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Free Minds & Free Markets

In Seattle, Amazon Shrugs

The city attempts to wring more money from its employers rather than fix its housing problems.

Amazon GoAlex Milan Tracy/Sipa USA/NewscomWe're not yet halfway through 2018, but this year's winner of the Chutzpah Award should probably go to Kshama Sawant, a member of the Seattle City Council. On Monday the city slapped large companies with a new employee head tax to address the city's homelessness problem. Amazon employs more than 45,000 residents and will have to cough up millions for the privilege of doing so. It recently suspended construction on a new downtown office tower while the council deliberated.

Sawant called this "extortion." This is a little bit like the guy who kills his parents and then pleads for mercy because he's an orphan—only worse. It's more like the guy who kills his parents and then accuses them of murdering him.

Seattle does have a huge homeless problem: More than 11,000 people have no place to live. Some people have tried to blame this on Amazon, claiming that "since 2010, when Amazon opened its first headquarters in the South Lake Union area of Seattle, housing costs have skyrocketed." But while Amazon's growth might have exacerbated housing costs, it hardly started the spike.

Mike Rosenberg, the Seattle Times' real estate reporter, noted recently that the population of King County (of which Seattle is the county seat) has grown 26 percent since 2000. For many decades the median number of people for every home on the market had been around 230, he says, but today the area has more than 1,000 people for every home on the market.

So demand has skyrocketed. But supply has remained short, thanks to Seattle's own policies: 69 percent of the city's residential properties are single-family homes. In Boston, the comparable figure is 14 percent; in Brooklyn, it's 20 percent. This is because the vast bulk of Seattle's residential land is zoned for single-family homes, rather than apartments or condos. As Rosenberg explains: "Under the current laws, expanded housing is essentially banned in those ... areas ... because only single-family homes are allowed there, and there's no room left to build more of them."

This concentrates multi-family properties (apartment buildings and the like) in the few isolated areas that are left, creating a bidding war for those living quarters as well. An article in The Huffington Post cites research by the Zillow real-estate company suggesting that for every 5 percent hike in the rental rates in Seattle, 258 people become homeless. Moreover: Rents rose almost three times that much just last year.

The obvious, sensible solution to a spike in demand would entail letting supply rise to meet it: Relax zoning and other forms of restrictive regulation to allow denser, multi-family buildings in more places around the city.

So of course Seattle's leaders have decided they should tax Amazon instead. Then they can use the money for affordable-housing efforts. Or at least that's the theory.

Naturally, Amazon—and many other companies, including Zillow—object to being asked to solve a problem they did not create. So Amazon pushed "pause" on a construction project that would provide work space for another 7,000 employees. For this, it has been subject to protests and accused of "extortion," "holding Seattle hostage," and "hardball tactics."

Well. Amazon already is doing a great deal to fend off homelessness. For starters, it is employing tens of thousands of people—thereby providing them with steady income with which to pay their mortgage or rent.

On top of that, Amazon has given millions to the city's affordable-housing fund and millions more to two organizations that help the homeless. (To which Seattle officials say: Yeah, but what have you done for us lately?)

But more to the point: If Amazon declines to pay the tax, the city will take it to court. If Amazon continues not to pay, then it could be subject to liens on its property and, eventually, seizure of the property. Some people, such as actor Wesley Snipes, have even served time in prison for failing to pay their taxes, but it's not clear if Amazon's officers would face similar jeopardy over the head tax.

Extortion is simply obtaining money through force or the threat of force. So if anybody is practicing extortion in this case it is Seattle, not Amazon. Amazon isn't threatening anyone with force, and it isn't demanding money from anyone else. (At least not in Seattle; the company's shameless gold-digging for its second headquarters, known as HQ2, is another story entirely.) Seattle is doing both.

In fact, by debating whether it will continue to grow in Seattle, Amazon is merely taking a page out of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged: It is, after a fashion, threatening to go on strike.

Reportedly, Rand said she wrote the book to show how badly "the world needs prime movers." The linguistic overlap with Amazon Prime is coincidental, but apt.

Photo Credit: Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa USA/Newscom

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  • loveconstitution1789||

    I can't wait until Amazon comes to Georgia for its available land with trees and relatively low standard of living costs.

    HQ2 will become the only Amazon HQ and Seattle will collectively shit a brick.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Georgia sure looks inviting. Maybe you, SIV, and Palin's Buttplug can give Bezos a tour.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Depends: are you trying to get him to NOT build HQ2 there? If so, that would probably do the trick.

  • Juice||

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Yup. Cause that never happens anywhere else in the USA.

    Those cops were immediately fired and prosecuted, which does NOT happen much in the USA.

  • Butler T. Reynolds||

    All those Georgia advantages go in the trash if they move inside the city limits of Atlanta. It's another place getting full of lefty nimbys.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    It will be outside City of Atlanta. Plenty of land and professionals in surrounding Metro Atlanta suburbs.

    ATL has been a Democrat city for some time. ATL still has to abide by really good state gun rights protections.

  • JudoPete||

    Nearby Sandy Springs is Very business friendly. So much so that they outsourced nearly everything governments would usually do. Cumming or Alpharetta would be pretty nice as well.

  • Baron Von Weinermobile||

    Business friendly is just as bad as business unfriendly. What we need is business agnostic. Otherwise we end up with abortions like the farm bill.

  • Nardz||

    Duluth
    ...If the Koreans will let them

  • Outside the Box||

    Georgia reportedly off the list because of it still has laws on the books against homosexuality, or somesuch.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "Reportedly"

    The SCOTUS mad homosexuality legal. Poof, it's legal.

  • plusafdotcom||

    Legality and local prejudice are two very different things...
    And NC may still be in the running and we have a Little Less of that taxation shit going on compared to the Left Coast.

