We’re always told that “Main Street” is directly affected by the state of our financial markets. And yet, even as the stock market continues to rebound, average American workers struggle to find employment, keep their homes and even put food on the table. Wall Street’s earnings meanwhile continue to break records. Seems like a rather one-sided relationship as of late … but outside the decadent halls of Wall Street, that money could be put to excellent use.
With $26.7 billion, we could …
1. Feed all Americans who live in food insecure households.
For being one of the richest nations on Earth, it seems bizarre that people go hungry in the U.S., but food insecurity is still a real issue. In 2012, 49 million people (or 17.6 million households) were food insecure, meaning “their access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources,” according to the USDA. The USDA’s official food plan for January 2014 sets the “liberal plan” for a family of four, consisting of two parents and two school-age children, at $1,271.20 a month on food. The “thrifty plan” for that same family of four would come out to $640 a month on food.
Even if we operate under the USDA’s liberal food plan, the $26.7 billion Wall Street bonuses would cover meals for the 17.6 million food insecure households for at least a month ($22.4 billion/month). Utilizing the USDA’s thrifty plan, we could feed those same food insecure households for more than two months ($11.3 billion/month).
2. Buy school books for every college student in America this year.
We’re not telling you anything new by saying college is expensive, and, unfortunately, $26.7 billion wouldn’t be enough to send every child in the U.S. to college. But it could cover one cost everyone dreads: books. For the 2013-2014 school year, state and private colleges will end up charging the average student around $1,200 a year for books, according to the College Board. Enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that in 2012, 20,642,819 students were enrolled in higher education across the country, including both full-time and part-time students. A year’s worth of books for all those students comes to $24.8 billion, covered by the 2013 Wall Street banker bonuses with room to spare.
3. But we could also send 771,230 kids to college who could not afford it before.
The average in-state college tuition for a student these days is $8,655 a year, according to the College Board. That doesn’t include grants, scholarships and other types of financial aid. At that price, instead of Wall Street bonuses, we could send 771,230 students to college for a full four-year education.
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