Libertarian answer to a question like this is the same as the libertarian answer to anything:

Capital does what it will, society endures what it must.


Easiest solutions in no particular order: stop being an alcoholic / drug addict, get a job, move to a city close by where housing is cheaper and commute.


Are you fucking shitting me, Eli?!


What is the city's plan?

Shouldn't they figure one out first?


Slavery. Libertarian solution is always slavery (to corporate power or to government power). As long as they get to be the slave masters (or believe that they are), the NAP isn't violated, and all is well. Murray Rothbard, the Libertarian Jesus, often said parents should be legally allowed to starve or sell their children. Libertarians are basically giant walking talking greed robots who lack all basic levels of compassion for their fellow humans. Luckily for us, they're often too stupid to achieve much of anything in life. Unfortunately, the socialist invention of the internet makes them feel as though they aren't just a fluke in society and that they are some sort of majority, deserving of respect.


Given the always surprising willingness of Seattleites to tax themselves, the obvious solution is a regressive property tax levy. This is how we fund education, ambulance services, firefighting, libraries, transit, bike lanes, etc., etc., etc.

Never, ever seek funding through a tax on corporate entities, or, even worse, car tabs. If you ask ordinary citizens to tax themselves, they will do it--gladly--every time.


death threats and 'fuck em'. Sounds about right.


God you're a genius, how has no one ever thought of that before? Has anyone ever simply tried telling homeless people to get off drugs and get a job? That can't fail!

Problem solved! Just tell them to stop being homeless! Thanks!



Seattle: "we'll tax the richest 0.001% to fund basic programs to prevent homelessness"



Capitalism and individualism in this society mandates we allow people to be treated like garbage and do nothing about it (but bitch about how annoying and inconvenient they are).

Everyone who is against taxation and against any form of social programs and anyone, ever, requiring help of any kind is responsible for our society getting shittier and shittier every single minute of every single day.

These people don't give a fuck. Their preferred method of dealing with the homeless, the elderly, the sick, the disabled, the poor, the needy, etc. is to just let them die. Better yet, if only they could use the guns they are so fucking in love with to outright murder all of these people, it would be so much easier for them. Hell, the police are doing it every day, it's just not expedient enough (and they don't seem to be allowed to murder white people, however needy they may be).


Just call it a Great Depression and open up more soup kitchens...right Grampa?


Turn them into tires.


What a sophomoric piece of writing.


So now it’s the fault of Seattle’s minuscule number of libertarians that the head tax repeal collected an astounding number of signatures in a very short time? I didn’t know libertarians were so into organized group activities! :-P

For any supporter of the head tax, I have a very simple question: what would the money from the head tax have done which all of our public spending for the last fifteen (more like thirty) years has utterly failed to accomplish?

If you can’t answer that, why are you surprised your fellow citizens signed up in huge numbers to repeal a tax you cannot defend?


Somebody doesn't know what "sophomoric" really means.


No point asking Libertarians for solutions to anything.

Try asking Librarians. They're better informed on that, and most other subjects.


Dear Stranger writers,

Amazon didn’t cause homelessness.

The Non-Wingnut Left

PS: Sawant is a political novice only interested in slogans and her own vanity.


@15 Why don't YOU answer what you think should have been done different that has not been done? Besides "ignore the the problem." Since there are more homeless than ever before merely telling the city to make due is a pretty stupid response.

So. I'd answer you by saying attempting to ask our business community (which I am remember) to commit to the community they exploit, even symbolically with this minuscule effort, and raise more resources to build affordable housing is certainly one prong of a multi-prong approach to alleviating, but probably not solving, a deepening humanitarian crisis.

And further, over time, businesses will gain a better stake in the community by actually making this rather small but meaningful sacrifice and the people of the city will respect them more in return. Ending in sliver of more social compassion.

As it is the power brokers have created a polarizing political crisis along with the existing humanitarian one.


Externalities are Libertarian kryptonite.


The solution will always be: make the government more efficient! It works for everything.


