Opinion

Radical politicians using coronavirus to push socialist agenda

Socialist politicians seem content to use crisis, and the narrative of those suffering, to further their political ambition, ignoring and neglecting those in need.

Ari Hoffman Seattle, WA
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Former Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel famously said: “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” It appears that radical politicians across the country are heeding his advice. The question that remains is how many of these policies will remain when the crisis is over?

In Philadelphia “…police officers have been instructed to stop making arrests for certain non-violent crimes.” FOX 29's Steve Keeley reports the non-violent crimes include the following:

Municipalities in New York, San Francisco and Portland have also adopted similar policies. Decriminalizing drug dealing, drug use and prostitution, even abolishing the police have been long held pillars of Socialist organizations and far left politicians.

Even before COVID-19, Philadelphia was a flashpoint of controversy surrounding the establishment of the first legal supervised injection site for heroin users in the United States. Despite rising crime and overdose death rates in proximity of these sites, far left political strongholds like Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, Vermont, Oregon, New York, DC and more continue to push forward with plans to open the sites. These cities have even filed amicus briefs to support the sites in lawsuits against the Federal government.

In response to the outbreak of COVID-19, the mayor of Champaign, Illinois, gave herself the power to ban the sale of guns and alcohol after declaring a citywide emergency to address the virus. Legal gun and ammo sales have skyrocketed across America as citizens fear for their personal safety. Citizens often cite decreasing police presences and lack of confidence in government as reasons for the purchases.

Seattle may be the most extreme example of these attempts to use the crisis to enact socialist policy into law. Marxist City Council Member Kshama Sawant, who made her fortune from tech giants, has long championed punishing Amazon and other big businesses with a “head tax," which would be levied against the company per employee. Rahm Emanuel, as Mayor of Chicago, called the city’s $4 per employee head tax a job killer.

Yet in 2018, Sawant pushed for a $500 per employee head tax on businesses in Seattle, claiming the funds would be used to provide housing for Seattle's over 15,000 homeless residents. Despite strong pushback from businesses, unions and voters, the City Council passed a $250 per employee head tax. The tax was repealed by the council just a few months later when faced with a citizen led ballot initiative repeal of the tax which gathered over 40,000 signatures in just a couple weeks.

In response to the Corona pandemic, Sawant has reignited her push for a $500 per employee head tax on business and  changed her messaging to claim that the funds will be used to help those economically impacted by the virus and to institute a “Green New Deal” for Seattle rather than help the homeless. She is joined, as always, by new socialist Council Member Tammy Morales in the push for the head tax legislation. Though Sawant and Morales have claimed to want to help the thousands of homeless on Seattle’s streets, the socialist council members quickly abandoned the homeless cause in order to use the coronavirus narrative to reframe their argument in favor of the extreme tax.

Sawant and Morales have been longtime advocates of “ending the sweeps.” Seattle’s homelessness response includes the Navigation Team, which is comprised of police officers, waste management employees and social workers who visit homeless encampments and offer services to residents before clearing the encampments. Unfortunately, due to the council legalizing urban camping and decriminalizing similar offenses as Philadelphia has done, the Navigation Team has no “stick” to use when the “carrot” of services is rejected by the people living on the streets.

More than 80 percent of people encountered by the Navigation Team are now refusing services. When an encampment is cleared, another is quickly created by the residents just a few blocks away. Sawant and Morales have decried the encampment clearing “sweeps” and have called the process inhumane. Along with other council members like Teresa Mosqueda and Lisa Herbold, Sawant and Morales have worked to defund the Navigation Team.

Yesterday, the council finally won the battle by “pausing” these services provided by the Navigation Team. According to the Seattle Times “As of last Friday, the Navigation Team has been to 172 sites, delivered 462 flyers on COVID-19 and handed out hygiene kits that include soap and water to 126 people since the beginning of the month.” Morales even admitted using the crisis to end what she calls the “sweeps” in a tweet

Homeless encampments in Seattle and Los Angeles, have been the sites of outbreaks of typhus, typhoid, Hepatitis, HIV and more. Now there will be no outreach efforts. Seattle plans to install toilets and hand washing stations around the city, replicating a failed initiative that cost Seattle millions of dollars in 2008. It’s ironic that in 2018 Morales called for “city leaders to fulfill their obligation to preserve human rights and dignity by ending the medieval practice of mass sweeps...” and now medieval diseases are sweeping through homeless encampments. In a 2015 questionnaire, Morales even advocated for these encampments being set up in residential areas: "Q: Should encampments for people experiencing homelessness be allowed in residential areas? Candidate Morales: Yes”

This will only be the tip of the iceberg in bad economic policies. Sawant and Morales have been longtime champions of increasing the minimum wage. Sawant was the driving force behind Seattle’s implementation of the $15 per hour minimum wage. That wasn’t enough for Morales, who advocated for increasing it to $20 per hour.

Meanwhile, the minimum wage increase in Seattle has been shown to decrease hours and wages for low income workers and encourage companies like McDonalds, AMC and Amazon to find automation alternatives. To come full circle, the Amazon Go grocery model has also been proven effective at preventing shoplifting and other crimes committed by the people left on the streets of Seattle by policies implement by Sawant and Morales.

Socialist politicians seem content to use crisis, and the narrative of those suffering, to further their political ambition, ignoring and neglecting those in need.

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