  • Wrath0fKahn||

    Good lord god. Are Seattle residents really so ignorant to have elected a city counsel that can't solve a crisis as simple as imbalanced housing supply and demand?

    They get what they deserve if this stands and Amazon shifts their weight toward the new HQ, wherever that lands.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    It probably doesn't help that the older Amazon employees probably live in the suburbs around Seattle. While only the newest people actually live in fucking South Lake Union. It's exaggeration, but there seems to be a this trend.

  • Outside the Box||

    "the older Amazon employees probably live in the suburbs around Seattle"

    Speaking for myself: yes, we do.

  • Mark22||

    They get what they deserve

    You mean 13% annual appreciation?

  • Outside the Box||

    Not all residents are homeowners.

    Again, I'm with yall on the bigger point, but the small points have to be correct. Most Seattle residents do not own and are not gaining this appreciation.

  • Bubba Jones||

    They just said 69% of housing is single family...

  • Nardz||

    People rent houses.
    My friend - IN ATL - is renting out a house... for 4k/mo

  • Mark22||

    Not all residents are homeowners.

    Yes, and existing renters get rent control, which makes them happy and also causes housing shortages and appreciation. So, between existing renters and home owners, you pretty much cover all voters in a city.

  • plusafdotcom||

    Spot on... my ex had an aunt in Brooklyn who had lived for many decades in her rent-controlled apartment.
    9-11-foot ceilings, huge closets, hardwood floors, elevator...

    And she was ALWAYS bitching that the superintendent of the building took too long to fix leaky plumbing or radiators that didn't work, etc.

    Market prices for apartments like hers were at least twice what she was paying. Go figure.

  • Sufi||

    "Yes, and existing renters get rent control"

    Ahem, there is no rent control in Seattle. Zip, nada. That's one reason that has allowed rents to soar. When my apartment building changed hands my rent went up 70% a mere three months later. That's the law in Seattle - a landlord can jack your rent as high as they like without limit as long as they give you 90 days notice. Along with Amazon employees comes people who can afford higher rents so that's what happened.

  • sungazer||

    If only there were less zoning regulations, then the market would have builders build 1000 times faster than the slow progress as visualized here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2MTiUGvqyE

  • Sufi||

    "If only there were less zoning regulations, then the market would have builders build 1000 times faster than the slow progress as visualized here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2MTiUGvqyE"

    Uhm, guess again. That video mostly shows the building that occurred in industrially zoned areas including South Lake Union where Amazon HQ is located and also high tech business buildings Paul Allen and others built. Once they were built there was a pause and employees moved in. That video doesn't show the massive increase of apartment building that these employees actually live in outside of industrially zoned areas.

  • Outside the Box||

    Amazon has been shifting employment outside of Seattle for years now, though whether it is because of concerns about the Seattle government (a couple of years ago, Seattle passed a law that in the end required Amazon to give me 3 more days of paid sick time... Hey, I'll take it, but that's *expensive* across the employee population, frankly more expensive than $270 at the rate that Amazonians are paid) or just because we've saturated the local tech market (or both), I'm not sure.

    I work at Amazon but outside of Seattle, in a building in Bellevue (a Seattle suburb for those that aren't from here), and the company is now looking at two more large office buildings in Bellevue. And the number of development centers strewn about the country (and world) has gone up astronomically (Madison, Minneapolis, Vancouver, Toronto, South Africa, Scotland, Ireland, etc, etc), to the point where I don't even bother to book conference rooms for most meetings anymore since inevitably half the people will have to VC in. Which, honestly, works for me, because if I'm going to VC in, I might as well do it from home.

    HQ2 is just continuing that trend, and yeah, at some point, Seattle may find itself with only Jeff's balls.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Head tax.
    Bill Clinton hardest hit.

  • sarcasmic||

    Counting heads, not receiving head. Try to keep up.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Well if that's the case, then it's a really stupid tax.

  • SDN||

    With Bill, which head are you counting?

  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    { Bobs head up and down }

  • emkcams||

    It is likely that Amazon saw this coming several years ago and that is why they are looking for HQ2.

  • Butler T. Reynolds||

    Unlike Prime shipping, they sure have been slow about it.

  • Juice||

    Ugh. We're going to cancel it at the end of this year. They're jacking up the fee too fast. $79 was great. $99 is stil ok, I guess. $119 is just too much.

  • Outside the Box||

    If you think Prime is only "shipping", then yeah, too much.

    But there is a whole bunch more than that with Prime.

    Disclaimer: yes I work at Amazon, but I happily pay for Prime mostly for the content. It's $10/month for music, movies, TV, many free books, etc.

  • Bubba Jones||

    I have not yet found any prime movies etc worth the fee.

    Especially since I mooch the shipping off my sister's account.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Just get a month of prime around Christmas to send gifts and that's it.

  • Rhywun||

    Amazon already is doing a great deal to fend off homelessness. For starters, it is employing tens of thousands of people

    Nobody seems to want to point out that few if any of the homeless in Seattle are gonna find work at Amazon - or anywhere, really.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    A fair amount of the homeless will find work. Temporary homelessness is a thing, and it's actually the easy one to solve if the city is so inclined (they are not). A very large portion are the more permanent homeless though, either due to drugs or just preferring the lifestyle.

    The Starbucks CEO, progressive as he is, even discussed how the city does not specifically help homeless with children, this is a group that is most likely to not continue to be homeless, and the most likely to have parents actually looking for work. This is estimated to be about a 1/3 of the total and is the only group that is probably easy to deal with. The other ones probably do need to be either scattered, or accepted that they will continue to be homeless. If you really want to just build them houses and force them into it, at least they should do it out in the millions of acres of empty space elsewhere in the state. But knowing Seattle, they will build it in Belltown.

