FEELING IN-BETWEEN

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Submitted Date 05/06/2020
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Feeling "In-Between"

What is truly the new normal.

Most Americans and most people are around the world are under some kind of state-mandated quarantine due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the economic ramifications of this all-around pandemic are not being assessed through a multi-faceted lenses.

Through channels like CNN, we get a grim (maybe slightly arranged) and dire picture of the deaths and bodies piling up from this more severe version of the flu.

I'm not going to speculate on the ins and outs of the composition of this virus, and how dangerous and deadly it really is. I'm not a doctor, so I'm absolutely out of my league. But…

Just from looking at the ratio of people infected, the "rate of transition" to the rate of deaths, we're not even getting remotely closer to Armageddon like what happened with the Black Plague.

The numbers might be over or under-inflated, but from my eyes, something just isn't adding up from what we're being told by the so-called "experts".

Obviously there's going to be a recession.

8.7 million jobs reportedly were lost during the horrific Great Depression, literally a century ago in the same decade. Over this past month that the quarantine has been enforced in the United States, 22 million, and probably more Americans have filed for unemployment.

For as much as we should generally trust the medical establishment and health experts with their professional insight and unified concern in the COVID-19 from a biological standpoint, it can't be ignored how people's everyday lives have been up-ended and thrown into a ravaging tornado.

It's not just people in the labor force. Kids who are students in K-12 or in college currently have had their school years abruptly ended. For those in college, they don't know even know if their respective universities will give them much-needed and earned refunds because the school year has been cancelled for good.

My heart goes out to the Class of 2020, whether they're finishing up high school or college. Graduation is a momentous (and sad) time where you celebrate and be relieved that the hard, grueling work you put in studying, going to class and taking tests the last two to four years has finally paid off. Some of the friends they've made during that time will be with them even beyond these precious years.

For most people, it's one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences they'll have in their entire lives. And now, that experience has been ripped right out of their hands. The Class of 2020 will have an virtual graduation ceremony that can't compare to the real thing, or even worse, a diploma mailed to them.

 

But widening the scope, what worries me the most are people like myself and my family that are "in-between" economically.

I'm a only child, but nonetheless over the course of my life I've been exposed to an unusual and uncommon blend of hardship and struggle.

Me and my parents have bared the burden of poverty, and have also been weakened, softened and stymied by the beguiling illusion of middle-class comfort.

I've known what it's been like to have days here and there, where I ate only one meal or less than the equivalent of so because that's all the food that was available at home, and my parents had to wait for their next paycheck to come in.

My mom never told me, but we were on the brink of being evicted from our rent-controlled apartment several times when I was younger. I had the feeling that such was the case, but I was too young to know any better.

Still, with enough time to save up enough money, my parents could afford me Christmas presents, a Wii, a PS Vita and in high school, a simple allowance.

Combined, both of my parents make over a hundred-thousand dollars annually (not sure if that's before or after taxes.) But they're straddled with debt (student loans, credit cards, etc.) like any other average American.

They have money to pay their bills on time, buy groceries, and have some decent kind of emergency savings. But they can't do much else. Or more.

One too many wants or luxury desires puts my parents' finance in a bind. They don't stress about it too much. But they revert to that tried-and-tested middle-class, working-class mentality that over-emphasizes "security and safety."

The larger point I'm making here is that arguably more than anything, this virus has exposed once and for all how in 21st century America (and maybe the whole world), the middle class is dead.

The term "middle class" is euphemistic; it's a placeholder for a more accurate and bleak term like "in-between". You're rich but you're not poor. You don't need to ask for handouts, except in the case of the ceiling falling down into the basement (which has literally happened.)

If you're a small-business owner right now, you're slipping, not walking on really thin ice.

Now, in the current economic system, there are simply haves, have-nots and in-betweens. If you're in-between, you're invisible and expendable. At least with the middle class back a couple of decades, there was modest hope and optimism at the chance of upward mobility being possible.

Although the virus is no laughing joke, and people in general should be respecting social distancing guidelines, it is disheartening to see how many basic and "inalienable" freedoms and rights are being trampled on in the name of security and the greater well-being.

Hotly circulating conspiracy theories like 5G's role in this epidemic, and whether this whole catastrophe is one elaborate diversion to hide more sinister plans are interesting to read and delve in, but they take attention from the up-front and tangible consequences this pandemic creates.

A lot of people are already dying. But there will be lots of "hidden deaths" due to the immense amount of stress and strain caused by being isolated and trapped at home, even if with loved ones.

Married couples that normally spend only a fraction of the day around one another, and their children now are stuck with each other for the foreseeable future. Divorce rates are predicted to skyrocket during these quarantine, and divorce lawyers are going to have plenty of invoices to handle.

All of this amasses to a second kind of pandemic, breeding out of the first one. People who are economically and socio-politically "in-between", like me and my parents will be the most affected.

My parents aren't going to kill themselves any time soon. They're resilient, hard-working people who've racked up hard knocks in their lives like collectible Jordan's.

Either way, I say this with very little joy; the line at 311 might end up being just as clogged and busy as the line for 911.

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