Thomas Franks on progressives, Democrats, and Occupy

From Slate’s interview of Thomas Frank (Tom Frank: Obama’s made left “futile and irrelevant”):

“The only honest way for progressives to assess the experience of these past four years is by coming unflinchingly to terms with our own futility and irrelevance. Rahm Emanuel, Bill Daley, all these guys [in the Obama Administration]– they see liberals as a species of humanity that they don’t have to be bothered by.”

Frank says that the rise and fall of the Labor Movement tracks the rise and fall of the liberal/progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

Frank laments the fizzling of the Occupy Movement. He blames it partly on what he calls “the academization of protests”:

They get taken over by people who are absolutely determined to not speak in a way that is comprehensible to average Americans. In fact, [these are] people who have enormous contempt for average Americans. The whole idea of the left is about empowering average people, and you can’t do that if you despise them.

Frank agrees with me about the similarities between Occupy’s anarchism and the Right’s libertarianism, and he agrees for much the same reasons:

There’s another thing I’d like to add to this, and that is the issue of the state. Occupy tended to be pretty unsophisticated about the state. They sound like libertarians, frankly, when they’re talking about the state. If you want to do something about Wall Street in this country, there is only one power that can do it — and that’s the state, obviously. That’s government. And government did perform that role for a long time. Glass-Steagall, that was the law of the land. Banks were closely regulated; you didn’t have anything like this sort of madness of the last decade, the shadow banks.

 

We're the government, and we built all these

We the Government built all these

Without government, we’d still be hunter-gatherers.

True, the government is often corrupted so as to server the few, but the solution isn’t to follow Grover Norquist and the Tea Partiers and drown government in the bathtub. The solution is to fix government so that it serves everyone.

 

What’s government good for?

Let’s remind ourselves of the various regulatory and positive functions of government.

Government runs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the EPA, and the FDA, to protect our health and safety. The FAA regulates air travel. The NOAA forecasts weather. FEMA is tasked with coming to the rescue in case of natural disasters.

Government regulates finance through the SEC, the FDIC, and the now expired Glass-Stegall Act; reckless deregulation was a major cause of the subprime loan disaster and ongoing financial chaos.

Government maintains national parks and supports conservation and smart transportation. It funds fundamental and applied research that benefits industry and humanity. It teaches our children and takes care of elderly, sick, and indigent citizens’ medical needs.

Thanks to government we have fuel efficiency standards. Think how much better off we’d all be if 20 years ago Congress had instituted more stringent standards. We’d have saved many billions of additional dollars in oil costs and would have reduced the trade deficit and greenhouse gas emissions.

Thanks to government we are not in a deep depression. When the economy crashed in 2008 and banks and insurance companies were on the verge of insolvency, the capitalists went running to government to be saved.   (Yes, they should have bailed out homeowners more than the banks.)

Thanks to government we still have GM producing cars.

In The Truth about the Drug Companies, a former Editor in Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine writes of the drug industry, “Instead of being an engine of innovation, it is a vast marketing machine. Instead of being a free market success story, it lives off government-funded research and monopoly rights.” See also The Horrifying Hidden Story Behind Drug Company Profits.

Moreover, government can be more efficient than the market system. This is especially true for health care. The U.S. pays far more per capita than other industrialized countries but leaves tens of millions without coverage and lags in many measures of health.

Government provides real jobs and real services, despite regressives’ common claim that only the private sector generates jobs.

Heck, without government we’d be hunter-gatherers: no laws, no sanitation, no commerce, no childhood immunization, no civil rights, no seat belts, and surely no Internet.

Government is like a computer operating system

The best analogy for the role of government in society is the role of a computer operating system.

Without an operating system, your computer would be a useless hunk of metal and plastic. The operating system provides the basic rules, conventions, protections, and services necessary for the functioning of application programs such as editors, spreadsheets, browsers, and games.

Government plays a similar role in the functioning of a modern society. Government furnishes the rules, conventions, protections, and basic services necessary for the smooth functioning and interactions of businesses and individuals.

Sometimes computer viruses, spybots, malware, and other undesirable programs invade your operating system. They suck up resources, steal private information, and destroy data. To guard against such undesirables the operating system has protections, such as firewalls and security levels. Furthermore, you can install anti-virus programs that will scan your computer and protect you from suspicious programs.

