The Seattle Times, article "Report spotlights how some owners of high-end Seattle condos conceal their identities," makes a muddle of these two points. One: a lot of rich people own Seattle luxury condos in secret (and the more expensive the condo, the more likely it is owned by an unknown person or persons). Two: It suggests that this is not such a big problem because "top-market condos still make up only a fraction of the Seattle housing market, though their numbers are growing." The first point says there is a problem Seattle should be concerned about; the second one says there is not, and thereby undoes the whole point of the piece. The article then confuses the matter even more by quoting a pro-market urbanist, Roger Valdez, who knows next to nothing about economics. He states: “It’s easy to imagine that there are millionaires lined up around the block waiting to buy high-rise condos... But the fact is that most of the builders in the city are building small and medium-sized apartments, houses and townhouses.” (Duh!)
However, the crucial element missing in Valdez's statement is an actual explanation. All he has done for Seattle Times' readers is describe a thing, and then say this is that thing. It's like saying 'This a dog' (it looks like this and behaves like that), and then pointing to a thing that looks like what you just described, a dog. Yes, in reality, there are not many rich people in Seattle or the world for that matter. You will not find them "lined up around the block." But this piece of information tells us very little. On the other hand, it's just stunning that anyone would believe that the activities of a few super-rich people would have a negligible effect on a specific market (say real estate) or the economy as a whole.
There is nothing in real life experience that corresponds with Valdez's assertion that a few billionaires and millionaires are just doing their own thing over here, and we, the rest of us (the multitude), are doing our own thing over there, and there is no correlation between the two. A CEO receives a multi-million dollar bonus? That has nothing to do with why this woman did not get a two-percent raise. A billionaire buys a condo worth $10 million? That has to do with rising housing values in Seattle. Any connection between one condition and there other is, according to the Seattle Times' poor reasoning, trivial.
The fact that the very rich are few in number is utterly meaningless if we fail to consider the size and social impact of their aggregate wealth (and wealth more as value and less as material possessions).
The value of one billionaire is often that of millions of working-class people, as the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2018 makes abundantly clear. The financial decisions that a single middle-class person makes (buying a house or starting a business) might be economically negligible, but not those made by even a millionaire. The fact of this is so plain that it has little to no intellectual value. It's like adding the fact that dogs often bite humans to Valdez's description of a dog. Indeed, one must conclude that the entire political function of Valdez and his kind is not to present an adequate solution of or framework for the housing crisis (liberate developers), but to simply snare those who are actually thinking about it.
What has been nothing but a royal pain in the ass for leftist reasoning are people who, like Valdez, are not even decent sophists. There is at least some art in sophistry. But there is no art in devising arguments that have no other purpose than entangling activists, academics, journalists who would otherwise be busy constructing concepts, programs, and policies that can be applied to the real world of wealth and its modes and manner of distribution.
And to make matters worse, a major distributor of information, Seattle Times, wastes no time putting Valdez's rubbish ideas out there like they're supposed to mean something.
The left (or real-world reasoning) is then forced to say dumb things like: Billionaires and their forms of consumption do effect all members of their society. Why? We must let the stupidity continue by stating what is right there in front of every nose: Because the value system that measures the rich is not different from that which measures the working and not-working poor. The wealth of the wealthy is dependent on the fact that wage earners agree that the value of those at the top, those who park their money in luxury condos and live on income from financial speculation, is valid. In the way that capitalism can't survive without a belief in the value of the surplus extracted by socially necessary labor (the ultimate social contract, which is temporal); it can't exist without an agreement that the value in the pockets of a person sleeping on the street is the exactly the same as that in Bezos's bank account. You know this. I know this. We all know this. But Valdez wastes our fucking time by telling the public that there is no connection between luxury condos and the rest of the property market.
What I recommend is that you skip the Seattle Times article and just read the source of its information, which is a study conducted by the Institute for Policy Studies. Its author, Chuck Collins, describes the luxury boom as having a "disruptive impact [on] Seattle’s" real estate market, which has an acute shortage of "genuinely affordable" houses.
Here are its key findings:
Of the 1,635 luxury condos, 12 percent are owned by limited liability companies (LLCs) or trusts that mask the real owners and beneficiaries.
At the 99 Union condominium development, 47 percent of the units are owned by trusts, trustees, LLCs, and corporations. In only 19 percent of units was the owner registered to vote there.
The more expensive the unit, the more likely it is to be owned by a trust, trustee, LLC, or other corporate entity. 3 percent of the LLCs owning Seattle luxury properties have organized themselves in the state of Delaware, the premiere secrecy jurisdiction in the United States. In a great number more, we could not trace the registration to a level where we could exclude Delaware, making the 3 percent figure the “floor.”
Of the 1,635 units, only 39 percent of owners are registered to vote at the property, a figure nearly 40 percent lower than that of Washington State as a whole.