It is time for a wealth tax.
The medical and economic hardships produced by the coronavirus pandemic are falling most heavily on people who were already most disadvantaged. College-educated Americans are three times more likely to be able to work from home than workers with no education past high school, and those who make more than $80,000 per year are four times more likely to be able to work from home than those who make less than $33,000. This makes it unsurprising that the rich are socially isolating at much greater rates than the rest of America, and that both infections and deaths from the coronavirus are dramatically concentrated among poorer Americans, especially people of color.
These same Americans are shouldering the burden of sustaining social and economic life in the face of the pandemic. The essential workers who are putting their health at risk while keeping society fed, collecting the trash, and providing a thousand other basic services are also among the lowest paid Americans. Further, a recent National Bureau of Economic Research working paper shows that during the pandemic, workers in the bottom 20 percent were three times more likely to have lost their jobs than those in the top 20 percent.
Together, these patterns produce an unconscionable result. Those who are doing the most to keep the country afloat in the face of the disease simultaneously suffer its greatest evils.