  • Rhywun||

    Yeah I was just being facetious - I don't know what the actual ratio is. And you're right, few people worry about the "temporary" homeless, which is really the ones that are impacted the most by high rents. The ones with mental problems and the ones who refuse shelter (such as gutter punks) - i.e. the ones that are in your face - are not going to be helped no matter what Seattle does to allow the supply of housing to increase.

    IOW, there is really only a partial connection between housing policy and number of homeless - no matter how many articles a day Reason seems interested in priting about it.

  • Microaggressor||

    As long as people keep getting handouts for being homeless, some of them are going to continue choosing to be homeless. Seattle chooses to exacerbate the problem thinking they're helping. Thus continues the socialist race to the bottom.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Actually, IIRC a large fraction are temporary. There was an excellent article many years back about some college kid who embedded himself in the homeless population for several months. He went back to work for a few months and when we checked back in, only the hard core schizophrenics were still there. Everyone else (most of the homeless) had been replaced by a new batch.

  • Griffin3||

    There will be a lot more homelessness when Amazon pulls up stakes.

  • Outside the Box||

    And I thought the original comment missed the obvious point that almost all of those people employed in the corporate headquarters (that is, white-collar jobs) are people recruited from outside the area (like me).

    Larger points still valid, but I thought that was a bad one.

  • sarcasmic||

    Not giving is taking and not taking is giving.

    Amazon doesn't want to give. That makes them takers. They are stealing from the homeless by not wanting to pay this tax. They are actually killing people. Because anyone who dies as a result of them not paying their fair share is their fault. They're murderers! Amazon is murdering homeless people!

  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    You just lit the "Tony" signal. He should be around in no time.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    If not the Hihn light. I suppose they serve a purpose here, providing excellent straw men for others to pillory. I am convinced it is a psychiatric disorder of masochistic proportions.

  • sarcasmic||

    I don't get the Hihn hate.

  • sarcasmic||

    I've had a few rational conversations with him. I see the long threads and ignore them. In my limited experience he isn't that bad. Maybe because I choose my battles.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Are you saying you don't "get" why others hate Hihn, or that Hihn doesn't hate you? I saw the other day that he has his own site naming several posters here that he finds especially mean spirited.

  • sarcasmic||

    I was chagrined to find I was not on the list.

  • Don't look at me.||

    You aren't doing it right.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Just accuse him of being Mary Stack and you are good to go.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    I was chagrined to find I was not on the list.

    Learn from the master. It's not an accident that I'm the first person tagged on his Enemies List.

  • sarcasmic||

    Doubtful. He doesn't engage me much anymore. I have this habit of kicking his virtual ass.

  • sarcasmic||

    By the way, I gave up cable. Don't want to pay for it. I do have Amazon Prime, and have really gotten into Vikings.

    All I've got to watch is Netflix and Amazon. It's slim pickins. Anyone have any suggestions to broaden my horizons without spending eighty dollars a month?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    It's slim pickins

    Amazing?

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm not that old.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    If you don't have a smart tv invest in a refurbished Roku Ultra, and you can supplement Amazon and/or Netflix with SlingTv, or Showtime, or Hbo Now, or Hulu, or YouTube Red (Cobra Kai is the tits), or TubiTv, or Crackle, or Filmstruck, or countless others.

    Get it together, nerd.

  • Rhywun||

    Pay for ten or twelve streams and you might get back everything you had with cable.

  • sarcasmic||

    Exactly.

  • Rhywun||

    Actually, not "everything". The new trend in cable is offloading some of your content to a paid stream, so now you have buy both to get everything you used to get with cable.

    This brave new world of media streaming is turning into exactly what I expected - a way to extract ever more money from us.

  • Microaggressor||

    Just pick a service and accept that you won't have everything available to you. It's not like there's a shortage of decent content.

  • BYODB||

    Also, it's the internet so paying is more or less optional depending on how deep you want to dig. I generally pay whenever possible, but if I want to watch The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. it's going to be simpler to just pirate it most of the time.

  • JudoPete||

    I pay 8.25 per month for Amazon Prime, $12 for Netflix and $12 for Hulu Premium. Under $35 for more content than I could ever watch. As opposed to over a hundred for cable. I don't care about missing Network live streams so it's great for me.

  • sarcasmic||

    Thing is, I didn't have much with cable. I don't sit down, turn on the tv, and see what's on. I used the DVR to record certain shows, and otherwise cable was useless. But it just isn't worth it to pay eighty bucks a month to record ten programs. I'll wait a year and watch it on Netflix or Amazon.

  • Rhywun||

    Unfortunately, I watch sports. FuboTV gets me a long way toward what I want with sports channels and a nice selection of standard cable, but already that's around 50 bucks a month.

  • sarcasmic||

    Sports shmorts. I could care less. Saves me a few bucks.

  • sarcasmic||

    I like you. I don't like many people. Take that as you will.

    Here's a bogus email I set up just because.

    reallysarcasmic@gmail.com

    Flog it. Rape it. Otherwise abuse it. And I might check it once in a while.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I like you. I don't like many people. Take that as you will.

    Fuck yeah!

  • sarcasmic||

    Cool tune.

  • sarcasmic||

    Damn, the station started from that tune is pretty damn good.

    Seriously!

    Thanks!

  • Crusty Juggler||

    You got it, dude!

  • sarcasmic||

    I never knew that porn-music was it's own genre. I like it!

  • sarcasmic||

    Reminds me of Beastie Boys instrumentals. No surprise there.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Guy to woman in bar: "Are your pants made out of mirrors, because I see myself in them."

  • Zeb||

    I went from having 3 channels on over-the-air TV to NEtflix and Amazon, so I don't feel like I'm missing much. I like to watch a lot of boring academic lectures on YouTube too.

  • Juice||

    $80 a month? Damn, where was this? I'd still have cable if it was only $80 a month. We had pretty basic service, no premium anything and it was about $140.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Jesus Christ! For far less per month you can have a roc or Apple TV and buy tv shows or use Netflix.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Roku

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    For twice the price.

