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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Seattle Initiative 122: Local Campaign Finance Reform



Americablog
would democratize the city’s campaign finance system by giving each citizen a set of vouchers that they can choose to distribute among candidates as they see fit.
The Stranger
Jumped ahead to their section on initiative Measure 122
The Seattle Times
Opponents suggest that most voters won't participate, raising the question about what happens to the left-over money.
King 5 (NBC)
Opponents suggest the potential for fraud.
Crosscut
Suggests that candidates can choose to opt out of the restriction and the Wealthy still has the upper hand.
The Stranger
5th paragraph describes the lone vote against putting the initiative on the ballot
I'm sure by now a lot of Seattle citizens have sealed and deposited their ballots. If Initiative 122 passes, the next election will be a little different.

Some opponents suggest the potential for fraud. I'm wondering if the vouchers can be coerced from company employees into the candidate coffers of the employer's choosing?

And what happens if most of the voters don't even participate? Aside from the newly created job of administering the vouchers, what happens to the money that was left over from non-participating voters? Does it go back to the home owners who paid the tax?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Should Washington State Lower Its Sales Tax?



WA 2015 election is under way
BallotPedia
The measure, upon voter approval, would decrease the state's sales tax from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent, unless the legislature refers a constitutional amendment to the ballot requiring a two-thirds vote in the legislature or voter approval to raise taxes.
Progressive Voters Guide
Eyman’s initiative would create an $8 billion hole in our state budget over the next six years by cutting the sales tax by a full 1 percent.
WA Secretary of State
A complete list of proposed ballot initiatives including the name of the Primary Sponsor
Seattle PI
A report of wavering public sentiment about ballot initiatives, peppered with speculation about potential ethics violations.
WA State Republican Party
Ad Hominem commentary about Governor Jay Inslee. Same as Voters Want More Choices.
Washington State Republicans want to lower the state sales tax with I-1366, but is that part of the proposal just bait for the other part of the initiative? This is an interesting way to force the hand of the legislature.

Do you want a one percent drop in your state sales tax, followed by austerity measures to make up for the budget shortfall? Or, do you want to make it extraordinarily difficult for the state of Washington to raise taxes?

It depends on how much more you want to pay to support the infrastructure and bureaucracy of the state of Washington.

Costs will always go up to maintain the currently existing infrastructure. There are also current construction projects funded by taxes that will increase the size of the infrastructure, that in the future must be maintained with extra tax money.

Other states ruled by a majority of Conservatives suffered erosion on their rural roads and bridges, an inability to support emergency snow removal on rural roads, and other unforeseen consequences from lack of tax support outside of city limits.

Is Washington State at its maximum growth potential? Is the unprecedented growth of population on Puget Sound sustainable? How much longer before there are too many people here?

What typically follows a tax cut in a Republican dominated state government are cuts to social service programs. This  usually leads to fund reallocation toward building prisons for poor people, because at least they can get some cheap labor out of prison slaves.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Senate Voted on TPP Fast-Track Authority

LOOK WHO VOTED FOR TPP FAST-TRACK AUTHORITY!
Yes, Both Senators from Washington State


GovTrack
H. R. 2146: Defending Public Safety Employees' Retirement Act"This bill became the vehicle for passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal currently being negotiated." Here are more TPP Search Results at GoveTrack
OpenSecrets
Campaign Funding Source for Senators Patty Murray AND Maria Cantwell
Politifact
Politifact Files for Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell(no record found)
Public Citizen
Can you believe it?
Here's a complete list of Senators voting on TPP Fast-Track.

Now here is an info-graphic of what happened as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are Democrats. Are they going to try and tell us that the TPP will bring jobs to the Pacific Northwest after what happened with NAFTA? The Seattle Globalist has some insight.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Immortal Life of Economic Claims: The $15 / hour wage experiment.

Link to Full Size Image
The only thing preventing me from outright accusing the American Enterprise Institute of deliberately fudging data is that a few days have passed following their report about Seattle's $15 per hour wage, and what  I found this morning on Facebook posted by Ring of Fire Radio.

Of course opponents to increasing the minimum wage will claim that the economy is recovering despite the increase in the wage, not because of the minimum wage, until you compare the change in economic growth in areas where the minimum wage was not increased.

Economic Policy Institute: August 21,v2015: More of the Same in the July State Jobs Report.

Here are a list of sources related to the graphic:

American Enterprise Institute: August 9, 2015: Minimum wage effect? January to June job losses for Seattle area restaurants (-1,300) largest since Great Recession.

American Enterprise Institute, August 19, 2015: More troubling signs of minimum wage damage on the West Coast.

Ring of Fire Radio: August 27, 2015: Fox Predicted $15 Minimum Wage Would Destroy Seattle: Jobs Report In: Proves Fox Experts are Idiots.

For as long as I can remember, every time the idea of raising the minimum wage comes up, the same dusty old claim that it will ruin jobs is rolled out.

Here's the position of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) on raising the minimum wage.

The Economic Policy Institute has a different perspective: April 30, 2015: We Can Afford a $12 Minimum Wage by 2020. Unfortunately, tied to inflation, the minimum wage should already be well over $23 per hour, so calling for a $15 minimum wage now or in a few years is just insincere.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Is racism a developmental disability?

