A national service response to a national disaster

We can’t spend our way out of our problems, but we can serve our way out of them together.

Roll Call- By AnnMaura Connolly and Eric TanenblattPosted May 6, 2020 at 1:48pm

Faris Albakheet, left, of Busboys and Poets, and Robert Laster of Saval Foodservice, distribute free food to restaurant industry workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic at Fourteenth and V Streets Northwest in Washington, D.C., on April 17.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The crises the United States knows best — fires and floods, hurricanes and tornadoes, school shootings and mass violence — have all been proximate to individual communities or states.

Government and civil society are prepared for this backyard disaster paradigm because we’ve been called to respond to so many before. But the coronavirus pandemic is a uniquely national crisis affecting every nook and cranny of the country, and policymakers have struggled to develop a “whole of America” response.

Predictably, the gut reaction in Washington has been to spend money — lots. But even as Congress writes trillion-dollar checks to stabilize the economy, the unprecedented strain on our health systems, schools and essential public services is so acute that stimulus alone won’t be enough.

America will need to tap a well far deeper than its treasury if it’s going to pull itself out of this hole. We’re not going to spend our way out of these problems, but we can serve our way out of them together. Read More