On Being Held Hostage by Elites and Shedding Zero Tears for Panicking AirBnB Hosts

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 tense out there. Seems like people are starting to snap. ‘Meltdown May’ they’re calling it. Are those gunshots or just bear bangers? Another anti-lockdown march through downtown; Cinco de Mayo tragically falling on a Taco Tuesday during corona lockdown; people hijacking construction cranes; native Vancouver Island tarantulas showing up; and now…murder hornets. So far, 2020 has zero chill.

But don’t worry, it’s the end of the beginning of the end: BC Lifts the Veil on Easing Restrictions. Of course, we’re still in a Stockdale’s paradox – a ‘hope for the best, prepare for the worst’ type of situation.

I’m not sure if that’s something that British Columbians are naturally better at, considering how wacky politics are in this province, but we seem to have it figured out with a bare minimum of restrictions. This, of course, just makes those protests look even sillier. We barely had a lockdown here. Someone tell them that easing those lockdown restrictions just means we have room for them in the ICU.

If it hasn’t become clear over these 6 weeks that you’re expendable, that you’re being held hostage by the elites, that they think you’re fucking lazy, then let them tell you with their own words: Andrew Scheer Calls For CERB To Be Reduced So Canadians Will Return To Work. The pandemic is offering a masterclass in who society had deemed worthless. Old people, frontline workers, meat packers, and hair dressers. Scheer makes $133 an hour and has a free house, free car, free driver, free maid, free chef, free nanny, free office and free staff for his office, and yet he’s complaining that people who get about $12/hour worth of CERB are somehow living the good life.

Like Ted Alexandro says, “people in their second or third home want you to go back to your second or third job”. They’re showing their hand. They’re getting desperate. Our labour has been considered essential. Our health has been considered negotiable and our lives are considered expendable.

No, but that’s cool, here’s some planes in the sky! The Obscenity Of ‘Honoring Healthcare Workers’ With Military Flyovers. Or, you know, we could pay them a living wage with guaranteed paid sick leave.

And speaking of guaranteed paid sick leave: Horgan says permanent rules must be put in place to prevent workers from reporting to jobs while sick. It’s really simple. It’s staring you right in the face, Mr. Premier. It starts with a “G” and ends in “uaranteed paid sick leave”.

If you thought Scheer’s take on CERB was bad, here’s our national broadcaster: Unintended consequences as homeless collect emergency benefit, anti-poverty advocates warn. Ah yes, we need to prevent the government from accidentally giving money to the homeless in case they spend it on you know what.

Maybe instead of worrying that poor people will spend their money on drugs we could look at how we’re spending $12 billion on a pipeline for a fossil fuel nobody wants, or letting money laundering run rampant, or how we completely failed to do something about that *other public health crisis* that kills 4,500 people a year.

Meanwhile, did you know that we have a housing crisis as well? COVID-19: Vancouver city staff unveil plan for housing woes made worse. “Vancouver planning staff say the COVID-19 pandemic is laying bare problems with the city’s housing system”. Holy shit, I almost choked on my homemade sourdough! Like, it was totally fine before the pandemic? This fucking rube Gil Kelly gets paid $287,680 to just now realize that “private SROs aren’t an acceptable part of a sustainable housing system”?

$500 monthly renters’ supplement not enough, B.C. landlords say in call to double it landlord subsidy. You know this is a glorified landlord subsidy because the landlords support it.

The Big Debate: Can landlords afford to forgive rent during the pandemic? This is less of a debate than it is a drubbing: “When large corporate landlords cry poor, they are being disingenuous. This pandemic underlines the reality that housing should be treated as a home for people — not as a financial asset for investor profit-making.”

Someone is renting ‘not quite a cupboard’ as a ‘Harry Potter private room’ in Vancouver. I’m not sure what I hate more, Harry Potter or AirBnB.

Schadenfreude of the day: Entitled Burnaby Airbnb hosts are in a panic. Cue tiny violins. “Airbnb was originally pitched as a way for people to rent out a spare bedroom once in a while to make extra money. Today, it’s people running their own mini-hotel chains. I’m sorry you are mortgaged to the hilt, but you’ve exploited our housing market for years so bye, Felicia.”

