Thanks For Nothing

Peyton Benge
5 min readMar 30, 2020

$1,200 is not a stimulus. Just mail us our checks and go write a better bill.

If you don’t have time to read this article, this image practically sums it all up.

Recently, I decided to delicately dunk on Rep. Joe Kennedy III’s one-time payment stimulus proposal for the US, by comparing it to the UBI proposal popularly campaigned by Andrew Yang.

Looking back, I should have just ended him with the wrath of Blake Griffin soaring over the headtop of Pau Gasol.

Five hundred dollars for every American to get through a possible economic depression? Comical.

But $1,200 is almost as laughable once you begin illustrating how that stimulus is distributed into American society.

Playing it Safe

In 2017, it took over a year of living with my parents after I graduated from college before I was able to find a full-time job that could help me eventually move out on my own.

For a year I bounced around from part-time positions. I served tables. I was a overnight clerk at 7-Eleven. And at one point, I substitute taught in El Reno almost landing an English teaching job with no training. (Because, Oklahoma.)

Eventually, I landed my first copywriting position.

With university credentials in a “solid” economy, it still took someone like me an entire year to find an adequately paying job. Many single adults in and out of the workforce don’t have a degree, a (relatively) clean criminal record, and white skin to help produce more opportunities in the workforce like me.

Not every American has parents that can afford to let their children move back in after college and support them until they find a place in the workforce.

But in this article, we’re going to be entirely too optimistic.

We’re going to pretend that racial and socio-economic barriers of entry into the workforce don’t exist and that every single adult who loses their job in this economic crisis will become fantastically fortunate rather quickly.

Let’s say each of the new 3.28 million people claiming unemployment, can’t find a new job for just two months. But in two months, voilà the unemployed workers will find jobs that produce the same income they were previously earning.

What will the $1,200 actually do for them during the two months of no wages?

Scoped In on the Scoop

In my last article, I broke down stimulus payment plans and showed how different American families would benefit from those plans, but this time around, I’m only going to give one example: single adults in the US. (Sorry, I’m biased.)

So what would a one-time payment of $1,200 do for the 110.6 million tax-single adults in the US? Normally, I’d analyze different rates for housing, grocery prices, and other essential services in various states and regions.

But since the US Senate decided to make this a flat-rate, one-time payment based solely on income, we gonna keep our variables simple.

First, we’ll only look at national average rent, utilities, and groceries in the US to see just how long that $1,200 really lasts.

Appa-Rent-ly Not Enough

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average American spends around $117.65 per month on electricity bills. Add that to the average $963 spent on a one-bedroom apartment in the US (laughs in New Yorker), and already 90% of the economic stimulus is spent.

Now that the home is settled, one would assume that a responsible adult would use the remaining ten percent of the stimulus check to tackle groceries. unfortunately, the average adult will have to cut back a little this month, because they only have $120 left for groceries.

And by a little, I mean by over half. According to Mint, an average single adult should spend $251 on groceries. But Summer is just around the corner, right? Maybe this is the perfect time for everyone to go on a Maduro diet.

Part 1 of a fantastic meme.

Contra Conservatism

After the first day of the month, the average single adult in America will have no money left for things like car payments, wifi connection, phone payments, student loans, and so on and so forth.

And that’s just after one day of having that stimulus check.

Many folks in larger urban areas won’t even be able to pay off their rent with the stimulus check.

Critics can argue that the government is currently making it easier to file for unemployment, but since when has more people being granted unemployment status a good sign of economic improvement?

Sure, loan rates are lower now for smaller businesses, but what’s a single adult going to do when the personal loan they take out today to cover the rest of their bills that the stimulus check didn’t supplement in May.

What happens when their loan receives an interest rate hike in August? More loan debt and more people filing for unemployment is not going to be erased by a one-time check of $1,200.

Part 2 of a fantastic meme.

Now, I’m Stimulated

So, besides granting small business loans and handing out a short stack of cash to most Americans, what else can the US do to help mitigate the current economic crisis?

Turns out, there are plenty of other options to choose from. According to the New York Times, “The Danish government has promised to cover 75 percent to 90 percent of salaries if businesses do not lay off their employees.”

Instead of asking small businesses to borrow from banks, Denmark’s government is stepping in to make it easier for both small business owners, and their employees.

In the Netherlands, their government is paying “up to 90 percent of wages for companies hit hard by the pandemic, with extra provisions being developed for restaurants.”

They not only are thinking about companies in general, but they also identified a certain industry sector, restaurants, and added extra stipulations to help them further during this pandemic.

Hell, even Britain is thinking about dishing out twenty-nine hundred dollars a month to help its citizens recover, and they have a GDP almost a tenth the size of the US.

Come On, Congress

Who is Congress kidding with their stimulus bill? Since we force businesses to cover health care for most workers, Americans have no real, health safety net if unemployment surges.

Pair this pandemic with the current oil price war between Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the US, unemployment filings may break more records in America, especially my home state of Oklahoma.

I know it doesn’t take a long-winded Medium article to explain just how worthless $1,200 is going to be for Americans in the long run. But this article is more for the folks in office who think we can’t eventually make them file for unemployment, too.

$1,200 is not a stimulus for Americans. Just give us our checks and go write a better bill.