Let's ban Congress from the bathroom

The economy is bad and getting worse, and Congress has done nothing. Despite a government shutdown fast approaching, stimulus agreement is still out of reach. I offer a proposal to speed things up.

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Let’s Pamper® Congress

Unemployment claims are at historic levels, labor force participation has fallen off a cliff, and in at least 26 states, 20% of families are behind on rent. The stimulus bill may have been passed, but the economic effects of the pandemic are well beyond short-term repair.

Congress has known for months that the harm inflicted on the economy by the pandemic is irreparable. With millions missing a week of unemployment benefits between stimulus packages and millions more dealing with housing and food insecurity and the attendant stress-related side-effects therein, this recent relief bill is a bandaid hastily slapped on spreading gangrene.

Pitting himself against his party, Trump delayed signing the bill, calling the one-time $600 benefit a “disgrace” and pushed for a larger benefit of $2,000. The Senate, now wound down, was unable to put the additional $2k to a vote and is shifting focus to the bananaland challenge to the legitimacy of the presidential election.

Following passage of the recent bill, state and local governments still lack direct federal stimulus, leaving them bereft of the necessary funding to effectively distribute vaccines, amongst other key governmental activities.

To hasten meaningful Congressional action, I propose the following:

Until a substantive stimulus agreement is reached, all members of Congress are prohibited from leaving the Capitol and barred from accessing Capitol restrooms. Accordingly, each member will be outfitted with diapers donated (or not) by citizens. 

As if arguing over a minuscule one-time direct stimulus payment weren’t embarrassing enough, doing so with the contents of the morning’s breakfast in their pants should add incentive to send something to the White House for signature soon. 

My proposal came from China

As a brand, searching for resonance is like swinging blindfolded at a piñata, enough swings and it’ll eventually crack, spilling forth sweet attention. In taking these swings, brands must also work within the guidelines set forth by whatever regulatory agencies govern their respective industry. It’s why Coca-Cola can’t claim to fix a receding hairline. 

With this guidance in mind, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) released new guidelines for China’s airline industry, which it supervises. Not only are these guidelines meant to ensure the safety of airline employees, but adherence to them allows airlines to offer reassurance to flyers that airlines are doing their utmost to maintain in-flight safety. In the context of an airborne pandemic, a reassurance of safety means more butts in seats.

The document is titled ‘Technical Guidelines for Epidemic Prevention and Control for Airlines, Sixth Edition’ and contains revised suggestions for airlines’ hygiene practices in the era of Covid-19. The recommendations were mostly mundane, but one stood out: that in addition to PPE, flight personnel wear “disposable diapers and avoid using the lavatories barring special circumstances to avoid infection risks." 

The CAAC is making it clear to those who work in-flight that in many cases, they must rely on themselves for their own safety. It is from this guidance my proposal is borrowed.

Bicameral constipation 

In large part, stimulus agreement was delayed due to Democrats’ and Republicans’ disagreement over a liability shield for businesses if workers or customers contract coronavirus. 

Republicans had been steadfast in their desire to have a provision in the next stimulus bill that would protect employers from covid-related lawsuits if their workers get sick. Taken at face-value, it seems reasonable: employers shouldn’t be held liable for all the potential ways an employee could get sick, especially if it’s not while at work. 

The actual language of the provision went a bit further: it would’ve not only shielded employers from private lawsuits, but also any regulation from state and federal government bodies meant to ensure the safety of workers. To avoid liability, employers would’ve only needed to consider making their workplaces more covid-proof, not actually do so. 

That Democrats weren’t more vocal about the absurdity of this provision and that they were willing to vote on it as a standalone bill is every bit an indictment of their concessionary nature and lack of principle. When it comes to stimulus relief, both parties are equally awful.

Self-reliance, for relief 

Both the existence of the employer liability provision and use of diapers for bio-relief fall neatly into America’s obsession with self-reliance and our government’s willingness to have charity subsidize its inefficiency. Were the liability provision to pass, it would fall to employees to not only protect themselves at their job, but also to pay for any covid related sickness that happens to them while they work. 

Similarly, with my bathroom lockout proposal enacted, each member of Congress would be responsible for the hygienic usage and disposal of their own diapers on the House and Senate floor. Basically, if Chuck Schumer disposes of his used diapers in a haphazard way, Marco Rubio, despite his own proper care, would be in the line of fire. 

For the most part, charity is citizens subsidizing government’s unwillingness or inability to adequately provide equal opportunity and resources. In 2019 alone, $449.64 billion was given to charitable organizations. Since Congress is comfortable with 80% of food banks serving more people than they did a year ago, and with food bank and food-assistance program donations skyrocketing by 667% since last year, it shouldn’t be an issue for them to rely on our goodwill to subsidize their tidy loins.

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