Seattle's Gargantuan Wealth Has Made It a Super-Sad City

Comments

1

Charles... did you mean "made" not mad?

2

"Has Mad It"?

When did The Stranger fire its last remaining proofreader? I missed the announcement.

3

I think what's most hilarious about this is that it's running immediately after "24 Seattle-Area Memorial Day Weekend 2019 Festivals" and will probably be followed up with "The Best Places (That Buy Ads In The Stranger) To Drink Rosé in Seattle."

Nope, nothing fun to do here, definitely not listed right next to this very blog-post.

Hit the bar, Charles. You've met your daily quota.

4

I don't see anything wrong with a panel considering possible solutions to our homelessness problem. I mean, what we've been doing isn't working by anyone's measure: we've pissed away billions and made little to no progress on getting folks into permanent housing.

5

"The people living in tents or RVs are not trash."

Correct, but they're surrounded by trash. As is everyone else in our city, more and more. That is a problem. Nobody is denying anyone their "natural right" to "participate in their species" whatever that means. Your inability to articulate the actual problems Charles, is the problem.

6

@5

To be fair to Charles, he did write a whole series blaming Seattle's housing crisis on shadowy Chinamen.

Also: "Buy Your Tickets to These 54 Newly Announced Seattle Events Before They Sell Out". Haven't checked to see how many of those 54 are Rosé tastings.

7

"will have a panel of millionaires and radio show hosts 'splainin' "real ways" to solve the city's homeless crisis, which, for them, cannot be dissociated from the evils of drug addiction."

What's wrong with considering substance abuse issues when addressing homelessness? I mean, drug and alcohol use was the second most common cause of homelessness reported in the 2018 Point-In-Time Count survey. http://allhomekc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/FINALDRAFT-COUNTUSIN2018REPORT-5.25.18.pdf

8

@6 I think Cary Moon was doing the heavy-lifting in that series.

9

@8

The first three albums, sure, but there was a whole solo career after the band broke up.

10

I suspect that for the wealthy of Seattle, homelessness is an aesthetic issue more than anything else.
As the Seattle Times has documented, rates of crime in the city are much lower now than they were in the eighties and nineties.
And the cities (Salt Lake, Phoenix, New Orleans) that have had success addressing homelessness did so by prioritizing housing first.
People who are homeless or chronically homeless have a primary need, which is to find stable housing. Once that’s taken care of, they can focus on dealing with other problems, like mental illness, physical disabilities and addiction.
The focus on incarceration promoted by right wing radio personalities and their followers has never been a successful strategy to ameliorate the problem. But that’s not really the point, is it?

11

@10 Give it up. Your narrative is going up faster than a burning junkie encampment along I5.

12

@10: If you want to discuss aesthetics, go to an art gallery. The issues are are environmental, health, geographical, economics, sociological, psychological, criminal, etc, etc, and above all moral.

Stable housing is indeed a primary need for most of the homeless, but what about the ones that don't want it? A free pad is not stable for those whom "stability" is not an option. It gets complicated.

The "wealthy of Seattle" are also joined by literally everyone else including the super-liberal granola vegan merchants and cafe owners (such as in Pioneer Square and Belltown) who are at wits end.

13

"narrative" ugh.

someone needs to find these dipshits some new college words.

14

@10

From what I've seen, the "wealthy of Seattle" don't really have to deal with even the sight of the homeless, what with almost all of the encampments being far, far away from the million-dollar neighborhoods.

So what you're really talking about here is the city's working class-- some fraction of which does, unlike the rich, live in neighborhoods within walking distance of an encampment. You're saying homelessness is really just an aesthetic issue for the working class, and any complaints about crime they might raise are simply due to their inability to appreciate statistics.

15

It's sad because happiness is a commodity you can quantify, buy, and sell, and in a capitalist economy only the wealthiest can exchange enough intangible fiat neo-sheckels to not experience the discomforts and anxiety of engineered financial insecurity.

16

That panel is pretty much a list of Seattle's Worst People.

17

@13

Somehow I doubt it would be any better if non-arguments like that were made with words like "paradigm" or "construct" or "intersection" or even good old "exegesis."

18

@15: Curious did you miss an "if that that first sentence? Did you mean "because if happiness" or "because happiness"?