  • sarcasmic||

    I don't like to watch things I've already watched. So Hulu doesn't interest me. I'm thinking about Showtime and/or HBO through Amazon to beef up my prospects. Did YouTubeRed for a while, but didn't use it enough to justify paying for it. Haven't heard of the others. Will look into them. Thanks. Nerd.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    I cut the cable several years ago, and like you mostly watch Netflix and Amazon; but will look into Crusty's nerdly advice. The best thing was that it killed the intrusion of propaganda [aka "news" and advertising] into my life. And then I found this site...

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Having the ability to sign-up and cancel different apps very easily makes it much better than cable, and if you want live sports, pay for a separate live sports package from the sport of your choice.

    You people are the worst nerds.

  • sarcasmic||

    I've signed up and quit lots of apps. Don't presume that you're then nerdiest nerd here. I was asking for honest feedback. Nerd to nerd.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    There is some good stuff on Amazon Prime: Man In The High Castle, Sneaky Pete, Goliath, etc. And of course, there are 14 seasons of Grey's Anatomy available for purchase.

  • sarcasmic||

    I will look into those. Thanks. There is so much garbage out there it makes sifting difficult.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Patriot is also on Amazon, and its outstanding, and if you disagree you're a big dumb fat face from big dumb fat face town.

  • sarcasmic||

    Oh yeah? Well fuck you next Wednesday. Never Mind. Fuck you for Christmas.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Don't give Crusty false hope.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Someone's stocking is going to be stuffed full, if you know what I mean.

  • lap83||

    seconded @ The Man in the High Castle. Comrade Detective is also great. And I recently watched the whole Monk series, I had only seen the first few seasons. It can be cheesy but I think it's funny. Also, if you liked Top Gear their new show The Grand Tour is good too

    There are also a lot of great movies on Prime. If you can be patient, open-minded and do a little research you'll find them. I think it can be tempting to base the "there's nothing to watch" mindset too much on what is currently popular. I only have prime right now but I make it work because I try to limit myself to just what they have and ignore the suggestions from others about "OMG you HAVE to watch this thing on Netflix because I just happened to watch it" and "What? You don't have Netflix? What is it like living in a cave?"

    some movies I recommend on Prime:

    The Big Sick (comedy)
    The Royal Tailor
    The Handmaiden
    (the last two are Korean, if you're ok with foreign films)
    What we do in the Shadows (comedy)
    The Witch (horror)
    Room (drama)
    Green Room (thriller)

    random genres because they are off the top of my head and I don't really have "favorite" genres, i just like good movies

  • sarcasmic||

    Wrote them all down. Thank you.

  • lap83||

    One more on Prime that you have to see if you haven't, Citizen X* a great example in the vanishingly small genre of "movies that show communist countries as the horrible places they truly are".....also it's well-acted and suspenseful

    **I think of this movie whenever our Citizen X shows up

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Same here.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    See, this is a proper nerd.

    Thank you, lap83.

  • lap83||

    more:

    Manhunter
    Zodiac
    Primal Fear
    Thief
    Rifftrax
    Black Adder

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Zodia is Fincher's opus.

    Thief is Tangerine Dream's opus.

  • Rhywun||

    My favorite movie with a TD soundtrack is Miracle Mile. Quirky end-of-the-world flick with Tasha Yar and a suitcase phone.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    80s film soundtracks ranked:

    The Karate Kid
    To Live and Die in La
    Thief

  • Rhywun||

    Or maybe my favorite is The Keep. A delightful train wreck of a movie. The music is wonderful and totally inappropriate to the subject matter.

  • lap83||

    I love Tangerine Dream. Love on a Real Train from Risky Business is great too

  • sarcasmic||

    Thank you

  • sarcasmic||

    I have noted all suggestions. Thank you very much. Well, everyone except Crusty. He can go masturbate with a Brillo pad. Rub it off. Rub it all off.

  • ||

    Anyone have any suggestions to broaden my horizons without spending eighty dollars a month?

    Reading? Hunting? Fishing? Cards? Billiards? Darts? Blacksmithing?

  • Don't look at me.||

    Drinking and smoking.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Saw a t shirt the other day: Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives: Sounds more like a great weekend than a government agency

  • Tionico||

    Add in the Drug Enjoyment Agency and you're off to a great start.

  • sarcasmic||

    Not much of a reader. Used to be. Now most of my work is research, so I read all day. Get tired of it. Down with hunting. Never done it. Need a hunting buddy. Working on both a buddy and a rifle. Trying a few to decide what suits me. But I will have Bambi's liver in my freezer before too long. I have fished all my life. I'll kick your ass at Rummy or Cribbage. Quit billiards and darts when I stopped going to bars. Never tried blacksmithing, and don't plan to.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    ^ Worst dating profile ever.

  • sarcasmic||

    No shit. I'm not even in that game. My focus is work and my daughter. Finding a significant other is the least of my concerns.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I thought women had to make runs on single fathers like bees have to make runs on flowers.

  • sarcasmic||

    Maybe they do. I work at home and have no life. So they don't know.

    Besides, who wants to do with a recovering alcoholic with anger issues, an contentious ex, and a child with special needs? Exactly. No one.

  • Nardz||

    Match.com?

  • Louis Lucky||

    Suggest Ruger Mini-14 ranch rifle for your list of "maybe" rifles. Probably won't be prohibited, but it's essentially the same caliber(s) and mechanism of those terrible "assault weapons." Probably not suitable if you're wanting high-accuracy at distance.

  • Louis Lucky||

    PBS streaming app. $60/yr gets all their stuff.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I'd get tired of Ken Burns really fast.

  • lap83||

    lol

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Why would give those ass clown lefties at PBS any money?

  • Butler T. Reynolds||

    You could watch Reason.tv.

  • Juice||

    By the way, I gave up cable. Don't want to pay for it. I do have Amazon Prime, and have really gotten into Vikings.

