Amazon, Starbucks Furious After Seattle Passes Controversial "Homeless Tax"

Update: Amazon is not alone in its anger at Seattle's plans. Starbucks took a moment away from signaling its virtue and lashed out at the city's new tax. John Kelly, senior vice president, Global Public Affairs & Social Impact at Starbucks, said in a statement.

"This City continues to spend without reforming and fail without accountability, while ignoring the plight of hundreds of children sleeping outside.

If they cannot provide a warm meal and safe bed to a five year-old child, no one believes they will be able to make housing affordable or address opiate addiction.

This City pays more attention to the desires of the owners of illegally parked RVs than families seeking emergency shelter."

Ouch! How long before we hear a new round of boycott starbucks?

*  *  *

Despite Amazon's decision to halt construction on a new tower and threats to sublease space in another newly built downtown skyscraper, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and the City Council have passed a controversial "homelessness tax" that will require the city's largest companies to pay an additional $300 a year per full time employee based in the city.

Amazon

And while the law has been significantly watered down from the version introduced last month by the city council, Jeff Bezos still isn't happy about it.

To wit, the company said in an official statement that it's still "apprehensive" about expanding the number of employees it has based in the city, as Fortune reports.

"We are disappointed by today’s City Council decision to introduce a tax on jobs," Amazon said in a statement. "While we have resumed construction planning for Block 18, 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."

Amazon has resumed construction on its 17-storey Block 18 tower, but we imagine the company now has even more incentive to shift employees to its planned HQ2, though, as CNNMoney warned in a recent piece, Amazon's strident reaction to the proposed tax in Seattle might give some of its suitor city's reason to reconsider (as foolish as that might seem from an economic development perspective).

The law will require employers who generate more than $20 million in gross revenues within the city limits to pay roughly 14 cents per man hour per employee every year - which comes out to roughly $275 per employee. Roughly half of the money collected by the tax will be paid by Amazon.

So, at the end of April, the Seattle City Council released draft legislation that would force companies with revenues of over $20 million in the city to pay 26 cents for each hour worked by a Seattle-based employee, or roughly $540 per head per year. This "head tax" was to apply over 2019 and 2020, generating $86 million a year for social programs, before turning into a 0.7% payroll tax. (The annual proceeds of the tax were originally calculated at $75 million before the council revised its estimates.)

However, with Mayor Jenny Durkan threatening to veto the tax because she was concerned about its impact on employment, the measure had to be watered down to pass.

In the end, the version that passed - unanimously - will see large employers pay 14 cents per head per hour, or $275 per head per year. The tax will now generate $47 million a year, and it will run for five years, rather than turning into a payroll tax after a two-year run.

For what it's worth, Amazon says it has independently done more to ease homelessness than the city government, touting a corporate initiative to donate space to shelter 200 homeless people in one of Amazon's new buildings.

The company said it recently contributed $40 million to a city managed fund for affordable housing.

As Fortune points out, Amazon isn't the only company angry about the tax, which will impact more than 500 businesses. Starbucks, which hosts its headquarters in the city, slammed the city council, calling it incompetent and incapable of taking care of the city's homeless.

Three-fifths of the money raised will go to building new, affordable housing, while the rest will fund emergency services for the homeless.

Amazon wasn’t the only company left grumbling. Starbucks also responded, with public affairs chief John Kelley saying Seattle "continues to spend without reforming and fail without accountability, while ignoring the plight of hundreds of children sleeping outside."

"If they cannot provide a warm meal and safe bed to a five year-old child, no one believes they will be able to make housing affordable or address opiate addiction," Kelley said.

And while that statement should of course be taken with a grain of salt given that it's obviously in Starbuck's interest to do everything it can to pressure the city, the company's spokesman may have a point.

The roughly $50 million raised by the tax would go toward affordable housing initiatives that help the homeless find permanent shelter - while some of the money would go toward an emergency response program for people at risk of homelessness.

But the city has other options that might be more effective at alleviating the city's housing shortage, like changing restrictive zoning regulations.

Instead, by passing the tax, Seattle's mayor and city council have only provided further proof that the city is willing to do whatever it can to combat homelessness, short of actually building more homes.

Comments

MarsInScorpio Buckaroo Banzai Tue, 05/15/2018 - 13:50 Permalink

Of course Bezos is apprehensive about it - he's a greedy psychotic sociopathic bastard with a God-complex unrivaled by any other living human.

