Has money ever been as elastic and elusive a concept as it’s seemed to be over the last year? Since March 2020, the onset of the pandemic has meant that industries have been halted and jobs dried up, yet the average person has been expected to afford the breakneck lifestyle changes demanded by our new, stay-at-home lives. Yet someway — somehow — the rich got sickeningly richer; all the rest of us got were those initial $1,200 stimulus checks. Weren’t the funds supposed to trickle down? I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s now-Grammy-winning performance of “Rain on Me” was all about.
But the government did not make it rain. Instead, the subsequent stimulus package, with $600 checks for those who qualified, felt more like spit collected at the dentist’s office after a failed attempt at pulling out teeth. It was the worst kind of teasing, a slow burn. But maybe that’s why the new stimulus package, while still the bare minimum (what happened to the $2,000?), is such a significant increase from the last two that our online reactions reveal dopamine-starved brains set free.
The Biden administration’s COVID relief bill includes sensible things like tax-exemption for the first $10,200 received in unemployment benefits, but it’s the $1,400 direct payments to qualifying households that have ignited the meme-making engines.
Not too long ago, we were begging for what should’ve been a $2,000 stimulus check, and ended up with just $600. I’m sure many doubted we’d get the first $1,200, but the sheer betrayal of a $600 stimulus check made us laugh with rage. Now, with the promise of $1,400, people are fantasizing about all kinds of outrageous activities. The kind, one could argue, in which the filthy rich engage on a daily basis: looting, overspending, scamming. Suddenly, money is no object and we can all live happily as immorally rich, carefree individuals.
Additionally, the relief bill includes an enhanced child tax credit and allowance payment where parents can pocket up to $3,600 per child a year. Millennial parents with meme-making capacities have not wasted this opportunity to “LOL.”
It’s been another day of laugh-crying through the pandemic in the United States of America. While any stimulus is helpful, every stimulus package seems to be more fraught than the last and reminds us what treacherous scammers the wealthiest people in this country really are. The least we can do is walk around in our Sunday best and act like we own everything.