KOMO news released a fascinating documentary recently, one worth watching in full:
A few commenters have said that this is “excellent journalism” — I suppose, relatively speaking, it’s an improvement. But for me, as explicit as the documentary is, it understates the problem, and it does so for particular reasons. These reasons are not obvious to the average person, because the extent of the problem is not visible to the average person.
When I was a truck-driver, I made cardboard deliveries in the Tacoma area from time to time. I also worked as an exterminator in Seattle and its surrounding areas for two years (Renton, Kent, Des Moines, Burien, White Center, Federal Way, etc). In the crawlspaces and the attics, the dingy back-alleys and the industrial loading docks, and the abandoned, rotting homes awaiting demolition, you see a side of the city that you never knew existed before. Most people still don’t know that it exists, but I’ve seen it, and lived in it.
The vagrancy and drugs are certainly a problem. I used to visit friends at the Naval Base in Bremerton, and would sometimes come home rather late, via ferry and bus. I remember more than one evening spent waiting in the International District transit station around midnight, even one in the morning, for a bus that would take me home to Issaquah. If you’ve ever walked even two blocks in Seattle’s International District at night, none of KOMO’s presentation is likely to be surprising to you. The addicts sleep on the benches, and variously about Freeway Park, where my friends and I used to go try our hands at parkour back in high school.
But KOMO’s documentary acts as if the reason Seattle is dying is the homeless problem… or rather, the drug problem. The City Council’s behavior seems inexplicable to them — compassion gone slightly too far, or perhaps just in the wrong direction. But compassion is also the solution, according to KOMO. Specifically, and strangely, female compassion:
And maybe it’s just a coincidence that it’s been a group of women who have spearheaded a program that is tough, compassionate, and innovative all at once. Maybe it’s a coincidence. Maybe not.
— KOMO News, (56:10)
I’m no demographer, but I would be fascinated to see the gender break-down of who voted in the most recent city-council members, all of whose progressive policies were motivated by (or justified by) feminine compassion.
By way of illustration, let me tell a story from the pest-world, about why mole traps are illegal.
Some years back, some ecologically-oriented compassionate types made a stink about the inhumanity of bear traps. These are the kinds of traps most people think about when they hear the word “trap;” circular jaw-traps that grab the leg of an animal when it steps on the trigger plate. Not only were they inhumane to their targets, but people and household pets would occasionally get caught too. They wanted these traps banned.
Fair enough, I suppose. But the bill which they submitted did not ban jaw-traps; it banned “body-holding traps” of all kinds.
Supposedly, some wise person had asked “wouldn’t this include mouse and rat snap-traps too?” In fact, it would, but the supporters promised it wouldn’t be enforced on rodent snap-traps. Thankfully, the wise critic refused to trust these feminine-compassionate types, and insisted a clause be added which explicitly exempted rat and mouse traps.
But that clause did not protect mole traps, which the supporters had also promised would not be enforced. But then, a few years later, it was. Not only are mole traps now illegal, but rat and mouse snap-traps were almost made illegal too. Anyone who has lived on Alki will know how horrifying of a thought this is.
There are many ways for a city to die. The infrastructure might deteriorate, hurting the transportation business and raising the cost of basic necessities like food and clothing, or simply make everything unsafe. An influx of people might raise the cost of housing to unaffordable ranges, driving out people with the ability to move. High tax rates could close or drive away the businesses that keep the city alive — this was the fate of Detroit. Ethnic, religious, or gang conflict can make certain neighborhoods virtually unpolicable, as is the case in certain parts of modern Europe. Rampant disease, foreign cultural takeover, and corruption can also kill a city.
Yet all of these are happening to some degree in Seattle too. If the vagrant druggy problem was solved tomorrow, Seattle would still be in tremendous trouble. And the fact that we know that the homeless problem won’t be solved tomorrow — even though it could be — gives us some insight into why Seattle is really dying.
Everyone seems to realize that the politicians who protect the criminal vagrants and hamstring the cops are largely responsible for the homelessness/drug problem. But these politicians were voted in. The people chose them to run their city, ostensibly for the very values and policies that led to the current homelessness crisis. The former mayor of Seattle — Ed Murray — started the most embarrassingly disastrous infrastructure project in living memory: the Alaska-Way viaduct tunnel. Before being accused of sexually abusing children, Murray seemed to be pursuing a campaign of making commuter’s lives miserable in order to encourage using public transit, not widening major arterials while instead dumping millions into public transit and “big bertha,” the ever-failing boring drill for the Alaska-Way tunnel.
“But he’s a big supporter of LGBT rights!” And so he was elected.
It’s a variant on what happens at colleges, where “cool” and charismatic leaders are chosen because of what they say, rather than on any basis in historical accomplishments and demonstrations of competence. Voters can decry the effects all they want, but when they themselves are the cause, solutions will always look like proverbial band-aids on bullet wounds.
Why do voters do this to themselves?
