Requiem For a Heavy Meal

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Kristin Devine

Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

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23 Responses

  1. Avatar James K
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    says:

    It’s a shame when business like that fold, thanks for sharing Kristin.

    As to how this could be prevented, economists are still figuring out the economic effects of all this, but here’s a few things we’ve learned so far:

    1) Based on Sweden’s experience, only about 8% of the economic effects of the pandemic are lockdown-related. The rest is driven by people’s reluctance to go out in a pandemic. That means it’s unlikely that Timber Creek Buffet would have survived even if there had been no lockdowns at all – the only way to get the economy to recover is to control COVID.

    2) The best way to control COVID is to already have an extensive testing and contact-tracing set-up that allows infected people to be quickly identified so they can isolate. This lets people continue their regular lives in safety. Unfortunately this requires a lot of capacity to be set up in advance – the only countries that have managed this are the ones that had extensive experience with SARS and MERS, like Taiwan, Vietnam and South Korea.

    3) The second-best way is a sharp lockdown until all the community cases are resolved, and then slowly open things back up with a carefully controlled border, and expanded testing and tracing capacity. That way any new cases can be isolated without locking down the whole country. This is how New Zealand beat COVID, and now all out non-tourist business can operate normally, people aren’t afraid to go out because there’s no risk.

    The only way to save the economy is to stop COVID, abandoning restrictions won’t help.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to James K
      Ignored
      says:

      …with a carefully controlled border…

      I’m under the impression that bigger countries also imposed significant internal travel restrictions.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to James K
      Ignored
      says:

      The countries that seem to be dealign with COVID the best are those that either have infectious disease pandemic experience more recent than 1920 and/or are islands or effective islands. South Korea might not be a formal island but it has basically one big international airport and the most heavy militarized border in the world along with water. It also has pandemic experiences. New Zealand doesn’t have recent pandemic experience but it is an island nation that can control entry and exit more easily than other developed democracies.

      The current American tendency towards culture war isn’t helping us in this case. There are either many Americans who are either complete deniers or at least feel that the cure of government doing something to control COVID-19 is worse than the disease. Basically a fatalist attitude. I’m getting pandemic drag too and it is making my work really chaotic but it is better than dying.Report

  2. Avatar Doctor Jay
    Ignored
    says:

    I also think it’s a shame the business closed. I know a few like that in my own town. I’m sorry to see them go.

    AND, it isn’t the government that closed them. It isn’t persecution. It isn’t jealousy or disrespect.

    It’s disease.

    A supersized buffet is pretty much a recipe for superspreaders every day its open.

    I don’t wonder if the Klinkes, who seem pretty smart, will reopen or start a new place once we beat Covid down. Perhaps next Thanksgiving there will be a new buffet restaurant around for Thanksgiving.

    This is tough on us all. And we have to keep slogging along for quite a while longer, but there is hope.

    Peace and love to you all.Report

  3. Avatar Slade the Leveller
    Ignored
    says:

    I worked at an all you can eat place when I was a kid, as a busboy and as kitchen help. I have fond memories of the Mexican guys in the kitchen, the ladies who worked as waitresses schlepping drinks, and the Greek owner’s son, who wasn’t above a little what would now be considered sexual harassment.

    The fact the this and thousands of other businesses wont survive in this country due to the effects of the pandemic is an indictment of governments throughout the land. The richest nation on the face of the planet ought to be able to carry its citizens for a time. The fact that pitchforks haven’t been retrieved will amaze me to my dying day.

    Also, the headline is a work of pure genius.Report

  4. Avatar y10nerd
    Ignored
    says:

    The usual white rural cultural resentments completely unmoored from policies, other than to pretend that if they had been left alone, they would have continued to be just fine. And the panderings to the idea that somehow their local places are more real than the ones in urban centers which have also closed not simply because of lockdowns, but because people are generally rational and most weren’t really willing to tempt fate for indoor dining (even when it was available!)

    This also really is just a fascinating look at what folks would be willing to sacrifice for ‘the economy’. It’s the South Park episode of the Margaritaville brought to life.

    You wanted to save the Klinke’s restaurant? Money. Cold hard cash from the federal government would have solved that problem. Go talk to Mitch McConnell and Trump about that.

    Oh wait, no, it’s the fascism of Inslee and others who have worked and largely failed to contain a virus that has led to worst outcomes here than basically every other industrialized nation.