In a similar way, government is sometimes co-opted by special interests who twist the rules, corrupt the lawmakers, and get laws written to their own benefit. Corporations, labor groups, teachers, government workers, rich people, poor people: everybody tries to make government serve their own interests.

One protection against government abuse is election finance laws. Publicly funded elections would make it harder for private interests to buy the votes of lawmakers.

Another protection is investigative journalism. Journalists are like anti-virus programs for government: journalists scan the actions of legislators and government workers, looking for wasteful or fraudulent behaviors. It is to society’s benefit to fund independent investigative journalism, as well as to give tax incentives to privately run news organizations. The US spends a small fraction as much on public journalism as most other industrial nations.

Libertarian fantasies

Libertarians are right that too much government is usually a bad thing. Fascism is oppressive and Soviet-style Socialism is both oppressive and inefficient. But the only alternative to such Socialism isn’t laissez-faire capitalism. Libertarians like to imagine that individuals can thrive in modern society without the structure and guidance of a strong central government. This is idle fantasy. When the economy crashed a few years ago, corporations came running to the government to bail them out.  Without regulation of complex financial markets, monopolies and corrupt practices would flourish, and further market crashes will be inevitable. Without the organizing role of a strong central government, commerce and trade would not function.

But, yes, we do need to beware of socialism in America –especially of socialism for the rich.

In short, society needs a strong central government as a brake on the excesses of capitalism and as a means for assuring the general Welfare.

The wisdom of the founders

Indeed, the founders crafted a Federal system, with a strong central government, because small-government society under the Articles of Confederation wasn’t working well. (See this history.) The founders realized they needed Big Government to have a modern nation. The Constitution asks the Federal government to provide for the general Welfare and to do lots of other things to secure our safety and well-being.

The Preamble to the United States Constitution states

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

What was true in the late 18th century is even more true now, with the significantly more complex issues facing the nation.

See also Government doesn’t take away your freedoms; corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and corporations do

 

Austin's Picks: Autonomy Alliance

“It’s a scary time to be involved with radical class struggle. But was it ever any other way?”

Austin Kelly suggests you scan this one from LibCom.org:

 

 

Autonomy Alliance: The interview

 

 

An interview conducted with two members of St Louis libertarian group, Autonomy Alliance.

While in St. Louis, I was lucky enough to stay with two members of the Autonomy Alliance. In that time, I’ve been impressed with the level activity I’ve seen from the group—regular publications, public events (not the least of which included a screening of the 1971 film Sacco and Vanzetti), and running a once-yearly weekend school.

Unlike many of the city-based libertarian groups in the US, I hadn’t heard of them before. So I thought it’d be worth learning a bit more about them. The following interview took place with those same two members, although it’s in personal capacity, so should not be taken as the official AA positions.

Tell me a bit about the group. When were you founded? How many people are currently active? Are members active in any other organizations? What are the particular politics of your group and what level of political agreement do you strive for? What are the activities and projects you’re involved in?

Autonomy Alliance has been active for about 5 years, although it’s current core group has only been active since late 2008. There are about 10 members who attend regular meetings, vote on event proposals, and facilitate annual events. Our members are all involved with other local and national anti-capitalist organizations. AA is made up of PARECONists, social anarchists, radical feminists, and Wobblies. The goal has always been to bring together folks of different radical left-wing backgrounds into a cohesive organization to work on local projects, distribute literature, discuss readings and put out a quarterly newsletter.

One aspect of AA that differs from many radical groups is that we have defined membership, a democratic voting procedure, and agreed upon organizational by-laws which we collectively edit every year or so. While AA is still small in numbers, I think we’re able to focus our time and energy into local projects in a way that’s relatively efficient. I think we all want to avoid the pitfalls that come along with doing things in a disjointed and loosely organized way. We co-sponsor an annual event called Left Wing School, a day long series of workshops and panel discussions on a wide ranging number of subjects, from labor, environmentalism, feminism, Palestine solidarity, etc. The LWS has occurred every December for the past several years. In the past, we’ve also co-sponsored several commemorations of the 1877 General Strike. In 2010, we brought in famous labor historian, Jeremy Brecher, along with popular singer-songwriter David Rovics to participate in this event. It was attended by about 100 people.

Read the whole thing? or turn on Good Morning, America? You make the call.

Government doesn't take away your freedoms; corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and corporations do

Arguments against libertarianism


Regressives (aka “conservatives”) say that guns don’t kill, people do. So, despite the many deaths caused by easy access to guns, most regressives continue to oppose gun control, even for rapid-fire weapons. And they’re willing to pay for guns, because they think guns serve a valuable purpose.