‘Bye, Amazon’: Vancouver-based VP resigns over company’s firing of ‘whistleblowers’ amid pandemic. I have a new hero and his name is Tim Bray:

In his resignation letter, Bray said that “firing whistleblowers isn’t just a side-effect of macroeconomic forces, nor is it intrinsic to the function of free markets. It’s evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture. I choose neither to serve nor drink that poison.”

This is the kind of economy that you psychopaths are so eager to reopen? Companies like Amazon making billions of dollars firing workers for speaking out about unsafe conditions? Forcing people back to work when it isn’t safe to do so is nothing short of profit driven social murder and it must be resisted: Cargill processing plant with more than 900 COVID-19 cases reopens despite union opposition.

Seriously, this is what y’all sound like:

Another take:

‘We don’t understand’: B.C. coastal communities brace for tourists as province opens hunting, fishing season. Look, you have to understand that you only exist for our amusement. It’s called heartland and hinterland. Look into it.

Exhibit B: Logging of BC’s grandest ancient forests continues as Old-growth Strategic Review panel submits recommendations to Province. “While you’re social distancing and praising Canada’s pandemic response, the BC Government is letting these majestic 1000 year-old trees and their old-rainforest ecosystems get destroyed for private profit. As of today, around 90% of old-growth forests in BC have been logged. We’re quickly losing these unique environments forever”. – Jorge Amigo

What could go wrong? Vancouver faces calls to move quickly to loosen restaurant-patio rules. Bartender Alex Black:

No matter what steps are taken by hospitality professionals once we go back to work, we’re still at the mercy of guests to also follow best practices. And there’s no way that a bunch of mouthbreathing anti-vaxxers who think that the lockdown should never have happened in the first place aren’t going to pile five people into a four-top booth and give the entire restaurant staff COVID 19.

Related: The 4 Reasons Why Reopening Could Crush The Restaurant Industry.

Because people are fucked: Canadians have racked up $5.8M in coronavirus fines, report says. Some will say this is great, some will think it should be higher. It’s the same reason liberals and conservatives are not experiencing the same pandemic. Because conservatives have become apathetic, anti-social, “I’ve got mine, fuck you”, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, just world reactionaries.

And probably the best way to reduce their special brand of hysteria is to repair the social safety net that conservatives and liberals alike so gleefully dismantled: A progressive macroeconomic response to the coronavirus crisis in British Columbia.

A people’s recovery takes the positive reforms grudgingly adopted in the depths of crisis, entreches and extends them, while taking the opportunity to rebuild a new economy that works better for the majority of us instead of seeking a return to the old economy that largely served the interests of a minority of rich individuals and corporations.

Of course, the pandemic has blasted open the deficiencies of our economic system, magnifying the entrenched inequalities that the system requires to run smoothly. While it’s tempting to look to basic income, it’s a neoliberal trap: Pandemic proves it’s time for basic income for all, economists say. It does nothing to redistribute wealth and will only mean more money in the pockets of landlords. Costs of living will increase way beyond the basic income as it did with minimum wage and we’ll hold “raise the UBI” protests in perpetuity. We need to look for solutions, not within the system but by challenging and defeating it.

True colours: ‘It has escalated’: Chinese Cultural Centre targeted with vandalism, hateful graffiti. Sure the virus may be exacerbating this intolerance, but it’s who we are. Vancouver is (and has always been) a racist hellhole.

Cowards: Asian woman punched in face at Vancouver bus stop in unprovoked ‘stranger assault’. I’m not much of a vigilante type but where is our Casey Jones when you need him?

Quebec of the day: Two more cell towers went up in flames north of Montreal. I’ll say one thing about these idiots, they sure have conviction!

Ugh, I could use this right about now: 6-year-old runs joke stand in Saanich, B.C., to make people smile during COVID-19.

Um: Vancouver Japanese Maple Thief. That’s treesonous!

Long read: The Coronavirus Is Rewriting Our Imaginations.

Good advice: Don’t Let Cognitive Biases Cause You to Engage in Risky Public Health Behavior.

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