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An Alternative View

By Diana Diamond

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About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

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Think about helping others in our coronavirus-affected area

Uploaded: Mar 29, 2020
In these dire times, as people are really worried about getting the coronavirus, it seems we all are potential targets, ready to be plucked randomly, without any regard to abilities, lifestyles, race, age, or gender.

I was at a college reunion a couple of years ago and out of a class of 300, 32 had died. Their names were read off, and as I looked at the remaining classmates around me, I could find no patterns as to why they had died -- no rationale --the football stars and sorority beauties, the nerds and the artists, the rich and poor, all had passed on.

The same it true today. We seem to be arbitrarily stricken. And now in this worldwide virus, we are worried and concentrated on those we care about – family, neighbors and friends.

But we need to also be concerned about those who suddenly lost their jobs because businesses have been shuttered – restaurants, beauty shops, shoe repair stores, cleaners, etc., many of whom suddenly have no incomes.

Here are some suggestions on how we may be able to help a bit:

• If and when that promised “up to” $1,200 a month is sent to those who qualify, perhaps we could donate some or all of it to food banks. If you and your family, especially those of you retired, don’t really need the income, why not donate it to help feed others, to provide enough money for nonprofit organizations to buy food for the homeless, the disadvantaged, and the disabled?

I don’t need the fed handout to eat, but others do – and if we all gave to food banks or local churches who supported the poor, what a wonderful opportunity to help, and what better time than now?

These government checks won’t come for another three weeks, but we can plan ahead.

I was going to provide a list of reputable food banks, but thought it would be better if you decide where to donate and give money to those you think are most needy.

It’s the least we can do as a local and caring community.

• I was talking to the man whose workers clean my house every three weeks. He has a crew of nine women work who fives days a week for their entire wages. “Last week three of them worked twice during the week, the second group worked once and the third group didn’t work at all,” he said, “because people were afraid to have outsiders in their home. I understand, but I don’t know how to pay my workers who depend on me to pay for their rent and food.”

His crew did not come last Thursday, because I told him I would pay for them anyway – and for thei next scheduled visit. I’m not the only one doing this.

We should do the same for our gardeners, our hairdressers, our barbers, manicurists, restaurant servers, etc. They are going without any income, and I doubt they will get the $1,200 monthly grant promised by the government, so we need to keep on reimbursing them (perhaps by buying gift cards now that we can use later after they are working full time again), or purchasing take-out-dinners from restaurants -- just to help them get by now.

We are all in this together and we all need to help everyone out as best we can.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by rsmithjr, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Mar 29, 2020 at 8:32 pm

rsmithjr is a registered user.

I have paid them all for not working this time and do at other times as well.

I think you have to include "sick leave" in the cost of hiring people and just budget for it. If you can afford to have folks helping you, you can afford to pay them properly.

Yes, the government should be doing this. But many of these folks are off of the books anyway. [I try to only use people who take checks and assume they are reporting it.]

Posted by Scott, a resident of another community,
on Mar 30, 2020 at 1:46 pm

Scott is a registered user.

post removed

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest,
on Mar 31, 2020 at 1:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

How to help your neighbors during the current shelter in place:

1 - Ask them if they need specific things like toilet paper and share what you have

2 - note if they fail to pick up their newspapers or put out their recycle bins and call them to see if they are ok

3 - offer to shop for them if they are in a vulnerable/high risk group

4 - hold virtual meals/happy hours

5 - gather out front at 5 PM and sing a song/play an instrument

6 - add to this list and share it with others

Posted by kevingrey, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Mar 31, 2020 at 11:50 pm

kevingrey is a registered user.

It is nice to see this post here and thanks for sharing this to us. (portion removed)

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest,
on Apr 1, 2020 at 9:51 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Neighbors helping Neighbors:

Web Link

Posted by Diana Diamond, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Apr 2, 2020 at 11:42 am

Diana Diamond is a registered user.

These are strange times. My neighbor told me she bought some tomato seeds -- and there were 10 in the packet -- compared to 20 last year, and double the price.

How can people be so greedy when the coronavirus is affecting millions of us? How can the face mask businesses be bargaining with states to find the state that will pay the most for these much-needed masks?

The virus is affecting all of us, and we are all in it together!


Posted by Rainer, a resident of Mayfield,
on Apr 2, 2020 at 5:42 pm

Rainer is a registered user.

for details look here Web Link
under the Title:
While the US dawdles, Germany's secure sick leave and unemployment benefits keep their economy humming

Germans give workers paid sick leave since 1882. This is six weeks now, imagine. Six weeks paid even if there is no pandemic! Isn't that a waste of the holy potential corporate profits?

