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Opinion | How to Ease the Economic Pain of the Coronavirus

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To the Editor:

Re “Mass Unemployment Was Our Choice” (editorial, March 27):

Our current administration is overly wedded to capitalism and afraid of sounding as though it is embracing socialism by supporting workers. The available models cited by your editorial are from countries regularly demonized as socialistic. That unfortunate administration attitude will take a while to change, or perhaps Covid-19 will by its devastation hurry up the change process.

In the meantime, we in the general public should support America’s vulnerable workers ourselves by actively patronizing those companies, organizations and nonprofits that are paying their workers’ salaries during this crisis, and actively withholding our patronage from those that are not.

Tom Shachtman
Salisbury, Conn.
The writer is the author of “The Day America Crashed” and other economic histories.

To the Editor:

There is a basic problem with the compensation scenario drawn up by Congress. The “typical” family of four will receive $3,400. But there are millions and millions of single-parent households. These families have the same household expenses as the “typical” family of four: rent or mortgage, utilities. They need more support. Each household with children should receive two full adult shares ($2,400) regardless of the number of parents in the household. This is necessary and only fair.

Daniel Dziedzic
Rochester Hills, Mich.

To the Editor:

While the federal relief legislation offers penalty-free 401(k) withdrawals (up to $100,000), here’s a better plan to stimulate the Main Street economy at little immediate expense to the U.S. Treasury: Allow taxpayers of any age a one-time withdrawal up to $50,000 of their 401(k) or other restricted retirement fund with no penalty but also no tax liability at the federal level. Perhaps state and local governments that tax those funds would follow suit.

Thomas Broido
Havertown, Pa.

To the Editor:

Re “‘Plz Cancel Our Cleaning’: Household Help Cast Aside Amid Virus” (Business, March 26):

I am just shocked by this article on the casual cancellation of apartment cleaning during this crisis. For people who are sitting home, re-alphabetizing their recipes and working on their French while their salary gets direct deposited to cut off the income of a cleaning person in this time of need is appalling. Don’t want the person in your house right now? Understandable. Don’t want to force her to take the subway? Good thinking. But pay her, for goodness sake.

Sheryl Reich
New York

To the Editor:

The federal government, with our taxpayer money, bailed out the banks and other financial institutions during the last economic crisis in 2008. Now it’s time for the banks to do their fair share to bail out consumers and small businesses at their expense, not the government’s and not ours.

Have all lenders give borrowers a three-month interest-free hiatus in loan, mortgage, car and credit card payments. By tacking those three months onto the end of loan payments, financial institutions would just be delaying receipt of that money.

Congratulations to Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, who announced that several major banks have agreed to delay mortgage payments for as long as three months for those affected by the outbreak.

John H. Harris
Ijamsville, Md.

To the Editor:

Seen on a handwritten sign posted by a sidewalk vendor in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan:

“Dear Customers: If you are experiencing financial difficulties and are in need of fruits or vegetables, please let us know so that we can help free of charge. God bless you. Care, share and be well. We are stronger together.”

New York City’s best version of itself.

Cate Wiley
New York

To the Editor:

The orders to close nonessential businesses in New York, Illinois and elsewhere will impose a great financial hardship on the businesses’ owners. This will be devastating for those who rent the premises. Deprived of any revenue, but having to pay their rent nevertheless, many if not most of them will be impoverished if the closings last for more than a few months. These are people who often have little or no savings other than their businesses, which they hope to sell for their retirement.

State legislatures should order that these rents be forgiven for as long as the closings are in effect. Although this will of course impose a financial cost on the landlords, they are generally far more able to incur it than their tenants are.

Other states should also consider such rent forgiveness, even if they have not ordered such closings, because the social separation we have all been urged to observe has deprived nonessential businesses of many of their customers.

I think the only way we can hope to survive this pandemic is to spread its costs as widely and humanely as we can.

David Slawson
Olga, Wash.

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