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Letters to the Editor: No one benefits from the rich getting COVID stimulus checks

Last April, the federal government issued stimulus checks to provide economic relief amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Last April, the federal government issued stimulus checks to provide economic relief amid the COVID-19 crisis.
(Associated Press)

To the editor: Relying on a Swedish study based on 35-year-old data, Lisa Schweitzer concludes that we should not target COVID-19 relief payments to the poor, but instead give them to everyone, even the richest Americans, as a sort of exercise in social cohesion.

If economic stimulus is the goal, then universal distribution of relief is clearly bad government policy because the proportion of an additional dollar of benefit directed toward consumption falls as income increases. And there is no economic sense to the idea that the needy do better when the rich also participate in a government handout. They do just as well as they would otherwise.

While social cohesion is an admirable idea, it is not at all clear how it might be measured or how an equal and universal COVID-19 relief payment would otherwise contribute to it in today’s America, with its sharpened orientation toward individualism, significant distrust of government and Republican animus toward social programs.

Thus, we are left with the purely economic implications, and those are clearly in favor of targeted relief, which is precisely what Congress has done so far.

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Dennis J. Aigner, Laguna Beach

The writer is a professor emeritus of management and economics at UC Irvine.

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To the editor: I disagree with Schweitzer’s recommendation to also give the rich stimulus checks, especially given our extremely high budget deficit.

Certainly programs such as unemployment insurance should not be means tested. However, for the most part people receiving unemployment generally are undergoing some hardship. The food stamp program is not universal; otherwise the cost to taxpayers would be astronomical.

The stimulus checks make little sense, given that much of the money doled out is not going to be spent. What is the point of giving a stimulus check to a retiree who has not been financially impacted by the virus and is being told to stay home?

In 2020, the savings rate in the United States actually increased. Therefore, the government should help the percentage of people financially impacted by the virus, but not everyone.

Allen Wisniewski, Redondo Beach


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