On the other hand, regressives generally dislike government. They blame it for corruption and waste. They complain that government takes away their freedoms. They don’t like paying taxes. They want to shrink government and drown it in the bathtub.

But if regressives really believe that guns don’t kill, then by the same reasoning, they should really believe that government doesn’t waste their money and take away their freedoms; people do. Specifically, corrupt politicians, bureaucrats, and corporate “people” subvert government and use it to enrich themselves.

Government itself is just a tool, and it can be used either for good or for bad. Just like guns.

How government is like a gun

One of the primary roles of government — some regressives would say the only legitimate role — is law enforcement and defense. That role is similar to the role played by guns. So on that score, you’d think that right wingers would love government.

But regressives see only the bad that government does and overlook all the good that it does and can do. They want citizens to use guns to protect themselves from criminals but downplay government’s role in fighting crime. They even imagine using guns to fight the evil government — though I’ve always wondered how they expect to fight the US Army. Alas, oftentimes private citizens are better armed than the local police.

Moreover, regressives are choosy about which law enforcement roles they want government to engage in. They’re presumably OK with government defending us against murders and against property crimes. But they’re generally not OK with government defending us against environmental crimes or against many white-collar crimes. For such cases, they’d say that government is infringing on their so-called “freedoms.”

What’s all this talk about freedom?

Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of press are legitimate freedoms. I believe too in the freedom to own property and to accumulate money — provided that you pay your fair share in taxes and don’t subvert the rules to concentrate power and money into your own hands.

But not all freedoms are legitimate. Nobody should have the freedom to steal, murder, or rape, or the freedom to foul the air, water, and land with poisons. Nobody should have the freedom to stash money overseas to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Bankers should not have the freedom to gamble with depositors’ money. Rich people should not have the freedom to corrupt Congress and rewrite the laws to favor themselves. Corporations should not have the freedom to profit from good investments but have the public pay for bad investments (the bailouts).

The freedom from taxation that so many regressives want is illegitimate given the $17 trillion dollars in debt that the US has accumulated — largely from unfunded wars and from the Bush tax cuts, but also from out of control medical spending due to exorbitant drug costs, perverse incentives, and high overheads of private insurance companies. (Social Security contributes not a penny to the national debt.) The freedom from taxation that regressives want is illegitimate also because of the increasing concentration of wealth and the historically low tax rates that corporations and the rich now enjoy.

How government isn’t like a gun

Earlier we compared government to a gun. But the analogy between governments and guns goes only so far. Guns have mostly a negative role. That is, guns are used to kill and protect, and for sport, but not for much else. Government has a similar negative role as we saw — national defense and law enforcement, including various regulatory functions. But government also has many positive roles to play — if it’s not corrupted by private interests or intentionally mismanaged and underfunded. Moreover, the regulatory and law enforcement roles of government are a lot subtler and more varied than the crude deterrent role that comes from packing heat.

What’s government good for?

Let’s remind ourselves of the various regulatory and positive functions of government.

Government runs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the EPA, and the FDA, to protect our health and safety. The FAA regulates air travel. The NOAA forecasts weather. FEMA is tasked with coming to the rescue in case of natural disasters.

Government regulates finance through the SEC, the FDIC, and the now expired Glass-Stegall Act; reckless deregulation was a major cause of the subprime loan disaster and ongoing financial chaos.

Government maintains national parks and supports conservation and smart transportation. It funds fundamental and applied research that benefits industry and humanity. It teaches our children and takes care of elderly, sick, and indigent citizens’ medical needs.

Thanks to government we have fuel efficiency standards. Think how much better off we’d all be if 20 years ago Congress had instituted more stringent standards. We’d have saved many billions of additional dollars in oil costs and would have reduced the trade deficit and greenhouse gas emissions.

Thanks to government we are not in a deep depression. When the economy crashed in 2008 and banks and insurance companies were on the verge of insolvency, the capitalists went running to government to be saved.  (Yes, they should have bailed out homeowners more than the banks.)

Thanks to government we still have GM producing cars.

In The Horrifying Hidden Story Behind Drug Company Profits and The Truth about the Drug Companies, a former Editor in Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine writes of the drug industry, “Instead of being an engine of innovation, it is a vast marketing machine. Instead of being a free market success story, it lives off government-funded research and monopoly rights.”

