EDITORIAL

Don't ignore collateral damage

Posted

The arenas are dark, including Madison Square Garden, for teams from all sports, including the NBA’s New York Knicks.

A story by Bleacher Report last week talked about how some players could lose money during the NBA suspension. Even for superstars like LeBron James, who could lose upward of $400,000.

That might seem like a lot of money, but for the Los Angeles Lakers forward, we’re talking just 1 percent of the $38.5 million due to James this season alone.

Those are big numbers, so of course they’re going to get attention. But whom we need to be focused on instead are the people collecting tickets. The people selling beer in the stands. The people who will clean the arena and make it look picture perfect in time for the next game.

These men and women won’t lose 1 percent of a multimillion-dollar salary. Instead, they will lose 100 percent of what might be wages just above the minimum.

This is an issue not just limited to people working around sports. It literally could affect almost anyone, because capitalism is a bit of a customer-driven economy. And if those customers aren’t coming out of fear of being exposed to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, there is going to be little reason to have employees showing up and collecting a paycheck for all the hard work they do.

Yes, focus must be made toward containing this virus and helping those who get infected. That means ensuring there is quality medical care available, appropriate paid sick time, and free testing.

We can’t forget about everyone else, however. Even if 50 million people become infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the United States (which is a high estimate, but still possible), that still leaves 277 million other people in the United States who could become collateral damage to this pandemic.

And yes, even if they don’t suffer physically, they’re going to suffer financially, and that’s something our elected leaders need to pay close attention to.

Many people, especially in the Bronx, live paycheck to paycheck. One of the primary causes of homelessness in the city is by the household breadwinner missing just a single paycheck, and no longer able to pay rent for a single month. If one paycheck can wreck a family’s financial security, imagine what a few of them would be, as this coronavirus crisis stretches into the spring.

Even if your paycheck is secure, ignoring how this affects others could create massive financial tsunamis that could take us years to recover from.

Our leaders can’t leave anyone behind. Our future depends on it.

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