“When you can’t find someone to follow, you have to find a way to lead by example.” - Roxane Gay, ‘Bad Feminist’
VOL. 99, NO. 1 AUGUST 20,
An Associated Collegiate Press two-time national Pacemaker award-winning newspaper, serving as the voice of the students since 1922.
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WHAT’S INSIDE LIFE
4 Movie review: ‘The Tax Collector’ sucks
LEO CABRAL | VIEWPOINTS
The Riverside Community College District headquarters in downtown Riverside is seen Aug. 19. The districts three campuses have been closed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some campus facilities will open in a limited capacity with strict safety guidelines this fall.
Campus to reopen in spring Reopening will still abide by COVID-19 safety protocol ERIK GALICIA EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Students may be allowed back to their respective Riverside Community College District campuses by spring 2021, assuming everything goes as planned. The district’s Safe Return Task Force has outlined a four phase plan for returning to campus, which aligns with the California Resilience Roadmap stages of reopening. Phase D, which assumes the state’s Stage 3 of reopening, fully restores college operations in the upcoming spring. Amidst possible concerns that the plan moves too quickly, Chancellor Wolde-Ab Isaac argued the district’s return to on-campus instruction is based on science and statistics. “We have even invited the (Riverside County) Department of Public Health to review our plan and send inspectors,” Isaac said. The task force, led by Moreno Valley College President Robin Steinback, was put together at
the end of spring 2020 in order to address all possible aspects of a safe return to the district’s three campuses. It was established at that time that all lectures during the fall 2020 semester, designated Phase B of the task force’s plan, would remain online. The district also decided lab components would be offered in a hybrid mode during fall 2020 in order to ensure students seeking to enter essential workforce jobs meet their required in-person instruction hours. “The reason we are opening face-to-face instruction this fall is that the government has defined what are considered essential functions,” Isaac said, referring to educational paths that include nurses, firefighters, paramedics, police and Career and Technical Education programs. Lab components, Isaac argued, allow for a smaller number of students within a larger space in comparison to crowded lectures. He said more lab sections are being offered this fall in order to further reduce the number of students in a setting to between 10 and 15. “We’re very excited to help students in CTE who require
face-to-face hours finish their education and get on with their lives,” Isaac said. Although athletics and fine arts were not deemed essential, Isaac said the district is continuously seeking ways to change that in order to allow more students to continue their education. Phase B of the “Safe Return” plan also allows for increased student access to in-person services this fall, though the continued use of online services is highly encouraged. According to the plan, in-person access to support services will only be offered when they are deemed critical to online instruction. Admissions and Records, Financial Aid, engagement centers, counter services, large workspaces and showers will be opened in a limited capacity for students to use. Computer labs and library computer commons will also partially open this fall. The use of these spaces will be by appointment and there will be information booths set up across the campus to direct students on safety guidelines. Phase C, which will take place during the winter 2021
term, will allow libraries and learning resource centers to fully open. Isaac assured the plan will dictate everything from where a student stands, where they proceed, and how they enter and exit a building in order to ensure health and safety. Isaac also said the district’s Allied Health system will coordinate a “check in” procedure during which health workers will ask students’ if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms before they are admitted into buildings. Pandemic safety guidelines such as social distancing, face coverings and sanitization will be applied throughout each phase of the plan, as mandated by the state. Personal Protective Equipment will also be provided to students who need it while on campus. “No exceptions will be made in how strictly we adhere to safety,” Isaac said. The chancellor reported he has contacted Kim Wilcox, UC Riverside chancellor, about a possible partnership that would allow RCCD students access to the university’s COVID-19 testing kits. Negotiations are in process.
5 New acting athletic director appointed
7 Editorial: Citizens need more stimulus aid
INDEX NEWS LIFE SPORTS VIEWS EDITORIAL
2 4 5 6 7
August 20, 2020
NEWS BRIEFS RCC Welcome Week 2020 This year’s Welcome Week will be broadcast on Riverside City College’s YouTube channel from Aug. 17 to 22. The Admissions and Records Department will hold a presentation on education rights entitled “Protecting Your Lair” on Aug. 20. Engagement centers and academic deans will broadcast a welcome message Aug. 21. Campus police will broadcast a presentation on safety Aug. 22. The International Student Center and Altura Federal Credit Union will also broadcast presentations that day.
