What are we getting out of Boeing’s tax breaks?

As a young girl, my daughter had a fear of flying. She overcame this through a thorough study of airplanes and landed on the 737 as her preferred means of transportation in the air. So naturally, she asked for a Boeing T-shirt for a present. It says, “If it’s not Boeing, I’m not going!”

So let’s talk about Boeing. You might expect that Boeing would treat Everett as the jewel in the crown of its operations. That is certainly what the Boeing management led legislators and the governor to believe when the company demanded first a $3.2 billion tax concession from the state, and then another $8.7 billion.

But what did this recent tax giveaway to Boeing get us? A loss of close to 12,000 jobs, 15% of the total Boeing workforce in our state. That means that the state gave Boeing about $138,000 for every single job they took away!

Boeing just heralded its new 787-10, built in South Carolina. This was the first Boeing jet to make its first flight outside of Puget Sound. The company is forecasting that production of the earlier 787 models may slow down. Where will the planes not be built? Well, naturally, not in Boeing’s old home of Washington. That tax money we gave them? It just finances outsourcing of jobs and investment to other states and countries.

Boeing is spending billions of dollars in South Carolina and not in our state just to stick it to the unionized workers, the machinists and the engineers, in our state. There is no other reason, financial or otherwise, to forsake decades of investment in plant and workers. Remember how all this got started: Boeing took over McDonnell Douglas in 1997, but actually the McDonnell Douglas management took over Boeing. Right away, they went looking for a new Boeing corporate headquarters, not in Seattle.

The guy who oversaw this flight from and fleecing of our state was Harry Stonecipher. He dreamed up outsourcing the 787 to Japan, Italy, South Carolina and other places, which resulted in billions of dollars of cost overruns when the quality of this outsourcing was not good enough to fly safely in the new airplane.

As Jim Albaugh, chief of Commercial Airplanes at Boeing, explained in January 2011, “We spent a lot more money in trying to recover than we ever would have spent if we’d tried to keep the key technologies closer to home.” But Stonecipher was not fired for his mismanagement of Boeing, he was fired for his mismanagement of his personal life after it came out he was having an affair with another Boeing manager.

Washington has not only given billions to Boeing in tax breaks, it has invested in workers’ education to insure a pipeline of skilled employees for Boeing. At Edmonds Community College, the Washington Aerospace Training and Research Center teaches manufacturing assembly, electrical assembly, quality assurance, aerospace tooling and aerospace composites. Everett Community College has both the Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing and an aviation maintenance technology program. In 2012, the Legislature established the Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing Pipeline Advisory Committee.

However, with Boeing’s job drain, we do not need a pipeline. These workers are picked off by companies in other states, with no investment by those states. Recently SPEEA, the Boeing engineers union, sent out a notice to its members about Lockheed Martin holding a Seattle job fair to hire for positions in California and Texas. So now aerospace companies are poaching Boeing workers from our state. These workers have been educated thanks to our public investments in K-12 and higher education to supply Boeing with a skilled workforce. Now Boeing does not need or want these workers.

Boeing is indeed going. There is no reason why the state of Washington must pay them to go. The Legislature should immediately close that $8.7 billion tax loophole, and put that money into education from pre-kindergarten through college. Then we would have workers ready for Washington companies, including aerospace companies, who are committed to our state. Boeing is not one of those.

Originally published a the Everett Herald

How corporate, hawkish Democrats betrayed the party and elected Trump

The neoliberals [ We elected them, remember? ] and neocons created an unholy matrimony. We let the globalized corporate camel’s nose under the tent and now folks are worried about Trump’s business being a conflict of interest.

As I use “we” here, I am reflecting and including myself as part of a people that acted as a bystander rather than an upstander over the years of my life. My own activism has been off and on. I realize that I cannot do it all, even now. I also realize that we need to create a friendly space for people to join in activism at the level of commitment they have to offer. We need to accept activists at their current zone of proximal development. There is more than enough work to do for everyone and all talents are needed in this work.

And now we suddenly worry about more because of Trump. Suddenly many are worried about white nationalism. It has been part of this country since our inception. Yet white nationalism has never stopped. And there are many of us who ignored the constructs of racism gripping our country. Racism continues to allow the murder of innocent Native Americans, blacks, and Latinos.

We’ve allowed deregulation and privatization to take root. We allowed Citizens United. We bailed out the banks and Wall Street. Some of us fought these things in the streets. Some of us showed apathy.

We allowed ourselves to be seduced by the propaganda of consumerism. Think about #BlackFriday.

We allow our current neoliberal president to protect bankers and big oil while he militarized the police who use violence against peaceful water protectors.

We allowed jobs to be outsourced and unions to be disempowered. Our current neoliberal president and most of the country stood by while his former Chief of Staff closed 50 public schools in poor black and brown neighborhoods to privatize them, while he fired 1,000s of educators to replace them with 5 week trained corporate TFA players.

Our current neoiberal president stood by while the former secretary of education, Arne Duncan claimed that “Katrina was the best thing that ever happened to New Orleans”. Most of the country stood by while people suffered, died, and virtually all public schools in New Orleans were privatized virtually overnight.