But it turns out it is self-financing, because presenteism (when you go work even you are sick) cost the economy twice as much as absenteism (when you call in sick even so you are not).

“All for one, one for all", sneakily the Kaiser said in the Reichstag in 1882 (!), when he brought in the law dealing with health issues. Only a Monarch, who never had to worry about meeting payroll, would do something irresponsible like this. Health insurance and sick leave for farm hands?

How is sick leave being paid in Germany? By the employer! No hard-working tax payer's money involved? Germany does not even have a Federal Revenue Service, it is all in the States (Laender) hands. But then the Member of Parliament can not get a cut in form of election money from the insurance companies? Oh horror! Who will grease the political wheels?

In Christian Democratic (CDU), Christian Socialist (CSU) , and Social Democratic (SPD) Germany employees must have been employed for a period of only four weeks prior to illness in order to be eligible to claim salary for the period of six weeks.

Imagine the moral hazard! The reporting starts quite informally: you just call in. If they feel sick for more than 3 days, workers must submit a Doctors statement. Which they even get for free. More moral hazard! No wonder Germans build lousy cars, have rotten roads, bad drinking water, electricity distribution fails all the time, the Air Force has to fly German built Euro-Fighters (built by the Jagdflugzeug GmbH), since nobody needs to work. They just take sick leave instead of working. And if after many months, they decide to go back to work, they need another Doctors attest. If your humor capabilities are challenged: this is highly sarcastic.

After six weeks, the sick pay switches over to the mutual non-profit 50:50 (owner:worker) financed health-insurance funds. They pay sickness benefits (Krankengeld) of “70 percent of the normal salary, but not exceeding 90 percent of the net salary". There is still no Government involved, so the political Parties have no say.

At least this free pay is not forever: The insured employee receives sickness benefits in case of incapacity for work for the same illness for only 78 weeks (1 ½ years) within 3 years each, starting from the first day of sickness. Working parents are also entitled to receive sickness benefits in order to take care of a sick child under the age of 12.

Parents may receive those benefits for 10 working days for each sick child up to a maximum of 25 days per year; single parents have 20 working days, up to a maximum of 50 days per year. Germany also allows employees to take up to ten days of unpaid leave to care for a close relative in urgent situations. The ten days can also be used to organize care for relatives.

Similar morally hazardous rules apply for unemployment in Germany. Unemployment is financed through Unemployment Premiums deducted from paychecks as payroll tax, from both employer and employee. Completely dishonestly Germans refuse to call this a tax, they claim it is an insurance premium. But is is even worse in Germany if you look behind the curtain: more moral hazard abounds.

In the United States unemployment compensation is being paid from the 0.6% “tax" on the salary, which is being paid by the employer only. Unemployment compensation is managed by the states, and is limited to 20-26 weeks, and is 50% of the highest average salary, up to $450/week. Generally unemployment benefits runs out, so unemployment compensation has to be re-authorized state by state by the State Assemblies. Which often it isn't. It has the side effect that workers try to get Disability Benefits, which solves their unemployment problem, and which they rarely will give up. The rate of Americans on Disability Pay is nearly twice the German rate.

In contrast, in Germany the unemployment premium (called “tax" in the US) is independent of the political parties, but dependent on the need, that is the unemployment rate. How insanely rational! In2009 it was up to 3.5% at 11% unemployment (again from both employers and employees), now it is 1.5%, tomorrow it might be 10%. Share the pain.

Germans call this distributing the pain, instead of having the workers tough it out with soup kitchens and the like. Because begging in the street is verboten in the US. To add to the moral hazard, unemployment payments also include:

coverage by the statutory health insurance, in one of the about 100 mutual, non-profit, sickness funds of your choice,
help with finding work, including paid re-training. What weaklings!

Why don't you, Dear Reader, find out what they do with their Pension System. Hint: no Trust Fund! Therefore they do not have not-covered future obligations! It is pay-as-you go. The 15% inflation in 1980-82 brought the US Social Security system to its knees, Germany sailed through the 1:4trillion inflation of 1923.
@pitthanrainer, SS Trust Fund, your wallet

So the Buttigieg-type libertarians, and the right wing conservatives, in Germany have no effective handle to demand cut in social security payments now, as the Buttigiegs request all the time, because the trust fund, if not changed, will cover only 80% of Pensions after 2036.

Oh horror! The us might have to increase the cap on Social Security Premiums.

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