Important dates The fall 2020 semester begins Aug. 24. For most courses, the last day to add or drop with a refund is Sep. 4. For most courses, the last day to drop without a Withdrawal is Sep. 6 and the last day to drop with a Withdrawal is Nov. 17. Because some courses allow different dates for adding and dropping, students should check their class information in WebAdvisor.
CARES Act Distribution Applications for fall 2020 disbursement of remaining CARES Act funds will be open from Aug. 31 to Sep. 11. The Riverside Community College District expects to begin disbursing funds Sep. 24. To apply, students should log into MyPortal and select “CARES APPLICATION” in the Financial Aid menu. For more information, visit https://www.rccd.edu/ covid_funding_resources/ Pages/index.aspx.
To s t a y u p - t o date on upcoming campus events, visit the Viewpoints calendar listed at viewpointsonline.org. If you have events happening on campus that you want featured on the calender, send information about the event to viewpoints. firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTO COURTESY OF COOLCAESAR AT ENGLISH WIKIPEDIA
The entrance to the headquarters of the California Community Colleges at 1102 Q Street in downtown Sacramento. This building is also home to the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement of the California Department of Justice. 24 June 2007.
State chancellor holds town hall California Community Colleges may see cuts for 2020-21 ERIK GALICIA EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
The head of the California Community College system called for students to actively participate in advocacy for their needs as they navigate the financial uncertainty of the fall 2020 semester. The system is looking at around $1.5 billion in deferrals for the 2020-21 academic year, meaning colleges may not receive that amount of funding they are owed until the following year. If congress approves a large enough stimulus bill by October, Community Colleges may receive around $800 million from the state. “We are asking everyone to call their member of Congress,” Oakley said during a virtual student town hall Aug. 18. “Push that the next federal stimulus happen soon and that it include funding based on headcount, not on full-time equivalent students.” The full-time equivalency measure can count several part-
time students as one full-time student, often leading to less funding per student for colleges that have large part-time student populations. Oakley warned that although deferrals may sound like spared budget cuts, state colleges will not be receiving a large percentage of the revenue they expected this upcoming academic year. Colleges may have to borrow money from the markets in order to continue to support their students and employees. “You can still expect that there will be some cuts,” Oakley said. “Exactly where those cuts will happen depends on the fiscal stability of the college district, but all of our colleges are experiencing a strain on their budgets.” Oakley claimed there is no sign at this point that the Community College system should expect the lack of resources seen in the years after the 2008 recession, but admitted students from small colleges or colleges experiencing financial difficulties should expect fewer sections offered.
The state chancellor encouraged students to use the California Virtual Campus course exchange, which his office has invested heavily in, to help students find online courses not offered at their colleges. The CVC allows students to search for courses using a variety of criteria and sorts available classes according to the distance from their home campuses. “This fall semester we are in a much better place than we were in the spring,” Oakley said. “There will be some initial growing pains the first few weeks of the semester. But (students) should expect the same services they’ve always come to expect from our faculty and our staff.” Several students from across the state raised concerns over faculty availability outside of scheduled class time and the possibility that attempts to curb cheating might drive instructors to implement unreasonable grading policies and expectations. Oakley urged students to call on their student presidents and trustees for representation during
Academic Senate and Board of Trustees meetings if necessary. “We will continue to look at Title 5 and relax or waive regulations (to) help students continue to make progress and not be penalized because they’ve lost work, they’ve had to reduce hours, they have family members who are sick,” Oakley said. The U.S. Department of Education recently appealed a Supreme Court decision that ruled the federal government could not withhold emergency pandemic aid from undocumented students, as the Trump administration tried to do at the end of the spring 2020 semester after backtracking on initial guidance that allowed colleges authority over how funds would be disbursed. Will Becerra, California attorney general, is responding to the appeal. “I’m confident we will continue to overcome the ridiculous arguments Washington (D.C.) makes,” Oakley said. The state chancellor urged students who may have trouble qualifying for financial aid to visit icanaffordcollege.com.
