Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The New Robber Barons, Con't

Last month I talked about Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and the city's plan to alleviate King County, Washington's affordable housing crisis by taxing the multi-billion dollar companies that have served to make the situation exponentially worse.

The tax targets 500-600 businesses in the city that gross at least $20 million a year. The companies would be charged a “head tax” at $500 per employee. In 2021, the head tax would be replaced by a 0.7 percent payroll tax. The payroll tax would windup costing Amazon more than the initial head tax, considering Seattle Amazon employees are paid about an average of $110,000 per year, according to data from job-reviews site Glassdoor. 
“I can confirm that pending the outcome of the head-tax vote by City Council, Amazon has paused all construction planning on our Block 18 project in downtown Seattle and is evaluating options to sub-lease all space in our recently leased Rainer Square building,” a spokesperson for Amazon told The Seattle Times. 
The city council is expected to vote on the tax on May 14. 
The city estimates the tax would raise an estimated $75 million annually, with Amazon paying roughly $20 million in 2019 and 2020. One might think for a company that pulled in $1.6 billion last quarter, they could afford to help out the city of Seattle and its most vulnerable residents, especially considering the extent to which Amazon’s presence in the city has exacerbated the housing crisis there.

Since 2010, when Amazon opened its first headquarters in the South Lake Union area of Seattle, housing costs have skyrocketed. 
The median cost of a single-family home has more than doubled to $820,000, and rents have increased 64 percent, according to the Seattle Times. The average two-bedroom home in Seattle costs more than $2,000 per month. Only a third of condominiums in Seattle are priced below $500,000.

Seattle's City Council voted unanimously to approve the tax.

That was four weeks ago.  Take note of that.

Because in less than a month, Amazon, Starbucks, and the rest of the new robber barons leaned so hard on Seattle's City Council that they shattered and the cowards are now scrambling to repeal the ordinance.

Less than a month after roiling Seattle and making national headlines by voting unanimously to pass a controversial head tax on big businesses such as Amazon, the City Council now plans to abruptly reverse itself and vote to repeal the tax. 
Council President Bruce Harrell announced the move without warning Monday and vowed to move at lightning speed to kill the measure, responding to a backlash from business leaders and residents who say they don’t trust the council to spend wisely.

Harrell scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday and said he would sponsor the repeal legislation, which appears to have enough votes. He and six others on the council joined Mayor Jenny Durkan in a statement Monday signaling their support for nixing the $275 per employee, per year tax, which was supposed to raise about $47 million per year starting in 2019 to fund low-income housing and homeless services.

Council members said talks with constituents had persuaded them to change course.
The news of the sudden turnaround — unprecedented in recent Seattle politics — also comes as the council stares down the prospect of a long and bitter battle for votes.

A business-backed campaign called No Tax on Jobs had planned to submit petition signatures on Tuesday to qualify a referendum on the head-tax for the November ballot, having raised more than $200,000 and attracted a small army of volunteers.

The new robber barons made it painfully clear that Amazon now 100% controls Seattle, and that any opposition to it will be smashed into oblivion.  Imagine the level of threats that it took to move a major US local government to act this quickly to completely reverse a unanimous vote.

This is terrifying.

We all live in company towns, it seems.  And everyone works for the company whether they want to or not.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails