Many cities, including Seattle, have rising housing and rental prices because of demand from hi-tech workers who earn good salaries and want to live in downtown neighbourhoods. This op-ed suggests that we look at the higher housing prices as a negative externality caused by the tech businesses. Accordingly, the policy suggestion is to impose a per-employee “head tax,” equal to the marginal external cost, and use that money to fund affordable housing for others.

The bold and controversial conclusion is “Unaffordable rents are not a personal failing or an inevitable outcome of the market; they are a corporate externality as toxic as smog or acid rain.”