12.22.2010 | John Burbank | It was on Dec. 20, 1860 that South Carolina seceded from the Union. And on Monday in Charleston, the people nostalgic for the confederacy held a “secession ball.” Let’s be clear: The reason for secession was to preserve slavery. While the Civil War abolished slavery, white supremacy reasserted itself not long after, with organized violence and terrorism against the black community. And that’s the way it was for almost 100 years, until the civil rights movement challenged the institutions and culture of Jim Crow.
12.08.2010 | John Burbank | It’s not pretty watching President Obama and the Republican minority collude in giving away billions to the wealthy, under the guise of the deceptively named “middle class tax cuts.” But the fight is not yet over. Our elected representatives owe their allegiance to a difference set of constituents, namely: the great - and lately, disrespected - middle class. Let’s make them do something about it before this Congress closes its doors on history.
12.07.2010 | John Burbank | Movement building, racial justice, and a recalibration of the progressive movement’s relationship with President Obama is important, but it isn’t a framework for making progressive ideals a part of actual law, habit, and culture. Our task is not to follow or trust in President Obama, but to build around him. In fact, American cities and states already have a track record of victories utilizing this very strategy.
11.24.2010 | John Burbank | With unemployment hovering close to 10 percent and foreclosures on the rise, it may be useful to think back 80 years and consider the path our country took out of the Great Depression, and then into war, and then into a peacetime economic boom.
11.10.2010 | John Burbank | We have this weird dynamic where we elect legislators to provide the public services and public investments that we desperately need, and turn our back on those that just rant against government. But then we take away the tools for enabling investment in these public services by reducing public revenues and refusing to approve new taxes. Is your kid’s class size close to 35? Did your neighbor lose health care coverage? Have a tea party!
10.27.2010 | John Burbank | When I think about our future, I think about the high school students I coach in cross country. They are the future of our state. They will be our nurses, mechanics, engineers, teachers, organizers, thinkers, and doers. And they are my reference when I consider the upcoming ballot initiatives. Will our votes open up the doors of education, opportunity, and health for them — or will we let them close?
Fall 2010 | Marilyn Watkins | Initiative 1098 provides the right reform mix to create a brighter future for Washington: new investments in education and health care, tax cuts for small business and property owners and a modest new tax for the most fortunate.
10.14.2010 | John Burbank | Moneytree says it provides a service for low-income residents. Some service - it sucks the money from the least fortunate among us. That's why Moneytree's branches are in low-income neighborhoods. You can't find a Moneytree in Mercer Island. But you can find the multimillion dollar mansion of Dennis Bassford, Moneytree's CEO, hidden in a private forest there. And he is putting that money to work to defeat Initiative 1098.
10.06.2010 | Aaron Keating | Fear is a powerful motivator. That may be why opponents of Initiative 1098 so often call the measure "the camel's nose under the tent" - the notion being that I-1098's proposed income tax, which would affect only the wealthiest 1.2 percent of Washington residents, eventually will expand to cover all taxpayers. But could this animal really get into the tent - or is the whole thing just a mirage made visible only because of heated debate?
10.04.2010 | Alex Stone | It should be as fundamental a standard as the minimum wage and the 40-hour work week. Yet one million Washington workers can’t take a single paid day off from work when they – or their children or their elderly parents – get sick.
09.29.2010 | John Burbank | The attorney general is our state's top legal officer. But this September, Rob McKenna, the current attorney general, is advising the state to violate the law and to deny citizens their rights as wage earners.
09.15.2010 | John Burbank | What’s all this talk about the deficit? Dino Rossi says “Congress is putting our economic future in jeopardy by continuing to spend money they don’t have,” and that “it’s very clear we’re on a fiscal edge.” We are on a fiscal edge, all right — one created by Wall Street.
09.12.2010 | Marilyn Watkins | Initiative 1098, the tax reform proposal offered by Bill Gates Sr., will be good for Washington, and particularly beneficial for Southwest Washington. I-1098 will result in new investments in education and health care, tax cuts for small businesses and property owners, and a modest new tax strictly limited to the richest 1 percent.
09.01.2010 | John Burbank | Under I-1098, 197 out of 200 taxpayers will see their taxes go down, while just three will pay the initiative’s new income tax on the wealthy. And our state will gain $2 billion for education and health care. How is that possible?