Dear Strawman,

Nobody said Amazon "caused" the current homelessness crisis. But they are part of an economic trap that fetishizes the sort of market forces that do exacerbate these sorts of social problems. And since they are an immensely wealthy and powerful corporation asking them and every other growing profitable enterprise to contribute a pittance to help alleviate this problem makes perfect sense.

The Non-Strawman Middle


@15: Why is it so impossible for people against this tax to understand basic context? First, there wasn't much funding for homelessness at all at the government level until the last twenty years or so in Seattle. Twenty years ago, the problem was much smaller, and things were cheaper. The funding models put in place then are no longer adequate (but they never were to begin with). The problem has gotten worse over time, and costs for everything have gone up due to inflation and the economic explosion here. Now, we are running to catch up, and even the head tax as implemented would only be a drop in the bucket.

Homelessness is a complicated issue, but the solution is pretty simple: give people somewhere to live so that they can do all these libertarian things like get a job and get off drugs/alcohol. Sadly, we won't fund that fix. There is more incentive for developers to make shit tons of money off of tech money than there is to make free or affordable housing. The (not nearly enough) money spent so far is mostly to support programs currently in place like temporary shelters and food and cleaning stations that don't really address the housing issue at all.

I'm so tired of everyone claiming that the city is wasting all this money already. The money being spent is band-aid money to barely help people survive, and doesn't help the housing problem enough. And there just isn't enough money!!! That's why you can't see any improvement. The problem has grown massively, the funding hasn't. Pretty simple.

This argument from the no-tax crowd sounds super similar to the constant complaint from the right about public education. Where is all the money going right now and why isn't there student improvement? The money is going to barely provide basics and there isn't student improvement, probably, because there isn't enough money to fund the things that will really help like getting more teachers and smaller classes.


Lazy click bait. Nobody has a good answer, sadly, not even Bezos or Sawant.


class action suits against bellevue, missoula, and any other cities that bus and outsource their homeless to seattle. the other libertarian answer would be expectation management - you don't "get" to live anywhere you want, you get to live anywhere you can afford. Libertarians are probably sad that homeless people have ruined free camping around the city just like open container was made illegal by those that ruined the privilege. the pollyanna statist neoliberal, the government will solve all the problems as opposed to regulate laws and commerce, combined with the virtue signaling and handwringing aspect of the left is why we have such coddling services and lack of law enforcement to allow seattle to have become a very comfortable place for homeless to congregate. the idea that its all economic refugees is a theory that applies more to the working poor who are having to live further and further from their jobs and have my sympathy. the hard-cases that make up the majority of our homeless though are not purely economic refugees, unless they are refugees from places with more strict conditions for being a alcoholic or drug addicted bum. that might be a libertarians answer.


there were some actual ideas floated yesterday on Slog. none of them appeared to be from inside the affordable-housing community, however. and none were libertarian.

Bezos could donate the entire projected amount the head tax would have raised this year and never notice. but the largesse of the oligarchs is not how we should solve this crisis.

It demands a federal and state response, and neither are forthcoming, because Conservatives. So, it will basically continue unabated.


Juvenile. As in this story by Eli was a juvenile piece of writing filled with insults and hyperbole. We get you're angry that the city council flip-flopped on this issue. We get you're angry they bowed to the whims of those with money. Yup.


@14 @28 Try saying something useful or STFU.


@26: can you say which services you find particularly "coddling"?


Weird how the "citizens of this city" also elected a socialist and the so-called "far left" city council in the first place, huh?


@32 Me thinks we're getting some buyers remorse. Next year is gonna be juicy


Things will change soon because HQ2 is in all likelihood actually stealth HQ1. Bezos will have sucked everything he could out of Seattle and then sneak off in the middle of the night like the Baltimore Colts of old.

After the major upheaval that ensues finally settles down, Seattle will eventually return to sanity, sadder but likely not a whole hell of a lot wiser.


@20: Thank you for demonstrating, albeit with far too many words, why the head tax proponents just lost so badly. I asked for a justification for the head tax, and you hurled lots of invective at me. (And no, flipping the question back at me isn’t clever because it doesn’t work; I wasn’t advocating for the head tax.)

Again, if that’s the best you could do when asked for justification, I hope you’re not surprised you’ve lost.