    Why? To own the libs, of courseReport

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to y10nerd
      Ignored
      says:

      Many of my friends from back East are morning businesses that are closing because of COVID in New York City while recognizing the need to take drastic measures to fight the pandemic. They don’t like it that bars and restaurants or even barbershops that are around from decades are closing but they recognize this is desperate times.Report

    • Avatar gabriel conroy in reply to y10nerd
      Ignored
      says:

      Not that you’re wrong, but I don’t think it’s quite as simple or as obvious as you seem to be framing it.

      ETA: That’s as much a response to Jesse below as it is to you.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to y10nerd
      Ignored
      says:

      And of course pesky old me must point out that most of the people who worked for the Klinkes weren’t even white. Your worldview is lacking.

      I’ll make this comment just once but it applies to lots of these comments.

      Printing off a billion kajilllon dollars has consequences. That’s why we don’t just print up everyone enough money so we all can be millionaires.Report

  5. Avatar Jesse
    Ignored
    says:

    Yup.

    As everybody else has said, there was a pretty simple way, that other _conservative_, let alone centrist or center-left governments have done, straight out hand money to businesses to stay afloat. It’s really not that difficult, especially when the government can borrow money at basically zero interestReport

  6. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Much like with AIDS and Coronavirus, this was avoidable if only you agreed with my aesthetic preferences.

    Now think about what you’ve done.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      Jaybird, we know that you are a policy cynic and we know that know policy is perfect but that doesn’t mean that good policy can’t help. Other countries have handled AIDS and COVID a lot better than our government did during the 1980s or COVID-19 now. These policy preferences might not have been politically possible in the United States but that doesn’t mean they are only apathetic preferences. One can reduce your libertarianism to an aesthetic preference for chaos.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        When it comes to checks being mailed out, I’m one of the crazy people who thinks that quarantine lockdowns count as being a “taking” according to the 4th and so “pause” should have been pressed and pressed hard in March with checks being sent out every two weeks and the banks and landlords being told to cool it.

        But that didn’t happen.

        I’m pretty sure it wasn’t even on the table.

        So I’m stuck watching both the Democrats and Republicans refuse to give the other party a win in an election year.

        And seeing people muse about how if only we could be more like China and less like Europe.Report

  7. Avatar gabriel conroy
    Ignored
    says:

    I tend to be a bit skeptical of the small business adulation my hipster-adjacent acquaintances preach, seemingly ad nauseum. The knee-jerk “buy local” mentality among them is enough to inspire me to go to Walmart. Of course, they wouldn’t go to buffets, even if they weren’t part of a chain.

    I also, when I was a bank teller, had to deal with my share of “small business owners.” As a group, they were jerks. As individuals, many, maybe a majority, were decent people. But enough of them were mean, even cruel, that I’ve chosen to over-generalize and tar all of them as a class of money grubbers who’ll steamroll over you just for just doing your job. That’s an invidious prejudice, and it’s wrong that I choose to indulge it. But it’s really, really hard to shake.

    But yes, I agree that it’s a shame when businesses have to close and that the smaller businesses are much more vulnerable during this time. Much of that has to do with the government-mandated restrictions. How much, I don’t know, and I don’t think anyone really knows for sure. I suspect we’d see a lot of these same challenges without the government’s rules because people, in general, would probably be cautious. That’s just a guess on my part.

    I wish and hope we could as a society/polity do something to help these small and large business owners, even the jerks among them. I’m not sure what that is or what that would look like–other than that not all would be helped and that some would fail through no fault of there own regardless of what we do–but I’d hope we can do something.

    I think I had an encounter at Rax in the early 1990s. My parents and I were driving to visit my sister, who lived in Connecticut at the time. And we stopped at a Rax somewhere in the Midwest (maybe Indiana?). I don’t remember the buffet, but I remember the Arby’s style sandwich, and I enjoyed it.

    I don’t like buffets as much as I used to, but I used to love them, especially the limitless fried chicken. And the “salads” of iceberg lettuce that served as vehicles for cheese, dressing, and hot peppers. Good times.Report

    • Avatar gabriel conroy in reply to gabriel conroy
      Ignored
      says:

      I’d like to add that while I’m very critical of small business owners as a class, I in no way mean to disparage the family you’re writing about. I know nothing about them, and I know there are some decent people among them.

      I also admit that I’m conflating “small business owners” with “family-owned businesses.” They’re not necessarily the same thing.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to gabriel conroy
      Ignored
      says:

      Gabriel, I’d like to write about the jerk factor but I want your OK first.

      Your comments are always insightful and kind, and just because one of them made me think “that would be a good thing to write about” I would not want that to come off as a personal attack against you in any way.Report

  8. Christopher Bradley Christopher Bradley
    Ignored
    says:

    Do their boots taste as good as the buffet?Report

  9. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    I saw this and it made me do one of those sad laugh things.

    Report

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