Can we get what we need?

“You don’t get if you don’t ask.’

“Don’t take no for an answer.”

“Have it your way.”

Tenets that many people live by, though they are leavened by the words of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards: “You can’t always get what you want.”

Everyone has material wants such as a comfortable home, a reliable vehicle, nice clothes, among others. Then there are the priceless things people want: a loving, stable relationship, good health and meaningful employment at a good living wage.

Some say that if one wants material things one has to work for them. Material things cost real money; choices have to be made when we decide we want a new car and upgrade our housing. Desire leads to want, want leads to acquire. It is not within everyone’s grasp to buy a new vehicle nor purchase a home of one’s own. 

Life holds no guarantee of acquiring material things—many don’t understand that. We want what we want when we want it. Unfortunately, that can result in bad decisions and actions. What should society do to assist those who do all the right things, scrimping and saving, doing without to keep up with the Joneses. 

Several years ago a report stated that a majority of American households were a $400 emergency expenditure away from financial catastrophe. Well, we’re there now. The coronavirus pandemic has upturned households across the nation—whether losing a job or caring for a sick family member. 

The federal $600 a week in additional unemployment benefits was a lifeline for families who desperately needed it. That benefit ended at the end of July. Even though Congress and the White House knew the end of the benefit was ending they did nothing until the last week of July. Now, true to form, the Democrats and the Republicans can’t agree in what form to continue the unemployment benefits. This is the same Congress that overwhelmingly passed the CARES Act.

Without action from Congress, the president took it upon himself to issue executive actions last weekend to address the impasse. Some of his actions did not sit well even with his fellow Republicans. The president wants to let businesses postpone the payroll tax until sometime in the near future. The payroll tax funds Social Security and Medicare. Some of the president’s actions probably won’t meet Constitutional muster; Congress controls the purse strings.

As Congress prepares to take its annual August recess, people across the country are suffering. They have to figure out how to pay their rent or mortgage. Personal savings rates have increased over the past three months, but some households don’t have the ability to put money into a savings account. This needed to be a rare time for Congress to postpone its recess, stay in Washington and address the very real suffering of American families.

Life holds no guarantees, but in a time of a national emergency everyone must do their part to assure it doesn’t get worse. Adding trillions of dollars to federal spending is unsustainable, but at times like these, damn the torpedos.

Government’s main duty is to keep the people safe. Forcing families to make it on their own during this crisis not of their own making is unconscionable

You can’t always get what you want but government should assure that the people get what they need.

(Lyndon Zaitz is publisher of the Keizertimes.)