We stood by while Gov Snyder poisoned the water of Flint, Michigan and allowed Betsy DeVos, Nestle, the water companies, and the water profiteers to take the money of the victims.

Most of us stood by while all three branches of our government were sold out to corporate power. Most of us stood by while black and brown votes were disenfranchised by redistricting and voter suppression.

We allow our current neoliberal president to engage in permanent war while privatizing agencies like Blackwater to be our mercenaries.

We stood by and allowed Disaster Capitalism to flourish.

By voting for the lesser of 2 evils in a 2 party system for years now, we paved the way to authoritarian white nationalism / NeoNazism and nepotism.

Kudos to those who have been awake and actively organizing this entire time. We may be weary, but we have to create space in our lives to build bridges with all other activists – the civil rights movement – climate justice movement – immigration rights movement – #BlackLivesMatter#NoDAPL#IdleNoMore – public ed activists – unionists – Fight for $15 – Anti-war movement – all of us need to work together – organize as allies.

It will take a general strike to end corporate power. Or a very ugly revolt. Or both. The French succeeded in overthrowing their government in 2+ weeks in 1968. De Gaulle fled the country. Workers could’ve done better with their negotiations, but in the end they won much. Trump and the GOP aren’t going to be champions for the middle class. Kudos to some of the conservative GOP who are already disagreeing with some of Trump’s decisions. But will you join us to fight? Wall Street and white nationalists are still in charge. Will you organize against racism?

Are you awake yet? Or will the apathy continue? How will we organize? When? Where? Will you make time in your life to take a stand and organize yet? I am ready.

Response to Jonathan Rauch's "How American Politics Went Insane"

In a lengthy article in The Atlantic, How American Politics Went Insane, Jonathan Rauch diagnoses dysfunction in American politics as being caused by a breakdown of party structure and the rise of extremist outside groups such as the Tea Party who can’t be controlled. Rauch’s proposed solution to our political dysfunction is to bring back strong party machines that can enforce discipline and fight off extremists. Rauch wants to bring back pork-barrel spending, secret negotiations in smoke-filled rooms, and control by party bosses and committee chairs.

But what’s to prevent extremists from taking over party machinery? The main problem is extremism (on the right) fueled by donations from self-interested corporations and rich people.

This question was addressed by James Madison in Federalist Paper #10, where he worried both about extremists factions taking over the government and about majorities oppressing minorities. He thought that the large number of representatives, interests, and electors would make it difficult for factions to take over.  He thought that no single self-interested faction would be large enough to become a majority capable of oppressing others. He thought that the voters would tend to select worthy representatives. Apparently he was overly optimistic.

Madison explored majority rule v. minority rights in this essay. He countered that it was exactly the great number of factions and diversity that would avoid tyranny. Groups would be forced to negotiate and compromise among themselves, arriving at solutions that would respect the rights of minorities. Further, he argued that the large size of the country would actually make it more difficult for factions to gain control over others. “The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States.”

Should progressives vote for Hillary if she wins the nomination?

My statement on the discussion of whether or not to vote for Clinton should Bernie not win the Democratic nomination and the many permutations of that discussion:

I support the values embodied in the Democratic Party’s Washington State Platform (and many other state and local platforms, and quite a bit of what winds up in the national platform, although small-d democracy in the party ends at the state lines.). I need to see more than a blue t-shirt with a “D” on it to support a candidate, I need to see CREDIBLE support (a track record, not just lip service) of those values from any candidate I work for or even vote for.

The primary problem with the party has been that we’ve not held our elected Dems accountable to those values and as a result working Americans have been sold out to the corporate tools of the wealthy power elite. (The GOP has always wanted to return us to the Gilded Age, they only started succeeding when many elected Dems stopped fighting back in the late 1970s.) An organized movement to change this started after the 2004 Democratic convention, Bernie’s candidacy sprang from it and has advanced it more than many thought possible.

This is a movement, and as such, it is more than one man. Bernie is incredibly principled and politically astute. But, as he repeatedly says, this is about US not him. In our system, political parties perform many valuable functions. That the Democratic Party has been slacking on upholding its values and performing interest aggregation among its members (among other things) and selling out working Americans is not an indictment of the party system, it is an indictment of the too many rank-and-file Democrats and others who share the values the party supposedly stands for thinking that someone else will do the work to make it accountable. As my friend Anita said in the thread this was written for— learn the rules and start playing. There are plenty of folks already inside the party who need your help and will hold the door open for you.

If Bernie is not on the general election ballot the pertinent question is not which sell out or no chance message candidate you will vote for, but what will you do to advance those values and ensure that 2016 is the last Presidential election where there is a Democratic candidate that does not support working class Americans. But not a single delegate has been committed at this point (super delegates are by definition uncommitted, so getting worked up over them is counter-productive), so at this point every ounce of effort should be going to ensure that Bernie wins the Democratic nomination.

Republican Talking Heads Claim Talk has no Power to Influence Beliefs and Behavior

Who incited Christian terrorism?  Not me.  Couldn’t be.

