I rode a bus yesterday for the first time since COVID-19 hit King County.
People looked at me like I was either there to kill them or to die in front of them. I think I’m going to walk a lot in the near future. Yet, a silver lining to the global pandemic is I’ll get more exercise.
I’m also getting lots of leisure. If you’re reading this at all, you are most likely reading online, or off a downloaded PDF, because this paper is not going to be sold by vendors for a while.
By the way, I am old. “How old are you, Wes?” I am so old that everyone who even remotely looks at me wants me to stay home for fear that I or they will die. I can’t argue with that, for my own sake.
Likewise, we would not like it if vendors or our customers got sick. We need all of you to keep hanging on. So, we’ve made some drastic changes around here to work within the lockdown. Including working from home. Including me.
One of the things I’m doing at home is keeping track of the news to figure out what can help vendors. Right now, as I write this, the U.S. House is preparing to vote on the $2 trillion economic stimulus package, which promises $1,200 checks for most Americans. I’m watching out for what “most” means. What about our vendors?
The best answer I have is that vendors who filed tax forms under a Social Security number for 2018 or who are on Supplemental Security Income or on straight Social Security benefits, disability or retirement are in. Those who didn’t file for 2018 still have plenty of time to file for last year, 2019, and that will count if they have a Social Security number to file under.
That’s great, but those checks aren’t necessarily going to show up immediately and they won’t be enough anyway.
One of the great things about this stimulus bill is that 96 U.S. senators have finally embraced the idea that trickle up works better than trickle down. Poor people must spend more of their money than rich people, and spend it in ways that help the economy serve everyone.
Our vendors want to work. The day the lockdown took effect, I heard the frustration in the office as vendors complained that the lockdown was taking away their livelihood.
“So, what’s your point, Wes? And, why are you talking to yourself so much in the third person? Have you been stuck at home too long?” Yes, we have.
What I’m getting at is, as you read this on a screen, please think about our vendors who should be out there selling the paper, who want to be out there but can’t, and remember that they didn’t just sell you print copies of the paper.
They did their jobs and also sold you on reading a newspaper. Chances are you wouldn’t have known to look for us online had they not sold you on it first. They still need to be rewarded for having done their jobs. And they need to be supported through this time so that, when all this is over, they can return and get back to selling.
Speaking of what things I would please like to happen: I would like to see Seattle support Asian American communities by strongly pushing against the idea that this virus is China’s fault. So what if it evolved there? It could have evolved anywhere.
You’ve heard of the Spanish flu. Did you know it didn’t start in Spain? It started in 1918, when much of the world was involved in WWI. Spain was one of the few countries not participating in the war. All the others, including the U.S., were engaged in wartime news censorship of some degree or another. No one wanted to give comfort to their enemies by acknowledging that their nations were suffering a pandemic. Except for sporadic reports, most of the early news of the flu came out of Spain, because Spain had news.
There are various theories as to where the Spanish flu really started. One of the most plausible was that it started in Kansas. Should it have been called the Kansas flu? No. It should have had a name that identified it as a flu unattached to a people or a place.
Thank you for reading.
Remember: Plan A is “keep going.” There is no Plan B.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd. He can be reached at drwes (at) realchangenews (dot) org
Read more in the Apr. 1-7, 2020 issue.