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Back to Work

How Should We Rebuild Our Economy?

Tony Wharton

24 pages
National Issues Forums Institute
THE PANDEMIC of 2020 swiftly brought the US economy to a near standstill: more than 36 million people lost jobs by that summer. The Wall Street Journal estimated that one-quarter of all business activity shut down in a matter of weeks.

Among the issues to consider are the best way to get back to full employment, what kind of support should go to businesses large and small, what the most vulnerable and essential workers need, and what changes should be made in the way we live and work. Looking beyond the reopening of businesses and communities in the US, what should our priorities be over the next few years? As a society, what lessons should we learn from this experience? What can communities do to build a prosperous future?

This issue guide presents three options for moving forward, each coming from a different perspective and each reflecting a different set of ideas about what should be done. Most people will find something to agree with in all three approaches, but each also has trade-offs, risks, or drawbacks that must be taken into account and worked through. The options presented here are not ready-made solutions but rather starting points for weighing alternatives and reaching sound judgments. Each community can shape its own conversation about the future based on its unique circumstances.

Option One: Jumpstart the Economy

Option Two: Move to a Sustainable Economy

Option Three: Put Domestic and Local Needs First

About National Issues Forum

The National Issues Forums (NIF) is a network of organizations that brings together citizens around the nation to talk about pressing social and political issues of the day. Thousands of community organizations, including schools, libraries, churches, civic groups, and others, have sponsored forums designed to give people a public voice in the affairs of their communities and their nation. For more information about NIF and for additional publications, see NIF’s website at www.nifi.org.

Author Bio
Tony Wharton is a former newspaper reporter who has written about public policy issues and deliberation for more than 20 years. He was the editor of “Journalism as a Democratic Art: Selected Essays by Cole C. Campbell,” a 2012 publication of Kettering Foundation Press. He and his family live in Richmond, Virginia.