Moreover, government can be more efficient than the market system. This is especially true for health care. The U.S. pays far more per capita than other industrialized countries but leaves tens of millions without coverage and lags in many measures of health.

Government provides real jobs and real services, despite regressives’ common claim that only the private sector generates jobs.

Heck, without government we’d be hunter-gatherers: no laws, no sanitation, no commerce, no childhood immunization, no civil rights, no seat belts, and surely no Internet.

We the Government built all these

Government is like a computer operating system

The best analogy for the role of government in society is the role of a computer operating system in a computer.

Without an operating system, your computer would be a useless hunk of metal and plastic. The operating system provides the basic rules, conventions, protections, and services necessary for the functioning of application programs such as editors, spreadsheets, browsers, and games.

Government plays a similar role in the functioning of a modern society. Government furnishes the rules, conventions, protections, and basic services necessary for the smooth functioning and interactions of businesses and individuals.

Sometimes computer viruses, spybots, malware, and other undesirable programs invade your operating system. They suck up resources, steal private information, and destroy data. To guard against such undesirables the operating system has protections, such as firewalls and security levels. Furthermore, you can install anti-virus programs that will scan your computer and protect you from suspicious programs.

In a similar way, government is sometimes co-opted by special interests who twist the rules, corrupt the lawmakers, and get laws written to their own benefit. Corporations, labor groups, teachers, government workers, rich people, poor people: everybody tries to make government serve their own interests.

One protection against government abuse is election finance laws. Publicly funded elections would make it harder for private interests to buy the votes of lawmakers.

Another protection is investigative journalism. Journalists are like anti-virus programs for government: journalists scan the actions of legislators and government workers, looking for wasteful or fraudulent behaviors. It is to society’s benefit to fund independent investigative journalism, as well as to give tax incentives to privately run news organizations. The US spends a small fraction as much on public journalism as most other industrial nations.

Libertarian fantasies

Libertarians are right that too much government is usually a bad thing. Fascism is oppressive and Soviet-style Socialism is both oppressive and inefficient. But the only alternative to such Socialism isn’t laissez-faire capitalism. Libertarians like to imagine that individuals can thrive in modern society without the structure and guidance of a strong central government. This is idle fantasy. When the economy crashed a few years ago, corporations came running to the government to bail them out.  Without regulation of complex financial markets, monopolies and corrupt practices would flourish, and further market crashes will be inevitable. Without the organizing role of a strong central government, commerce and trade would not function.

But, yes, we do need to beware of socialism in America –especially of socialism for the rich.

In short, society needs a strong central government as a brake on the excesses of capitalism and as a means for assuring the general Welfare.

The wisdom of the founders

Indeed, the founders crafted a Federal system, with a strong central government, because small-government society under the Articles of Confederation wasn’t working well. (See this history.) The founders realized they needed Big Government to have a modern nation. The Constitution asks the Federal government to provide for the general Welfare and to do lots of other things to secure our safety and well-being.

The Preamble to the United States Constitution states

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

What was true in the late 18th century is even more true now, with the significantly more complex issues facing the nation.

But do I believe that guns don’t kill?

There’s one potential problem with my argument.   I used the right wing mantra “guns don’t kill, people do” to try to argue that government doesn’t take away our freedoms, etc.   But as a good liberal, do I really believe that guns don’t kill?

Not in any significant way. In other words, I believe that guns, under the control of nasty people, too often kill innocent people.  And indeed, I fully admit that government often abuses people too, when its purpose is subverted by corrupt people and corporations.   And, yes, there should be limits to the power of government, just as there should be limits to the availability of guns.  The difference between guns and governments is that guns have few productive uses aside from killing (or threatening to kill), whereas government is essential and extremely beneficial in positive ways.

Uncle Sam Drowned by Republicans

Further reading

For more about the good things governments do see Bring on the Reagan Counterrevolution, http://GovernmentIsGood.org, and http://TheGeneralWelfare.us.

For more about the analogy between governments and operating systems see Government is like a computer’s operating system: a response to libertarians.

 

Thank taxes as we bike, hike, have fun

john burbank biking
Looking at the weather map, how can you not be grateful we live in the Northwest? The rest of the country is sweltering and steaming in heat and humidity with no end in sight — meanwhile, we keep the comforter on the bed, the window cracked for fresh air, and enjoy mostly sunny days that aren’t too hot!

