I Live In Washington State

SEATTLE — Gov. Jay Inslee announced he will temporarily shut down restaurants, bars and entertainment and recreational facilities statewide — such as gyms and movie theaters — due to the coronavirus. Restaurants will be take-out and delivery only.

 

The order will last until March 31.

Via Kiro 7 News

This is the headline as of last night.

I live about 40 minutes north of Seattle, along the I-5 corridor. Anyone who isn’t living at the bottom of a bog has watched the COVID hysteria unfold. That’s not what I want to write about today. I want to write about people.

Last night, restaurants and bars, my gym, just a 5-minute walk away, was ordered to shut their doors. This is a huge hit to the economy, that is obvious. But what is the government going to do to mitigate the damage?

The Federal Reserve cut interest rates to the same place they were during the Great Recession (2007-2009), in order to boost the economy. But does this help the bartender who is suddenly out of work for the next two weeks?

The average cost of an apartment in Seattle is just over $2,100 with an annual increase of 4% each year, according to Rentcafe.com. What do the bartenders and servers, the chefs, line cooks, and dishwashers Washington now do? What do the people who work at recreational facilities do? Single parents with mouths to feed who work wherever they can? Students with loans, who still work part-time to make the rent?

Depriving people of this income is a difficult decision to make. It sounds like it was one that needed to be made and the Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, is probably right to do it–but in addressing one problem, he created another.

How will any of these people make rent? Pay for utilities? Childcare? Suddenly a full paycheck will be gone from their income.

This brings me to the problem that Inslee has created–yet not addressed: If a large percentage of people are having their income halfed for at least a month, and perhaps suspended indefinitely if things get worse, then should landlords and property management companies be entitled to collect their fees? Now, I know people who work for management companies, utility companies, and those who live off the rent paid them needs enough money to live on as well–but how many people will no longer be able to pay up?

I believe this emergency is an immediate argument for a UBI. It wouldn’t fix everything, but it would take a huge burden off everyday Americans. Everyone should be hitting up Andrew Yang right now to figure out how this could be implemented within months. A VAT (Value Added Tax) on 500 of the biggest most profitable companies would likely go a long way toward this. Sure, it might hurt some profit margins for huge corporations like Amazon–but so too will the fact that a huge portion of the population has not money to buy anything with. Do we let these people get evicted? Do we let them go without power, water, heat?

I can’t understand the consequences of what is happening right now–and neither can anyone else. I wonder when we’ll come out of this. One thing’s for sure, though–it will be a far different world than the one we left behind when we locked outdoors.

Breath Again!

After the better part of a year in Seattle, I find myself back on Whidbey Island and finally able to catch my breath. That’s the strange thing. I feel as though, my 10 months in Seattle was a long held breath. My partner and I were constantly working. We were constantly clamoring for money to pay rent, pay bills, pay for car repairs, pay for a date just to treat ourselves.

Now, in the country side we finally have a moment to sit and take a breath without feeling as though we must get back to work or else…

Funny how that works. Cities offer so much. There are people, shops, events galore, and constant constant constant traffic. I enjoy cycling in the city, but I enjoy cycling in the country a lot more. I enjoy the social spaces of cities, but I found myself always searching for a neighborhood coffee shop that is readily available on Whidbey. When I came back to the island on the weekends now and then I’d release my held breath and feel as though everything had slowed down and I could be aware of my actions in a more meaningful way than when I was in the city.

Here I can drive anywhere without getting frustrated looking for parking. I don’t have to pay for parking. I can cycle to work and only have one or two cars pass me. Kyla and I can sit out on the deck and have a drink as the light wanes and we don’t hear sirens or the honking of cars.

When we visited LA we took a Lyft and the woman said she’d always wanted to live in a smaller town. Someplace not as crowded. But, she said, what would she do? Like, for money. And at that moment it dawned on me how lucky Kyla and I are with our work situation as freelance writers. Small towns, big cities, we can live anywhere and adjust our work load to how much money we MUST make.

There is no worry for us when we move, because one of our jobs always comes with us–and it’s commonly the most lucrative one as well. Sure, when Kyla is in school again she won’t want to spend the little free time she has writing more, but it’s always an option for us, while it’s not for others.

Though Kyla loves cities, we both acknowledge now that a smaller town is more in the offing for our preferred way of life–and that’s what we’re both trying to understand. Our way of life together.

What is Team-Think? I’ll Tell You

Like any sport fan I love when my team wins. Not only wins, but completely obliterates another team. I like to see the demoralization on the other players’ faces. I like the fact that my team (the team I root for) has showed that they are just THAT MUCH better. But that’s also because it’s a sport in which nothing really matters. It’s a game, entertainment, and the following week I can shrug off the win or loss and get all up set all over again if my team plays poorly. Such is the nature of sport fans.

A thought struck me–it’s been striking for a while–that many people identify with a sports team because of their region, which in many ways dictates culture, or at least a part of it. And with culture comes the belief in certain ideals. And so when your team wins, it makes you feel like your ideals and your culture is better than whomever’s your team was playing against.

This is politics.

And Hillary has won the democratic nomination. And you may not like this. You may feel, like many others, that the system was rigged. That the media portrayed Bernie unfairly–didn’t give him enough air time.

Sure, I’m from Seattle (a city that showed overwhelming support for Bernie) and when the Seahawks lose, I say things like, “if the ref hadn’t called XXX” maybe we would have won. Is the game rigged? Were the refs paid off? Probably not–but maybe.

Is the political system unfair? Yes. It certainly is. And the fact we don’t have state funded campaigns is a huge problem. But there’s another problem. It’s the team mentality. It’s the identification of ones self, it’s the understanding of WHO YOU ARE, you identity, with a certain team or candidate that may be the biggest problem of all. Hillary, despite what conservative voices will say, is a great candidate. Is she part of the political system–yes–but when did experience in the system become a con on your resume? If she had no experience, surely, that would be more worrisome? But maybe not. This is the danger of Team-Think. The danger of feeling as though whoever beats your team must be bad or wrong could very well see a racist, bigoted, self serving businessman with zero experience in politics become president.

Emotions and identity of self play a big part in politics, but don’t, please don’t let emotions and a false sense of tethered identity to a single candidate or team, get in the way of making the right decision. Because, unlike the Seahawks, these people aren’t playing football–which, by and large just doesn’t matter. These people can have a lasting impact on our way of life and the world. Don’t vote like a sports fan with emotion. Vote like a scholar with your brain.