Makes a big difference.

19

How about handing out $100 and one-way greyhound tickets to Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi. They're already funded nearly 100% by the Feds. Make our problem their problem.

21

@7,

Addiction is undeniably a necessary discussion point. Though I think Charles is reasonably concerned that it'll be the only one (at the very least given a disproportionate amount of consideration) amongst a panel of right wingers. And @11 there would certainly lend credence to that concern. Also, your link shows mental health issues coming in at a pretty distant 9% amongst causes, which screams that the self-reported element here should probably be taken with a grain of salt (and I fully realize that addiction is probably also substantially under-reported, though in my experience mental health absolutely has GOT to be the most significant element to address.)

23

@20: “It's a bunch of assholes virtue signalling while being a part of the problem themselves.”

That’s a really good description of our City Council, right as they enacted the EHT.

24

@22: Yeah, now that tariffs are being paid by the consumer, it tempers inflation and thereby inhibits the Federal Reserve from raising interest rages - a nice combo for Wall Street. Donald is a genius.

25

Seattle is sad because it embraces Leftism.
It is sadder than other places because it embraces Leftism more than other places.
Also why it's homeless problem is so much worse than other places.

26

@15 Dude, so profound.

"The millionaires could solve the problem of homelessness themselves if they really wanted to."

How? When you're living in tent under I5, with zero friends or family willing to help, shooting $2,000 worth of heroin in the last decent vein in your crotch - enough for a nice condo in Ballard btw - how exactly are millionaires gonna help?

27

@26:

The fact you think a hit of Heroin costs two-grand automatically disqualifies you from having any meaningful participation in this discussion, given that currently a dose can be purchased for less than the double-tall, half-calf, half-decaf,soy latte you buy every morning.

28

26
By hiring vigilante hit squads?

27
Yeah, but you get a discount because you suck off your dealer.
Don't be a snob.

29

@27 A month you moron, that’s why I immediately compared it to rent in Ballard.

If you need things spelled out for you like an 8 yr old, let me know. I can add cartoons too.

30

@23 - We get it. You hate the head tax. Got anything new to say? No? What i thought. You’re a fucking broken record, and I’m losing patience.

31

23: tensor is just bitter because he hasn't been able to con people into believing that mass institutionalization-especially if the institutions were run, as they would be in this era, by private contractors-would not be barbaric. He just wants the imperfect hidden from his sight.

32

That was a worthwhile read. I concur.

33

My only disagreement with Charles’s article is that our miserable success, just like homelessness, is nothing new. Seattle has long attracted seekers and strivers motivated by joyless ambition in numbers roughly equivalent to its crowds of feckless drifters. Just go to Tacoma and feel the difference. Thirty minutes to the south, you get a sneaky feeling that people may actually like each other. Best thing that ever happened to that community was not getting the railroad. No Tacoman invented QDOS or free 1-day shipping or espresso, but neither did Bill, Jeff, or Howie.

34

Charles, are the fabulously unwealthy people of Caracas and Lima "sad"?

Not sure anyone is qualified to answer that. This whole topic is a charade.

35

The right is invested in the idea that the homeless are miserable and unhappy because of their moral failure.
The left is invested in the idea that the homeless are miserable and unhappy because of economic inequality.
Neither side can allow that the homeless can experience real joy.
Both sides are threatened by the independence and exhilarating sense of freedom experienced by some of the unemployed and unsheltered.
Of course many, most of those lives are dogged by addiction and insanity.
But just the thought that one man might be a happy vagabond, a resourceful schemer, a scavenger of unconsidered trifles, a jolly hustler? ... no.
We can't allow the romanticism.
Well, guess what?
Some folks on the outside are enjoying themselves and they don't have their noses pressed up against the glass.
Just google Stobe the Hobo for one... they are out there, those wild scruffy characters living life on the edge and in the moment in a way that most of us can only dream of.

37

@21: Self-reported rates of mental illness, drug use, and addiction amongst our homeless population should be assumed as low-end estimates, at least for the purposes of making policy. As other commenters have noted, there’s no such thing as affordable housing (food, clothing...) for someone who will always feed his addiction first. That’s what addiction means, and by ignoring the reality of our addicted and mentally-ill homeless populations, we’ve not merely wasted huge amounts of our money on private contractors; we’ve perpetrated an extremely cruel joke on the very persons we wanted to help.

