6 Replies to “Podcast #62: Iconic Parking Lots”

  1. Hey guys,

    Listening to your talk, I cannot help but notice that you are being a bit lazy in describing the head tax opposition’s motives. Most of the Seattleites I know who disapproved of the head tax did so because either a: it is not particularly progressive (e.g., it hit plenty of high revenue, low margin businesses, and will likely effect construction jobs) and b: it was likely to discourage growth in jobs in general, which is highly elastic in response to taxes (I would add that with the heated rhetoric on both sides, the elasticity would be even greater), c: because the spending has not been evidence based (per the Poppe report) or d: some combination of the above.

    You make a reference to hand-waiving about efficiencies. I’d also love to say a bit more about that. The City went out and commissioned the Poppe report to make sure its practice aligned with the evidence. Her report exposed that we were not aligning with the evidence, and she laid out the best practices for addressing the issue. To my knowledge, the city has not changed its practices to get in alignment with those recommendations. In fact, I know many people believe (whether correctly or not) that the money is given to nonprofits with longstanding relationships rather than evidence based outcomes–which is cronyism. Couple that with rising homelessness (which admittedly can happen even if the city is spending the money effectively), and people are skeptical that the council is the best entity to entrust this problem with. It’s not remotely surprising that talk of “efficiency” came up. I wouldn’t call that hand waiving. I’ll say that *calling it hand-waiving* is actual hand-waiving, blithely generalizing and straw manning it to death.

    More hand-waiving – Many people didn’t disapprove of it because they aren’t willing to pay more (in fact, with the head tax, they *wouldn’t* have paid more). Many people I know are willing to vote for higher taxes for more public goods, but find the flame-throwing rhetoric and policies that accompany it to be counterproductive to the public good.

    In fact, I’d gladly pay a much higher property tax, and so would most of my neighbors, at least that’s what they say (It would be nice if we could tax property progressively, but that is harder given the constitution. Still, there are some promising ways around it without the perversities of the head tax).

    Let’s not hand-waive at the opposition here. It was the majority of the city, and this city votes to liberally fund its initiatives. Perhaps we could take people at face value when they say, “hey, this policy is crap, and here are some reasons,” rather than assuming it’s just because they have gotten stingy (with someone else’s money?). It’s not as if we are all mindless noobs waiting to see what the hand-waivey right wingers have to say.

    Your work is usually thoughtful.

  2. Most of the Seattleites I know who disapproved of the head tax did so because either a: it is not particularly progressive (e.g., it hit plenty of high revenue, low margin businesses, and will likely effect construction jobs) and b: it was likely to discourage growth in jobs in general, which is highly elastic in response to taxes (I would add that with the heated rhetoric on both sides, the elasticity would be even greater), c: because the spending has not been evidence based (per the Poppe report) or d: some combination of the above.

    (a) All available funding sources are “not particularly progressive” according to conventional wisdom, though I personally think the property tax is quite progressive. So an objection on these grounds is a commitment to not add any funding to address homelessness, which people are entitled to do but also makes the point I was making in the podcast.

    (b) Similarly, an objection to the specifics of the head tax is an invitation to identify other specific sources of funding, which have not been forthcoming from anyone.

    (c) “evidence-based” is a pretty high bar that is not applied to most other tax measures. When we boost school funding we generally don’t call for evidence that it will boost attainment outcomes. I am not an expert on the Poppe recommendations, but they also ask for more money. I don’t see anyone proposing full implementation of that report and attaching a funding source, so this critique sounds more like an excuse than an alternative plan of action. At least to me. At any rate, “build more housing targeted at homeless people” seems, on the face of it, a sensible course of action that doesn’t require pantloads of “evidence”.

    I am glad that you are willing to pay more property tax to address this problem. If there was a movement of people that felt like you, I wouldn’t have said what I said.

    I agree that the opposition is a majority in a very tax-friendly city. And yet, our willingness to tax ourselves doesn’t extend to this particular problem. Which is my point.