August 20, 2020
“It makes a difference when you provide this opportunity to young minds of color, not only Latinos. This is how we’re really going to be able to expand change.” - Edward James Olmos, New York Times interview
The problems with ‘The Tax Collector’ Another gang film reinforces negative Hispanic stereotypes STEPHANIE ARENAS STAFF REPORTER
Yet another formulaic Latino gang film has surfaced into the spotlight. Filmmaker David Ayer brought a poorly written storyline with the thriller “The Tax Collector,” which further cemented stereotypes about the Hispanic community. Gangster enforcers Creeper (Shia Lebeouf) and David Cuevas (Bobby Soto) work collecting taxes from Los Angeles street gangs for a prison boss named Wizard. Once you get past the cliché dialogue, disjointed plot and appallingly written characters, you are dealt a horrendous display of racist stereotypes. Representation of the Hispanic community is scarce when it comes to film and television media. According to the Hollywood Diversity Report, less than 5% of films have had a Hispanic lead since 2007. In rare cases of a Hispanic lead or characters, the films themselves usually fuel the stereotypes that gang violence, drugs or simply picking fruit under the hot sun are accurate depictions of the culture. The 1961 film “West Side Story” depicts a gang rivalry between a white American gang, the Jets, and a Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks. Ideally, this film should have featured a large cast of Hispanic actors playing the
Sharks. But the casting directors insisted on instead bringing in white American actors to do brownface. One of the many controversies surrounding “The Tax Collector” was the speculation that Labeouf would be doing brownface. That was proven false as Labeouf’s character is depicted as someone of Jewish descent who grew up in a Hispanic neighborhood. Nonetheless, it is still quite questionable that Ayer did not just write in both of the main characters as Hispanic. Even in instances where the potential of having a Hispanic lead is within grasp, Hollywood always seems to get its own way by casting someone white or white passing. A current example is 2019’s “The Curse of La Llorona,” based on an old Latin American folklore. It would be ideal to have the main character cast as someone of Latin origins, right? Instead the casting directors thought it would be a good idea to cast Linda Cardellini, a white American actress. The Hispanic community always seems to get the short end of the stick when it comes to representation in TV and film. “The Tax Collector” only perpetuates this problem by glorifying gang violence in Hispanic culture and casting a white American as a main character. Beyond the problematic nature of the casting, this film is still trash.
ILLUSTRATION BY JULIAN NAVARRO | VIEWPOINTS
American Cholo pushes for unity amongst Latinos YouTube podcasters urge youth to come together, participate in politics ERIK GALICIA EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Hollywood is perceived across the globe as the land of stars and glamour. But just across the hills that hold the world famous Hollywood sign lie the barrios of North Hollywood, which in the 1980s and ’90s were plagued by gang violence. That’s where Gil Tejada, 41, got his start. He spent the ’90s alternating between the streets of North Hollywood and the California Youth Authority until he decided to step away from active gang membership. “I lived the cholo life to its fullest,” Tejada said. “The last 20 years, I’ve been working, progressing. Now I own my own home. I’m living the American Dream.” Tejada started the “American Cholo” podcast on YouTube in late 2019 to promote Brown unity
ERIK GALICIA | VIEWPOINTS
Jose Mendoza, left, Gil Tejada, center, and Leonard Acosta, right, attend “A Day of Unity” in Santa Ana on Aug. 8 to support vendors. and has attracted over 27,500 subscribers since then. “American Cholo” features uncut barrio stories, up-and-coming Chicano artists and political discussions with his friends Leonard “Sonny” Acosta, 52, and Jose “Boo Boo” Mendoza, 43, both of Burbank. “American Cholo” often
highlights the experiences of gang members in the streets and the prison system. Tejada argued the humanization of those within that subculture is necessary to help the Chicano community overcome a problem that it has struggled with for decades. The media’s portrayal of gang
members being monsters who were born killers, Tejada said, ignores the reality that many were raised by the streets due to a lack of relationships in the home. “You can come from that life and get out of it,” Tejada said. “A lot of those guys think there’s no way out. But we’re three homies that they can look at and say, ‘If those guys did it, why can’t we?’” The American Cholo crew takes shots at all ends of the political spectrum and does not shy away from discussion. They attracted criticism for their hard stance against the harassment of Hispanic street vendors after videos of young Black men robbing vendors surfaced on social media. But in the name of open dialogue, the podcast hosted Black community leaders for detailed conversations on Black and Brown relations and has posted videos highlighting Black support for street vendors since. The three drove down to Santa Ana on Aug. 8 for “A Day of Unity,” an apolitical event that
focused solely on support for street vendors and unity, which Acosta said is the main issue within the Latino community. “We need unity,” Acosta said. “We need to start getting involved in politics. Right now we really don’t have anyone that steps up for us.” According to the Pew Research Center, Latinos accounted for 18% of the U.S. population in 2017. Yet, the current Senate and House of Representatives are only 4% and 9% Latino, respectively. Tejada expressed frustration that the possibility of a Latino president is never brought up despite Latinos being the largest minority group in the country. He attributes this to the lack of political participation among the majority of Latinos. “We need to stop looking at it like, ‘It doesn’t affect us,’” Tejada said. “Everything you do is affected by some law a politician made. But that politician doesn’t look like you. It looks more like a rich guy who has no clue of what’s going on in our communities.”
