It is undeniable that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed our world. As students, we’ve seen the first-hand impacts on our education. In a big city like Minneapolis, Minnesota, in-person learning ceased for more than a year due to lockdowns. As a result of students being out of school, our community has seen an increase in mental health issues and student dropouts, as well as a decrease in academic rigor and more. The continuing impact lockdowns have had on our academic lives led us to choose a topic directly related to this experience: How can we set taxes, instead of lockdowns, in order to reduce deaths during a pandemic?
While lockdowns were somewhat effective in minimizing Covid-19 deaths in the United States, these restrictions led to severe social impacts. The disruption of daily career routines caused by lockdowns affected all, especially young students. Research from the United States Bureau of Education found that remote learning as a result of lockdowns negatively impacted academic growth in grades k-12. Also, enrollment in higher education declined following lockdowns, most notably among students of color and those from lower-income families. Furthermore, isolation from lockdowns led to new or exacerbated pre-existing mental health issues for many students.
As a solution, we propose establishing a tax that could generate funds to be used for the purpose of keeping schools open. Specifically, a 30% tax would be charged for social events at which the pandemic-inducing virus is most transmissible. Patrons of events such as indoor clubs, bars, sports games, and restaurants would be required to pay this tax, which we call the Large scale Entertainment And Public dining tax or LEAP tax for short.
Not only would this tax help create a more equitable balance between saving lives and preserving livelihoods, but the revenue generated from it would also fund virus mitigation efforts that would be required in order for schools to stay open during a pandemic. Expenses such as COVID testing, air purification systems, and personal protective equipment would all be covered by LEAP tax revenue. Moreover, clubs, bars, sports arenas, and restaurants could continue to operate (although at a reduced capacity), leading to less unemployment and the need for government stimulus. Thus, we propose the U.S. uses the LEAP Tax to eliminate lockdowns in the midst of a pandemic.
Let’s LEAP into the future to save lives and preserve livelihood!