Exodus

 

By Richard Colman

Leaving one place for another is not new.  About 3,000 years ago, the Jewish people left slavery in Egypt and set forth for the Promised Land.  A book of the Bible is named “Exodus.”

There have been other exoduses.  Over last several centuries, millions of people left religious persecution and economic penury to come to America.

Inside America itself, the federal government engineered a sort of exodus.  The Reclamation Act of 1902, was designed to settle Western states by providing water for agriculture and to attract new residents.

However, the time for a new exodus has arrived in parts of America.

There are examples of why a new exodus is needed.

Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C. does not have enough space.  On May 28, 2018, The New York Times reported that, “Arlington is running out of room.”  According to the Times, 7,000 new graves are added each year.  “At that rate,” the Times reported, “. . . the cemetery will be completely full in about 25 years.”

Seattle, Washington, is becoming so crowded and so expensive that local officials on May 14, 2018, levied a “head tax” on large businesses.  The tax is expected to be $275 a year and will be assessed on a per-employee basis.  The money collected is supposed to go for aid to homeless people.  Amazon, which is located in Seattle, would be affected.

Now, cities in Silicon Valley, south of San Francisco, are discussing a head tax.  According to the East Bay Times (May 29, 2018), Cupertino, Mountain View, and East Palo Alto are considering a head tax.  The tax would affect such firms as Google and Apple.  Money collected would go for transit and housing.

In Silicon Valley, the price of a decent home is between $1 million and $2 million.  There are reports that an annual family income of $300,000 is not enough to qualify for a down payment on a home.

Perhaps the tax, would help solve the problems of overcrowded school, excessive traffic, and a lack of parking.

While essentially no one likes higher taxes, a head tax may be a useful vehicle for forcing people in overly expensive regions to new locations.

Perhaps Seattle would be better off without Amazon.  The company is looking for a second headquarters.  While no one yet knows where that new headquarters will be, the likelihood is that it will not be in Washington State or California.

Between World War I and World War II, living in New York City, was tolerable if not great.

In the years after World War II, street parking was just about impossible to find, going to an opera or concert was prohibitively expensive, rents were very high, and apartment houses did not have lawns or gardens.  Driving a car was a nuisance.  Eventually, people left the city for the suburbs and other states (like Florida and California).

Anyone living in San Francisco during the 1960’s or early 1970’s can recall a pleasant place to live.  Homes cost between $20,000 and $30,000.  Workers commuting to jobs in San Francisco could park in a fee lot for 25 cents a day.  A cable car ride was also 25 cents.

In the mid-1970’s, high-rise office buildings and residences began to appear in San Francisco.  The process is still going on.

Unlike earlier times, the State of California is now trying to take over land use in California.  In January 2018, state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) proposed Senate Bill 827 (SB 827), which, if enacted, would  require the construction of high-rise, high-density housing within one-quarter mile of a frequently-used bus stop or one-half mile of a train station.  SB 827 has drawn strong opposition and may not pass the state legislature.

The problems associated with overpopulation can be solved.  If taxes are made high enough in overcrowded places, people and businesses will leave on their own.  Government’s only role will be to make taxes high enough to accelerate an exodus.

 

Richard Colman is the founder and president of Biomed Inc., a biotechnology, publishing, and informatics company.  He is a biochemist and earned masters and doctoral degrees from the University of California at Berkeley.  He lives in Orinda, California.


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