Homelessness has long been a problem in Seattle and other urban areas across the state and country, and certainly the challenges of those without proper shelter are no laughing matter. However, now liberal politicians in Seattle have decided to do something, as if homelessness is something they just found about it.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine declared a “state of emergency,” following the lead of two other Democrat run cities—Los Angeles and Portland. It’s an attempt to get the federal government to help pay for the mess that Democrat mayors and city councils have created over the years.
In addition to the declaration, Murray presented a $5.3 million package to address both the immediate and long-term problems of homelessness. The one-time money will come from a sale of city-owned property in White Center. The package is in addition to a proposal to increase funding for homeless services by nearly $1.5 million in the city budget.
As for Constantine, he plans to increase spending for homeless services by $2 million across King County.
Let’s be clear, that Murray and Constantine want to do more to solve the problem of homelessness is good public policy. However, throwing more money at the problem – as liberals have done for years—is a suspect approach.
Murray and Constantine would do better to ask why money that has been spent by their liberal predecessors to address the problem has not produced results.
Nationally, Seattle is right behind New York and Los Angeles for spending on homeless services. Yet, despite the high spending level, the homelessness rate has increased even in the last year.
Murray and Constantine promise that the new funding will not be “business as usual.” But, they are making that promise prior to implementing any positive changes to their failed approach. In fact, the changes they’ve made thus far have been disastrous.
Murray admitted that changes he made earlier this year have failed. He said, “I thought we were on a path (that) would lead to better results. It hasn’t.”
Given decades of Democrats’ failing to make significant progress via their strategies, Murray and Constantine’s latest approach does not inspire confidence. In fact, it does quite the opposite. Throwing more money at Democrats’ failed solutions does not help the needy.
According to the Seattle Times, when a reporter questioned whether Murray’s latest plan would attract more homeless people to the city, Murray answered, “The last thing we want to end up doing is being a city that says, ‘No.’”
Murray’s response embodies the problem of Democrats’ “solutions.” It’s a “we can’t say no, not when we have other people’s money to spend” strategy that has—time and time again—failed. This year, it appears Democrats are poised to use the one-time money from a land sale to throw at the problem.
Dan Sullivan says
There is not enough taxation of land values. Even with a higher real estate tax on land and buildings alike, more housing would be built, as well as more commercial property where more jobs could be created. The places that are unaffordable are, by and large, the places that curtailed real estate taxes based on the lie that real estate taxes made real estate less affordable. They do just the opposite.
There is more than ample income from property taxes in King county, it is just pissed away. Over 50% of taxes collected got to schools in the state, 33% go to local, and 23% +/- goes to the state school fund, but even though teachers make up to twice the median income, they still strike for more of our tax dollars while wanting their job performance ignored, maybe y’all should focus there instead of wanting to add more tax on something that will not be addressed. Washington state has a history of going against voters, lying about where tax money is going to be spent, and flat out breaking the law, they have zero reliability for anything, especially when other people’s money is at stake.
My guess is you failed economics in high school, assuming it was ever mandatory in WA. A free market is the only thing that works, not taxing everyone but politicians out of existence. You must be a Sleeper for the former Soviet Union, which by the way FAILED economically.
Dan Sullivan says
You guess wrong. Here is what the real estate editor of *Fortune* had to say,
“But the conviction has been spreading among economists and urban experts that a diluted form of George’s medicine could help spur the redevelopment of ailing cities and minimize suburban sprawl. As these modern Georgists view things, boosting the levies on land while cutting them on structures would discourage land speculation, promote job-creating investment in new factories and offices, and encourage proper upkeep of buildings in aging neighborhoods.
“The economic rationale behind loading the tax burden on landowners is that most of the profits they reap – in the form of rising values for their holdings – are pure windfalls that result from the economic activity around them. Taxing away those windfalls doesn’t penalize initiative because landowners didn’t do anything to earn them in the first place. On the other hand, taxing investments in buildings and factories does discourage productive endeavor and impedes economic growth….
“By taxing land heavily and buildings lightly, it would press landowners to develop their properties to the fullest. Taxes on bare land and dilapidated buildings would in theory be nearly as high as the ones on the new office building next door, making it much more costly for speculators to keep property off the market. The scheme even has something for homeowners. Since their houses generally are worth a great deal more than the land under them, shifting more of the tax burden to land values would reduce their total property-tax bills….
“Sullivan [yours truly] has made several studies of the financial impact of higher land taxes on property owners, and speaks at meetings of Pittsburgh neighborhood and business groups to spread the incentive-tax doctrine. Such efforts are crucial. Few people, even among public officials and real estate executives, understand the nature of the tax and its economic ripples.
“Reflecting a durable consensus view, David L. Lawrence, long Pittsburgh’s mayor and later governor of Pennsylvania, said of the split-rate tax: ‘There is no doubt in my mind that the tax law has been a good thing for Pittsburgh. It has discouraged holding vacant land for speculation and provides an incentive for building improvements….’
“Steven Cord argues that the Pennsylvania statistics make a compelling case for Georgist tax theory. And they are bolstered, he says, by studies that found similar increases in construction and jobs after more than 1,000 localities in Australia and 300 in South Africa lifted taxes on land. Adds Congressman Coyne: ‘Our differential tax may provide a vital key to the paramount issue of the day: how to put idle people and idle plants back to work.’
“Businessmen understandably recoil at the suggestion of tax reform. At the state and local level, ‘reform’ has become virtually synonymous with tax increases. Real estate taxes in particular have grown increasingly unpopular in recent years, and genuine reform remains elusive because people prefer the devil they know to the devil they do not understand. But higher land taxes, especially when accompanied by reduced taxes on structures, look like an idea businessmen ought to embrace and promote. The benefits in the form of more jobs and increasingly compact development are not only lasting, but flow to the whole community.”
“Higher Taxes that Promote Development,” *Fortune*, August 8, 1983
Also, 11 Nobel Laureates in economics, including such free marketers as Milton Friedman, James Buchanan and Milton Friedman, have endorsed land value tax as superior to other taxes.
Vancouver, WA recently lifted the public camping ban, with predictable results. They wouldn’t listen, Ted Leavitt and friends had to push their agenda so we could all watch it fail catastrophically. Now they say it went haywire becaue it wasn’t enough.