    So when they jack up the rate for Prime, will you keep it or get rid of it?

  • Bubba Jones||

    Vikings is on Hulu. Are you in the wrong country?

  • Tionico||

    Murder your TeeVee set, and take the time you used to waste whilst it looks at you and get OUTISDE and do things, Walk, get to know your neighbourhood, its denizens, take long walks..... do things that build relatiinsbips with other people. I killed mine back in 1972 and have not missed it one bit. Eighty bux a month saved? o

  • Jerryskids||

    You obviously don't understand how markets work if you're blaming the Seattle city government for creating this problem. Governments exist to solve problems and in order to solve problems you have to have problems created to need solving. And who's going to create problems if not the government? The free market is terrible at creating problems because nobody wants problems and any company creating problems will find their customers solving the problem by the simple expedient of taking their business elsewhere. No, in order to have problems you need a monopoly business that can use force - or the credible threat of force - to keep their customers from taking their business elsewhere, and that would be government. Government's basic function is to create problems that they can then solve, the Seattle city government is just proving to be remarkably good at their job.

  • sarcasmic||

    Dude, you're stealing my shtick.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    That sounds like Marx [Groucho, not Karl].

  • Pro Libertate||

    Nobody creates and perpetuates problems like government. Nobody. Gotta give 'em that.

  • Microaggressor||

    Government's basic function is to create problems that they can then pretend to solve, creating graft opportunities for personal enrichment of those unable to provide a valuable service to society.

  • Pro Libertate||

    As scams go, it's a doozy.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Government's basic function is to create problems that they can then solve

    And then the unintended consequences of those solutions create additional problems. Which the government then has to solve. Which creates additional problems that the government then has to solve. Which creates additional problems that the government then has to solve. Which creates additional problems that the government then has to solve. Which creates additional problems that the government then has to solve...

    And they say there's no such thing as perpetual motion.

  • Mark22||

    The obvious, sensible solution to a spike in demand would entail letting supply rise to meet it: Relax zoning and other forms of restrictive regulation to allow denser, multi-family buildings in more places around the city.

    Sensible for who? Existing homeowners lose twice through such rezoning: first, the supply goes up, lowering the value of their property; second, single family homes next to apartments are worth less. What possible reason would voters have to approve such rezoning?

  • Don't look at me.||

    Why do you want the homeless to die? MURDERER!

  • Rhywun||

    What possible reason would voters have to approve such rezoning?

    That warm glow you get from helping to increase the level of individual freedom a smidge?

  • Mark22||

    "Warm glows" don't pay the mortgage.

  • ChuckNorrisBeardFist||

    These homeowners do realize that if Amazon leaves - home values will go down. Besides the workers not having jobs, these same workers can't eat out, or spend in the area. It's a snowball effect.

    Creating more supply doesn't mean homeowners lose value. Hell, here right outside of Houston, they are building houses like crazy. Yet house put for sale are selling above asking value (Yes people are paying 5 to 10 k above asking price).

    BTW - I'm sure Seattle likes the increase in home prices for that sweet sweet property tax money

  • Bubba Jones||

    I live in a prime Houston burb. Property values go up 3% per year. Property taxes are ... 3%.

    I used to live on the left coast. You have no idea what a West coast housing market is like.

  • Mark22||

    These homeowners do realize that if Amazon leaves - home values will go down. Besides the workers not having jobs, these same workers can't eat out, or spend in the area. It's a snowball effect.

    Median home ownership is 8.7 years these days. Home owners therefore don't care about the long term health of a city, they care about appreciation over the next few years.

  • BILKER||

    CHUCK you should see what they're paying in L.A. Ka. 900 sq. ft 2 bdrm, 1 bath on 50' x 100' lot going for near $500,000. 350 sq ft apt 1 room and bath $1800.00 monthly.

  • Number 2||

    "More than 11,000 people have no place to live. Some people have tried to blame this on Amazon, claiming that 'since 2010, when Amazon opened its first headquarters in the South Lake Union area of Seattle, housing costs have skyrocketed.'"

    So drive Amazon out of town...housing prices will plummet, and the homeless will find homes! See! Problem solved!

    (On a more serious note, there is no greater scam than government telling people that a new tax is going to be imposed to "pay" for a specific benefit/program/thing. It's just another tax that goes into general revenue and gets spent on whatever will get the politicians re-elected. Don't fall for it).

  • Microaggressor||

    Why fix the supply side, when you can fix the demand side by making sure nobody wants to live there anymore?

  • Mark22||

    So drive Amazon out of town...housing prices will plummet, and the homeless will find homes! See! Problem solved!

    Detroit tried that strategy and it doesn't seem to have worked.

  • Jima||

    "An article in The Huffington Post cites research by the Zillow real-estate company suggesting that for every 5 percent hike in the rental rates in Seattle, 258 people become homeless." This is such bullshit. Does Seattle have razor wire boundaries and minefields to keep people from migrating elsewhere? I can't afford a waterfront home in Malibu either, so I don't fucking live there. If you can't afford to live somewhere, then you go somewhere else, unless you're a liberal or an idiot. I repeat myself...

  • ||

    If you can't afford to live somewhere, then you go somewhere else, unless you're a liberal or an idiot.

    But if you move out of the city, how are you supposed to enjoy all the inherent social progress that is inevitably being manufactured there and nowhere else? Only sub-human Morlocks would choose to live in parts unknown.

  • Don't look at me.||

    That's what flyover states are for. It's where people work with their hands and stuff. It's disgusting.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    I believe the word is "deplorable."

  • Homple||

    Don't forget restaurants, which is something mentioned by everybody I ask why they live in exlensive, crowded noisy shitholes.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I find the mixture of different cultures and the smell warm urine appealing.

  • Ska||

    Nothing better than the smell of Chinatown in August.