Charles’ day-drinking refusal to admit the role addiction plays in homelessness helps to perpetuate the very suffering and misery he chided in this essay.

38

Cheeses, chill. The solution to all this clattertrap is simple: Washington's Democratic Party needs to grow some hair on its fat ass and replace Washington's regressive sales tax with a progressive income tax. There. Instant disruption in virtually every socio-economic mechanism in Seattle and the state. Topsey turvey. Billionaires scattering like cockroaches. Foreign capital fire drill. (Heh.) Birth of a new monster, the urban Republican. The mother of all dog fights for the new bigger bone. It'll be great fun. Cheer you right up, Charles.

39

I suspect the "END GAME" is some "FINAL SOLUTION" for that panel.

40

I think Charles isn't denying that the homeless may struggle with addiction, he is arguing that "solving" addiction (hahaha) or more likely disapearing the addicted isn't a solution to homelessness. Moreover, we need to stop accepting that homelessness=addiction=criminal because that isn't helping to solving any of those three independent problems.

Offering solutions to addiction for people who can't afford a million dollar month long luxury getaway with dubious efficacy or who can't simply be convinced by child abusing megalomaniacs, er, clergy, that they should moral their way out of a disorder would certainly help many people, both homeless and struggling, and might make treatment something even successful people don't sing about refusing shortly before offing themselves, but it won't solve homelessness.

Putting people in houses and/or treating every person who has ever touched a mind altering substance won't stop jerks from walking up, boldly in the middle of the day on camera, and grabbing your boxes off your doorstep or out of your car before driving away, and it won't keep strange people and Stranger writers out of downtown.

And locking people up for loosing a home won't keep more people from loosing homes, won't solve anyone's addiction, and will start the kind of class war that ends in people loosing their heads.

These three problems, and some additional related ones (what do we do about the kleptocrats who make housing and everything else unaffordable by stashing their ill gotten wealth in Seattle's healthy property investment market? What do we do about the global environmental crisis when we can't even get people to invest in having enough fish to feed local species?) need to be solved individually, and with awareness that the problems may relate in some ways, but that one solution doesn't solve all problems. Then we won't be so "sad" when things end up complicated.

41

@39 - Since they seem to like The Avengers, I am assuming thy would also be okay with “Infinity War (on the homeless, poor, mentally ill, and drug-addicted).”

@37 - Same old shit from you, different day. The sickest joke is your endless repetition of specious bullshit you pulled straight out your ass. You think you’re a social work expert and a trial judge. You’re neither. You just an ignant fool.

42

@31: I agree; bashing a straw man gives you a better chance of not losing your argument than does actually engaging in dialog.

So, in the case of a thief who has repeatedly stolen to feed his addiction, and refused treatment, how do we proceed? Simply lock him up for theft, no treatment offered? Mandatory treatment, with or without incarceration? Do nothing, and allow him to continue preying on the rest of us? Or have you something else in mind?

(Yes, you’ve been asked this before, and you’ve failed to answer. I boldly predict more of the same. If you want to prove me wrong, here’s your chance.)

43

"Anti-homeless hate group leaders" Whole office found this hilarious. Like pee your pants hilarious.

44

@42 - Decided to direct your brilliance at Alaskan...parnell instead of me, huh? Smart move to admit defeat. I play a little rough for someone like you.

Tick, tock on the clock but the party don’t stop...

45

@42 - “Stop bashing straw men! Oh hey, how about this drug-addicted thief I made up? What would you do about HIM? Huh? Huh? You probably won’t answer me again.”

Yeah, cuz your question is fucking stupid. He should ignore it.

46

You guys all failed.

Never read the comments.

47

@45

I think there might be at least a few real drug-addicted thieves out there.

Tensor's problem is that he thinks we already have the funds available to provide the prison beds and manpower to lock up all the addicted criminals, keep them locked up until they aren't addicted anymore, and also have roustabouts posted at every underpass and patrolling every greenbelt, median, and downtown sidewalk 24/7 to tear down any tents as soon as they're pitched, and also set up checkpoints at every road into town to verify the gainful employment papers of anyone trying to enter the city.

