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What Ballard Looks Like During the Coronavirus Pandemic

What Ballard Looks Like During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Ballard is the neighborhood where I live in Northwest Seattle, Washington that was a sleepy little Scandinavian neighborhood when I moved in. It’s gone through many changes over the past few decades that have made it a destination for Seattleites and for tourists from all over the country and the world. It’s where people go to drink, because there are many great bars and restaurants, plus the world famous Tractor Tavern music venue.

I took a walk through Ballard last weekend to see how the coronavirus shutdown has changed it.

Ballard was a bustling neighborhood with many thriving locally owned businesses, but now they are all hurting because of the severe economic slowdown brought on by the social distancing required to stop the spread of the highly contagious, deadly coronavirus. I can only hope the pandemic soon wanes and that Ballard, Seattle, Washington, and the rest of America and the world can get back to normal. I want all of these businesses to survive, but I don’t think all of them can without some huge help from the state and federal government, and from all the locals pitching in to buy what they can from them when they can.

The Great Recession was about “Too Big to Fail”. This recession is going to be all about “Too Small to Fail”.

Update: While drafting this post last night, I was listening to The Roadhouse with Greg Vandy, the best weekly radio show on KEXP. During his show Greg informed us listeners about You Don’t Bother Me: A Fundraiser For Ballard Ave Music Venues put together by Seattle band, The Cupholders.

This compilation is a fundraiser for the staff of the Ballard Avenue music venues that have been forced to shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The bartenders, sound technicians & door attendants at Conor Byrne Pub, Hotel Albatross, The Sunset Tavern & The Tractor Tavern are our family and make sure that we as musicians have a place to play as well as build and sustain our community.

To celebrate these noble warriors, all the artists on this compilation have recorded their own version of Casey Ruff’s song “You Don’t Bother Me” a song celebrating friendships, good times and hangovers made on Ballard Avenue

Facebook page here.

Also, there are links in the photo captions to most all of the businesses in the photo gallery, but you’ll need to scroll over the words to see them. Try it!

Conservative Shift on Unemployment Benefits: from George W. Bush to Frank Luntz

Conservative Shift on Unemployment Benefits: from George W. Bush to Frank Luntz

“These Americans rely on their unemployment benefits to pay for the mortgage or rent, food, and other critical bills. They need our assistance in these difficult times, and we cannot let them down.” – George W. Bush, 2002

“You should not expect a handout. You should not even expect a safety net. When my house burns down, I should not go to the government to rebuild it. I should have the savings, and if I don’t, my neighbors should pitch in for me, because I would do that for them.” – Frank Luntz, The Atlantic, 1/6/2014

Easy for him to say. He lives in a 14,000 square-foot mansion in Los Angeles. What if he lived in a modest house near the Jersey shore when Hurricane Sandy struck? Would his neighbors be able to pitch in? His neighbor’s neighbors? No.

I’ve heard this impracticable conservative pitch for replacing government assistance with charitable giving many times before. It may very well work on a very small scale like within your neighborhood or within your church or whatever, but it can’t work on a large scale when millions or, worse yet, tens of millions of people are affected by a natural disaster or a Wall Street disaster. Well not unless everyone gets paid millions of dollars like Frank Luntz is to sell his twisted political language to the Republican party and Fox News.

Not all Extremely Wealthy People are Evil Greedheads

Not all Extremely Wealthy People are Evil Greedheads

Many of them really believe they should be paying higher taxes, and that they should be doing something with their excess wealth to make the world a better place. 

From Timothy Egan’s NYT blog:

Greed and Need

SEATTLE – There are plenty of rich people to hate these days, starting with Bernie Madoff, who will face a judge Thursday as well as the possibility of spending his remaining years in a cell where he can think about all the lives he ruined.

Bill Gates Sr. is 83 years old, six-foot-seven inches tall, with the kind of thin-haired crown that newborn babies and older men have in common. Though he looks like an avuncular conductor of a giant toy train set, he labors daily trying to give away one of the world’s biggest fortunes, that made by his son at Microsoft.

Senior, as he’s known, has a short, big-hearted book coming out next month, “Showing Up for Life,” which should be handed out to all those hedge-fund managers now filing for bankruptcy or otherwise wondering why their lives are so empty. His book is a sort of Last Lecture from the Greatest Generation, similar to the collected musings of Randy Pausch, who died last year of cancer at age 47.

Warren Buffett, who until the recent meltdown was the world’s richest man (Bill Gates is tops again), is a fellow far-sighted traveler, who has pledged the bulk of his fortune to senior’s care at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – the world’s largest philanthropy.

Consider one example of how that money changes lives: global deaths from measles have fallen from 750,000 to 197,000 in just seven years, in part because the foundation started focusing on vaccinations for such diseases.

Like all but the most fraudulent – or cautious – investors, Buffett has lost a pile on paper in the last year. He made news this week when he compared the current crisis to an economic Pearl Harbor. But he was more forgiving than many, saying that we may have to look beyond our anger at the crooks, legal and otherwise, who got us into this mess.

“The people who behave well,” he said in a CNBC interview, “are no doubt going to find themselves taking care of the people who didn’t behave so well.”

Read the rest here.