  • Microaggressor||

    Don't forget the rainbow crosswalks. You can't put a price on woke.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Actually you can. The price is about a billion dollars a year and climbing.

  • Nardz||

    Atlanta did. It's only one intersection, but apparently cost $192k.
    Atlanta is still a good city though. Don't know where the prog label comes from...
    Living there, you don't really notice it
    Except for those 10th and piedmont crosswalks

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Huge gay community in ATL. Plus plenty of young dipshit progs.

    ATL is still a tiny speck in a huge conservative area. Its why ATL does not control Georgia politics.

  • Nardz||

    It's still better than Macon.
    I hate Macon.

    And still, the prongs there aren't too bad. I actually went to the bar/pool hall when it looked like Trump would win. No crying, no assaults.

    Atlanta is a good city. People generally keep their bs to themselves

  • loveconstitution1789||

    That and stupid out of staters who try and rob Georgians finding out how many Georgians carry pistols.

  • Tionico||

    Non Georgians also carry thanks to a state government that understands what the right to keep and bear is, and why. Georgia recognise Mother May I Cards from almost every state in the Union.

    I think it is Kennessaw, north and a bit west of Atlanta, that passed a city ordinance that eVERY HOUSEHOLD in the city MUST keep arms and know how to use them. Funniest thing happened to the violent crime, housebreakings, etc, rates in the city. Within weeks of enactment, crime dropped to almost zero. Most of the coppers are playing tiddlywinks as there's naught else to do.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It's 100% bullshit. And demonstrably so. Many of the homeless here came from somewhere else. They're actually coming TO Seattle to be homeless because the word has gotten out nationwide that Seattle is one big safe injection site and you can set up a tent in the doorway of a middle school and strew hypodermic needles all over the place and no one will do anything about it.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    According to the city's recently-updated unauthorized encampments rules (.pdf), the tent qualifies for removal because it "creates an obstruction" and is located at a school. But the rules require "notice shall be posted no fewer than 72 hours before an encampment removal."

    *facepalm*

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    Silly me, I always thought 'unauthorized' meant that it was already against the rules.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Dude set a tent up right in the entrance to the school, and city officials literally didn't know what to do about it. Oh no, that's not emboldening anyone!

  • BYODB||

    So, due to the 72 hour rule I assume the school is now closed for three days?

  • BILKER||

    jima you can't afford a 1 bdrm in west L.A. either. $3000.00 a month. average rental in the most dreadful craphole in Kali, frisco, is $4000.00 a month.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    When you lose perennially "woke" Starbucks, you know you're going too far.

    John Kelly, the coffee company's senior vice president of Global Public Affairs and Social Impact, thinks in a similar fashion as that of Herdener, and has said the city "continues to spend without reforming and fail without accountability, while ignoring the plight of hundreds of children sleeping outside."

    "If they cannot provide a warm meal and safe bed to a 5-year-old child, no one believes they will be able to make housing affordable or address opiate addiction," said Kelly.
  • Rhywun||

    It's not a loss when Mr. Social Impact still believes it's the city's responsibility to house and feed its subjects.

  • ||

    Careful Kelly. You have a nice business there....

  • ||

    Sawant is an ignorant, coercive socialist cunt. She's EXACTLY a prime example of why the U.S. has to defend the 2A and not let the government know where the guns are.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    She advertises herself as some kind of revolutionary against the establishment, while she votes with a city council that passes everything with 9-0 votes, and her visions are enforced by a large domestic army with assault weapons and tanks. Fuck that bitch with someone else's broomhandle.

  • Nardz||

    Progressivism!

  • An Innocent Man||

    Were these companies all unaware when they decided to headquarter there in Tardtown, or is this level of craziness recent to Seattle?

  • No Longer Amused||

    Growth "Management" Act - the source of all Puget Sound real estate woes.

  • damikesc||

    Sawant called this "extortion." This is a little bit like the guy who kills his parents and then pleads for mercy because he's an orphan—only worse.

    Didn't the Menendez Brothers not get convicted in their original trial because of that mentality with some jurors?

  • BYODB||

    So, it's just assumed that if someone can't find a home in Seattle that they're going to be homeless huh? Yeah, that makes total sense...

  • Butler T. Reynolds||

    I really want to watch Seattle turn in to Venezuela. Unfortunately, many of those morons will move to my state.

  • Zeb||

    Wait, do people actually think that lack of affordable housing and crazy street people are related phenomena?

    Most of those people couldn't keep an apartment if it cost $50/month. For the most part they need rehab or significant psychiatric intervention to not be crazy street people.

  • BYODB||

    ^ This. The idea that these people just can't afford houses is ludicrous at face value. There may be a select few that this applies to, but those will be temporarily homeless at worst. Sane people move away from places where they can't find housing, and even if you're dirt poor you can move. Hell, most of these homeless people aren't from Seattle.

    The actual 'homeless population' is by-and-large social rejects, junkies, and the mentally ill. They probably don't even want a job, but you know what they will take? Free stuff.

    Here in Dallas, they've taken to stealing the rent-a-bikes that everyone knew would be stolen by the homeless when they were installed. Big surprise. They've found the damn things at the bottom of the Trinity River. Thanks, those GPS trackers are so helpful, as are the guys you pay to roam around in trucks finding the damn things.

  • ChuckNorrisBeardFist||

    Just curious - what about the housing problem in San Fran and the homeless? Hell, the whole housing situation in CA. There are people that make 30 to 40 k, that sleep in vans.

    "The actual 'homeless population' is by-and-large social rejects, junkies, and the mentally ill. They probably don't even want a job, but you know what they will take? Free stuff."

    Part of me wants to agree...but...so why aren't the mentally ill taken care of? What about vets? It's easy to pigeon hole everyone but you don't know another's story.

