Category Archives: Politics

Boeing Also Makes Planes in Renton – A Bit Slowly Right Now

By Jelson25Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

If you don’t want to go as far north as Everett, you can instead go a tiny bit south to Renton, where Boeing makes the 737’s.

They’re pumping out 5 jets every 2 days, but they’re still behind schedule due to delays from the US/France joint venture CFM International who makes some of the engines and some fuselage work from Wichita Kansas.

They’re going ahead and building the planes though and just parking them outside, waiting for the engines. Sometimes they strap on some engines and fly them over to Boeing Field in south Seattle where there’s more room, then take off the temporary engines and drive them back to the plant to fly another plane over to wait. ?

737’s currently account for around half of Boeing Commercial Airplane Company’s income.

Source: Seattle Times – Boeing confirms it’s crunch time in Renton, fewer 737 deliveries next quarter

The World’s Largest Building North of Seattle Still Produces the Boeing 747

By Maurice King – Boeing Widebody assembly plant, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4118798

In the 1960’s Pan American World Airways wanted a “jumbo” jet and they pushed Boeing hard to create it, dangling a $525 million contract. Risking the company to do so, and building the world’s largest building by volume just north of Seattle, Boeing designed and created the world’s first jumbo jet, the 747.

Though it changed aviation, the 747’s excellent design means it’s still used as a versatile workhorse even today. Trump’s new Presidential plane will be a 747.

This factory still rolls out planes, including Boeing’s newest. The parts are sourced from companies both domestically and around the globe in a logistical tangle of millions of parts from suppliers, to time schedules, to varying technical requirements.

Not only is Boeing good at building planes, it’s unparalleled in its ability to manage extraordinarily complex manufacturing projects. This is why Boeing so often leads large national projects, such as the ISS, as the prime systems integrator between all the contractors.

I’ve never actually toured the plant up there past Everett, Washington. But I think I’ll make it my next excursion. My dad worked most of his life at Boeing, so it holds a special place.

Kurdish Allies – The Problem of Professional Detachment from Beliefs

YPG fighters in Syria, Middle East Monitor

If you’re a soldier in the Middle East, you end up working closely with local soldiers. And these local soldiers often have strong cultural, political or religious-based ideals.

Not every soldier is as well-trained as our soldiers at having “professional detachment” from their beliefs and ideals. And we all know how having ideals and beliefs can be a very passionate thing. This is what our soldiers are facing, working so closely with local soldiers in the Middle East.

For example, in a hush-hushed Pentagon example, things were going well between our soldiers and the local Kurdish soldiers. But small things can lead to larger things over time. And one night, some children being brought to the camp, bleeding and dying, were denied treatment by the Kurdish soldiers because the family was not Kurdish. But our Marines can’t do that – we must help if we can. And so one of our Marines got shot, and one of the Kurdish soldiers got killed.

Oleg Sentsov’s Hunger Strike Attempts to Draw Attention Back to Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine

Banner apparently says, “Oleg Sentsov, Ukraine with you”

Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian, lit a fire on the doorstep of Putin’s ruling party building in Ukraine, after Russia invaded Ukraine. His sentence is 20 years. He’s on a hunger strike asking for his fellow imprisoned Ukrainians to be released. Ukraine has even offered a swap with Russia. This was timed for the Moscow World Cup, and he’s 50 days into the hunger strike. Nobody is allowed to see him or the other Ukrainians imprisoned. The EU says and does nothing about Ukraine any more, other than to lay blame on the “backward” Ukrainians. Putin is very good at making his victims look like they did it to themselves. Oh, obviously, it was suicide! ?

New Straits Times – Ukraine Filmmaker Marks 50th Day of Hunger Strike

washingtonpost.com – Only Western Pressure Can Save Oleg Sentsov

The Seattle Corporate Head Tax – Social Justice and Reality Combine

Seattle City Hall
Seattle City Hall – Basetti Architects

Seattle has a growing homeless population. In the greater King County area, around 70% of the homeless live in Seattle. The county saw a 4% increase in 2017 to 12,112 homeless out of about 2,200,000 people, which represents about 0.55% of the population being homeless.