“If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it.” - Michael Jordan
August 20, 2020
Acting athletic director appointed
Riverside native will navigate department through pandemic rules JAIR RAMIREZ STAFF REPORTER
A Riverside native was announced the new acting athletic director of Riverside City College, effective July 1. Kaladon Stewart attended Riverside schools from elementary through college. He received an associate’s degree from RCC, a bachelor’s degree from Cal Baptist University, and a master’s degree in business administration from UC Riverside. Stewart was also the cofounder and first elected president of the Association of California Community College Eligibility Specialists, which was created to provide fair certification for Community College studentathletes who compete annually. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve our RCC athletic department, our student athletes, our faculty coaches, our amazing supporting staff and just be part of the legacy and the history that’s so rich in tradition here at RCC,” Stewart said about being appointed acting athletic director of RCC. “It feels really good.” Stewart began working at RCC in 2008 as an hourly assistant in the Admissions & Records Office.
He has worked in the Athletic Department for the past seven years and was named director of compliance in 2017. Stewart’s duties ranged from day-to-day department functions to longterm planning for athletics. He was also in charge of handling student-athlete eligibility and compliance for all 18 varsity sports on campus. Stewart’s new duties include providing strategic leadership and directing internal operations for the college’s 18 intercollegiate sports. He will also be responsible for managing the department’s personnel, facilities, and day-today operations. But as an athletic director during the COVID-19 pandemic, Stewart already faces a new challenge. The California Community College Athletics Association announced a contingency plan for the 2020-21 academic year that moves all sports to the spring semester and reduces the maximum number of contests or competition dates currently permitted by 30%. The plan, approved July 9, includes regional postseason competition but no state championships for the 2020-21 year. Stewart aims to ensure fall semester athletes do not fall behind and retain eligibility for the sports season throughout the
PHOTO COURTESY OF RCC ATHLETICS
Kaladon Stewart, Riverside City College’s new acting athletic director, is pictured. contingency plan. “We want to make sure that our students are persistent through their classes,” Stewart said. “We all also want to make sure our student-athletes are matriculating. We want to ensure alternately that our student success is not hampered because of the fall season being postponed until the spring.” Stewart explained that all of RCC’s sports teams already share the facilities throughout the
whole year, so 18 teams sharing facilities in the spring should not prove itself especially difficult. The acting athletic director also wants to implement “Coaches Corner” workshops that directly relate to the CCCAA constitution and bylaws. The sessions will include various scenarios that assess the coaches’ level of knowledge when dealing with a current or prospective student-athlete. Stewart was appointed to the
position by an administrator, unlike interim athletic directors who go through several hiring committees and have to pass paper background checks. He replaces Jim Wooldridge who was athletic director since 2015. As acting athletic director, Stewart will go through a three to six month trial period and will be taken into consideration for the permanent job along with other candidates. He replaces Jim Wooldridge, who retired in June.
NBA COVID-19 safety regulations good, MLB bad Society could learn something about pandemic safety from the pros
ERIK GALICIA EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Be like the NBA. The COVID-19 safety protocols they unveiled in June are based on CDC guidance and involve constant testing for players and staff who live in what has come to be known as “The Bubble.” Only 22 of the NBA’s 30 teams were invited to the bubble this year, which is located in the Disney World campus in Orlando, Florida. But even the teams’ arrivals in Orlando were subject to an extremely restrictive process.
Participating players and essential staff had to self-isolate before their arrival and continue to quarantine once in Orlando until they tested negative twice, 24 hours apart. Team workouts began July 1 with only eight players at a time allowed in team facilities. The league’s rules are so comprehensive that they prohibit players from sharing towels and even handling mouthpieces regularly. According to USA Today, the rules even go as far as to prohibit players from “licking hands” on the court. Perhaps the most interesting part of the plan is the violation reporting hotline, which all participants are encouraged to use. Players caught breaking the rules could be fined or kicked off the campus. The 113-page plan has been called over the top, but it is working. Do not be like the MLB. The league’s 2020 season reflects the country’s response to COVID-19.