I recently polled my colleagues on how they spent last weekend. One went on a bike ride from Capitol Hill to Discovery Park, hiked around the park and then settled in for a couple hours at the beach.

Another took the ferry out to the Olympic Peninsula, watched the lightning, lit a campfire, and swam in Mason Lake. (Maybe not such a good idea with lightening in the distance!) The next day he hiked from Paradise to Camp Muir on Mount Rainier. On the return to Paradise, he found it mobbed with people hiking and enjoying the trails.

I took a round-Lake Washington bicycle tour, stopping at the Gene Coulon Park in Renton for a break and a milkshake. Others went further: 10,000 bicyclists cycled over 200 miles during annual Seattle to Portland bicycle ride.

Having ridden the STP several times, this year another colleague drove a sag wagon — meaning she set up camp for Saturday night and was ready to pick up bicyclists who dropped out. Fortunately no one in her party did — and she was happily dismayed to see her friends, as she said, smoke her best times. Now she’s planning and training for next year!

Another person I know built a little deck area and some stone steps in his backyard. He thought it might take a couple of workdays … it ended up taking four. But as he said, “Who am I to complain? I have the resources to get it done — including vacation from work, extra money for supplies, and a day care that’s close by. Lots of people are struggling to meet much more basic needs — I’m one of the lucky ones. And now we have a beautiful backyard to enjoy with family and friends for years to come.”

Hearing these great stories makes me realize how lucky we are to live here — it’s like winning the lottery. But in this case, we buy a winning ticket by paying taxes.

All of the things we treasure in the summer — parks, ferries, bicycle rides, lakes, outdoor barbecues, backyard projects — we couldn’t depend on any of them if we didn’t buy our lottery tickets — that is, pay our taxes.

Mount Rainier is a national park, thanks to our federal government and our taxes. Mason Lake is swimmable thanks to clean water regulations, courtesy of our state Department of Ecology and the EPA.

Roads to bicycle on to Portland — only possible with state transportation taxes and federal subsidies, courtesy of all of us taxpayers. The newly renovated bike corridor for the Burke Gilman Trail in Kenmore is a safer and much more pleasant passage for both bicyclists and automobiles — and only possible with funding from King County’s voter-approved Proposition 2 Parks Expansion Levy and Real Estate Excise Tax funds.

Even me drinking a milkshake at Kidd Valley in Renton — I didn’t even think twice about its preparation and food safety. We all are protected by inspections and standards, in this case through the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health. And we pay for that with our taxes.

Of course, when you buy a $1 lottery ticket, the odds of winning just $3 are only 1 in 28. The odds of hitting the jackpot are 1 in 7 million.

By that measure, taxes are a much better deal. You automatically get national, state, and city parks. You can count on safe food at restaurants. You have clean water to drink and clean lakes to swim in. You have roads for driving and bicycle paths for bicycling. You have the police and fire departments to rescue you in a car accident or bike accident. You have the National Park Service to find you if you get lost on the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier.

You couldn’t buy all those things yourself, but as taxpayers, we can finance them together. So enjoy the summer and appreciate the good weather — and as you look around, remember it’s not just you and the weather and the natural wonders of our state … it’s our government and your taxes that enable the quality of life of our great northwest.

Happy summer days!

Originally published at the Everett Herald

The Republican Party is a stinking, shameless cesspool of corruption, lies, extremism, and cruelty

On guns, on global warming, on economic inequality, on taxation,  on torture, on Guantanamo, on gay rights, on regulations, on green energy, on health care, and on many other issues, the Republicans ignore facts, common sense, and basic human decency.

This is not to say that the Dems are perfect; far from it. But the extremism and shameless stupidity of Republicans are a threat to the world and the economy.

What’s scary is that millions of Americans not only fall for the Republican story but actively support it.

Karen Porterfield speaks to Sammamish MoveOn Group

This afternoon the Sammamish/Issaquah MoveOn group met at beautiful Sammamish Public Library.  The featured guest was 8th Congressional District candidate Karen Porterfield.

Porterfield, who received the endorsement of the Washington State Democrats at the state convention last week, said she’s not accepting PAC money and is limiting individual donations to $500 max.