It would take a small army of adequately trained law-enforcement personnel, and acres of purpose-built facilities, and tensor seems to believe we can afford it all just by being more efficient about ordering coffee creamer for the dog-catchers' breakroom.

And really, if we've already got that vast sum just sitting there waiting to be squeezed out of the current government budget, why not use a bit of it to build public (not "affordable," not "low income"-- public) housing while we're at it?

48

@47 - You are preaching to the choir. tensor’s solution to everything is citations, because “LAW and shit.” ‘Cept: 1. It’s not illegal to be homeless. 2. We already arrest thieves. 3. Everything you said. 4. Actual social workers will tell you you house people first, then treat. Is Seattle doing an effective job of implementing housing first? Probably not, but nuanced constructive critiques aren’t tensor’s (or any Safe Seattle types’) jam. Fear-mongering about needles and bicycle thefts is.

49

In this depressing state of affairs, no matter how much money grows in this city, it is doomed to remain unhappy.

Oh, I dunno. I feel pretty happy. And so do my friends. It's great to throw off the chains of socialist failure.

If you want an alternative viewpoint to that of Mr. Mudede, come on over to Safe Seattle. As long as you keep it polite, we'd love to hear your input.

50

Sure, addicts need housing first to deal with addiction. In other news, jails are a form of housing. Maybe if they are all put there, they won't make actual affordable housing suck for normal people, require tremendous amount of extra money for services most people don't require, and also make any homeless services a magnet of, in this case quite justified, NIMBY hate.

51

@47: In August 2016, we voters in Seattle enacted a $290M affordable housing levy, much to the ignorance of Nikkita Oliver — and to you as well, apparently.

If you did know, then I guess you simply regard a quarter of a billion plus as just so much chump change — but locking up a few criminals, sweeping more encampments, and otherwise enforcing our health and safety laws will just break our bank. If we get an outbreak of Hep’ A, like San Diego did, you’ll tell relatives of the dead victims it was just too gosh darn costly to save those lives?

(And of course we’d have to round up and intern everyone living on our streets, because after word got out of the first few dozen sweeps and arrests, no one else would budge, right? Is that truly how you think this works?)

52

@51 - Wow. So many words.

Here’s some words for you. Dipshit. Halfwit. Bumblefuck. Times up.

53

@51

See? You still don't have a funding plan.

Or anything remotely resembling a realistic estimate of the budget you'd need -- a quarter billion wouldn't even fund six months of the fantasy you've outlined.

I assume you're aware of the fact that when the city clears a site of tents today, what the people who sleep in those tents do is wait an hour or two for the police to leave, and then set the tents up again across the street, or down the block.

How long do you think you're going to be able to keep a people in prison for trespassing, if you're going to have the cops start throwing them in jail instead of handing out citations? What's your plan if the cops don't find clear evidence of additional criminal activity on all of the people in an encampment? Or even half of them? How many prison beds do you think are currently available for trespassers?

How do YOU think this works?

54

Charles is relatively new here, but the whole Seattle on the brink of destruction by tech\business thing has been going on for 40+ years. Yes, it happened, but in the opposite way most hoped it would... We prefer Schadenfreude.

55

@53: No one else is required to play along with your ludicrously unneeded (and unconstitutional) prison-in-the-sky fantasy. You want to formulate an estimate for that? Go right ahead. I’m sure it will be every bit as well-informed as your knowledge of what Seattle really is doing to provide affordable housing for residents who actually make positive contributions to our city. (Good luck with that estimate; you’re so lazy, you couldn’t even be bothered to pull that quarter-billion figure out of your own ass.) This isn’t an unsanctioned encampment; you yourself have pick up any garbage you toss around.

And we’ll take your suggestion: your account of rousting the unsanctioned homeless campers omitted the steps of us offering them shelter, and of them refusing, because they can’t bring drugs, or stolen property to pay for drugs, into our shelters. Eliminating those costly and unnecessary steps should knock your estimate down by quite a bit, I agree.

56

@55 - You forgot to call him Internet Tough Guy, but otherwise, your classic form here is impeccable, right down to re-using a line you read in one of my comments. All your usual gifts are on full display today. Bravo. Simply bravo.

