Beer Money for the Homeless?

Added cash to our latest donation. A right wing person might say they don’t give money to the homeless because “they’ll just use it to buy drugs or alcohol.” To which I say - so what?

Members of the homeless population often have substance abuse problems and or mental health problems and probably should stay away from booze and drugs but the majority of people sleeping hard on the streets are there because capitalism is a homeless-producing machine, not because of their own personal failings. And why would being homeless prevent you from enjoying a beer or a cigarette or a joint like everyone else? Our cruel, predatory system has made housing unaffordable even for the working poor. The social safety net has been decimated over the past 40 years through the failed experiment of neoclassical neoliberal economics. This debunked theory of trickle down economics has produced tax cuts for the rich and austerity for everybody else. And you want to deny a victim of this depraved system an ice cold beer? For shame. That being said, Nirvana Wok is never going to be in the business of handing out beer. Cash yes. Beer no.

This last donation was meant as a ground score. A ground score is what some street people call free food – often doggy-bagged leftovers from a restaurant meal – that is to be found on top of newspaper boxes (remember newspapers?) or elsewhere in the urban environment. Phad Thai and shallot chili prawns.

Topo Chico No Bueno?
Mineral water is a great thing, although the LaCroix brand flavored with terpenes like limonene is sort of repulsive. Unflavored LaCroix is excellent. So is Topo Chico, because it’s the most heavily carbonated bubbly imaginable. Sadly - it contains salt. Dammit.

Pizza Night
Been a while since we had family pizza night and it was a reminder that you need a 700 degree oven to cook pizza properly. A conventional stove that barely reaches 500 degrees ain’t gonna cut it. Using a pizza stone or a cast iron pan helps but is not a solution. Which is why a corporate chain like Vancouver, Washington-based Papa Murphy's Take 'N' Bake pizza is such a grotesque scam - a low quality pizza with the cheapest ingredients. Might be acceptable coming out of a pizza oven but will be horrible after being undercooked in your stove. Papa Murphy’s saves on labor costs. You get crappy pizza.

Taco Night
Birria taco Tuesday was a success. One of our offspring saw this trending on TikTok - it’s the dish where you dip your beef or goat-filled corn tortilla in special sauce. A triumph! And also a reminder that unhoused people don’t have the resources to make this sort of elaborate meal. We’ll do a birria donation eventually, complete with all the fixings.

Autonomous Mutual Food Aid Update
HOCS Beacon Hill is taking donations. They don’t provide much or any information about what they are doing, but the fact that they have a branded food trailer and a Patreon means they are doing something. Not even sure what the acronym HOCS stands for since we’re waiting for an email to be returned. Help Others Connect with Sustenance?

Nirvana Wok is a couple months away from setting up a card table in front of the Columbia City PCC supermarket as an information/community outreach station. We’ll hand out flyers and menus and encourage people to sign up for the newsletter but won’t be ready to take donations. If you are dying to donate to a Seattle area mutual aid group that is giving out free meals try Lake City Hot Meals, which is cooking 75+ vegetarian meals twice a week. High quality food and definitely not the swill you’d get at the kind of social services place that wants to inflict their Christianity on you in exchange for a meal and or shelter.

Right Wing People Take A Hike
I’ve developed a zero tolerance policy for right wing people lately … unless they are family members. An example would be a relative taking offense at my saying Obama was a bad president - I won’t die on that hill. Which brings to mind another, uh, president. Bill Clinton. Responsible for throwing a generation of black and brown people in prison for minor drug offenses. And for the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which brought us Rush Limbaugh and Fox News - enablers of George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump.

Clinton also did some good things, one of which was signing the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996, which limits donor liability for food donations. In other words, if someone gets sick from the Phad Thai I gave them I’m legally protected if I can show I acted in good faith and without gross negligence. The bill also encourages federal agencies and others to donate excess food to non-profits.

Nirvana Wok is an LLC not a 501c3 (non-profit) and if we ever start taking donations they won’t be tax deductible. Reasons for donating to a good cause should not be based on a financial incentive. They should be based on an understanding of solidarity and mutual aid and basic human decency. In fact, charity is in itself an admission of failure - a sign that the system of government we pay taxes to is not working. That’s why skepticism is warranted for a huge Seattle nonprofit like FareStart that pays their executives six figure salaries to oversee what is essentially the homelessness and parolee to minimum wage/no benefit restaurant job pipeline.

Which brings us to the right wing concept of low wage service employers being unable to find workers as of late.

The “Labor Shortage” Ruse: How Capital Invents Staffing Crises to Bust Unions and Depress Wages

We’ll explore that in the future but for now here’s this: if you can’t afford to pay your workers a living wage maybe you don’t have a successful business and it might be better for everyone if you cease to exist.

–Alex
nirvanawok@gmail.com