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.


Yoo Hoo, Seattle City Council by The Elephant's Child

From Economist Mark J. Perry at AEI:

Seattle City Council: Do higher prices reduce demand  or not?

Responsible Forests? Could We Have Responsible Bureaucrats Instead? by The Elephant's Child
December 26, 2011, 6:59 pm
Filed under: Environment, Freedom, Liberalism, News of the Weird | Tags: ,

The day after Christmas, since I have neither cook nor serving maid, is a day of graceful collapse. Nice family day, good company, good dinner, everybody liked their presents, went home happy.

Seattle is an interesting city. Very Green, in all senses of the word. Lots of trees, lakes, and environmentalists. Home to Grist magazine, and a city council that rivals Berkeley and San Francisco for sheer green goofiness. It was a few years back that they came out in favor of tearing down the dams in the Columbia (the source of Northwest power) to restore “wild rivers”, and then found themselves embarrassed when they took a field trip to the strange land across the mountains and found out how big the dams were and how complex. Oh well.

Now they’re at it again.  Three years ago, they tried to impose a 20 cent tax on all plastic bags.  That idea was shot down by voters in a referendum, but in this liberal enclave, official bodies have a history of ignoring voter referendums and initiatives.

So, the Seattle city council has imposed a ban on plastic bags and a 5-cent tax on paper bags, joining the nanny-state crackdown that is sweeping the nation. The ban will apply to all grocery, retail and convenience stores. It exempts farmers’ markets where many ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ foods are sold.  The ban begins in July 2012.

There will undoubtedly be another referendum. This latest eco-fad is largely based on misinformation, and numerous studies have shown that if the reusable cloth bags are not washed with bleach after every use, they can be dangerous sources of food poisoning.

The whole thing began with a misreading of a 1987 Canadian study in Newfoundland that found between 1981 and 1984 more than 100,000 marine mammals were killed every year by discarded fishing nets.  The Canadian study did not mention plastic bags.  In 2002, a report prepared for the Australian government by Nolan-ITU said that the Newfoundland study attributed the deaths to “plastic bags.” The report was amended in 2006.

Seattle environmentalists were leaving nothing to chance:

Though why this performance would move anyone, is beyond questionable.  The problem with cloth bags is that even well-wrapped meat, produce and dairy products are inclined to leak.

I am really fed up with nanny government in all its forms, and with businesses that have belatedly decided that it is time for them to climb on the green bandwagon. I just bought a box of Diamond matches for lighting fires, candles and my gas stove, and lo and behold, when I opened the box they were “green” matches, made with renewable wood from renewable forests or something like that. Not the familiar red tips with a white cap. The striking part is all green, and doesn’t strike worth a darn. You can’t even light them with the supplied striking side, let alone with a flick of a fingernail — at which I used to be reasonably talented.

Why would I care if the wood ( a whole box wouldn’t add up to a significant branch) comes from “responsible” forests? Are all “environmentalists” city people who live in apartments and think that nature is just wonderful when they walk in the park?

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