Amazon, owned by libertarian donor Jeff Bezos, strongly opposed Seattles head tax to fund homelessness. So whats the libertarian solution?
Amazon, owned by libertarian donor Jeff Bezos, strongly opposed Seattle's head tax to fund homelessness services. The head tax is now dead. So what's the libertarian solution? Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Congratulations, techno-Libertarians! You pushed the Seattle City Council to eat its plan for a "head tax" to address this city's ongoing homelessness crisis and hey, look: your ideology just won the day.

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There won't be a new "confiscatory tax" on Amazon or any other large businesses in Seattle. Funding for government interventions to address social ills won't increase. Instead, the welfare state is in retreat—in Seattle of all places!—and, just as your ideology proposes, the local homelessness crisis will now be solved by...

Wait, what exactly is the libertarian solution to homelessness?

Let's look at a few prominent ideas:

Give homeless people guns: This idea was pushed by a libertarian candidate for US Senate in Michigan this year. The candidate, Brian Ellison, settled on shotguns as the appropriate weapon to offer homeless people after realizing that gun laws would make his preferred weapons difficult to hand out.

“Frankly, I think the ideal weapon would be a pistol,” Ellison said, according to FOX News. “But due to the licensing requirements in the state we’re going to have a hard enough time getting homeless people shotguns as it is."

Do nothing because other people elsewhere are worse off: "While poverty in the United States can be awful," the argument over at Libertarianism.org goes, "vanishingly few Americans are in any serious danger of dying from it. By global standards, the American poor are still among the wealthiest people on the planet. If anyone is drowning in poverty, it’s the poor in the developing world, who really do die from it."

Do nothing because homeless people just need libertarians to give them more liberty: "Indeed," goes this argument from The Daily Caller, "if state power is almost always used to serve the powerful at the expense of the poor, then our real choice is clear. The single most effective way that we can help the vulnerable is to stop hurting them. We might owe them more, but the first and most important thing we owe the poor is liberty."

Offer talk about empowerment instead of actual antipoverty programs: "The solution to poverty is to empower individuals to care for themselves and their families," argues the Cato Institute. "Stale debates over funding levels for antipoverty programs mostly miss the point."

The answer, according to Cato, is simply "removing government-imposed barriers to prosperity" so that the poor can "participate in the market economy, rather than become trapped by welfare programs."

End all income taxation: That's what this writer at The Future of Freedom Foundation wants, but hey, look, we actually did that a long time ago here in Washington State!

Then, in 2010, Jeff Bezos himself helped to ensure that we didn't go and create an income tax in Washington. (This victory meant that billions of dollars were not spent over the last eight years on measures that could have prevented people in Washington State from falling into homelessness in the first place.)

And... We still have a homelessness crisis.

But maybe the problem is just that we haven't adopted the Future of Freedom Foundation writer's other recommendations, such as "end all economic regulation" and "prohibit the government from taking care of anyone, including seniors and the poor, with welfare of any kind, including old-age retirement benefits, education, and health care."

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I'm sure there are other libertarian solutions to Seattle's homelessness crisis as well—and now that libertarians like Bezos have defeated Seattle's head tax proposal, I trust we can all look forward to hearing them.