It’s time for a transformation: “Giving workers a social safety net benefits us all.”


There’s no substitute for experience.

These measures have been passed to respond to the unprecedented nature of Covid-19. But they also show that what sometimes seems improbable can suddenly become quite mainstream. As many city leaders who have been championing policies like paid sick leave and expanded worker protections will attest, not only are these programs incredibly popular with constituents, but they can and do transform lives.

Nope. Not giving back what has been gained.

How We Stopped Villainizing the Social Safety Net, by Brooks Rainwater (CityLab)

The coronavirus crisis has made clear to more American people and politicians what was true all along: Giving workers a social safety net benefits us all.

In these topsy-turvy times of rapid transformation in response to Covid-19, it has become apparent that a number of once-unimaginable policy solutions are no longer crazy ideas. In a newfound empathy and solidarity for front-line workers like grocery store clerks, drivers delivering packages, and sanitation workers still picking up the trash, you can see a potentially re-shaped America on the horizon.

It turns out that we can strengthen the social safety net — though it unfortunately took a pandemic to create the widespread support to do so. Political leaders — starting local and rapidly scaling up to their state and federal counterparts — have been quick to support and institute a wide range of emergency support measures to help people right now.

Many ideas once anathema to national political leaders are now viable. Suddenly even federal lawmakers who have long resisted these policy ideas are embracing paid sick leave, employment protections for contract workers, and even direct cash payments to people as solutions …