The movement for a more resilient economic future gained steam earlier this month, as Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI) received a $15 million donation from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, on top of the $3 million he gifted in July. These funds will give 29 mayors the chance to research, develop and implement guaranteed income programs for their constituents — providing the power of unconditional cash at a time when millions of Americans are struggling to stay financially afloat.
In a press call reported on by several media outlets including The Washington Post, MGI Founder Michael Tubbs said: “Hunger, economic insecurity, evictions, homelessness — these are all choices, choices that we are making as a society.”
Congress continues to belabor this choice, as inclusion of direct checks in the upcoming federal stimulus package remains unclear, with negotiations ongoing this week and a call for “survival checks” growing increasingly louder. If checks do make it into the next relief bill, our Co-chair Natalie Foster points out it will be largely due to the work of women — primarily women of color — who have been pushing forward the need for cash-based policies for years.
Despite this, over 125 economists are calling for recurring checks until the economy recovers. Through this open letter organized by ESP, leaders in the economic field are staking their reputations behind the idea that giving people money is an essential part of a fast, equitable strategy to safeguard the economic recovery.
Our efforts to inform public understanding of economic issues extends to our Anti-Monopoly Fund work, through our journalism grants program. Illustrator and journalist Susie Cagle’s work appears on the cover of The Nation, alongside interviews with Anti-Monopoly Fund grantees Prep4All and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Systemic issues like rural hospital consolidation, shrinking bed counts and prescription price gouging will affect millions of Americans long after this pandemic has subsided. When more people understand how consolidated businesses have the power to govern our lives, support will grow for measures to push back.
In fact, government officials have continued to take steps to rein in monopoly power. Last week, the Federal Trade Commission and 48 attorneys general filed a bipartisan suit to break up Facebook on the heels of the House antitrust report and other antitrust action, including a lawsuit to block a merger in the online apartment rental listings industry and the first criminal charges filed by the Department of Justice for fixing wages in the healthcare sector. The outcome will depend on the courts, but enforcers’ return to a robust anti-monopoly tradition demonstrates the impact of our partners leading this work.
We’re also ensuring that the effects of the pandemic’s economic fallout on young people get the coverage they deserve through a new partnership with Teen Vogue. Organizer, poet and journalist Jacqui Germain is the first-ever Teen Vogue Economic Security Project Fellow. Through 2021, the St. Louis, Missouri based Germain will bring her unique lens to young readers at Teen Vogue, breaking down economic issues that intersect with class, race and gender.
2020 and its myriad challenges have shown us that our work is more necessary than ever. When the economic impact of the pandemic brought to bear years of weakening the social safety net and the public neglect of Black communities, leaders pointed to projects in Stockton and Jackson to show people a brighter future. When the profits of billionaires soared and outsized corporations exerted more control over their industries, Anti-Monopoly Fund grantees spoke up, helping the public and politicians understand the urgency of curbing corporate power.
We believe that 2021 will hold critical next steps in the fight to bring economic security to all. We will continue to advance a narrative of justice and shared prosperity, while aggressively pursuing the tangible policies and projects that get us there.