I’ve spent nearly my entire adult life working in Britain, but Uncle Sam never forgets about Americans abroad. We can vote in elections. We still file tax returns. And we also, it seems, benefit from Joe Biden’s spending binges. His latest instalment slipped through my letterbox last week: a cheque for $1,400. It’s a stimulus; intended, of course, to rebuild the US economy, but in practice a giveaway for the world.
When the first cheque arrived at the start of this year, I thought it must be a rare glitch in the system: why would the US Treasury want to boost the restaurants of south London? Maybe it was a fake. Donald Trump’s name was stamped at the bottom, which made it resemble Monopoly money. Then last week the second cheque arrived — signed by Vona, the ‘regional distributing officer’ — and I knew something had gone terribly wrong.
It turns out the system works fine: it’s comprehensive enough to find me in London. The flaw is in America’s undiscerning definition of emergency spending. This cash was supposed to be a lifeline to the tens of millions of Americans losing their jobs overnight, who had nothing like the UK’s generous furlough scheme to protect livelihoods. Unemployment peaked at nearly 15 per cent in America last April. In the UK, so far, it’s steadied at around 5 per cent.
I was lucky enough to remain employed. Yet it appears my social security number still qualifies me for free money. Now President Biden continues to top up my income. The same goes for my expat friends, some of whom have never worked or paid tax in the States. We’ve hit the jackpot, sponsored by the Federal Reserve.
Make no mistake: Americans are paying for this.