I have two observations that really aren’t very complicated or sophisticated.
First, we’re not going to run out of (most) of the stuff of our daily lives. Even this toilet paper nonsense will soon resolve itself when everyone has enough TP to wipe a hundred asses a hundred times. What many people who used to work in the service industry or other $12/hour shit jobs are going to run out of is: money. And when they run out, and need to feed their kids or themselves, things could get quite ugly. So, send money, now.
Second, we’re all means tested, once per year, usually on April 15, but on July 15 this year. We can send everyone (from Jeff Bezos to Jeff-who-used-to-wait-tables) $1,000 per month (or more!) and get it back via taxes. Any means test that precedes getting a check is too fucking complicated, and too hard to implement. So, send money, now.
But what about increasing unemployment insurance, instead of giving away money? Sure — sometimes I, too, feel 1972, and listen to a Carole King tune. But in our felicitous 2020 gig economy, we have a situation where our freedom-loving country is populated by free agents who interact directly with the invisible hand, and the law says this:
However, since independent contractors are not employees and no one pays unemployment insurance for them, it is not likely that an independent contractor will be eligible for unemployment benefits.
What about any other social program? Beef ’em all up, but give people cash, too. Cash without restriction is better than long lines applying for SNAP or any other means-tested social program.
The only concern I have about the simple plan of sending a check is that many of the people who need the money are unbanked and will crowd around check cashing stations and other similar places.
In closing, send money, now.