Remember this Seattle Times article entitled, "Across the lake, a city looks to profit from Seattle’s mistakes"? Bellevue represented everything a city must do to keep its business community pleased. Not only did Bellevue not, like Seattle, tolerate "sidewalk camping," it also guaranteed shoplifters "a trip to jail."

What made this sensible intolerance possible? For one: "Almost all [the city's] City Council members... have private-sector experience." How unlike Seattle's. This city's council is filled with do-nothing progressives, and even a socialist who openly disregards the masters of the universe, rich people. The gods of business blessed and blessed Bellevue for its obedience. From that same piece in the Seattle Times:

Not surprisingly, Amazon recently announced it would lease a 25-story office tower there once it’s completed in 2024, adding to the company’s previous commitments. By the following year, Amazon intends to have 25,000 employees in Bellevue. 

But now, a little more than two years after these glowing words were posted with such confidence, Puget Sound Business Journal posted this article: "T-Mobile to sublease offices near Bellevue HQ, adding to Eastside tech vacancies".

An 18% vacancy rate on the Eastside? T-Mobile dumping "330,000 square feet of office space?" This is not an anomaly? Other tech companies doing exact the same thing? 


Not only has Microsoft already confirmed plans to give up the space near T-Mobile at Advanta Commons, it has also decided to let go of offices in Issaquah and downtown Bellevue.

Google has backed out of plans for offices on the Lee Johnson Chevrolet site in Kirkland. Amazon has paused construction in Bellevue and has already planned to exit at least three leases in downtown Seattle. And Meta Platforms has confirmed it will sublease buildings in Seattle and in Bellevue's Spring District.

A possible answer to these disagreeable developments is: Bellevue lost its marbles and became more like Seattle not long after the Seattle Times sang its praises to the highest spheres of business-friendly heaven. But nothing of the sort happened.

Indeed, conservative KOMO reported this a few days ago: "The city of Bellevue did what the city of Seattle couldn't—pass a drug possession-related ordinance." Bellevue has not lost its head. It's doing its very best to, in the words of Seattle Times, keep "the 'woke' far left" at a distance.

But why is Bellevue dying while Seattle appears to be growing bigly? 

How to make sense of this? At the present rate, Seattle will have 800,000 souls in a year or two. At the present rate, Bellevue will experience serious economic challenges that no amount of homeless-hating can resolve. Arrest all of the drug users you want, and still those office spaces will remain empty.

Seattle is clearly not dying any time soon. But Bellevue fits the bill. It's looking more and more like the Old Testament's Job. The city's god seems to be punishing it for no good reason at all. Doesn't Bellevue obey the rules and live righteously? Why isn't He sending the Eastside nothing but love?   

One answer can be found in the fact that the very rich are, and will always be, at war with the classes that begin with the middle and go all way the down to the bottom, the street, the homeless. And the fact of this is only obvious to those who see capitalism not so much as an economic system in the transhistorical sense (that is, in the general or universal sense) but as a culturally determined social order that's historically specific.

If we use that understanding as our point of departure, we soon recognize the key function of criminalizing the poor and sweeping the homeless: not public safety but, instead, the crude reinforcement of class distinctions that are the beginning and the end of an economic system that's only 400 years old.

With capitalism, class mobility can only be an anomaly—this understanding is the most important finding in Thomas Piketty's bestseller, Capitalism in the 21st Century. (I elaborate on that finding in my 2014 review, "Piketty Gives Good Economics.") In short, the class concrete that constitutes our present social world can only harden.   

And it is here we find the ultimate function of money: to keep things in order. This is the meaning of one of the most famous passages in Marx's Grundrisse: "The individual carries his social power, as well as his bond with society, in his pocket." Who was the highest-paid CEO in 2022? The head of a tech company that's presently contributing to Bellevue's growing anxiety, Google. He made $225,985,000.