The American Rescue Plan, The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the soon to pass Build Back Better Plan show that the American ‘can do’ spirit is alive, the innate generosity and optimism that is so much a part of the American spirit is returning.
Will a revival of that spirit last, in spite of the ongoing pandemic, red vs. blue state civil war, and still record joblessness?
The truest expressions of Americans’ character have come out during past catastrophes, such as the Great Depression and World War Two. And almost 10 years of unparalleled growth followed the horrors of World War One and the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic is bringing about a similar transformation of character and culture that was always there but sometimes hidden when times were good.
And record economic growth is following the coronavirus pandemic, with Q1 and Q2 2021 GDP up more than 6 percent, and the fourth quarter possibly growing at the same pace after the third quarter pause due to the Delta variant surge.
Americans are showing that they care for each other with these bills—that lifting children and the poorest out of poverty also lifts themselves. That renewing our roads, bridges, energy grids; and confronting the greatest threat to our future, climate change, will ensure a country that our children can be proud of and prosper in.
It’s obvious that the American Rescue Plan saved many lives and livelihoods, and the Infrastructure bill means caring for the planet as well as each other with its $billions spent on climate change and improving health and sanitation.
It’s less obvious what spending on social infrastructure does. Investing in children, improved healthcare, and paid family leave strengthens families, something both political parties should be for, but conservatives have opposed since FDR’s New Deal.
Who will get most of the good jobs in construction from rebuilding our physical infrastructure? Some 80 percent go to less-then-college-educated workers, says the White House in its initial announcement of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
In part because of the recovery money already distributed during the pandemic, median household income has resumed its climb for the first time since 2000, as shown in the above PEW research graph. It had dropped from $70,800 in 2000 to $65,100 after the Great Recession.
In 2018, the median income of U.S. households stood at $74,600. This was 49 percent higher than its level in 1970, when the median income was $50,200. (Incomes are expressed in 2018 dollars.)
The pandemic is bringing about a whole transformation of America that will last because it is bringing Americans together again in common cause, and history shows this brings out the best in us.
Harlan Green © 2021
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