By Sean Zucker –
The coronavirus pandemic was a trying experience for us all. Over 3 million lost their lives due to the virus, some lost their jobs and the royal family lost Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The economy halted, institutions shut down and many struggled to get by. Aside from Parasite sweeping the Oscars, there wasn’t much hope to be found. Governments across the globe attempted to levy the situation by supplying economic relief with varying degrees of success. Now, with (hopefully) the worst of it behind us, it’s time to reflect on how those funds were used. How irresponsibly was this fiscal aid applied? We’ll rank it from one to ten.
This one is obvious. Millions of Americans struggled to pay rent during the pandemic due to job lost or unexpected health bills, among other hardships. Of course, spending stimulus checks on rent is responsible. That’s exactly the type of purchase relief checks are meant for.
Irresponsibility Meter: 0
Again, this is what the checks were for. Food insecurity was a colossal problem before the pandemic and the lockdown only escalated the concern. Food is an essential and clearly a sensible use of federal funds. However, McDonald’s, Chipotle and Taco Bell all saw their drive-through sales thriving during the pandemic, which is less than ideal from a health standpoint.
Irresponsibility Meter: 1
A New Wardrobe
Evidenced by the prominent surge in market activity reported shortly after the first stimmy was sent out, many treated their Covid sorrows with retail therapy. While not actively helpful towards one’s survival, vegging out with a shopping spree is generally harmless if you can afford it. That being said, the retail spike was seen most prominently at vendors such as Walmart and BJ’s. Neither of which, I can in good faith commend as an appropriate source for a new wardrobe.
Irresponsibility Meter: 4
Down Payment On New or Used Car
Buying the new 2020 model might have made you look cool or feel accomplished but it’s a depleting asset. As it was before the global pandemic, car buying is a bad investment. Leasing is the only sensible choice. Even if we ignore that, you’ve likely been working from home for a year, can’t imagine you got much use out of that hot rod.
Irresponsibility Meter: 8
Timing is crucial here. Did you plan way ahead, jump on cheap plane tickets and design a 2022 country hopping mega-trip for pennies on the dollar? Wonderful, that was a perfect use of funds and a fun little treat for surviving the worst year on record. However, if you took a discounted trip to coronavirus hellscape Florida last summer because you couldn’t bear being locked down any longer, you made a very poor decision and may even be responsible for a few dead grandparents.
Irresponsibility Meter: 6
It’s an understandable impulse. You knew you’d be stuck at home for the foreseeable future so why not be comfortable? Unless you overindulged to hoarder levels or bought a tufted headboard, this shouldn’t a major concern.
Irresponsibility Meter: 2
Bitcoin, NFT’s, Etc.
There comes a time in every person’s life when it is clear they have grown past the point of comprehending most relevant trends. Though, this usually applies to pop culture or fashion, not the stock market. Cryptocurrency is in the best case confusing as hell and at worse case a scam. I have no idea whether this was a conscientious means of investment.
Irresponsibility Meter: 5? I don’t know. At least this is a fungible token.
The iPhone 12
Let’s be honest, you probably haven’t really needed a new iPhone since the 4 was released. Each one is a neatly redesigned rehash with a slightly better camera. Hovering around a grand, these new devices aren’t worth your money. Not to mention, this one is bad for your heart.
Irresponsibility Meter: 7
Gwyneth Paltrow’s Vagina Candle
Sounded hilarious at the time, right? Gwyneth Paltrow is selling a candle that smells like her vagina, all your friends are going to love this bit. Unfortunately, the past year has likely forced most of your douchey frat bro squad to look inward, grow up and become adults. The joke isn’t funny. Besides, legend has it that it’s a major fire hazard.
Irresponsibility Meter: 9
43-Foot Statue of a Flying Squid
Conversely, the pandemic has had the occasional positive impact of bringing people together. Take for example, the delightful Japanese town of Noto. According to a recent New York Times report, this quaint fishing town on the coast of Japan banded together to use its government-supplied funds on a giant squid statue. The 43-foot beauty costs nearly $230,000 in federal Covid-19 relief money and aims to be an enormous tourism boost in a post-pandemic world.
Irresponsibility Meter: TBD depending on the enduring appeal and future generational interest in aquatic-based tourism.