IMAGE COURTESY OF PIXABAY.COM
The MLB’s 101-page plan is inadequate and relies on an honor system that simply asks participants to make responsible decisions. Like the U.S., the MLB does not require uniformity in its approach to the pandemic as it asks all 30 teams to develop their own COVID-19 action plans in regard to players who test positive and those who are immunocompromised. It kind of sounds like Washington allowing California to do one thing, Arizona to do
another, and expecting to navigate the pandemic successfully. The MLB’s failures were put on display in early August when seven St. Louis Cardinals and six of their staff tested positive for the virus. The outbreak severely disrupted their schedule and they are now expected to play the final 45 games of the regular season in 39 days. Again, there is no certainty that they will even make it through the season. In fact, the chances of us seeing a World Series this year
seem to be slimming with each passing day. Like in many of our lives during this pandemic, disruptions in the MLB have become routine. Reality and the idea of “when this is over” seem to be social distancing from each other. But if we took protocols as seriously as the NBA does, we might have been on our way out of quarantine by now. Granted, the NBA saw its fair share of positive tests in July. But Politico reported Aug. 16 that the NBA entered its fourth consecutive week with no positive tests among its 344 active players. Though absolutely nothing is certain these days, the league is well on its way to crowning a champion this season. How many times do we have to go through this? How many elderly mothers of pandemicdeniers have to contract the virus and die before all the skeptics decide protocols are to be taken seriously? You want your sports back? Be like the NBA.
V IEWS K-12 schools fail to effectively reopen “Without debate, without criticism,
no administration and no country can
succeed and no republic can survive .”
- John F. Kennedy
August 20, 2020
COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing as schools reopen to maskless crowds
ERIK GALICIA EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
By now you may have seen the viral photos of a crowded Georgia high school hallway taken Aug. 4, the first day of the fall semester. A few students were seen wearing masks. The vast majority were not as they squeezed through the locker-lined walkway in the closest possible proximity to each other. There is absolutely no way they could have practiced any sort of COVID-19 safety in that environment. Nine students and staff at North Paulding High School tested positive for the virus after just one week of face-to-face instruction. How could anyone have expected a different outcome? We all want to return to our normal lives, but the idea of opening schools right now is simply mindless. The ridiculousness is not unique to Georgia. California parents filed a lawsuit against Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 29 in hopes of forcing the state to allow in-person instruction in K-12 schools. NBC reported Jesse Petrilla, a plaintiff in the lawsuit with two
PHOTO COURTESY OF TWITTER
Dozens of maskless students are seen crowding a hallway Aug. 4 at North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia. The now viral photo was taken by a student and posted on social media. Nine students and staff tested positive for COVID-19 after just one week of class. children, argues the negatives of closed schools outweigh the risk of COVID-19. The suit also cites CDC data that says children below the age of 17 are hospitalized for COVID-19 at a rate far lower than adults. We are six months into a pandemic that has killed over 773,000 people worldwide. The over 21.8 million COVID-19 cases in the world have established that this virus is highly contagious. Yet, people in America continue to cling to their stubbornness in the name of “freedom.” It’s true. Not as many children die from COVID-19 as adults do.
But it’s also true that children have died from the virus. Is there anything worse than children dying due to adult negligence? Most children can easily grasp the concept of how a contagious virus spreads across vast distances. Here’s one way of putting it: Kids without personal protective equipment crowd a school during a deadly pandemic in a state that is rapidly nearing 300,000 confirmed cases of the virus. One kid infects another, which infects another and so on. Those kids go home, without showing symptoms,
and infect the elderly, which constitute the largest percentage of COVID-19 deaths. Some of the asymptomatic infected eventually travel and party with complete disregard for reality. This is not rocket science. There is no academic, scientific, philosophical or political debate to be had at this point. Even President Donald Trump, the father of scientific denial, recently began to make masked appearances on national television to admit the validity of the COVID-19 pandemic. What more will it take for the factually-deprived to realize that this pandemic is serious?
Granted, there are a number of valid frustrations over K-12 schools being closed this fall semester. But these frustrations do not amount to valid arguments for reopening schools. Parents across the world are struggling to find childcare while they are away on essential work. Many college students are parents themselves and are struggling to support their families. Times are tough for everyone. But the broken record continues. As long as the asinine decisions continue, the financial struggles, frustrations and avoidable deaths will too.