In what could be the greatest hypocrisy in a season of head-spinners, Christianist Republicans—from presidential candidates to congressmen to Fox News bimbos to sleazy video-splicers and wild-eyed sidewalk ranters-with-rosaries—are scrambling to deny that what they say actually matters.

Specifically they claim that they had nothing to do with a shooting rampage at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs.

Never mind that conservative Christians in high places have been fanning flames for months, calling women and care providers murderers, pretending to believe Planned Parenthood kills big-eyed babies and sells body parts for profit. Never mind that we call such language “incendiary” because it is incendiary. They are shocked-shocked-I-say, that some wingnut in Colorado actually took their becking at face value and opened fire in a family planning clinic.  Who could have possibly known that all that posturing and lying for political gain might affect someone’s behavior?!  Uh, I mean, it didn’t! It couldn’t. It was just talk!

Did anyone other than the guilty parties themselves fail to notice the bizarre irony here?  The people now hastening to assure us that talk doesn’t matter are people who earn big salaries talking. We refer to them as talking heads because that’s what they do, day in and day out, month in and month out.  Talk, talk, talk. Why?  Because like all bullies they (and the folks who bankroll them) are betting that words actually can hurt you.

Those most carefully denying any relation between talk and murder are politicians who spend years speechifying in order to change voter behavior, assisted by well-paid communications experts who the big bucks because tweaking words slightly might affect what voters do. They are pulpit pounders who siphon off 10 percent of churchgoer earnings on the premise that by talking to and for God they can influence beliefs, attitudes and behavior. Talk can save souls. In fact, in the Iron Age mythology of the Bible, it can bring whole worlds into existence.  In the beginning was the word. 

But a bloodbath incited by mere words? Stochastic terrorism? A crazy lone wolf who reacts predictably to the fear and fury of the pack? Words erupting into violent action and reaction? Words shattering into the staccato of gun fire, into screams of terror and anguish? Words slurring into the soft gurgle of the dying? Couldn’t be.

Someone should tell America’s politicians, ad men, preachers and campaign consultants to pack up and get jobs where they actually have some influence. If, as they claim, they’re not capable of getting one crazed wingnut among millions to pick up a gun and open fire after months of professionally crafted goading and millions of dollars of airtime, they don’t deserve their big salaries.

Originally published at ValerieTarico.com

Koch-powered lawmakers

Many Washington State legislators were elected courtesy of the Koch Brothers. In particular, Andy Hill and Steve Litzow squeaked by in 2010 via attack ads funded by the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity.

The State Republican Party was later fined for violating election reporting requirements in that election.See
State Republicans fined for violating reporting requirements in 2010 elections.

Democracy for Sale, owned by Koch brothers

Obama saved the economy — and the GOP

Obama gave a priceless gift to the GOP: immunity from prosecution for war crimes, torture,  disastrous wars, politically motivated prosecutions by the Justice Department, widespread corruption, and other criminality.

In 2008, it appeared that the GOP was destined for many years of repudiation. They’d proven themselves corrupt, incompetent, and imperialistic.

But Obama nursed the GOP back to life by refusing to prosecute criminality, thereby hiding the wrongdoing from the American people.   Obama tried to be bipartisan. He compromised early and often. The GOP almost never compromised and often voted unanimously against the Democrats’ bills.

Obama had a chance to reorient America to a new paradigm of Democratic progressivism. Instead, he hid Bush-era criminality from the populace; surrounded himself with Bush holdovers and Wall Street cronies;  prosecuted the whistle blowers; expanded the power of the military, and governed as a centrist.  Obama didn’t fight.  As a result, in 2010 and 2014 the GOP roared back to life.   Americans were confused about who was to blame for the mess we’re in.

Indeed, Obama is a Wall Street Dem and a great friend of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA.

In 2008 we needed an FDR or at least an LBJ.  Instead we got a centrist Dem who said of himself, “My policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies … back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican.”

No wonder people didn’t turn out to vote in 2014.

From 2009 onwards I tried to submit resolutions to local Democratic organizations critical of Obama’s sellouts.  As you can imagine, those resolutions didn’t go over very well. “Are you crazy? Are you trying to help the GOP?”

There are those who would say that impeachment of Bush, Cheney and others would have been too divisive and would have led to a backlash against Democrats similar to what happened in 1999 when Republicans impeached Bill Clinton. The analogy doesn’t hold. Clinton was impeached for (lying about) sex. Bush and Cheney could have been impeached for torture, deception about the grounds for invading Iraq, and other crimes. See Kucinich Introduces 35 Articles of Impeachment.

In 2007,   members of the Washington State legislature were working on bills calling for the impeachment of President Bush.  Senator Patty Murray ordered them to stop.  See D.C. Dems want to stop legislative impeachment talk.

During the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas, there were women aside from Anita Hill who were willing to testify that Thomas had sexually harassed them.  Then Senator Joe Biden did not allow the women to testify. See The Injustice Of Clarence Thomas.

Well, the Democratic leadership got the shellacking they deserved.  They don’t fight the good fight.  Unfortunately, millions of grassroots Dems are truly progressive but repeatedly get sold out by the leadership.

It all makes me sick.