57

@18

Thank you for pointing out that ambiguous discrepancy. I prefer to leave it open-ended, as the expanded meaning is more profound without specification in the manner you described et al.

58

Since these threads are invariably light on facts and figures - everyone just uses them to reiterate their favorite fantasy about the state of the city anyway - I am going to start contributing fan fiction.

-

The knock on tensor’s door wasn’t just unusual: it was unprecedented. In the couple of years since he moved in, no one ever stopped by. With its cameras and its key codes and its security staff, the building was a hermetically sealed bubble containing a multitude of individual hermetic bubbles, designed for people who did not want to be bothered unless they expressly allowed it by invitation or acquiescence. It was the perfect home for people who don’t like people, which meant: tensor loved it. Who then would drop by unannounced? The view to the hall revealed a man with unkempt hair, dirty saggy jeans (one knee patched with duct tape), and a dark sweater drooping loosely from his malnourished frame (addled with drugs and hepatitis).

“Ignore it. They’ll go away. Or let security handle it.”

Only security would most definitely NOT be handling it. Security had been tased by the disheveled gentleman, who had been handed the address to this building and this unit. Security had had its hands and feet bound, immobilized like the entire city had been immobilized by the scourge of the homeless.

And most alarmingly for tensor, security had been separated from the master key it kept to every door, in case of emergency...

60

OK, tensor, I'll address your canard: As to the small people with substance abuse issues who might be thieves, throwing them in jail doesn't ever change those people for the better. Jail as and prisons aren't designed to do that-they are simply designed to punish, and punishment is futile in cases like this. People also don't usually get off drugs in jails and prisons(all of those institutions are filled with people who are still using), and prisons usually don't do anything to stop anyone from being criminals. It would be different if we use those institutions to actually rehabilitate people, but people like you don't believe in rehabilitation-you just want punishment, even though no one is changed for the better by punishment alone.

The neighborhood drug counselling centers we had from the late Sixties to the early Eighties, when Reagan defunded them out of no motive other than ideological vengeance, were working. They would work today, as would the neighborhood walk-in centers for people with mental health issues.

Institutionalization can't work, because institutionalization can't be humane and it is never directed towards actually listening to the institutionalized and giving them the help they SAY they need. And in the present ideological climate, institutionalization would be run by private contractors. Just read the horror stories that always crop up about privatized institutions.

The solution to a lot of these issues relies in giving people the sense that they have something to live for, that they are of value as human beings and that they have the possibility of making their lives something other than what they are.

61

It's simply not possible to FORCE people to stop using drugs.

62

@60, 61 - This: “...giving people the sense that they have something to live for, that they are of value as human beings...”

Much respect.

63

@59: You "oge" on vacation, muffy? Did you get a chew toy stuck in your mouth when you hit send?

64

snoopy

65

"...no progress on getting folks into permanent housing."
@4 Very possibly this is because THERE IS NOT ENOUGH HOUSING and people cannot afford what housing does exist!

67

"what we, as a city, are doing, anthropologically (meaning, the human as an animal), is denying them the natural right to participate in their species (the kind of animal the human is), which is profoundly social. Instead, we are forcing them to be the most painful kind of human possible, an isolated human,"

Wait, you mean to tell me that that people aren't being welcoming and embracing toward those who foul their parks, leave needles in playgrounds, and steal anything of theirs that isn't nailed down? I mean, why wouldn't those mean NIMBYs want a camp on every block?

Is it possible, Charles, that no one's "forcing" them to be that way but themselves? Do they bear ANY responsibility for their situation? or is it all the fault of conservative radio hosts, NIMBY's and Jeff Bezos?

68

@51 kinda has a point. We have spent, and are spending, a fuckload of money on this problem with no results. Yes, we need to bring back the treatment & counseling centers. Yes, the city needs to allow more housing that will be built. A goddamned kindergartner could see that having fewer houses than people will result in a shortage. There's a reason that the teachers make sure there are enough juiceboxes & cookies to go around.

But the people who argue that public drug use and squalid encampments are not acceptable also have a point. If the people living on the streets can't even be bothered to pick up their trash, it is not too surprising that there is an issue with public acceptance.