Donald Trump’s ‘birther’ hoax is racsist The president smears Kamala Harris with a false xenophobic conspiracy
JONATHAN RAMIREZ STAFF REPORTER
President Donald Trump again resorted to xenophobia and reignited the familiar “birther” conspiracy against his political opponent Kamala Harris with no basis in reality. After Joe Biden chose Harris
to be his running mate Aug. 11, I was mentally prepared to roll my eyes at the potential racist or sexist remarks coming from Trump, if any. Not only was I half right, but he even went as far as to question her eligibility to serve as a president or vice president. He launched his ignorant attack on Aug. 14 when speaking to reporters. “I heard it today that she doesn’t meet the requirements,” President Trump said. “I have no idea if that’s right. I would have thought, I would have assumed, that the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for vice president.” The president made the claims about Harris based on
a debunked and widely refuted op-ed in Newsweek written by John Eastman. Newsweek has since apologized for the article and claims full accountability with an added editor’s note now at the top of the piece. The article will remain online for the sake of transparency with the editor’s note attached. When asked about the op-ed in a White House press briefing, Trump showed his cognitive dissonance by praising Eastman, asserting that the article was written by a “very qualified and very talented lawyer.” “This op-ed is being used by some as a tool to perpetuate racism and xenophobia,” the editor’s note states. “We apologize. The op-ed was never intended to spark or to take part
in the racist lie of Birtherism.” Kamala Harris was born in Oakland, California in 1964, years after her parents emigrated to the United States. Her father is Jamaican and her mother was Indian. Yes, she’s allowed to run for vice president. We are in a bizarre reality when it is necessary to explain to the President of the United States the difference between naturalization and natural born citizens. With so much knowledge at his disposal, it seems that the president still does not grasp the core concept of the 14th amendment and simply believes whatever headline he reads without really reading the contents.
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside,” the 14th amendment states. He continues to double down on the birther conspiracy in his hate fueled presidential campaign by calling Harris “Phony Kamala,” engaging his supporters with deception and falsehoods with ads and tweets using childish nicknames. The president is resorting to the same old tactics he used against former president Barack Obama with baseless reasoning in order to get a rise out of his supporters, who will believe whatever he says regardless of the facts.
August 20, 2020
IMAGE COURTESY OF PIXABAY
Americans need more aid now
Second federal stimulus package is ridiculously overdue Welcome to the Great Depression 2.0. Our country’s unemployment has not reached such dismal levels since the 1930s. While the U.S. Department of Labor reported a 0.9% decrease in unemployment in July, amounting to 16.3 million unemployed people, the department also admits an overall increase of 10.6 million unemployed people since February. This is no secret and it does not take a bureaucracy to tell us what is going on for us to notice how many people are out of work. Business has slowed across the economy, millions of workers have been furloughed, and millions have been flat out laid off. It has been months since people received their measly Donald Trump-signed $1,200 stimulus checks and, as always, the working class has been left with the uncertainty of how they will survive. Congress must provide a second stimulus to the American people as soon as possible. To the average person, a $1,200 check every now and then is a sorry excuse for relief. People are struggling to feed their families day
in and day out as they watch loved ones fall ill and die from COVID-19. Some students have had to put their education on hold while they look for ways to contribute to their families’ income. But lawmakers, unburdened by need, have failed to do anything in months and even had the audacity to take a vacation until September. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi only decided to call representatives back to work Aug. 17 due to the threat that Trump might sabotage voting through the U.S. Postal Service. As important as it is to ensure the upcoming election is untampered with, the whole fiasco displays the tendency of Democrats and Republicans to put the potential votes that will keep them in power above the immediate needs of their constituents. Those constituents are bearing the brunt of an economic depression and a pandemic that had claimed 168,696 lives in the U.S. as of Aug. 16. This number will only keep climbing along with tension and frustration. Trump signed a series of executive orders Aug. 8 that defer student loan payments and
payroll taxes through 2020 for people earning less than $100,000 per year. The orders also discourage evictions and extend unemployment benefits, but at $400 per week rather than the previous amount of $600, which recently expired. But not everyone is on unemployment benefits. It is also unsettled if Trump’s benefit plans will go through, as the executive orders bypass Congress’s power of the purse. Just like the president must take responsibility for his bumbling pandemic response getting us into such a prolonged economic crisis, Congress must take responsibility for the lack of aid provided to the people. The CDC reported 11% of American adults seriously considered suicide in June, up 50% from 2019. It also reported 40% of Americans are experiencing some type of pandemic-related substance abuse or mental health issue. It cannot be denied that financial struggle has some influence over these troubling statistics. People are becoming desperate. Lawmakers must step away from their vacations at their lavish summer homes and act now.
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