  • BYODB||


    Part of me wants to agree...but...so why aren't the mentally ill taken care of? What about vets? It's easy to pigeon hole everyone but you don't know another's story.

    Because when we did 'take care of them' as a society we ran medical tests on them while locking them in tiny cages and it turned out that wasn't preferable to living on the streets?

    How much money do you want such a program to cost, and furthermore what criteria do you want to use when locking someone up forever as a ward of the State? Evidence shows that such a program will be abused, and it will be a disgusting thing perpetrated on people against their will (even if they're deranged), so instead we sort of let them wander around begging for change at random overpasses.

    Is it great? From where I'm sitting not really but as far as I'm concerned any government solution will be worse. Far better for charity to do what it can.

  • Mark22||

    Hell, the whole housing situation in CA. There are people that make 30 to 40 k, that sleep in vans.

    There are plenty of tech workers who make more and would be happy to sleep in an RV... if it wasn't illegal. But California has carefully arranged to screw over its law abiding citizens while giving illegals a free pass on pretty much anything.

  • Rhywun||

    Yeah, there's a lot of conflation of the two types of homeless folks going on - everywhere.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Wait, do people actually think that lack of affordable housing and crazy street people are related phenomena?

    Some do. However, most people with a couple of brain cells to clack together either don't think it and point out why, the rest KNOW it's not related, but they don't care and keep pushing that agenda because it takes focus off the real problem: themselves.

    The last group is evil. Real evil. And the staggering number of deaths, stress to the 911 system and emergency rooms, plus whatever plagues are simmering away in these camps are directly on their heads.

  • lap83||

    lack of affordable housing and crazy street people are related phenomena

    For many politicians the "affordable housing" shtick is the only thing they're good at, and if you take that away... they risk becoming crazy street people themselves. So they're kind of related..?

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    If the city of Seattle is going to waste a bunch of money on housing for the homeless, they'd be better off constructing a massive, Brutalist-style apartment block and just let the inhabitants tear each other apart like one of the city blocks in Judge Dredd.

  • Nardz||

    ...Keep going

  • JeffreyL||

    Wesley Snipes conviction was NOT for failure to pay. Not paying taxes is not a crime. There has been no debtors prison in the United States since the passage of bankruptcy laws.

    Wesley Snipes was convicted for failure to file and for filing false returns.

  • XM||

    Strangely, it was not considered extortion for the NCAA and Paypal to stop expanding in states that mandated gender specific bathrooms.

    If Seattle just end things here, Amazon will grumble, make some necessary cuts and adjustments to offset the head tax, and move on. But I suspect that Amazon is now on Sawant's enemies list and she'll keep up the fight. Meanwhile consumers will continue to order things off Amazon.

    As for the homeless population, they now know the west coast is the place to be.

  • Outside the Box||

    "I suspect that Amazon is now on Sawant's enemies list"

    Now???

    No, she basically got elected on an anti-corporate agenda. She and hers have been gunning at Amazon and anyone else with enough money to be worth stealing from all along.

    As an Amazonian, honestly, *for the most part* Seattleites are pretty friendly to Amazonians. I mean, many of them worked either there or at a relatively equivalent company at some point, or have family or friends who have. But there are definitely subcultures that call us all "AmHoles" or occasionally post signage around the campus about how bad we all are, or get out one of those loudspeakers and chant stuff. I can't say that anyone who works there cares other than mild curiosity. We have jobs to do and paychecks (and RSUs) to cash.

  • zombietimeshare||

    "Amazon employs more than 45,000 residents and will have to cough up millions for the privilege of doing so."

    I expect the Seattle city council has already imputed the amount of cash expects to rake in and spent it for the next ten years. To that end I hope Amazon, and others, utilize robotics, automation, and A.I. to the point they can reduce their workforce in Seattle to a fraction of its current size, and let the city council suck wind.

  • Sugarsail||

    If you want affordable housing, just stop lending people money at near zero interest rates. Just don't lend any money at all at any interest rate, then any house that gets bought will only be a house that that person can afford...by definition of the word "afford."

  • Whorton||

    Yet another "Liberal" and seattle based company to pay a heavy price for its political correctness. . .

    The other is Starbucks with its now liberal, "homeless can live in our bathrooms now" slant on the problem.

  • Whorton||

    Yet another "Liberal" and seattle based company to pay a heavy price for its political correctness. . .

    The other is Starbucks with its now liberal, "homeless can live in our bathrooms now" slant on the problem.

  • Whorton||

    Yet another "Liberal" and seattle based company to pay a heavy price for its political correctness. . .

    The other is Starbucks with its now liberal, "homeless can live in our bathrooms now" slant on the problem.

  • Whorton||

    Yet another "Liberal" and seattle based company to pay a heavy price for its political correctness. . .

    The other is Starbucks with its now liberal, "homeless can live in our bathrooms now" slant on the problem.

  • Whorton||

    Yet another "Liberal" and seattle based company to pay a heavy price for its political correctness. . .

    The other is Starbucks with its now liberal, "homeless can live in our bathrooms now" slant on the problem.

  • Whorton||

    Yet another "Liberal" and seattle based company to pay a heavy price for its political correctness. . .

    The other is Starbucks with its now liberal, "homeless can live in our bathrooms now" slant on the problem.

  • Whorton||

    Yet another "Liberal" and seattle based company to pay a heavy price for its political correctness. . .

    The other is Starbucks with its now liberal, "homeless can live in our bathrooms now" slant on the problem.

  • Whorton||

    Yet another "Liberal" and seattle based company to pay a heavy price for its political correctness. . .

    The other is Starbucks with its now liberal, "homeless can live in our bathrooms now" slant on the problem.

  • Whorton||

    Yet another "Liberal" and seattle based company to pay a heavy price for its political correctness. . .

    The other is Starbucks with its now liberal, "homeless can live in our bathrooms now" slant on the problem.

