Welcome to the Cash Difficulty of The Spotlight

As 2020 came to an end, unemployment soared to a worrying 9.8 million jobs, with 40 million Americans on the move Abyss of Evictionand the leaders of the nation’s business juggernauts rejoiced in theirs unusually successful year.

With every surge and lull in Covid-19 over the past year, the seams of the American economy parted a little more. The rich – including nearly all of the 50 most successful companies in the country, according to the Washington Post – got exponentially richer. Everyone else became unemployed, economically more unstable, more fearful, poorer.

The highlight’s cash issue is not necessarily about Covid-19. It is about everyone else, however – those for whom debt is an oppressive force, those whose only way to stay employed was to risk their health, those whose only attempt to stop sliding down the economic ladder was to intervene Government is, and excluding this, luck.

Their instability affects the phenomenal wealth created during the pandemic all the more. The American economy today feels like obscene wealth and debilitating debt and nothing in between.

At the center of this tension is the March issue of The Highlight.

With a keen understanding of the growing inequality, employees at Amazon Bessemer, Alabama, quietly began organizing the fulfillment warehouse during the pandemic last year. To the our cover storyLabor reporter Kim Kelly traveled to Bessemer to meet with workers to understand why this southern spiritual city is the first to get this far in its organizational efforts – a struggle that the e-commerce Goliath is mightily waging. Workers and organizers told Kelly that a wage of $ 15 or $ 16 doesn’t move them – even though Amazon founder Jeff Bezos made $ 75 billion in 2020 – but morals. However, unions tend to keep wages higher; Cities like Bessemer urgently need stability. In just a week, their votes on whether to unionize will be counted. If successful, it will be a landmark milestone for workers that is likely to spark similar efforts among technicians across the country. But at the moment there are only Bessemers.

The word “inheritance” sounds like something for the very wealthy, but the truth is that for a fifth of Americans, a small gift of $ 10,000 or $ 20,000 from a loved one is all that will help them maintain their economic status in the world To get a grip. As the boomers get older, that number could increase. It is expected that trillions of dollars will be passed on from one generation to the next in the years to come “The great transfer of wealth.” But who can inherit all the money and what can they expect? Vox’s Meredith Haggerty spoke to several people who have inherited (or are expecting) wealth about the emotional and economic costs of making money.

The downside of inheriting money is of course the knowledge that there is no such transfer of wealth, no significant generational wealth, no family support at all. In a personal essay, Lynette Khalfani Cox, a writer and money coach, examines the struggle to be the first in her family to be wealthy, and she own relationship to the so-called “black tax” – the money black Americans often have to put aside to help family members. For many African Americans, she writes, the cycle of low prosperity, low income, and family dependency continues to be a barrier to prosperity.

For many people of color, that path begins with taking on student loan debt. This is one of the reasons some are calling on the Biden government to cancel some or all of federal student debt so that tens of millions of people’s economic futures don’t start so deep in the hole that they’ll never dig themselves out. “The scale of the problem and its life implications have made student debt relief a much more important conversation in mainstream politics,” writes Emily Stewart of Vox. But will those drowning in tens of thousands of dollars in student debt drown? really benefit if it is wiped out en masse? And does forgiveness mean more money to buy home, family life, or entrepreneurship? The answers, economists of all kinds tell Stewart, are surprisingly complex.

Finally, Joyce Rice and Kevin Moore take a close look How debt can shatteringly unravel a life, including adding debtors to the prison pipeline. The Founding Fathers purposely tried to end the old-time “debtor prisons”, but a new, more virulent version of them has re-emerged, and the Rice and Moore comic explains how.

Andi Rice for Vox

An unholy union

With a tough economy and few job prospects, Bessemer, Alabama, has been labeled an “unlikely” location for an epic union battle with Amazon. You don’t know Bessemer.

From Kim Kelly

Francesco Ciccolella for Vox

The effects of inheritance

As the boomers get older, a “great wealth transfer” could emerge. Will a gift from grandma save the middle class?

By Meredith Haggerty

An illustration shows an African American family stacking stones together and the older generation has fewer stones in this picture about wealth.

Helene Baum-Owoyele

Here’s what the “black tax” is doing to so many families – including mine

As a money coach and black woman, I’ve seen racial differences firsthand.

By Lynnette Khalfani-Cox

This student debt illustration depicts a diverse group of people at various underwater levels.

Michelle Kondrich for Vox

There are no easy answers to student debt settlement

From mental health to home buying, there are myriad ways that education loans can affect life. That is why it is so difficult to come up with a uniform solution, say economists.

By Emily Stewart

Joyce Rice

How an unpaid bill can lead to jail

The debtor’s prison may sound mysterious. But this comic explains how forms of them exist in America today.

By Joyce Rice and Kevin Moore