69

I guess I disagree with Charles's notion that Seattle's super wealth has made Seattle super sad. Yes, we have some challenges. Always have. I've lived on Capitol Hill for 40 years. I've seen good and bad. I paid rents that were way too big for my income—in 1978. But you work with it. Get a better job. Get roommates. The thing you don't do is count on City government to solve everything. Suck it up. Spend the money we're already spending on the homeless problem, in better ways, as in if it's not working quit funding it before you ask for more. Business people—don't assume everyone is out to tax you out of business, and homeless advocates—don't assume all business owners are horrible, greedy assholes. Quit pointing fingers and join hands. And it starts with conversation not demonstration. Just a thought.

70

@68 - In the absence of knowledge of the laws governing the city’s response to encampments, a statement like “squalid encampments are not acceptable” isn’t a fair point: it’s an uninformed complaint.

Case in point, it is not illegal to camp in Seattle. It’s illegal to camp in parks. It’s illegal to block a public right of way. Every other patch of city land is fair game.

If the city comes across an encampment, it can’t swoop in and arrest everyone just because its denizens have chosen a place and manner to exist that you or I or some asshole named “tensor” find objectionable. The city needs just cause, and it often gets it in the form of public health concerns. They then send in outreach teams ahead of the “sweeps” tensor holds so dear.

That makes it a painstaking process that moves way too slow and incomplete to mollify folks like @51 who just want “them” gone RIGHT NOW.

Such is life with constitutional rights, rights which accrue to all of us: yes, even to dirty people who choose to live in tents. Freedom can be messy.

Someone like @51 wants us all to carve out an exception to those freedoms by whipping up a frenzy about crime and disease. It’s an old playbook. Substitute immigrants or slaves for homeless, and you will find the same rhetoric, different day.

588 people got sick in San Diego, mostly homeless people. It was an outbreak, not an epidemic. Do you know how San Diego brought the outbreak to a close? Mass arrests perhaps?

Nope. They vaccinated people who were at risk. They set up handwashing stations. That’s a smart, informed, compassionate, and lawful response.

It didn’t end homelessness in San Diego. Probably nothing will in our lifetimes. The only question is how much of our own humanity we retain while trying to solve it.

For @51, the answer is: little to none. Throw ‘em all in jail, law and logic be damned.

71

@70: Well put. That poster is on the way to fascism-the "liberal" mask has slipped, showing the merciless, empathy-free authoritarian beneath

72

@71 - If he’s a liberal, that makes me far left...of Mao.

Don’t you wish you had his mailing address? A physical letter is so much less ephemeral than these pixels on a screen...and so much more heartfelt.

73

Okay, time for another installment of a little piece I am calling: “To Catch a Troll.” Or maybe “tensor’s Law and Order Fever Dream Fantasy of Male Convict Emissions.”

—————————-

“Guhhhhh uhwaaaaay.”

The imperative was slurred, like a zombie. Like a drunk and drugged zombie.

“That’s my line, you mental midget!” tensor roared, as he turned away from the door, back towards the calming view of Olympus, seat of the gods, beacon of calm in the storm of vagrancy raging outside his doors. In one hand was a beer; in the other, a phone. He prepared to dial the building to have his ostensible guest escorted forcefully from the premises.

The unrequited tone sounded in his ear again and again. He was about to press “end,” when instead the phone clattered to the hard dark surface of the floor, its face shattering, the case’s protection having failed under the accelerated weight of a sudden drop.

He hadn’t heard the door unlatch and glide open in a silent arc. He hadn’t felt the approach of another soul. He heard a cackle and a snap and turned in time to see the cold blue and white of a brilliant spark, like a sapphire in bright sun.

He felt a searing pain. He succumbed to the stun. He slumped to the floor, next to his phone.

And then for a time, all he knew was dark.

74

@73: If I might add my own mini-chapter to your text, "Centrists":

When he came to, three people were crouching around tensor. One, whom he now realized was Kshama Sawant, was elevating his head; another, the street person he had just pushed past, was asking "you ok, man? you tripped over the rug and I couldn't catch you in time". A third, Nikki Oliver-who had just called 911 and arranged for an ambulance-was tucking a blanket around him to help him conserve body heat. It was all tensor could do to fight off the unfamiliar feelings of shame and forgiveness, and spit in all three of their faces before once again passing out.