Letters: Thanking our teachers

Johnson City Press • May 8, 2020 at 6:00 AM

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Thanking our teachers

It is teacher appreciation week and I would like to thank all of the teachers who have gone out of their way to teach their students in creative ways during the COVID-19 pandemic.

My teachers challenge me, they are patient, and they care about me, not just my grades.

Teachers have to balance their lives with their families while working from home, learning new technology, and figuring out new ways to teach and interact with their students. I want to thank all of the teachers out there and I hope this letter brings a smile to their faces.

Johnson City

Should it pay to be unemployed?

In their infinite wisdom, our Congress has passed a bill to keep our economy afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, they included two provisions that work against each other.

On the one hand, there is money for small businesses to keep employees on the payroll until a business can reopen, either partially or fully. In fact, this money is a grant, not a loan, if the business uses the money to pay employees, rent, utilities, etc.

On the other hand, there is a $600 a week supplement to unemployment insurance for workers who are fired, laid off, or displaced because of the pandemic. In Tennessee, that makes being unemployed worth $875 per week.

For a lot of employees in the service industry and other businesses most affected by the economic shutdown, that is like hitting the lottery. Very few employees in that category make that kind of money on a weekly basis, and they are not likely going to want to return to work until the benefits have been exhausted.

Typical government overreach that forgets about the law of unintended consequences!

Johnson City

Don’t politicize emergency aid

Unless Trump and McConnell want to contend with even more massive unemployment, they must change their tune. States face huge funding shortfalls, with both Democrat and Republican governors urging quick congressional action.

Democrats demanded that funding for states be in the latest bill for small business relief, along with the help for hospitals and wider virus testing. Negotiations were successful except for aid to the states which they agreed to delay because McConnell promised to include it in the next bill. No sooner had the bill passed than McConnell, true to form, reneged. States could go bankrupt, he said. If that were the option, imagine the consequences for state pensioners, teachers, firemen, policemen, all public employees. With McConnell it’s always political, even in the shadow of widespread financial hardship and suffering. “Stopping blue state bailouts” is, for real, the title of an official Senate document.

Emergency state funding mustn’t be political. Both McConnell and Trump seem incapable of overcoming small-mindedness for the sake of common good, but Americans should resist. This issue is about humanity and immediate help for those on the frontlines. Those “blue states” they revile contribute more in tax revenues than they receive back in services. That’s not been true of Tennessee, nor of McConnell’s state, showing his vengeful political strategizing for what it is.

It’s also becoming clear that refusing to assist states is reckless political pressure for a premature level of reopening, without due science-based caution. With testing woefully inadequate and against medical science, it can’t likely go well. Such “leadership,” devoid of humanity, honesty, fairness and humility, shames and endangers the United States of America. With one-third of the world’s reported coronavirus cases and over one-fourth of the deaths, that’s what we’ve come to. So far.