AGE-RESTRICTED CONTENT-(Disclaimer: This article is in no way meant to offend any hard-working employed or unemployed individuals who are genuinely participating or attempting to participate in the growth of the economy.)
Addiction is defined by ASAM “American Society of Addiction Medicine” as “a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences.” With that being said, we can generally agree that every person has an addiction in some way, form, or fashion. Do you have to grab that coffee from Starbucks every morning? Do you have a wine that you just have to sip to unwind after a long day of work? Do you have to smoke that morning cigarette every morning? Maybe you are one of those people who are routine driven, and anything outside of that completely ruins your day. Did you know that if not following that routine drastically affects your day, it is actually something you have become addicted to? In life we have more addictions than we realize, maybe you’re addicted to knowledge, working on your antique car or something more drastic, either way, we all have an addiction we just may not know what it is.
At this point, you’re probably thinking in your head, “what am I addicted too” and that is a good place to start. In being transparent let me share an addiction with you that I have, that exactly fits the definition assigned by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. When I was growing up my mother drunk Coke every day and my father drunk Pepsi, funny these are rival companies, but I guess even in that statement that helps explain there relationship-ha! Anyway, once I became of age to be able to decide my own beverage of choice I would tend to always lean more towards Coke or Pepsi because it was native to my environment. Now, let’s fast forward about twenty years and guess what, every day like clockwork I have to have a Coke (Pepsi is just too sweet). Of course, people say in general those types of drinks are naturally addicting, but realistically the image of these beverages became an imprint in my mind that left a lasting impression. The familiarity with the beverage, my environment, and my past steered me in a direction that has made my connection to Coke an addiction for me. However, it is I that consistently make that choice every day.
Now, let us talk about FREE MONEY. Yeah, I said it, FREE MONEY. Free money can be by all means an addiction. If someone told you that they would give you money to do absolutely nothing for any period of time would you not accept that money? Of course, you would. This money is coming with no strings attached, no debt to be repaid, you don’t have to work and the money is absolutely all yours…. Now, realistically, who would not love a deal like that? Just imagine waking up every day knowing that generally all your financial whims and whelms are being taken care of because you’re getting FREE MONEY. Totally awesome right. That feeling of not having to do anything, but steadily receiving income would probably become addicting, it is free after all. However, we have all heard the age-old saying “everything that glitters is not gold”. In this case, the glittering free money that is gleaming in your eye is honestly no different than the oxycodone that users shoot up to get high. It is no different than the morphine or codeine that we’ve seen countless rappers, rich, middle class, and poor individual parish from because of the addiction they have to the feeling that it gives. Ultimately, opioids and free money are temporary solutions to “treat ” a “symptom or problem”, but does not directly address the actual “disease or issue”.
Right now across America, we have millions of unemployed workers currently receiving unemployment assistance from their state and under the Cares Act (which is set to end on July 31). Due to the effects of Covid-19, America, in not so many words, closed the economy. The United States runs off the sheer idea of “economy”. If I own a barbershop and someone comes in to get their hair cut and pays me, that’s my income, but their expense. Next, if I take the revenue from the haircut and go buy supplies at my local beauty shop, I am now turning my income into an expense and in return, it becomes someone else income. This cycle is repeated millions and millions of times every day and is ultimately one of the greatest functions of societies across the world. However, our economy shut down. So, there was not a man who could afford to pay the barber for the haircut and in return, there was no barber to purchase from the beauty shop. Now take that cycle and apply it to every business, court, or entity that was closed due to the shutdown. This means that life for anyone in any of those positions, in whatever field has taken some form of a loss. However, for the United States government to offer only money is really just easing the situation, but not fixing the root issue, and in all due respect creates a dependence on the government that many people have worked hard not to have.
As we travel through these uncharted waters, of course at some point it made sense to “assist” Americans during this plight. The problem comes when you decide to throw something at an issue instead of actually addressing it at the head. At what point did our government not consider the probability of “throwing money” going in the wrong direction. In life, you will always have people who follow rules and want to be active members in society, but on the other hand, you also will always have those who find a way to manipulate the system to achieve their own personal goals. So, they threw money at us, some of us making more money with unemployment than we made working at our actual job, and for most of us we either for whatever reason cannot return to our employer, our employer is still closed, or we just simply cannot find employment. Moreover, with the way the economy works this means we’re giving out free money without making any money. Ultimately, we are lowering the overall morale of the once working individual and the deficit of the country. How is it we implemented a plan to give money, but not a plan to make money? It’s almost scary to me to consider that the government is willing to give out all this money, but require nothing in return. It seems as though, the money might just be to smooth over the fact that some people will never have the lives they once had because of choices or lack of choices made by our government and the implemented policies that stopped our economy.
Imagine this, you’ve worked every day for the last year, minus those couple of call-ins (it’s okay, some days just call for it). Now all of a sudden, you cannot go to work, you cannot see your family and basically you’ve been isolated to your own island. The government says “hey, we need to protect you, by shutting down your only way to survive, but in return, we’ll temporarily throw you some money”. Initially, the idea of not having to get up for work is appealing and of course, the money is the icing on the cake, but at some point in this process, you start to lose more than you gain. You lose the routine of being a part of the workforce. Your once polished skills and capabilities may start to wither a bit and that driven mindset you had may start to roam into less productive thoughts. Productivity is what pushes anyone. Even if it is something as simple as getting up and brushing your teeth, it gives you the feeling that you have accomplished something. Eventually, before you know it, your whole routine has changed, your goals and aspirations are not quite on the forefront. Now, more of the time that you had to be productive is being spent idle. Now for the people who are able to maintain peace of mind in a seemingly never-ending period of isolation and are not satisfied with “what their given” will do their best to find a way to not become lost in translation, but in my profession, which includes the low income and second chance apartment renters, this time of isolation may leave them worse off than where they started.
For example, second chance renters and low-income renters in the Memphis area, unfortunately, are already at a disadvantage. This is either because they may have previous evictions or negative remarks on their background or it could simply be the difficulty of finding a job that is able to help them maintain a higher quality of living. We are talking about a majority of people who live paycheck to paycheck, may utilize government assistance, and may have several children. With the disadvantages that they face, in addition to other renters in similar situations outside of my community, not just the low income and second chancers, this FREE MONEY is ultimately like starting another opioid crisis. Basically, instead of our government finding a solution to the joblessness, the economic shift, or quite frankly the choice to stop the economy due to the pandemic, then in this regard they are no better than the doctors who prescribed the opioids back during that crisis. Instead of finding a cure to this metaphorical disease of an “inactive economy”, the government has chosen to throw money at it. Money is a great object to have, but what happens once that money runs out? What options will our renters and other fellow Americans have that have been out of work for six months or longer? Will our workers be ahead or behind of the learning curve due to the hiatus they were forced to take? Will they return to the same pay? Will they be asked to quarantine again? All questions for which the government has no answers. So if they have no answer to help with your future, the only thing you have to depend on is their “FREE MONEY”, and, ultimately that will become your addiction. Needless to say, you will have become dependent on a temporary gift, given by a permanent government, due to a temporary crisis, but with a permanent effect on your life and you may or may not see the results of until its too late. Due to your environment and life experiences, this ultimately could lead to addiction, per the definition provided by the ASAM.