This is consistent with national averages, not abnormally high. Many news reports have suggested there has been a recent spike in homelessness greater than ever before, such as The Guardian article America’s homeless population rises for the first time since the Great Recession. This is not true – the homeless rate last spiked in the 1980’s after large cuts to federal social programs, and homelessness has been trending slowly downward since. But not in all places, like Seattle, where homelessness has trended upward.

There are several possible reasons why homelessness is increasing in Seattle. The reason gaining most traction recently is a result of both property prices and rent prices rapidly rising, which in turn is a result of Seattle’s highly successful businesses that draw in affluent workers from around the world.

It is true that property values are increasing remarkably. And landlords, as a natural course of market forces, raise rents accordingly by what the housing market will support. This can displace tenants. And if these tenants do not find higher paying jobs, they are displaced from their current residence. And if they then do not leave King County for less expensive places, they are then counted among the homeless.

Seattle has increased its spending on the homelessness issue at a much greater rate than the increase in the homeless population, spending large sums from housing tax levy funds as well as the general fund, to create a sprawling set of decentralized social programs and services for the homeless, including 5,312 housing units, at a cost of over $120 million, plus ongoing expenses.

In addition to this, the shelter program budget alone in 2017 was $13.8 million and is increasing to $16.8 million in 2018.

Seattle has adopted the approach of “housing first” – making permanent housing available at a low qualification barrier, without preconditions or time limits on how long an individual can stay. This is, of course, a sought-after commodity.

Talk of placing rent control on landlords to keep rents artificially lower than the market would support might help some tenants, but it does nothing to stop the property values from increasing, which causes property taxes to increase, which the landlords must pay. So far this approach has not been given much serious consideration.

The most recent approach was championed by Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant under the banner of social justice. She pressed very hard for a “head tax” to be levied upon any business making more than $10 million annually of around $500 per employee. Her justification, and the justification of those who rallied behind her, was that these companies who were succeeding where the very reason Seattle has a homeless problem – they make the value of the property go up, which increases rent, which people can’t pay, and so they are thrown out into the street.

The so-called “social justice warriors” were very vocal in their support of this head tax, while the loudest adversaries of the head tax were surprisingly the construction workers who were worried they would be out of a job if the head tax were passed, because they believed companies would no longer want to be in Seattle with that much larger tax burden.

This head tax became known as the “Amazon Tax”, and gave both sides on the issue a focal point to argue their case – for the construction workers, Amazon is always building, giving us jobs, and we want that to continue, so drop this head tax talk. And for Sawant, Amazon has done well, and are therefore morally obligated to pay for the homelessness they have created.

Sawant ended up getting enough support on the Seattle City Council through crowds and megaphones to pass the measure creating a head tax, and the mayor of Seattle, Jenny Durkan, after Amazon said they would stop all new construction if the head tax passed at $500/head, managed to get the tax reduced to $275/head instead, mollifying both sides.

Oddly, one of loudest companies against the head tax was Dick’s Burgers, a locally-famous burger joint known for paying their worker exceptionally well and offering excellent benefits.

Seattle may seem to many from the outside to be a bastion of unthinking and rabid liberalism. And there is a lot, admittedly. But the people of Seattle are also pretty smart, and most do not subscribe blindly to any ideology, and are almost always open to reason.

It became clear to some that Sawant’s reasoning was faulty – there is no directly causal link between the success of Seattle’s companies and homelessness. They were not the cause. But they were a factor in Seattle’s success, and subsequent increase in value that has displaced so many. And the link between this displacement and going directly to the street is also not established.

Seattle also came under greater scrutiny for their current spending on the homeless issue, and whether or not their approach was the best. One such example is, why sell off an expensive piece of city property in a central location to a developer when you can use it to create the housing you want to buy?

This scrutiny and the fact that a citizen’s ballot was started to gain signatures to place a people’s referendum up for vote, to revoke the city council’s actions, and the fact that this citizen’s referendum was gaining signatures ridiculously fast, and that citizen polls showed that almost nobody wanted this new head tax, was enough to convince the Seattle City council to rescind the head tax just today.

Sawant and her followers are trying to frame this as corporate greed with their “unlimited funds” being victorious again over social justice. But the fact, instead of this propaganda, is that the people of Seattle decided they did not want this tax.

And the city council listened. Many speculate that the council listened because later this year they want a tax that will give free college tuition to residents. So they question is, offer free housing to a growing number of people, indefinitely, without any other plan, or give people free college tuition? I think I agree.

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