I'm wondering when his virtue signaling is going to collapse under the weight of his reality. Making employees piss in a bottle because they can't get off the warehouse floor; putting wristbands on their arms to turn them into cyborgs; paying wages that border on wage-slavery (ask the WaPo newsroom about that . . . of course, the Malicious Seditious Media deserves every kick in the face they receive.) . . . I could go on, but everyone here knows exactly what I'm attributing to His Royal Insanity.

For those who think Soros is the Devil Incarnate, let me introduce you to Bezos.

 

In reply to by Buckaroo Banzai

D503 NidStyles Tue, 05/15/2018 - 15:51 Permalink

How are there not enough free drugs for these people to pleasure themselves to death?

If you're going to eliminate jobs and not pay a comparable wage for bullshit "work," at least supply all the fentanyl necessary to push them off the ledger. 

Amazon wants to brag that they made retail more efficient and crushed big box after big box crushed mom and pop, then they can hire people for $20/hr to spin signs. 

STUPID PEOPLE ARE NOT GOING TO LEARN PROGRAMMING, ENGINEERING, SURGERY, CHEMISTRY, OR CALCULUS. IT CANNOT BE DONE.

In reply to by NidStyles

Withdrawn Sanction Shocker Tue, 05/15/2018 - 19:41 Permalink

Glad to see Seattle politicians are as impervious to logic and evidence as Chicago, Baltimore, and Detroit politicians.  They'll net the same results. 

On the other hand, shareholders of the firms should be pissed that their managers allowed so much capital to be concentrated in one basket where it could be looted by any posturing political do-gooder.  

In reply to by Shocker

Retired Guy Miss Informed Tue, 05/15/2018 - 18:11 Permalink

So they spend millions to build a few houses which a lucky few get. The problem is never solved this way. Build camp grounds with toilets, trash pick up and showers. The cost per person would be so low they might service all the homeless. The homeless could get their own tent, cardboard box or RV. The RV would supply some safety. There would be motive to work for an RV. This plan would be better than sidewalk sleepers pooping on the streets.

The book "Grapes of Wrath" describes a government camp ground self policed by the residents.

In reply to by Miss Informed

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 Retired Guy Tue, 05/15/2018 - 20:08 Permalink

That is too easy. The city council can't make money doing something so simple! There is a huge park near Seattle, Discovery Park. Plenty of facilities. It wouldn't be hard to add additional toilets and showers.

But the Eco freaks don't want to see homeless people when they hike for the weekend.

I never finished that book. Too fucking depressing and bleak.

In reply to by Retired Guy

autofixer Farqued Up Wed, 05/16/2018 - 00:53 Permalink

Brain Surgeon or Fry Cook.   It doesn’t matter as in 2008, Mr. Drysdale put all of Uncle Jed’s money in his bank and...it’s gone!  The Clampets loaded up the truck and vacated Beverly.  They now live in Oxford, Tennessee where Jed is on SSI, Granny stays liquored up in the barnand reportedly is dying of liver disease.  Elly MAE is a toothless crack whore addicted to OxyContin.  Jethro just got promoted from fry cook to assistant manager of the Mc Donald’s down by the Interstate that bypassed town and caused what business they was in Oxford to close down.  He is barely supporting his morbidly obese common law wife and six childrens.  Mr. Drysdale reportedly ran off with Jane Hathaway and millions of dollars to the Caymans. It has been reported that Jane could suck a golf ball through a garden hose, despite her less than favorable looks.  

In reply to by Farqued Up

Mr Hankey D503 Tue, 05/15/2018 - 16:45 Permalink

Your pets are disproportionately beneficial to the 1%.

They are not net producers.They are upper class ,hyperspecialized parasites.

Wanna eat? 

Many of us cant afford surgeons& your chemists are just making big pharma rich.Your uppity existence is a lot more precarious. 

In reply to by D503

D503 Mr Hankey Tue, 05/15/2018 - 23:14 Permalink

What do you mean "my pets?" My point was clearly that eroding jobs would not lead to more "upper class hyperspecialized parasites" because the proletariat are incapable of achieving it.

Not to mention automation is now hitting doctors, lawyers, and scientists thinking those fields as well.

Try reading for comprehension.

In reply to by Mr Hankey

NidStyles D503 Tue, 05/15/2018 - 16:55 Permalink

I was called stupid once.

I was called retarded as well.

Then I was called a nigger, by a Jewish Rabbi, of all people.

It is what it is. Not wanting to do something doesn’t mean you’re not capable of it. It just means you’re not interested in doing it at that moment for reasons that you’re unwilling to reveal. 

I can’t solve everything in the amount of time given.

 

Can’t fix everything without spending time on my own life first.

In reply to by D503

Bubba Rum Das NidStyles Wed, 05/16/2018 - 03:14 Permalink

You sure that Rabbi didn't call you a Shvartzer?

