Letter: Tax the rich to reduce homelessness

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Homeless camp out in downtown Salt Lake City on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. A Salt Lake Tribune analysis of dollars spent on Operation Rio Grande from Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County and the state has found that the vast majority of new spending went to fund law enforcement, jail beds, court and policing, while less money went to services, housing and shelter.

This is a response to Ryan Beck and Madeline Crawley’s Dec. 6 commentary, “Utah’s inclusive economic model is at risk.”

Ryan and Madeline say that a capitalism that is more inclusive is better for our community. I agree. They point to the problem of homelessness in large cities, like ours, as being evidence for the failure of a winner-takes-all type of capitalism. This is where I disagree.

The country of Singapore, with a population of 5.6 million, only has around 1,000 homeless people, according to a study done by Assistant Professor Ng Kok Hoe of the National University of Singapore in November of 2019. In Salt Lake City alone, we have almost 4,000.

Singapore accomplished near-universal housing with taxes, not capitalism.

There’s nothing about Utah’s “version” of capitalism that will be able to solve our homeless population. Utah has almost always voted for lower taxes. In 2007, right before the Great Recession, the Utah legislature cut our taxes.

The truth is, the wealthy have the funds to do a lot of good in this world. Taxing the rich shouldn’t be seen as “punishing success” but rather “use it or lose it.” We were promised that wealth will trickle down. To me, it seems like the wealthy are happy to hoard it instead.

Chris Paul, Sandy

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