  • Whorton||

    Yet another "Liberal" and seattle based company to pay a heavy price for its political correctness. . .

    The other is Starbucks with its now liberal, "homeless can live in our bathrooms now" slant on the problem.

  • Whorton||

    Yet another "Liberal" and seattle based company to pay a heavy price for its political correctness. . .

    The other is Starbucks with its now liberal, "homeless can live in our bathrooms now" slant on the problem.

  • Hank Phillips||

    I take it back. Hinkle can write a good article if he sets his mind to it. It's a shame that Washington is lopsidedly looter, but here's hoping that actual libertarian candidates there manage to draw enough law-changing spoiler votes to cover the gap between the Stalinistas and Trumpistas. The housing metrics were a nice touch. Here's hoping Amazon ditches Starnesville and moves to Austin instead.

  • Outside the Box||

    "It's a shame that Washington is lopsidedly looter"

    While Seattle is overwhelmingly liberal, the rest of the state is the complete opposite.

  • BILKER||

    jeeze Hank austin is worse than seattle and frisco combined.

  • ignorance=bliss||

    More and more people across the nation are becoming meaner, nastier, and just plain violent over their support of government rule and how to best enslave the masses with what they feel or believe is right through government extortion. They claim to be in the "know" or "awoke", what a pathetic cruel joke.

  • Sufi||

    I've lived in Seattle 34 years. I watched my rent steadily climb out of sight after Amazon arrived. I also watched a large number of apartment buildings built in the areas zoned for them. The author doesn't even mention the enormous number of new apartments built in recent years. A huge number. According to an older article in the Seattle Times : "Nearly 10,000 new apartments are set to open in Seattle during 2017 — almost twice as many as in any previous year."

    It's difficult for me to have empathy with the author's opinions. I'm semi-retired, partially disabled, and low income. One thing that made it possible to make ends meet is I was accepted to live in a Seattle Housing Authority senior housing community. I am very proud of Seattle taking the lead in providing low income housing being one of the very first cities in the country to do so.

    Amazon contributed more than any other source to the rent problem in Seattle, so yes they should rightfully pay their share to fix it.

  • Galane||

    All the companies subject to this tax should make plans to pull up stakes and move somewhere much less communist. Poll their employees to find any that think this new tax is a great idea, and fire them. Don't want to be taking that kind of stupidity to the home of the new company HQ.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "Seattle does have a huge homeless problem: More than 11,000 people have no place to live. Some people have tried to blame this on Amazon, claiming that "since 2010, when Amazon opened its first headquarters in the South Lake Union area of Seattle, housing costs have skyrocketed." But while Amazon's growth might have exacerbated housing costs, it hardly started the spike."

    Seattle is a sanctuary city. More demand, higher prices.

    Oh, but I forgot. This is Reason. The law of supply and demand was repealed at Reason whenever it shows a downside to Open Borders.

  • vek||

    As I said in another thread the problem is made worse by bad laws here, but we've been having such a boom we'd still be having half of these problems anyway. There are still tons of upzoned lots that have not been built out because they literally can't build them fast enough! It is undeniably largely because of Amazon and other tech companies coming in in such large numbers in such a short period of time. Amazon employees a larger percentage of the population in Seattle than ANY major company does in ANY other US city. That's a fact. So yeah, they're big time around here, both in terms of the pros and cons the city has been seeing.

    As a libertarian I don't want to do anything to stop it, and I would gladly abolish all zoning laws... Even though I would not personally be fond of some of the results. I have principles and stuff!

    The fact is you can accept that something should be allowed to happen, while still not actually liking it. Seattle is shittier now. Period.

    All of you people talking about what's happening in Seattle like it's been a great thing are smoking crack, and must not live anywhere that's having even half the changes Seattle is. We have been the number one fastest growing major city in many years over the last decade and change, and in the top few every year.

    I've literally met a handful of people who have lived here for any length of time who think quality of life is better now versus 10-20 years ago.

  • vek||

    I've talked to literally hundreds who think it's worse, because this topic comes up a lot. This includes people like me who make good money, and people who don't. Poor could actually get by a lot easier, and the high income actually could live like they had high income instead of like college kids even though they make $125K a year!

    Nobody really likes it... Because the city was simply nicer to live in when it was less dense, less expensive, and the neighborhoods had more "character."

    I get that cool old brick buildings need to be destroyed to throw in ugly new apartment buildings that are taller... That's just the breaks... But it doesn't mean that most people still didn't think the block looked better when it had all those cool old brick buildings. I mean you could tear down the Coliseum in Rome to put in more apartments too, Rome is expensive you know! And that would be practical too, but it would also be lame. This is the same thing going on, just to a lesser degree.

    I don't want laws to stop any of it, but you can't expect somebody to eat a shit sandwich and then pretend it tastes awesome. Most people just don't prefer the city to how it used to be. It used to be in a near perfect sweet spot of size, density, etc that has mostly been lost in almost all the neighborhoods.

  • vek||

    Bagging on people for not liking a place becoming lamer in a lot of ways is lame itself. Some of it is preference (Lower density good!), nostalgia (I miss my favorite dive bar!), etc which are subjective... But so is claiming that it MUST be better now than it used to be too! Things CAN and do get worse sometimes. The fact that probably 90% of people in Seattle that have lived here long enough to know the difference agree with me leads me to believe that my opinions aren't entirely crazy, and that MAYBE they're nearly universal human preferences.

    There are more places to buy $25 hamburgers now, which is pretty sweet! So it's not ALL bad... But between the way the city used to be, and the way it is now I'd definitely take the way it used to be. So would most others. My difference with these prog tards is I don't want to do anything to stop it, or tax people or business to death to deal with repercussions etc.

  • ZZZMike||

    "But more to the point: If Amazon declines to pay the tax, the city will take it to court." If they abandon the project and leave....... Or they could sell what's there so far for $1 to the Hell's Angels......

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