Tea & Two Slices is a long-running local news round-up by NEEDS frontman and veteran dishwasher Sean Orr, who lives and works in Gastown, deeply aware of his privilege.
It’s killing me that I can’t be doing these round-ups every day, or even hourly. It feels like every hour an entire day’s worth of information that passes by. I’ve done my best to sift through it all here…
Like I said last week, COVID-19 is laying bare the foundation of neoliberal austerity capitalism. Why is it we turn to socialism only in times of emergency? We could and should have been taking these measures before the outbreak. We should have already frozen interest on student loans. We could have already expropriated hotels and empty buildings to house the homeless. We should have already urged the sick to stay home and provided paid leave. Bill payments could have already been deferred for the poor.
We wanted an end to precarity before this. We wanted rent control before this. We wanted a Green New Deal. We wanted a massive build of non-market housing. We asked for an expansion of healthcare to include pharmacare and dental. We asked our leaders to tax the rich. After all this, we will no longer be asking.
We also wanted a safe supply before this: Dwindling drug supply on DTES drives prices up, leaves users desperate as COVID-19 closes border. It was a ticking time bomb already. The mayor could be using his emergency powers to make changes that will last generations. Instead, he’s asking nicely for help from Various Levels of Government™. As usual, community organizations are the ones that are mobilizing.
We also wanted to curb speculation before this: Investor demand surges for Metro Vancouver apartment buildings. If you thought people hoarding toilet paper were bad: “It is crazy now. I just got back from Toronto – majors players have insatiable appetite. I have been receiving calls last 48 hours from multiple urgently wanting to place money in Vancouver now”. These vampires would have had dollar signs in their eyes during the fucking Plague. They are absolute scum-sucking parasites and when this is all over there will be a reckoning.
We’re counting on these guys to play nice? Will they have to rely on the ‘kindness’ of landlords? Renters still waiting for B.C. relief plan. A one time payment of $1000 is meaningless if we’re all suddenly homeless. A serious question to any landlord who deigns to read this column: if we could make it so all your losses were mitigated, would you still oppose a rent/eviction freeze?
Or would you chose profit over the preservation of human life like this: BC’s Work Camps Stay Open Despite Pandemic Risks. ‘We destroyed entire populations to extract resources from this land and we’re not going to let destroying our own population stop us’.
We warned of kleptocracy before this: Ottawa prepares multibillion-dollar bailout of oil and gas sector. Not urging economies to diversify. Not transitioning away from fossil fuels. Not supporting workers and their families. A bailout.
Our American neighbours have also chosen profit over the preservation of human life. Again. Exhibit A: US senators dumped stock before coronavirus crash, prompting accusations of insider trading.
It’s only a matter of time before things really come to a head. What better microcosm to demonstrate this than the Hamptons: ‘We should blow up the bridges’ — coronavirus leads to class warfare in Hamptons.
I mean, you know things are dire when the ghost of Eugene Debs has taken over Brittney Spears’ instagram account: Britney Spears calls for wealth redistribution, general strike on Instagram.
Fun, but the point of these last few links is to show that blind faith in the market is coming to a screeching halt: Coronavirus has shattered the myth that the economy must come first.
But try telling this to LandlordBC, which is only concerned about the survival of his “sector”:
A concern echoed by our skinsuit mayor who thinks the province should loan people money at low interest to cover rent, and people without jobs should get into debt over the course of this crisis. Unbelievable:
One more time for the people at the back: BC Government fails to enact universal moratorium on evictions placing thousands of renters’ lives at risk. Instead, our BC housing minister is tweeting about her plans for arts and crafts projects while eviction notices continue to go out:
— Selina Robinson (@selinarobinson) March 21, 2020
It’s clear that governments still see renters as a sub-class unworthy of assistance: Jason Kenney Claims Many Albertans at Risk of Eviction Are Involved in Vandalism or Growing Marijuana.
We’re not people, folks. We’re assets: Landlords are Using Federal Coronavirus Emergency Funds as an Excuse to Demand Rent Money On April 1st. Fill in the blanks: Landlords are ____.
B.C. doctors call for stricter coronavirus measures, say province on track with Italy. I know Andrew already went off on this, but I wanted to share a picture a reader sent me. This is Hastings Street near the now closed street market on Sunday:
Meanwhile: Don’t call the police if you notice people violating playground ban: B.C. Ministry of Health. Call the fire department instead. Hose em’ down.
Maybe these kids will listen to Luongo:
— Strombone (@strombone1) March 22, 2020
That being said, blaming individuals when our officials have dithered and delayed is also wrong: Canadian government scolds citizens for not fully embracing its half-measures.
Speaking of half measures. We have to be doing more to protect these people:
— alanna scott (@alannascott) March 19, 2020
Look, I know frontline health workers, child care providers, grocery store clerks, janitors, delivery drivers et al are at the breaking point here, but has anyone checked to see how Instagram influencers are holding up? /sarcasm
Saving this here to read later: What to Do if You’re Drinking Way More During Self-Isolation.
For the parents: Quaranteenagers: Strategies for Parenting in Close Quarters.
Distraction of the day: Stranded dolphins rescued off Powell River.
End times guidance: How to Survive a Plague.