The Hellhole – Week of Aug 20

10.6 minute read

Capitalism is killing us, and there’s no better reminder than the toxic air assault we suffer daily in our faire Hellhole. This week we have stories of strikes, a discussion … Read more

Capitalism is killing us, and there’s no better reminder than the toxic air assault we suffer daily in our faire Hellhole. This week we have stories of strikes, a discussion on COPS, tech titan tax avoidance, and the shady dealing of the Mayor. Enter the Hellhole …

Labor Came in Like a Wrecking Ball

Crane operators of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302 are on strike. You’ve no doubt heard that Seattle had the most cranes in its skyline for the third year running? It turns out those buildings are neither designed for the working class nor are the workers on those projects immune from the devastating costs of rip-off private insurance companies or the absurd wealth it takes to afford living in Seattle.

The workers are striking back: halting construction until demands are met. They’ve been met in solidarity by the memberes of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 19 and are united in their steely resolve to watch out for other workers’ backs and stop scabs from crossing the damn picket line.

How can you help?

Find a Construction Site with a crane on your way to/from work or during lunch. Bring a sandwich and a cold soda for those striking workers. Say hi and ask how you can support their demands at your workplace.

The working class must have each others’ backs.  To the workers: let’s hope your demands are met. Better health coverage and other benefits, pay to keep up with rising costs, etc. These are modest asks. An injury to one of us is an injury to us all!

We’ve made a small GIF to illustrate this important concept, dedicated to IUOE 302 and the picket-line protecting ILWU 19:

Class Enemy of the Week: C.O.P.S.

Policing has a distinct role in the capitalist order. While socialists may disagree over methods, we know that American-style beat policing traces its origins to enforcing slavers’ wishes and “property” rights by working to find and capture runaway slaves. The police were created to protect the capitalist class from the working class. This was re-crystallized with “broken-windows” policing policies and stop-and-frisk tactics.

Think of it this way: when’s the last time cops joined workers in storming the bosses and the powerful? How many people are murdered over a taillight? Or accusations of theft? Or selling cigarettes while the bosses cheat and steal their way to dominance over the proletariat masses? Did cops say “down with wall street” during occupy and kick Goldman in the Sachs? Nah. They’re working for the masters.

Recently, King County sheriffs were “cleared” of wrongdoing in their brutal killing of Tommy Le who was weeks from graduation and shot while only holding a pen last year. Cops get to investigate themselves for wrongdoing.

Not clear enough? Under Mayor noted Poor-Hater Jenny Durkan, sweeps are up: big time. The first seven months of 2018 had more unhoused encampment sweeps, with less notice, than all of 2017. To hell with that policy, to hell with its backers in City Hall, and, yes, to hell with the bootlickers enforcing such a brutal policy for a slush fund of overtime bucks. 

What is the socialist response?

Abolish beat policing. Abolish prison. Abolish ICE. Defund the 2018 proposed Seattle PD budget of $330,922,012 and put it toward a universal, yearly public housing program. Crimes can still be “solved” without sending armed brute enforcers out on patrols to punish whoever they see fit.

Too unreasonable? Even if you compromise, half that budget would outpace the big business head tax lost by conformist city council members. Hell, we can even rehire folks by trading in their “guns for hammers” program. Add in another $210,000,000 from the youth jail and another $149,000,000 from the police bunker and we got ourselves over a half billion towards eradicating the housing crisis and putting people first in the city budget. That would be an un-ironically modest proposal.

To wit: Seattle does not have a funding crisis. It does not have a budget crisis.

Seattle has a priorities crisis. The big business priorities designed to punish Seattle’s working poor and unhoused are causing our housing crisis. King County does not have the two richest men in America by accident. There is no housing crisis by accident. These are political decisions either directly shaped by these men or through their businesses, business PACs, or charities fronting for business interests.

To that we say, to hell with city hall, to hell with the bosses, but especially to hell with the cops that would participate in the deaths and human misery highlighted above for scraps off the master’s table.


Big Business and CEOs: Pay Your Taxes, People and our Planet are Dying

We’ll keep this simple: Big Business and Tech corporations skim a lot of money locally off their lowest paid workers and supply chain. In Washington, our taxes are so regressive that Big Business and Tech pay less in taxes (as a percent) than the poor, working class, and the unhoused. Big Business and Tech corporations and management fought for months and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to repeal the Employee Head Tax or support politicians deep in their pocket. Amazon even threatened to move out of the city or build elsewhere. Plot twist: they’re doing it anyways.

They’ve claimed that, “we shouldn’t throw more money at the problem, the city doesn’t know how to spend money.” But giving a Major League Baseball team a renovation is more worthy a cause? These bumble-rolls now have the audacity to launch an initiative that brings tech to our city’s problems and vice versa. It oh, what’s that? It costs up to $50,000 for a business to even join the organization? It’s asking its workers to voluntarily donate, including its workers who management and the company deliberately underpay? Jeff Bezos has a private space program that he can throw billions at on the side while some of his workers have to make do living out of their car?

We wonder what would be a better use of all of this money? What would get dignified housing, save lives, save money, build community, and be better for our environment all at once? Low-Income and socialized, fully-public housing. Kind of like what the Employee Head Tax was going to fund?

We are living in an oligarchy, and the oligarchs are incredibly, incredibly stupid – it’s just we the people who are suffering because of their foolishness and egomania. Bottom line to the corporate cats: Pay your taxes, people are dying.

Seattle’s Government Has Made Their Bed, Must Sleep In It

Jenny Durkan along with her deputy/acolytes and allies on the City Council (like CM Rob Johnson, liar and evidence witholder) have potentially been caught red-handed. It seems they likely violated Washington State’s Open Meetings Laws and may have also withheld incriminating evidence from a lawyer representing someone suing the city over the matter. In a shockingly damning article by the Seattle Times, an unsurprising picture of Mayor Durkan is painted – one where she wants to ram decisions through without reaching consensus, hearing from all of the democratically elected representatives that make up the Seattle City Council, and well you know – follow the law. And for what? To make our Amazon Oligarchic overlords happy, of course. If we’ve ever seen a lapdog of the bourgeoisie, Jenny Durkan is that lapdog.

When the city is sold out like this more people die. That’s what’s at stake when we discuss making Seattle a more equitable and democratically controlled city and community – life or death. To Jenny Durkan though? It’s all a matter of campaign contributions.

Who knew the rich had such contempt for democracy? No need to answer. That was rhetorical.


Note: The Seattle Hellhole represents the views of its writers and are not official positions of Seattle DSA at large. Its writers are a collective working on independent pieces, editing, and design to deliver this each week. If you want to volunteer, email [email protected]