Plenty of cities around the country have slogans or nicknames. Chicago is “The Windy City.” Austin’s slogan is “Keep Austin Weird.” Seattle is currently known as “The Emerald City,” but I’m wondering if we might be able to come up with something new to recognize the epically stupid and suicidal vote the City Council took yesterday.
In an astonishing move of breathtaking economic ignorance, the council voted 9-0 on a measure which would tax businesses—per employee—under the auspices of funding the city’s homeless problem.
People are quick to point out that it is “only” about half of its original proposal, which started at a tax of, roughly, $500 per employee per year and is now “down to” $275. The estimate is that it will still extract $50 million from the city’s largest job producers, but that remains to be seen—taxing something always results in less of it, so no one will be surprised when jobs start leaving the city.
Amazon already implied as much when they temporarily halted construction of the expansion of their headquarters in the city. Following today’s vote, the company released a statement which said, in part, “we remain very apprehensive about the future created by the council’s hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses, which forces us to question our growth here.”
Do the council members pause and take note of the potential for drastically reduced tax revenue if businesses begin to leave? Nope. Certainly not openly socialist Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who called Jeff Bezos a “bully” and accused him of holding jobs—and the city—hostage (incidentally, she will be selling her book on Amazon when it is published).
Boeing already pulled its headquarters out of Seattle and moved them to Chicago years ago for the very same reason, but it doesn’t appear the Council is quick to learn. Indeed, fat and happy and raking in the tax dollars, the council clearly views large businesses as an infinite cash cow who will put up with anything for the “honor” of doing business in over-taxed, absurdly expensive, and horribly gridlocked, Seattle.
Bad idea, Seattle City Council.
While this is likely the most destructive policy the city has passed, they are not lacking when it comes to foolish ideas. Only a few weeks ago, Mayor Jenny Durkan backed a new proposal which would tax people for driving in the city (euphemistically called, “congestion pricing”). It’s always nice to be punished for going to work.
Back to Seattle’s new slogan. If other cities were choosing the name, they might go with, “Seattle, don’t.” But other cities don’t usually get that choice. Perhaps instead of “The Emerald City,” it could instead be, “The Suicidal City?” Sounds a bit harsh, but it’s about the only way to view yesterday’s action. I’m sure we can come up with something catchy.