was worried that the demand growth might be accompanied by “out of supply of (agricultural and sideline) products”.
Billionaires “win horizontally and vertically”
According to an article on the website of The New York Times on November 25, billionaires are still winners in the epidemic.
Chuck Collins is a scholar on inequality at the Policy Institute. He has been tracking the impact of the collective wealth of American billionaires by the coronavirus epidemic since March. “In the previous recession, billionaires and the rest of us were hit,” Collins said. But in the 2020 COVID-19-induced recession, most of the rich are richer than ever.
According to a report released by Collins and colleagues last week, on March 18, the total wealth of 614 billionaires in the United States was $2.95 trillion. At the close of the stock market on Tuesday, there were 650 billionaires, totaling $4 trillion. In the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, the wealth of American billionaires increased by one-third.
This can be seen from the inequality of the economic and political system in the United States.
Collins said: “The economy is now sending wealth to the top in a ‘I win both horizontally and vertically’ attitude.” Millions of other Americans are in terrible financial difficulties, while billionaires have accumulated a lot of new wealth. More than 20 million people lost their jobs at the beginning of the outbreak. As Congress is lazily considering whether to continue to provide financial assistance to the poorest people in the United States, up to 13 million people may lose more benefits to save them from hunger and cold.
Why are America’s billionaires safe and sound while many other Americans suffer unspeakably? Part of the reason is the common inequality in the United States. Stocks are primarily in the hands of the rich, and the stock market recovers from the early abyss of the epidemic faster than the rest of the economy.
But some billionaires also benefit from the economic and technological trends accelerated by the epidemic. This includes owners and investors of retail giants such as Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, Dollar Tree and Dale, which have made a lot of profits this year.
Other companies bet that everything will go digital quickly. For example, Yuan Zheng, CEO of Zoom, became a billionaire in 2019. Now, his wealth is close to 20 billion US dollars. Aprila Mehta, founder of the grocery delivery company Instakkat Networks, was not a billionaire last year; this year, he firmly joined the ranks after a surge in orders brought a new round of investment to boost the company’s value.
The political situation in 2020 is also in favor of billionaires. Now, billionaires can rest assured. The incoming president is Joe Biden, who said last year that once he came to power, the situation of the rich “will not change fundamentally”.
The political results point to the rise of super billionaires and the continuing dangers that this poses to our democracy. These rich people will use their wealth to build political fortresses to protect themselves, thus earning more wealth and influence.
Collins hopes that the United States can reverse the cycle of death of this oligarchy. He believes that extreme inequality may trigger political counter-attack, and if reform is not carried out, the future may be more dangerous. “It’s a dead knot that’s hard to untie in a calm manner,” he said.
The wealth of American billionaires continues to grow amid the epidemic.