This entire post is based on a strawman argument. Libertarians are not culpable for the repeal of the head tax. It was widely reviled without any necessary intervention from special interests or poorly-represented (in Seattle, at least) polical parties.

I’ve always respected Eli Sanders as a journalist, but this is straight up horseshit. Stop lying, Eli.


The "minimal state" which Libertarians believe in, and which distinguishes them from Anarchists, consists of a Police force charged with the protection of private property rights.

In theory a Libertarian wouldn't object to homelessness per se; what would bother them would be homeless people bedding down for the night without permission on someone else's property (which would naturally include public parks and roads and sidewalks, once they'd all been privatized in Libertarian Utopia).

The libertarian solution, then is obvious: have the police roust the homeless out of their tents, and either lock 'em up or run 'em out of town (unless they shape up and accept a life of 7-day, 80-hour work at whatever fraction of the former minimum wage is on offer from their betters).

And it's not an entirely fringe position, either, once you strip out the lunatic ideology-- there appear to be quite a lot of even Good Seattle Liberals who at least implicitly want more in the way of police "moving people along" as part of the city's approach to the problem.


@30 yes we know, for free marlet zealots (aka Libertarians), New Deal policies, like public assisted low income housing, are far left, which explains why they ave spent the last 80 years trying to repeal them.


@29 Chill out bro. What do you consider useful? And, is only what you consider useful worthy of typing on this comment section? Or are other people's opinions not valid? Personally I'm tired of reading these poorly written sob pieces about how the evil rich people this or that. So I expressed my opinion. Not everyone will agree with it. But it seems like you don't think one should be able to even express an opinion if you don't agree with it.


So now the Stranger is going to join the Council in looking for boogie men to blame. It's big corporations, conservatives, libertarians, etc... that apparently rule this City based on the blame game being played by EHT supporters. When 20,000+ people sign a petition in under a month and the EHT polls at over 2/3 disapproval, it can't possibly be a sign that even liberal voters have finally had enough.

As to what to do instead - How about starting with following the recommendations regarding contractor accountability and results based programs that were in the expensive report that the City paid to have prepared? From there the Council might consider wild ideas like working on a regional solution with regional shelter space that is both built in lower cost areas and also allows people to stay closer to where they entered homelessness, that way Seattle doesn't continue to bear the vast majority of the burden alone. Fund drug rehab and not tiny house villages, so we actually help people get off drugs instead of just warehousing junkies while they kill themselves. Maybe also let SPD actually do their job and at a minimum enforce ancillary crimes, especially since treating theft as a crime shouldn't affect the homeless since Matthew Lang tells us all the homeless folks in his camps are model citizens who just find those bikes in the trash.

Contrary to the attacks being launched by the progressive fringe, Seattle hasn't become some sort of conservative bastion of corporate lemmings. The issue is that Seattle's liberals have finally had enough of the progressive fringe's failed policies. While it can feel like it at times in the Seattle bubble, liberals aren't conservatives. There are plenty of us who believe the government can do good things to improve our communities and we've supported levies over and over again. But we also aren't progressives, we care about results which means that taxing Amazon and spending more money alone isn't the end goal.


It could also be hailed as an attempt recognize the SCC does not practice good governance. But go ahead blame it on Amazon and as CM Herbold said the "vast Majority of Seattle voters against the EHT.


How about simply making it easier and cheaper to build (reduce zoning regs and permitting costs), somehow controlling who moves to an congested area and/or use the millions you are already spending on the homeless on actually fixing the problem?

The irony of course are the NIMBY's who want to restrict development (hint: they are the types that like to pick on imaginary "Libertarians") while the city is obviously growing.


Actually there is a practical libertarian fix that in all likelihood would work: stop regulating the creation of new affordable housing to death. Limit building regulations to basic health and safety, but other than that if a developer wants to build an apodment high-rise, or your neighbor wants to add an accessory unit or two, let them. No bogus parking requirements, owner-occupancy requirements, etc. Just basic health and safety.