    1. Yup. The folks who opposed the head tax from Safe Seattle/Nextdoor aren’t going to go quietly into the night if/when property taxes are raised to pay. It’s just that Amazon won’t pay for signature gatherers.

  3. Great point about our political leader’s inability, or unwillingness, to prioritize. If every new problem requires new funding, nothing is actually prioritized.

    For the TBD, how did we get from “no capital funding allowed” to “oh hey let’s spend some money on capital investments?”

  4. The “Head Tax” was deservedly doomed by its own title. Which was obviously based on the terrible racist slur cast upon Pacific Island and Amazon River (the one in South America, not South Lake Union!) cultures.

    Ginned up to cover the fact that (Whichever Genders’ Majesty’s) fleet morale required the Marine Wildlife Welfare Society to post “Do Not Feed Captains to the Sharks” signs on every railing.Put the whitefish and the herring off-flavor.

    And also to hide the uncomfortably convenient truth that steadily-decreasing hat sizes among aristocratic officers did not result from organic compressed-air-dart infusions. But rather from exact same method that their own Kennel Clubs used to produce Irish Setters with both progressively-smaller brains and longer noses.

    Sadly answering my own question as to why the Council is so judiciously avoiding the tax so perfectly named to address the conditions that created it: “The Residential Speculation and Involuntary Evictions Tax of 2018!”

    Exactly two hundred years ago, proponents of that self-same tax in the aftermath of the War of 1812 were suddenly gerrymandered into becoming the demogaphic of the Australian population whose Illegal Immigration to California so may Aboriginals died to defend us from.

    Could explain why “Public Transportation” still trepidates Boards and Councils here. Likely because how no matter how many prison ships they added to the convoy, hardly anybody got a seat. So in both foresight and remembrance, we can only take note of the relevant Protection Society’s request, and try not to wipe our feet on the wombat sleeping on the door mat. (Global Warming, what.)

    “When you tan Mark’s hide when he’s died, Clyde, don’t leave it ‘angin’ on the shed!”

  5. OK. Since I’m not their employer anymore, Seattle City Council doesn’t have to worry I’ll help fire them if I wanted to, so I don’t expect a lot of time from or about them. But after five years sixty miles away- even the council members I recognize, I don’t remember seeing any of them before. And it bugs me.

    Let alone being able to figure out why they can’t use the most money Seattle’s ever seen to run the place. Personal (I hope mine only) comparison? It’s like this: Say I’m in the control seat of best transit machine I can imagine.

    Steering wheel, or controller. Pedals. Switches. Door control. But: no prints or DNA on anything. Frequent meetings- on base, or even aboard my machine. Analysis of everything conceivable on the screen in front of me.

    With the superbly-designed seat the only piece of the machine I’m in physical contact with. Forever. Full salary with overtime, including vacation. What’s missing? Besides Everything.

    Does anybody professional say “Monkey Skill” anymore? Or know it’s not pejorative? Grip the wheel. Foot on the brake. Click your machine in mode- or turn on the motor. Check your mirrors. Pop the emergency brake off. And roll your right foot downward on the pedal.

    And from Move One- every pull, push, press, click, and eye-shift, part of the same deliberate purpose-oriented set of connected physical motions. “Stopandthink” not in the list. It’s all thinking, especially the moving parts, the machine’s and yours.

    From TV and newspaper page, and from a board-room seat, I don’t see a single member of The Seattle City Council physically unable to handle an “Artic” on the Route 7, connected with the 49. 62nd & Prentiss, CBD, Broadway, and what is it, 47th and Brooklyn?

    Because this is exactly the habit- skill’s already there dormant -set that’s needed to govern the City of Seattle right now. And nobody elected to its Government with the excuse they can’t learn to do it. If Dow Constantine gets his runcard, instruction budget should handle. Anybody refusing- it’ll be real dirty when it comes in.

    Not going to embarrass the one I think’ll be top of the class, but also don’t want that young streetcar advocate in the video yesterday to harass him too unmercifully when she gets elected herself.

    Mark Dublin

Comments are closed.