She speaks intelligently and authoritatively.  Her website, http://www.karenporterfield4congress.com, is well done. She takes strong stands on issues.  She wants to protect and extend Medicare. “We also need the government to offer universal health insurance to everyone based on Medicare.”  “Social security works!  Privatizing it as has been proposed by Republicans, including Representative Reichert, would take the ‘security’ out of social security and provide a windfall for the financial institutions that have proven to be unreliable at best. ”

When the Republican took control of the White House in 2000, the federal government had a budget surplus. By choosing to finance two wars “off book” (not included in the regular budget cycle) while cutting taxes, the Republicans spent our saved surplus and produced a growing deficit; one that will burden our children….

Now, when government should be investing more in infrastructure to stimulate the economy and get people back to work, there is a push by the Republicans to slash government spending to pay for additional tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Government can and should play a vital role in putting people to work. Relying solely on the private sector to create the jobs needed to jump start the economy is only a partial solution. Providing tax breaks to the very wealth does NOT support the so-called “job creators”.  If that failed policy had worked our economy would be running at full throttle.

As the result of many years of irresponsible tax policies, our current tax structure is unfair to many individual tax payers and has not incentivized the so called “job creators”. I support the Buffet Rule, which ensures that we all pay fairly and equitably.

I love her campaign’s motto: “Her special interest is us.”

Karen Porterfield

A questioner asked Potterfield how she’d do better than Darcy Burner and Suzan DelBene, both of whom were unable to unseat Republican Dave Reichert.   Porterfield said that she thinks neither Burner nor Porterfield campaigned sufficiently in Pierce County and southern King County.  Other causes of their losses were:  Burner’s trouble with her resume claims and Suzan DelBene’s bad luck to be running in 2010, which was a landslide win year for Republicans.   Despite that, Reichert beat DelBene by only a few points. Furthermore, the new 8th CD encompasses many new voters (1/3 of the total?), and they won’t know much if anything about Reichert.

Someone else asked: how can you beat Reichert if you don’t accept PAC money. Reichert will have a lot of money.   Porterfield responded by saying that Reichert won by small margins. His support is pretty weak. Furthermore, an independent group has rated Reichert as the 433 most effective House member (i.e., third from worst).

I asked her whether she can run as a progressive without alienating conservative and moderate voters. She said she’ll run as a populist, but there are certain core issues she will stand up for strongly, including women’s rights. I tried to ask a follow-up question, but she cut me off to give another person a chance to speak. (Good for her.)

She didn’t directly answer my next question, about how she plans to push for taxes on the rich without falling victim to claims that “she wants to raise your taxes.” But she said that we (Democrats, liberals) haven’t done a good job explaining the role that government plays.  Government shouldn’t protect businesses from failure but it needs to be there for regulations, courts, police, etc.  Tax cuts don’t create jobs. Demand for goods and services creates jobs.

She said she supports reinstating Glass-Steagall.

The right wing endlessly repeats their mantra that government is bad (“an unchallenged drumbeat”) , that teachers, policemen and firefighters are bad.

One audience member was obviously a conservative, since he said something like: did you know that the richest 10% of taxpayers pay 50% of the taxes already and that the top 60% pay 100%? He also said that government spends too much.  Someone said, “Those numbers are specious.”  I pointed out that the richest 10% have 50%/whatever of the wealth.  Remember the Buffet rule!  I didn’t get the chance to say that Washington State has perhaps the most regressive state tax revenues in the nation.

[Concerning the role of government … I point out that the venue for the meeting was at a publicly financed public library. It’s a lovely building.]

Porterfield has the smarts and knowledge to succeed as a House member.  Certainly she’s smarter than Reichert, who didn’t even know what Glass-Steagall was when a questioner asked him whether he supports it at a Newcastle forum in 2010.  Like Burner and DelBene before her, she has not held elected office, though she has been involved in politics in other ways for years.

After Porterfield left the meeting, the group spent time planning future actions: attending talks at Seattle Town Hall, making signs, holding signs on local roads, fixing up their facebook page, procuring cards which give points on “What Obama Has Accomplished”, meeting for a book club, working on the Inslee campaign, and hosting Karen Porterfield for a picnic or home visit. An Organizing for America/Obama rep invited people to participate in OFA activities.

The Sammamish/Issaquah MoveOn consists mostly of elderly people from a retirement community in Issaquah. But they sure don’t sit around watching TV all day. Many of them are busy attending events and holding rallies and demonstrations. Some of their signs were very clever. There was a row of teapot posters with little photos of group members, each teapot having a progressive slogan on it (e.g., “Protect Medicare!” and “Fair taxation!”).

I mentioned to several members of the group about the initiative to build progressive media in Washington State, since without such media it will be hard to get our message across to the voters.