My guess is most libertarians would blanch at the idea, because it would mean letting more of "those people" move into "their" neighborhood (as if they somehow own the entire neighborhood instead of only a single parcel in it) and take all the parking from "their" street (again, as if it's their private property not public property).


@42 "somehow controlling who moves to an congested area" - you want residency permits, comrade? If it's libertarian -- no regulations, other than basic health and safety. The streets are not your private property, you shouldn't get to treat them as such.

And therein lies the problem. "Libertarians" suddenly become huge fans of the liberal nanny state and its social engineering when "those people" might move into "their" neighborhoods.


I'd think Libertarians would respect the right of the individual to camp wherever they please.



If removing regulations worked, it wouldn't result in masses of poor people moving into wealthier neighborhoods. Developers are in it for the money, and they're going to build high-margin projects, given the choice. New free-market housing is expensive housing. New construction in affluent neighborhoods brings in affluent neighbors, not poor ones. What happens if you build a whole lot of the stuff is that the near-affluent start moving out of poor neighborhoods they've been gentrifying, and into the affluent neighborhoods where all the nice new housing is going up. Poor neighborhoods are the last to be developed, and they're usually not so poor anymore by the time developers run out of higher-margin land to build on (if it ever comes to that-- go to any city in the US and see how many vacant lots you can count in the nice part of town, and then in the poor part of town).

Building your way out of a housing crisis solely through a free-market approach results in a reinforcement of the geographic divide between rich and the poor in your city.

You can see a bit of this at work pretty clearly in Seattle and its suburbs, if you spend a bit of time south of I5 and remember what the town looked like 20-30 years ago. The only part missing is the gentrification creeping back out of neighborhoods it crept into, and that's thanks mainly to the black hole in the middle of downtown sucking in every mediocre software developer who strays within a parsec of it.



...provided they paid the nightly fee demanded by the private owner of the land, of course. And moved along politely if any landowner refused use of the land. And got hustled along by adequately armed representatives of the minimal state if they didn't.



If we can't raise the money to build 20,000 units of housing (or anything near it), where are we supposed find the cash to build and operate an additional ~5000 beds of fully staffed, secure facilities for these new involuntary institutionalizations you're asking for? That's far, far more expensive per occupant than even low-density housing.


Limiting the flow of people to an area with insufficient infeastructure is prudent. Without the liberal nanny state we wouldn’t have all the regs that suppress new housing (at all income levels)



Ouch, that has to be one nasty case of mental whiplash you've got there.

Limiting is prudent without the liberal nanny state!

My fingers hurt just typing it.


Libertarian solution: lower the minimum wage and allow small businesses to be able to afford to pay the homeless as workers.


This would be funny if the liberal-progressive solutions weren't demonstratively worse.


Couldn't we/they all just sit down and talk it over together?

Let the best ideas win?

We're smarter than this.


The libertarian answer to the homeless mess in Seattle is to move away.

(And Bezos is not a libertarian, he's just your run of the mill entitled leftist billionaire.)


Based on other articles in slog today it looks like the industry that gave the most to stop the head tax was the food industry (starbucks, grocery and food industry lobbys)...


@46 - Developers were starting to build small efficiency apartments ("apodments") before the Seattle City Council decided that the people choosing to rent them were too stupid to decide for themselves what sort of housing was best and banned them. Plus, even high-end housing can help the poor: it provides a way to soak up the housing demand of those who would otherwise gentrify existing lower-end housing, causing displacement.



I'm not saying you can't solve a housing crisis by building housing.

I'm saying that doing it on a strictly free-market basis aggravates the geographic division between rich and poor.

Have a look at the renters of microapartments or efficiencies in a nice neighborhood like Capitol Hill-- those tenants aren't in poverty, they're employed and they're earning more than full-time low-wage service sector workers. The rent on those places (averaging around $1k/mo now) is too high for the latter, believe it or not.


Hot tip: everyone fucking sucks.


