Hypocritical in Seattle
Last week, Seattle had a visit from Chinese President XI Jinping.
While there is no doubt that the Pacific Northwest does a great deal of business with China, the question should be raised:
Who is it that our government really serves?
A Socially Liberal City …
Seattle has a reputation of being one of the more socially liberal cities in the U.S. Part of that reputation is that local government is focused on the well-being of ALL of its citizens. The visit last week would seem to indicate otherwise.
A statement on the Washington State Department of Transportation web site stated the following:
“Significant congestion expected through Thursday. Drivers and transit users should expect significant congestion and delays on all area highways through Thursday, Sept. 24, during Chinese President Xi’s visit to the Puget Sound area. Drivers are encouraged to delay discretionary trips, telecommute if possible; consider using carpool and public transit. Travelers should actively monitor traffic conditions by tuning in to local media, calling 5-1-1 and visiting WSDOT’s Seattle Traffic web page. For details on all of today’s scheduled closures, check out our What’s Happening Now page.”
What About Those Workers Not Salaried?
That’s all fine for the knowledge worker who is either on a salary based income, or who has the option of telecommuting. But what about the majority of Seattle citizens who are neither salaried nor knowledge workers? Those who staff the Amazon distribution centers, hourly workers in offices downtown, school teachers, construction workers, delivery people and store employees, etc.?
For the sake of a political visit, which none of them had a choice in; Seattle disrupted their lives for three full days. Multiple freeway closures, downtown streets blocked by buses, police and, of course, the inevitable protesters.
The Impact On Business …
- How many restaurants were impacted by the loss of business?
- How many stores did not achieve the necessary daily sales to justify a payroll?
- How many employees had to make additional child care arrangements while sitting on a blocked freeway?
- And, in at least one case that I personally know of, someone traveling to Swedish Hospital, from up North, for a critical appointment, spent two hours sitting on a blocked freeway.
Who Really Benefited?
While the company assures employees that jobs in the area will not be affected, union leaders and employees believe otherwise.
Technology companies seemed to benefit from the visit. Since they are the companies who employ mostly those who are salaried and can telecommute, the disruption to their employees was at least minimal.
A number of technology and other CEOs benefited from the visibility of meeting with the president of our largest trading partner.
Before we compare this visit to that of the Pope, let’s remember that millions of people from all walks of life turned out to welcome the Pope to their city.
His visit was for and about them, not just a privileged few.
Seattle Traffic Is …
Our infrastructure is crumbling and given the delays in the tunnel, there is some reasonable probability that the viaduct will become unsafe before it is finished.
We can all imagine what Seattle traffic will look like if that happens.
In this month’s Seattle Business Magazine, Mike Dunn, President of Dunn Lumber states: …..”As the current president of our family’s business, traffic congestion is a huge issue and one that the current administration seems committed to use in order to further the agenda of keeping cars and trucks out of the city. This seems like a very nonstrategic approach to Seattle’s economic success and I’m at a loss as to how to address this pressing issue.“
Who Needs An Entire Freeway?
Certainly we want anyone to visit Seattle and that includes heads of state. But do we really want to disrupt the lives of our taxpaying middle class citizens for days for a visitor whose security is so fragile that he needs an entire freeway to himself?
Seems a bit hypocritical to me.