Humans are still controlled somewhat by the more primitive part of the brain that generates fear automatically to fill in the areas of memory where information is absent. The old saying goes "Better safe than sorry." This primitive defense mechanism is the foundation of culture and subcultures.

Humans depend almost entirely on first impressions from visible physical traits to decide whether or not to progress with socialization. Interestingly, children raised in a multi-cultural environment manage to set-aside such differences because they value more the ability to participate in activities.

Humans are also controlled by a desire for acceptance into a group. Called Affinity-Seeking, the related behaviors includes adopting and openly sharing beliefs, exclusive rituals and exclusive language or dialects.

In Groups, the dynamics are such that a natural charismatic leader will emerge, followed by the creation of an inner circle with enforcers and bureaucrats, One extreme example is Adolf Hitler's inner circle, including Joseph Goebbels, Herman Goring, Adolf Eichmann and Heinrich Himmler

This pattern of group development continues in various forms of leadership and control, from religion to countries like North Korea, to cults. Even a group as small as one celebrity's fan club can have a similar structure.

Followers in the group, the masses, the congregants, or the small audience who seek fellowship or affinity that succumb to the charisma of the leader.

To the followers, the leader's charisma outshines the machinations of the inner circle. The leader has mastered the ability of appealing to the followers so well that they choose to ignore the negative consequences of the group's actions, know as GroupThink.

The leader can create his own twisted logic that the followers will accept without question. It's easy because many people have the habit of not taking responsibility for their own circumstances. To distract themselves from realizing their own short-comings, they blame outsiders who they fear out of simple ignorance.

People who tend to do this are under tremendous economic stress, are frustrated by their financial situations, but don't understand what they are doing wrong, or not doing to remedy their situations. This stems from partial economic illiteracy.

A business accountant for instance, regards payroll as a cost, or maybe a sunk cost. An economist on the other hand sees payroll as an investment in the stability and harmony of the local community.

Since consumerism drives our economy, this type of person makes the ideal consumer of goods and services, so our whole society was socially engineered by the Industrial Revolution to nurture this type of person. This is why they were such a huge majority, but not so much anymore.

The vast majority of Americans are now financially distressed because moronic accountants thought it would be a good idea to suppress wages, outsource labor or crush union jobs. The problem has become too large to blame on minorities or immigrants, and the available information about our financcial situations is much more easily accessible.

People under the influence of a charismatic leader or perhaps just an ideology with charismatic origins, cannot grasp the idea that what they feel about outsiders is wrong. Their brains are wired to be more easily influenced by stimuli in their immediate environment or moment in time. But, there seems to be a generational shift. The ignorance and bigotry seems to have fallen off drastically at the edge of the Baby Boomers.

There will be a few young people whose survival depends on a bigoted tyrant. They must "go through the motions" to appease the tyrant as long as they must, But more people are wise enough to know it's not a trend.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Drought and Big Water in Politics.

While the rest of the state is facing a crisis this summer, it seems once again the Cascades are protecting most of Puget Sound. Interactive drought monitoring maps are available at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home.aspx

The economics of water is different than other commodities. Its pricing is based not on the availability of the resource, but the rate of consumption.

If the public panics and begins to ration their own water, following the example set by many California communities, the utility company begins to lose money and must raise the rate to make ends meet.

Would the act of raising the rate itself make consumers use less water? Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) according to King 5 is "unlikely to raise rates."

Looking at the drought monitor map it's clear that Puget Sound is not in any danger, so why does Governor Insless want to include the Seattle area as part of the statewide drought declaration? A recent report by Truthout.org may shed some light on this:
But the topic that received the most attention was the nation's patchwork of rapidly deteriorating municipal water systems, which are estimated to need more than $1 trillion worth of upgrades. This, water executives said, not only represented a historic opportunity for their businesses, but could also be used as leverage to finally convince Americans to cough up more money for their tap water.
There are at least eight water bottling plants located in the Puget Sound area. How many are owned by Nestlé? Who knows? It looks like conglomerates such as Nestlé, Coca-Cola and Pepsi are circling the smaller locally owned water bottling companies like vultures. Mint Press reports their unwavering activity despite drought conditions affecting local residents.
“Unfortunately, bottled water corporations continuing to bottle at high levels even in times of drought is not unprecedented,” Erin Diaz, a campaign director with Corporate Accountability International, a watchdog group, told MintPress. “In fact, there is a clear track record of these companies continuing to extract water at times of drought.”
 The drought in other areas besides Puget Sound is presenting itself as an opportunity for Big Water to swoop in and sweep out competitors by raising water rates that exceed their operating capabilities. It's unfortunate that Governor Inslee chose to include Seattle as part of the drought declaration because it does not look very good politically.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Renters and Yard Waste

At my apartment there is a dumpster for trash and a dumpster for recycle. There is no separate dumpster for organic yard waste. To my knowledge there are no organic trash bags for yard waste either.

Here is the list of items that can be included in yard waste:


What are renters to do about this? I have coffee grounds, banana peels, apple cores, and trimmings from tomatoes, onions and green bell peppers. I feel pretty bad about putting it in the trash but what choice do I have? Are we going to get a third dumpster for yard waste?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Gentrification Program

As Seattle prepares to raise its minimum wage, a program to counteract the wage increase with additional costs is underway. Seattle doesn't want a low-income population. They would rather have more homeless people, especially homeless people slapped with huge debt, ripe for enslavement.