Here's a tip from a local libertarian: contribute yourself. Befriend a homeless person. Drive them to appointments. Allow them to have mail sent to your address. Be a reference for them. Donate to a non-profit that's helping them out. Let them pitch a tent in your backyard and have a shower. Pay them to do your yard work. Make an extra sandwich at lunch. Quit waiting for a heartless, gutless government fix things with your tax dollars; skip the middleman. Obviously this doesn't work for folks with severe mental issues, but for those who need to get back on their feet. In a town of 600K, imaging if even just 10% of us made such an effort with one homeless person. If you can't do that, then don't expect any moral credit for being pro-tax.


Our answer to how to start dealing with the homelessness crisis, for immediate release.

The housing crisis is primarily due to a supply shortage. Thanks Governor Inslee for having your team put together the very clear data that shows this.

To deal with the supply shortage, we need to:

Upzone. Most of Seattle is zoned for single family homes, creating a massive shortage of land to develop on even as developers are lined up to build more housing. We need to stop straight up outlawing the housing development needed to meet demand.
Permit. Permit delays are unacceptable; by law they should be 90 days or less, but developer after developer has told us normal permitting times are 12-18 months. Nobody wins from this, this is just a year's waste on valuable property that could be bringing down prices and freeing up resources for more development. The city needs to do its job and issue permits in a timely manner.
Reduce regulatory overhead. We're fine with making sure that nobody is falling through their floor because some contractor cut corners, but we don't need to add $200,000 in regulatory overhead for every single unit of housing ( We have smart people. Figure out how to not waste tons more money than every other city that gets passed on to buyers and renters. Examples include lowering parking requirements. This would help encourage more people to move to transit to boot.
Take a market-based approach to development instead of a democratic socialist approach. Market urbanism rocks and avoids getting into the sorts of development ditches that we have gotten into with 1-3. Let bad ideas fail and good ideas thrive. It works everywhere else.

We hope that honest media will take the chance to share our official positions with readers instead of fake ones, and reach out to us for comment in the future. You can learn more about us at, and you can reach us here for comment, or at


@61 - bingo.


Zoning and related land use laws need to be repealed.
Two of the big issues surrounding zoning are the racist history of zoning and the high cost, both to families and the state. Another is the book "The Color of Law"

Here is an article on how expensive zoning is
Quotes from the article. "Without these regulations, our research shows, the United States economy today would be 9 percent bigger — which would mean, for the average American worker, an additional $6,775 in annual income." and, "The cost for the country of too-stringent housing regulations in high-wage, high-productivity cities in forgone gross domestic product is $1.4 trillion. That is the equivalent of losing New York State’s gross domestic product."


Yet another question from someone with no knowledge of human history, as if the questioner thought the world began when he was born.

In a country that implemented libertarian principles in law, there might be no homeless people. I know, that is a startling statement and hints at murder of the undesirable, but it is not.

Libertarian principles have to do with the power government has to coerce people. They have nothing to do with social power, voluntary actions, and the standards of society. There is a universe of human action not addressed by libertianism.

For instance, at least 1,400 years before there was government-health care, hospitals were free. European hospitals were started to provide medical care for the poor, at no charge, those too poor to afford medical care in their own homes. The Roman church established, ran, and financed these free hospitals.

Monasteries provided free food and housing for the homeless and indigent. Private charities, many of them religious, provided places for the homeless to sleep in the U.S. until the government shouldered them aside from the 1890s to the 1940s. Private asylums took care of those too mentally disoriented to come in out of the cold or seek food. In general, people are good to each other, and volunteers are far more generous and compassionate than government employees.

150 years ago the question would have been considered ridiculous. There were very few homeless sleeping on the streets, and almost none who did so regularly. Homelessness was created by government, a libertarian government would permit society to eliminate it.


I’ve got an idea Eli. You are a great reporter. How about you or Heidi hit the streets and talk to some of our local vagrants. Some profiles might be illuminating. Be fair and objective. Challenge and fact check.

And by the way, it will be an easy story and very well received. Enough of the theories and rhetoric.


Jeff Bezos a libertarian? Mostly he supports Democrat candidates, though he may have some leanings in that direction. Without any libertarian leanings at all, that would make someone a totalitarian. Most people including Bezos are a mixed bag, politically.

Homelessness of working people is the result of high prices for housing. Government regulations and taxes increase the cost and restrict the supply of housing.

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