In Why Tim Eyman should, at last, run for public office Seattle P-I columnist Joel Connelly rightly attacks anti-tax activist Tim Eyman for proposing voter initiatives that have made it impossible to adequately fund education, social services, and other government services. Connelly writes:
Eyman, as a legislator, would have to help write a budget.
He would hear from college students who’ve experienced 15 percent annual tuition increases and see charts showing how middle and high school students aren’t acquiring the math and science skills needed to find work in a technology economy.
Eyman would hear advocates for senior services that keep our elderly from being warehoused. He’d learn of transportation tieups from port managers, worried about competitors spanning North America from Prince Rupert, B.C., to Charleston, S.C.
He would have to listen to all these folk, an entirely new experience for Tim Eyman.
In a classic incident, a couple of years back, the Washington Education Association was explaining impacts to schools that would happen if an Eyman initiative were adopted. Eyman barged in and started a competing news conference in the next room. He refused to talk to any of the specifics raised by the WEA or take questions from certain reporters. He was there only to spout sound bites for the TV cameras.
Sen. Adam Kline of the 37th Legislative District concurred with Connelly and wrote in a facebook comment, “If Eyman were on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, he’d have to vote on particular decisions, and answer thousands of questions: how many dollars go to what purpose? He would need to listen to advocates for particular programs who seek funding for those programs, and would have to balance their requests against his preference not to raise the taxes that raise the revenues that pay for them. When he says No to some program (nursing homes, perhaps, or community colleges) on which many of his own followers rely, he runs the considerable risk that those folks may realize where there taxes go. No prospect scares him more. At base, he is a chicken. He is deathly afraid of a real debate, based on a real understanding of what’s in our budget, how needed it is by his own followers, and how starved it has become by his own repeated campaigns. He is afraid—downright trembling—that his followers may see through him for what he is: a salesman, unconcerned with the quality of his merchandise, so long as he gets paid. The guy has no guts at all.”
Kudos for Connelly and Kline for trying to bring down Eyman. But rather than running for a state legislator, I think that Tim Eyman would be more productive as sewer commissioner.
As sewer commissioner, Eyman could best exploit his are of expertise: Eyman has been selling crap to voters for years. It’s time for him to clean some of it up.
Eyman is bad; he seduces voters into voting against their own self-interest. But the core of the problem is that there are very few voices educating the public about the injustice and stupidity of Washington State’s regressive tax system. Both Gov. Gregoire and Gov. Inslee have been M.I.A. on this issue: they haven’t spoken out about the need for revenue and the need to repair the imbalance due to regressive taxes.
It was wrong for Eyman to call Inslee a “lying whore,” but Inslee did campaign with a promise not to raise taxes. Perhaps he had to do that to get elected. That’s the sorry state we find ourselves in.
The politicians are scared to death of Eyman and the super-majority of voters that follow his poisonous ideology. Nationwide Republicans stay on message: government is inefficient and wasteful, the market system is superior, taxes are too high, etc, etc. The ideology is based on distortions and lies, but the voters buy into to it and vote against their own self-interest.
The way to turn it around is for lawmakers and public figures to raise awareness about the reality of taxation and government services so the voters stop buying Tim Eyman’s crap.