A major part of the problem is a moral virus which has infected Seattle to a degree nearly unparalleled by any other city (Portland, Silicon Valley, and New York arguably come close). This moral virus makes people believe that they have an unmitigated obligation to outsiders, foreigners, to “compassion,” and to the marginal. This moral conviction is justified by appealing to our natural instinct to help others in need, but rather than acknowledging this instinct as one instinct among many, this moral virus elevates this instinct to a total and absolute obligation which trumps all other instincts, including those to one’s own family, nation, and city. Such a moral virus places outsiders, misfits, and the lower class in a protected category, and places our obligation to not “dehumanize” such people above all other concerns. Naturally, the homeless would be included as a protected class, and even as KOMO news presents the problem, it maintains the very same mindset of “compassion” and our “obligation to help” as those who created this problem in the first place. They even insinuate that the solution is, essentially, more of the same.
But these values are viable because of demographics and the economics of political power. Politicians acquire power through strength of support, so those who can appeal to the broadest number of voters — rather than the highest quality voters — will win.
Seattle has become a hub of transients. Indians, Chinese, Mexicans, and — perhaps worst of all — Californians, all come and then go, usually for work; Microsoft, Amazon, other tech companies, or maybe just for free stuff. Transients vote for their short-term interests, because in the long-run, they’ll probably be somewhere else. In any case, they could be somewhere else. As a group, they have no vested interest in the health of the city, even if a few individuals genuinely do care.
But in Seattle, transients have been “politically empowered” by politicians who have learned that they can rapidly expand their voting base by appealing to transients as a group. Naturally, this voting power requires a moral legitimacy, and so every politician who wants to stand even a chance has to make the necessary propitiations to “diversity,” to “compassion,” to “social justice,” etc. These values leave no room for any other considerations, when those considerations conflict with the values of a transient voter base. But perhaps more importantly, these values are inherently dishonest; they are selective, and psychologically impossible (you cannot “love” everyone; as Mark Zuckerberg once said, “people care more about the squirrel dying in their neighborhood than about 10,000 dead in a foreign country”). Those who can invoke them most consistently tend to be sociopathic predators — like Murray — or perhaps even transients themselves. Self-avowed socialist Kshami Sawant, a sitting member of Seattle’s city council, was born in Pune, India, and only moved to Seattle in 2006, and only became a U.S. citizen in 2010.
KOMO’s documentary does an excellent job of highlighting one very serious and undeniable symptom Seattlites are experiencing. But more feminine compassion is just like giving a drug addict an injection site: “safer,” in theory, but it doesn’t actually solve the problem, and doubles down on the enabling side of the cause.
Seattle isn’t dying. It’s being murdered, and there is no forseeable mechanism for regaining the political power that has been ceded to transients who are perfectly willing to watch other people deal with homelessness, crime, drugs, poor infrastructure, traffic, degenerating culture, and whatever else, in return for the short-term benefits they can squeeze from the system before moving somewhere else… like Missoula, or Cour d’Alene, or Spokane. Perhaps Portland.
They’ll have no idea what happened to Seattle, but it couldn’t have been anything they did.
In order to ressucitate their city, Seattlites would need to find the political will to seize control from those who have no vested interest in the health of the region. Without mincing words, they would need to convey that such people are not “deserving of respect and help,” but in fact, are not welcome at all. They would need to find some way to banish the socialists, the transients, and the pathologically compassionate types from the political domain, and give the police the authority and judicial backing to do their job properly.
That isn’t going to happen. The moral virus is too embedded into Seattle, and its rainbow crosswalks on Capitol Hill. Seattle is dead — or rather, mortally wounded, and destined to descend to the level of Chicago before finally joining Gary, Indiana and Detroit, Michigan as a hollowed-out and dead city, probably within the next two or three decades. The drugs and vagrancy aren’t the cause of this. They’re just the necrosis spreading, and you can be sure that the rot will hit nearby towns too, emanating outward from areas like Fremont, Burien, and New Holly (which looks more like a suburb of Cairo than of Seattle). But it won’t hit everywhere. You’ll know the safe places by where the new councilmen and women choose to live (Queen Anne, Magnolia, Laurelhurst, Mercer Island, and — of course — Medina).
There is a chance that out of the future Detroit-like city might grow some new life; the natural beauty of the area isn’t a disadvantage, in terms of inspiring people to try to raise something out of the ashes. But that is uncertain, and a long ways off.
Before all of that, there will be collapse. There are already rats everywhere, and there will be more. Whole neighborhoods will be overrun by tall grass and blackberries. Blocks and streets will be claimed by gangs — you’ll see this primarily down South, where they’re already strong, but they’ll move North. Car theft, rape, assault, arson, public indecency, and vagrancy will probably continue to rise (of all of these dangers, these have the best chance of short-term reversal). Traffic will probably get worse, while work becomes harder to find and hold, at least if you aren’t employed by a tech giant (thanks to minimum-wage laws). Housing will probably get both shittier and more expensive, unless you’re out-of-work and addicted to something, in which case they’ll probably just give you something… though your next-door neighbors might be prostitutes or gang members. At some point, no wage will be high enough to keep the productive tech employees tethered to the shit-hole that was once a city, and the company will move somewhere else, ripping the economic heart out of the city and carrying it away. That’s when you’ll see the massive property-value deflations, and any last rich transient-types will cash their chips and fly away to Idaho or Montana.
Seattle chose this for itself, and frankly, I no longer even feel pity for it. I never thought of myself as a Seattlite, despite growing up just 20 miles away in Issaquah. I’m very glad I got out of there, and I only hope that its fate can be a prophetic example of what not to do for other cities that now find themselves weighing the value of “diversity” and “compassion” under an influx of immigrants from California and — soon — from Seattle.