UW graduate students Mathieu Dubeau (Political Science) and Lee Fiorio (Geography) have recently published an article in New Politics documenting the particular difficulties facing the Seattle area.
In 2017, Amazon, like many other corporate giants, effectively paid zero in state income tax despite their profit expanding exponentially since 2008. Additionally, the income for the working class stagnated and all these factors caused overproduction and under-consumption. To worsen this, Seattle's median housing price has just surpassed $700,000, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is over $1,700 a month. The problem for the workers is that Seattle can't expand in all directions and regional transportation is underdeveloped. Additionally, the union membership rate dropped since the 1960s because of the growing professional class that does not need to rely on unions.
The first solution that Dubeau and Fiorio suggest is to implement a state income tax. State income tax will help lift the burden of the working class who pays sale tax and it can fund K-12 education that is already underfunded. The second solution is to remove the ban on rent control since it lowers the burden on paying for disproportionately high-cost rent for low- and moderate-income workers who provide essential services to cities and the state. Additionally, rent control has the potential to increase neighborhood diversity and stability. The last solution that they suggest is to strengthen the labor unions since they protected workers during the boom and the bust of corporations.
For the full piece please click here.