Big biz tax updates: Breakfast octopus edition

Some key items to consider as Working Washington and the rest of the Bring Seattle Home campaign reach out to voters in support of Seattle’s Progressive Business Tax:

  • We continue to receive troubling reports about signature gatherers misleading voters about Seattle’s big business tax and engaging in unsavory tactics. Here’s one report from the Rainier QFC. (We also have a recording from a Queen Anne Safeway.)
  • Starbucks announced they are giving Howard Schultz a $1.9 million retirement bonus, in addition to many many other benefits. By comparison, the PSBJ estimated Starbucks would pay $1.1 million a year towards affordable housing under Seattle’s big business tax law, which they claim is so much money to them it will somehow affect jobs. (Note too that estimate was based on the initially proposed $500 figure.)
  • Qumulo, a Seattle tech company, announced this week they have raised $93 million, and plan tohire “aggressively” in Seattle. That single investment for that single company is just about double what Seattle’s big business tax will raise raise each year. From about 600 large companies. For affordable housing & services for homelessness people.
  • Notably, the CEO of Qumulo last month signed a letter opposing the business tax which peddled the trickle-down argument that the tax would be somehow damaging. Apparently their economic analysis is different when they’re doing deals instead of playing politics.

A quote from Jeff Bezos might put it all into perspective. Bezos once explained to someone why he purchased their company in this way: You’re the octopus that I’m having for breakfast. When I look at the menu, you’re the thing I don’t understand, the thing I’ve never had. I must have the breakfast octopus.”

What if we're all the breakfast octopus now?

Badaboom, badabing

Amazon thought they made Seattle an offer we couldn't refuse. When the company’s top executives threatened the city's entire economy over a modest tax on large businesses, Amazon broke new ground on out-of-control  corporate misbehavior — all because the richest human in the world would rather evade taxes than do his part to address our homelessness crisis.


This was a threat, not an argument. And it was about intimidation, not resources. After all, Amazon's attempt to rough up the city came just weeks after the company announced plans to generate $2 billion in additional revenue by raising their per-head charge on Amazon Prime customers by $20.

But Seattle refused to knuckle under. The public rejected Amazon's subprime mob boss behavior. And the company moved, fast. First Amazon insisted last fall and again earlier this month that in their opinion, the right amount of resources for housing & homelessness was $0. They threatened to take their balls and go home over it... and then they quickly agreed to $25 million. The City Council majority didn't blink, and today Amazon and their allies backed a $50 million tax on big businesses to support affordable housing and services for homeless people.

Badaboom, badabing. The people of Seattle stood up and made real progress on this one.

But there's more to do. Our city, our region, and our state need to make more dramatic investments in affordable housing so everyone has a place to call home; we need to ensure giant corporations and the top 1% pay their fair share; and we need to do what it takes to ensure that never again can the rich and powerful try to take a whole city hostage just because they don't want to be told no.

This week, Seattle showed once again that we can get it done.

Nice little city you got there...

Amazon is literally run by the world's richest person. Of course they should pay their taxes. But in the midst of a homelessness crisis in their hometown, Amazon isn't interested in doing their part.

Instead, they're making it worse.

Amazon is not only opposing a City Council proposal for a progressive tax on the few hundred largest businesses in Seattle. They're actually threatening the people of Seattle by claiming they'll pause construction depending on how and when the City Council votes. That's not just greed — it's behavior you might expect from a subprime mob boss lording it over a company town.

It's also a crime.

Under RCW 9A.76.180, it's illegal to use threats to intimidate public servants and influence their votes. The company should be prosecuted for it.

Sign on to tell Attorney General Bob Ferguson to prosecute Amazon for their mob boss behavior. Then keep on clicking to send a letter straight to City Council members to let them know that you think Amazon needs to pay.

We know that corporations owned by the richest people in the world typically oppose progressive taxes. And we've come to expect that they'll routinely issue misleading info & make all kinds of wrong predictions about the impacts of progressive moves by public officials. While the Chicken Little routine can be tedious, it's not a felony.

But issuing threats to cause harm in order to influence the votes of elected officials is a different matter. It's a criminal act, and it should be treated as such.

If you're sick of putting up with Amazon's bullying, take action by sending a letter to Attorney General Ferguson, and then telling the Seattle City Council why you support the proposed tax for homeless services.

The city has heard enough threats from Jeff Bezos — now they need to hear from us.