The Self-Destruction of an American City
Seattle: Where the American Dream goes to die.
There’s no place more magnificent than the Pacific Northwest this time of year. Puget Sound sparkles, the national parks are glorious, the mountains loom majestically all around.
Yet Seattle’s political ugliness casts a dark pall over the whole region.
Minimum Wage Hike Didn’t Go as Planned
Ed Murray has helped create Seattle’s economic troubles. He resigned as the city’s mayor a few days ago after allegations he sexually abused five young men and boys.
In 2014 Seattle’s “progressive” City Council voted to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour over a period of years. The Left rejoiced. Murray had run on a platform calling for the raise. Council member Kshama Sawant and her Socialist Alternative organization sponsored the measure.
Three years later, things haven’t worked out the way the central planners wanted.
“When Seattle officials voted three years ago to incrementally boost the city’s minimum wage up to $15 an hour, they’d hoped to improve the lives of low-income workers,” reported the Washington Post in June. “Yet according to a major new study that could force economists to reassess past research on the issue, the hike has had the opposite effect.” The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Washington.
In fact, said the Post, “Some employers have not been able to afford the increased minimums. They’ve cut their payrolls, putting off new hiring, reducing hours or letting their workers go, the study found.”
Did this give Seattle’s Council members pause? No! These heroes of The People are unstoppable.
“Seattle’s city council voted unanimously to create a new income tax on high-earners,” wrote April Ponnuru in the Washington Examiner. “The measure requires residents making more than $250,000 annually, or couples making over $500,000, to pay an extra 2.25 percent tax on income above those levels.” This despite the fact, as Ponnuru notes, “A 2010 income tax proposal was voted down in 38 of 39 counties, including King County, home of Seattle.”
Amazon Says “See Ya, Seattle!”
Amazon has created 40,000 jobs in Seattle over the past few years. The company is now looking for a second headquarters city. They will keep their current facilities in Seattle. But they will build, expand and create jobs elsewhere.
“It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to see what Amazon is trying to tell our region,” said Republican State Senator Joe Fain of the South King County area. “Amazon, like every other business, needs a stable regulatory environment to feel comfortable making long-term investments.”
Of course, Kshama Sawant has a different take: Amazon’s building boom in Seattle has created homelessness! Maybe she should ask Amazon’s employees if they like having homes. Or ask the thousands of construction and infrastructure workers who have built Amazon’s amazing facilities if they like their paychecks.
“A Frustrating Place” for Business
That brings us back to the now (thankfully) former Seattle Mayor, Ed Murray. Earlier this year, he proposed a two cent per ounce soda tax. Why? “To raise $16 million in its first year to fund everything from an additional year of early public education to subsidies for food stamp recipients to shop at farmers’ markets.” Yeah, poor people will want to pay for transportation they can’t afford to schlep to farmer’s markets to buy food they can’t afford, either.
But that’s not all. According to Murray, “upper middle class white people” are the ones most likely to drink diet drinks. Taxing them is “an issue of equity” and a stand against “white privileged institutionalized racism.”
Poor Mr. Murray. I guess there will be no Coke and a smile for him.
And just how do real Seattleites feel about all of this?
Small business entrepreneur Dave Meinert, for one, says that Seattle is “a frustrating place. This city seems to think the business success that happens here is because of the city. I think that’s kind of laughable.”
It’s also kind of simple: If you punish job creators, people lose their jobs.
Dreamless in Seattle
As might be expected, there’s another aspect to this. Many of those who bitterly attack the free enterprise system benefit greatly from it. Take the case of Kshama Sawant.
When she ran for office in 2013, she said she would not accept “corporate money.” According to her, the City Council represented “Paul Allen and the richest 1%, along with Amazon, Starbucks, big property developers, and downtown business interests.”
She called for “employee ownership of the nation’s 500 biggest corporations, including Microsoft.” She asked, “how can we afford to continue giving handouts to corporate behemoths like Boeing and Microsoft when they are sitting on billions in profits?”
Yet a financial disclosure document shows that her husband “makes ‘$100,000 or more’ (potentially a lowball number for his income given that $100,000 is the largest amount that’s possible to report on the form) — as an engineer at Microsoft.” That company was “also the top identified employer of Sawant’s contributors.”
Economic liberty and the promise of prosperity lead to great things. As these things decline, something highly valuable is lost. It’s called the American Dream. Just visit Seattle these days for proof.