American Elephants


Here’s Why City Councils Often Become National Laughingstocks by The Elephant's Child

When people get interested in actually doing politics, some start near the beginning and run for their local city council.  Perhaps that is why City Councils so frequently make the national news for some dumb thing they have done. The Seattle City Council is an excellent example. Seattle has a major “homeless” problem, so of course they want to help give them homes.

I should note that I put “homeless” in quotes, because for the most part their problems are not a lack of a home, but drug addiction, uncontrolled alcoholism, mental illness. Some, it is reported, just like living on the street and don’t want to be controlled.  Call them “street people.”

Seattle property is currently very expensive, and becoming more so rapidly. So building homes for the “homeless” requires a hike in taxes. Problem is that we already are very thoroughly taxed. The Washington State Constitution forbids an income tax (which the bureaucrats keep trying to repeal) so they have to find somewhere else to tax. We have a significant sales tax, car taxes are at absurd levels, and property taxes are so far through the roof that people are leaving the state for more welcoming venues. But homes, homes, we need homes for the” homeless”!

The Seattle City Council’s initial solution was a “head tax” on the employees of “Big Business, those companies making $20 million or more like  Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks and others who have their headquarters in Seattle. (Boeing has moved their headquarters to Chicago, so perhaps they don’t count) In any case, the lefty supporters insisted that large companies like Starbucks and Amazon have contributed to Seattle’s homelessness by driving up rent and home prices.

They started off with a $500 “head tax” per employee, but new mayor Jenny Durkan undoubtedly heard for several weeks in no uncertain terms from a few of those big companies. The City Council reduced the tax to a $275 tax per-employee. Amazon has around 222,400 employees. National reporters love stories poking fun at bureaucrats, and the story spread across the country and anyone with the most basic familiarity with economics, which excludes most lefties, had a good laugh at the stupidity. (What happens in a company when a city council imposes a huge tax? Do they simply write a check? Amazon is already reported to be looking for another city for a “second” headquarters.) You can do the multiplication yourself.

Mayor Durkan and some members of the Seattle City Council have beat a hasty retreat. No “head tax”, they’ll think of something else. I’m not sure they’re open to suggestions, though I’m sure there are plenty of them out there.

 

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