I had a Rabbi once refer to me as a 'Goy' in conversation w/ a friend of mine, right in front of me!

I said "Hey, fuck you buddy, I'm a Jew too..." (Generally, no Jew will say 'fuck you' to a Rabbi, but I was pissed...)

I'd never seen anyone look so humiliated before in my life as that asshole, when my friend Mike whispered:
"Rabbi Cohen, he IS a Jew..."

Yes, Rabbi David Cohen, a close facsimile of 'Fat Bastard' from the Austin Powers movies. Fuck that asshole.

In reply to by NidStyles

MoralsAreEssential D503 Wed, 05/16/2018 - 09:43 Permalink

Voluntary euthanasia would be a kinder, gentler way.  It is available for those over 60 or 65 in Australia and in Switzerland for "proper reasons," e.g., a 104 year old man who was an eminent scientist just exercised his option in Switzerland.  Beware, however of the ghoulish organ transplant business and for profit body parts market which is NOT what you think as a helpful moral decision to help another human being.  "Brain Death" is a scam created to develop this market and semi-legit hearts especially for 90 year old Rockefellers, Rothschilds and other Elites like the PA ex gov who just "miraculously" had several new organs transplanted.  DID HE WAIT IN A LINE OR WAS HE SERVED AHEAD OF OTHERS?  Organ parts from an already deceased person CAN NOT BE TRANSPLANTED.  The Donor is paralyzed and their organs are cut out.  Then they are actually dead. Disclosure on this subject can be researched.

In reply to by D503

MoralsAreEssential D503 Wed, 05/16/2018 - 09:56 Permalink

Voluntary euthanasia would be a kinder, gentler way.  It is available for those over 60 or 65 in Australia and in Switzerland for "proper reasons," e.g., a 104 year old man who was an eminent scientist just exercised his option in Switzerland.  Beware, however of the ghoulish organ transplant business and for profit body parts market which is NOT what you think as a helpful moral decision to help another human being.  "Brain Death" is a scam created to develop this market and semi-legit hearts especially for 90 year old Rockefellers, Rothschilds and other Elites like the PA ex gov who just "miraculously" had several new organs transplanted.  DID HE WAIT IN A LINE OR WAS HE SERVED AHEAD OF OTHERS?  Organ parts from an already deceased person CAN NOT BE TRANSPLANTED.  The Donor is paralyzed and their organs are cut out.  Then they are actually dead. Disclosure on this subject can be researched.

In reply to by D503

Shift For Brains Leakanthrophy Tue, 05/15/2018 - 15:41 Permalink

You probably won't listen but here goes anyway: The Universe has a way of bringing to our front door what we roll out the back. You sound like someone who doesn't believe bad things can actually happen to people who don't "deserve" it. We absolutely can object to the institutionalising of care to a government that, first and foremost, looks out for itself. But that doesn't mean we have a free pass when it comes to trying to help and not hinder the parts of our society who are struggling.

They are not all lazy, dumb or high. I'm not wishing it on you but you may be given a lesson designed to instill a broader perspective on human suffering. The Cosmos has a way of adjusting hubris to the downside.

In reply to by Leakanthrophy

Leakanthrophy Shift For Brains Tue, 05/15/2018 - 16:01 Permalink

There is something called planning in advance... or prepping.

Lacking this results in:

You make the bed you lie in.

 

Karma or bad surprises are mostly the side effect of not taking care of details... out of stupidity, laziness or just sheer optimism.

Not gonna fret about them folks. They are just a mere step (or maybe none) above animals.

 

 

In reply to by Shift For Brains

NidStyles Mr Hankey Tue, 05/15/2018 - 17:48 Permalink

You’re speaking as if you’re above it all and can’t be targeted by anyone. Seems to me that’s an error on your part. If you walk in daylight at any moment of the day you can be taken down just like any other animal out there. 

I create the chaos, I don’t dwell in it. 

All chaos follows a pattern given a large enough dataset. Read David Bohm.

 

All it takes is a little stirring to get it to form a real pattern to map out the different ways it can go. You do your job, I am doing mine.

 

 

 

In reply to by Mr Hankey

Bubba Rum Das Mr Hankey Wed, 05/16/2018 - 03:21 Permalink

Ha ha, just watch, when the economy collapses (you know it will), Leakanthropy will probably lose all his shit & end up on Skid Row in LA, living in a refrigerator box w/ some drug addicted Laotian Queers!

        You know why Hankey's already dead? Because he's circling the toilet bowl at his leisure...!

        Can't do much to a animated piece of shit, now can you?

In reply to by Mr Hankey