Tensions Rise in Seattle Over Proposed Amazon Head Tax
In recent news, Amazon decides to halt construction on new buildings for their Seattle HQ. The decision comes shortly after the city starts deciding on whether or not a head tax will be put in place against the company. Seattle City Council member and ardent socialist, Kshama Sawant, drives the fight on the left.
Sawant is a clear opponent of Amazon, often referring to Bezos and the like as, “The Bosses”. Sawant’s press conference in her “noble” battle against the “capitalist class” on Thursday did not go as smoothly as she likely would have wanted. The city council member is met with fierce opposition from Amazon construction workers. They ravenously chant, “No head tax!” over her as she attempts to read her speech to her constituency.
The construction workers carry grave concerns as the company proposes to leave the city if they levy the head tax against the retail giant. Some even urge them to. Workers claim that the company pays them prevailing wages, benefits, and retirement. Sawant read her scripted response off of a piece of paper. She says that the company does not stand with construction workers. This statement poses as a stark and out of touch contrast to what she had been told just moments prior.
A Buzzword-laden Response
Sawant uses terms like “poverty wage” and, of course, “capitalist America” to drive her narrative. The city council member also accuses the company of “extortion” for their threats of wanting to leave the city if the tax is put in play. She claims that Amazon is a culprit of the “exploding homelessness” not just in Seattle, but nationwide. A bold statement from the politician.
The city council member even slips Trump’s name into her speech to, possibly, add effect. It is a foolish tactic to put Bezos and Trump in the same box as they are clearly against each other. Nevertheless, she persists. Sawant’s use of the ever-ambiguous “poverty wage” term is tossed into her speech as if to have any meaning. A term often thrown out before a follow-up of government promises of prosperity for all. Still, Sawant carries on in her press conference as the construction workers leave. She touts her membership in numerous unions as some form of credibility to the listeners. Sawant fails to realize that her place in office makes that hardly relevant. She is a politician. Though, Sawant still looks down from her ivory tower, filled with her “nobility”.
Against the Grain of Data
Kshama Sawant and her followers seem to forget recent history. In a city known for its tech, a field that loves data, they seem to ignore the numbers. Now, and through the years, Seattle receives millions in funding from external sources in order to address homelessness. Seattle continues to misuse the funds as the city’s homeless population grows. Of course, Sawant defers blame to Amazon, as a good politician does. Never mind that no one talks about where the funds go to waste.
She and her supporters also fail to examine the policies of failure that plague them. Seattle was lauded for a $15/hour minimum wage that only hurt city residents. The law, of course, hinders residents of Seattle’s lower class. As wages rise in the city, so does cost of living. The city government still continues to force their way into the matter, claiming they are benevolent.
While the retailer is not without sin, Seattle needs to follow the money. Politicians and constituents alike need to trace where the millions in homeless funding goes. Before creating more taxes to create income for affordable housing programs, the city ought to examine the means they already have.
Penance for Sins
Seattle’s policies are failures that they are paying penance for. To accuse Amazon for rising costs and homelessness is foolish and arrogant. Cost of living rises in cities as it is, mostly due to deep streams of money that flow through them. A high demand for housing in high density areas naturally drives up cost of living. Sawant, as an economist, fails to understand these trends. Unfortunately, she also leads her constituency the same way.
For more on the poverty conversation, be sure to listen to Episode 21: B-Yeezy.