Our state’s public structures and services are the oil of our economic engine. From roads to bridges, preschool to college, veterans’ benefits to senior services and protections for our air and drinking water, we’re all better off when we invest in strong communities.
But there’s a big red warning light on our dashboard: Low Oil. Washington state tax resources will fall $4.5 billion short of the amount needed to adequately fund schools, health care, child care, and other important investments in the next two years, according to projections from the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Committee.
Hundreds of special corporate tax giveaways now riddle Washington’s tax code. We’re losing billions we could be investing for the common good. Meanwhile, the taxes that remain fall much harder on the little guy, while leaving the wealthy alone: the bottom 20 percent pay 17 percent of their income in state and local taxes, the middle 20 percent pays 10 percent, and the top 1 percent pays a mere 2.8 percent.
It’s tempting to look for a single “silver bullet” — like wholesale tax reform — but given the political barriers, perhaps a more successful (albeit slower) approach is to use “silver BB’s,” that is, take concrete steps toward small solutions that add up to something bigger.
For example: there are more than 30,000 students in Washington’s K-12 schools who are homeless. (That’s the equivalent of all the kids in the Everett, Lake Stevens and Burlington-Edison schools, combined.) Imagine how hard it is for these children to get to school, stay in school and earn good grades. Every child should have the doors of opportunity and advancement wide open in front of them — but fewer than half of homeless kids graduate from high school in four years, and almost three times as many drop out compared to kids with homes.
Local legislators have written a bill that will make it easier for homeless families to find and keep stable housing and keep their kids in the same school all year long. Reps. June Robinson, D- Everett; Ruth Kagi, D-Shoreline; Luis Moscoso, D-Mountlake Terrace; and Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, are sponsoring HB 1682. It replicates an innovative and successful project at Tacoma’s McCarver Elementary School where students and their families live in nearby public housing.
At McCarver, participating families receive a rent subsidy that decreases to zero over five years. Parents agree to participate in McCarver’s PTA, and they get assistance with job training and their own education. In 2006, the turnover rate for the whole school was almost double the number of students at the school (170 percent); kids starting McCarver moved out of school in the middle of the year, and new kids moved into school, and then some of those kids left school as well. For the homeless kids in the housing program, this rate has plummeted to below 10 percent. Their parents are earning more income. The proportion of kids reading at grade level has increased from 35 percent to over 60 percent.
We can begin replicating McCarver’s success across the state, which is what HB 1682 would do. It would cost about $10 million a year to develop similar programs in 15 school districts. But the money has to come from somewhere.
Fortunately, there’s a book that shows us exactly where to find it. The state Department of Revenue’s Tax Exemption Study notes 640 tax exemptions. Inside you’ll find any number of loopholes that the Legislature could close to fund HB 1682. Here’s one: Banks headquartered here that provide international banking services, as well as international banks with offices in our state, pay no taxes on income they receive from these financial transactions. It costs our state an estimated $16 million a year in lost tax revenue.
Closing just that one loophole would make it possible to dedicate the public resources to needed for HB 1682, funding education and housing projects in school districts around the state to open the door to a home and educational opportunity for homeless kids.
Let’s call on our legislators to work for the powerless and homeless, even if, or maybe especially at the cost of a powerful banking lobby. It can be the first of many “silver BBs” aimed at securing the public revenue we need for education, health care, and economic opportunity and security for all.
Originally published at the Everett Herald
On April 25, the news aggregation site news.google.com included among its top headlines a link and summary to an article from TheMarketBusiness.com with the following headline.
To Meet Jew Donors, Ted Cruz heads to Vegas
Here’s an image of the article as it appeared on April 25 at TheMarketBusiness.com, 2015 at 8:10AM PST:
The first paragraph is largely ungrammatical:
Ted Cruz, The Texas Firebrand didn’t stand out in the previous poll about the presidential election in 2016, but since he was approached by some Jewish giant donor [sic], his name began to be taken into account. He will meet some Jewish donors in the next meeting in [sic] Semi Jewish [sic] Republican Coalition meeting. With him, there are several other Republican candidates are [sic] Rick Perry, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, and Mike Pence. The meeting was attended by a group of “low candidates”, as well as members of the above is group of candidates of the lowest in the polls, because top candidates like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker will not participate in the meeting.
Here’s an image of part of news.google.com page:
Notice that the headline there is slightly different and also ungrammatical: “To Meet jews Donors…”
I realize that google can’t be held responsible for the content of every article their news aggregator links to, but you’d hope the programmers at google can tune their algorithms in the future to exclude such substandard content.
Robert Sapolsky — MacArthur fellow and professor of biology, neuroscience, and neurosurgery at Stanford University — pursued decades long research into baboon societies. He found that most baboon troops were dominated by aggressive alpha males who abused other members of the troop, had pick of the females, and enjoyed good health and low levels of stress hormones. The submissive members of the troop endured much abuse, had high stress hormone levels, and had poor indicators of health.
Sapolsky admitted, “I don’t really like baboons…They’re these scheming Machiavellian backstabbing bastards.”
Then tragedy befell the troop that he was studying: the members started eating garbage from a human settlement. Some of the meat they consumer was contaminated with tuberculosis. Half the males in the troop died. Significantly, the ones who died weren’t the submissive ones. The ones who died were the dominant ones. Thereafter the troop’s social system changed. They became much less aggressive and much more nurturing. They groomed each other and became more laid back.
The takeaway message from this research is that if baboons can learn to cooperate, then so can humans. An aggressive market system that embodies a cutthroat survival-of-the-fittest ethos is not in any way a necessary — or healthy — way to organize human societies. It’s destructive to the well-being of the majority of humans, causing unnecessary stress. Indeed, there is a slew of research recently about how cooperation, and not just competition, contribute to the survival and thriving of groups.
For more details see “No Time for Bullies: Baboons Retool Their Culture” or watch the video below.
The Koch brothers are major donators to the GOP. As Bernie Sanders reports here:
Here are just a few excerpts of the Libertarian Party platform that David Koch ran on in 1980:
- “We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.”
- “We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
- “We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.”
- “We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.”
- “We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.”
- “We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. The present system, in addition to being inefficient, encourages governmental surveillance of private correspondence. Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.”
- “We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.”
- “We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”
- “As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.”
- “We support repeal of all law which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.”
- “We advocate the complete separation of education and State. Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”
- “We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.”
- “We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.”
- “We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.”
- “We support abolition of the Department of Energy.”
- “We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.”
- “We demand the return of America’s railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system.”
- “We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called “self-protection” equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.”
- “We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.”
- “We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.”
- “We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.”
- “We oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs. All these government programs are privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient. The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.”
- “We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.”
- “We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”
- “We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”
- “We support the repeal of all state usury laws.”