08.18.2010 | John Burbank | When FDR signed the Social Security Act 75 years ago, he became the godfather of a rebirth of economic security in the midst of the Great Depression. This one act put the words of the Constitution into action -- establishing a system, insulated from the private market, which guaranteed economic security for the elderly, the disabled, and widows and their children. And it still does.
08.04.2010 | John Burbank | This past month, my dad broke his hip. He has a long recovery in front of him, but he's also very lucky. Without the staff at his rehab center, my Dad would not be making progress every day. Without the EMTs who got him to the hospital and the specialist who replaced his hip, my Dad would not be alive now. Without Medicare, the medical bills would have started to pile up. Let's put this another way: My Dad wouldn't have had much of a chance if we actually took U.S. Senate candidate Clint Didier's advice: "We've got to get rid of this protecting the weak."
07.21.2010 | John Burbank | As the recession continues bumping along, the governor has responded with a call for "transforming Washington's budget." As this "transforming" process heats up, we'll no doubt hear a lot about making government more "efficient," like the private sector. And that should raise a big red flag, because an economist would tell you that efficiency isn't really what you want to measure when it comes to governing well. How's that, you say? We want government to be inefficient? Well, not exactly.
07.07.2010 | Aaron Keating | In a couple of days, the Yes on 1098 campaign will turn in somewhere north of 360,000 signatures for Initiative 1098 - far more than enough to qualify for the ballot - and the campaigns for and against the measure will begin to heat up. Opponents of I-1098 claim the measure will excessively impact businesses, but they've overlooked an important fact in their rush to condemn it.
07.07.2010 | John Burbank | Who is a patriot? A fair question to ask during the week of our nation’s birthday. What happens if you wear a flag pin on your lapel, and you work to undermine the paramount constitutional duty of our state? How’s that for patriotism?
06.23.2010 | John Burbank | The inside-the-beltway crowd is sneaking up on us again. You may have picked up on some news regarding a group appointed by President Obama to, in plain words, cut Social Security benefits. This amounts to bad timing and bad behavior. In this recession, the collapse of savings and pensions means that more and more Americans will face poverty and insecurity as they age into retirement. Only one barrier stands between them and being flat broke. That is Social Security.
06.09.2010 | John Burbank | Talking with state legislators, you get the feeling that they want to apologize for the new taxes they voted for, as if that was the wrong thing to do. They should apologize for punting when it came to staring down the corporate lobbyists who were carefully tending their own corporate loopholes — like BP, for one. And the big banks, for another. But they did come up with some new revenue, which makes sense, both because our citizens need the help and because the taxes themselves will benefit our own health, environment and quality of life. No need to apologize for that.
05.26.2010 | John Burbank | The discussion about immigration has focused myopically on illegal immigrants from Mexico and other countries in Central America. But there is an irony in this Hispanic bashing. Arizona was once part of Mexico, along with California, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada. When the United States won the Mexican-American War in 1848, it not only won land, it took over a mosaic of Native American and Mexican cultures. It's all part of our history.
05.12.2010 | John Burbank | I have noticed a lot of sympathy here in Washington about the Gulf Coast oil disaster, but, in reality, there is not a lot we can do. What we can do is make sure we're prepared to prevent a similar disaster in Puget Sound and, in the meantime, clean up Puget Sound. But raising the resources to begin a meaningful cleanup process will be difficult, especially with members of our state legislature so cozy with oil companies like BP.
04.28.2010 | John Burbank | One thing that irks small businesses is the business tax. It is not a high rate, but it is onerous: You have to pay it even when you lose money. So if you run a small business, and you are offered an exemption from paying the business tax, would you turn it down?
04.14.2010 | John Burbank | The Legislature has finally figured out a budget and closed up shop. The headlines will be about new taxes. But the equation that taxes are by nature bad doesn’t add up. So what do taxes pay for?
03.30.2010 | John Burbank | Akbar and Teresa, a husband and wife team, run the coffee shop across the street. They make good coffee and sandwiches for the workday crowd. We go there a lot, so we have gotten to know each other. We’ve learned about their health insurance costs, about Teresa’s cancer, about their kids’ college tuition, about their drop in customers in this great recession.
03.17.2010 | John Burbank | Can you imagine a world in which you receive health care when you need it, and don’t have to worry about losing your coverage when you change jobs? How about when you have a child, being able to take six months to care for your baby at three-quarter pay? Or when you retire, receiving an annual pension worth three-fifths of the average of your best five years’ salary? A place where college tuition costs close to nothing and a train gets you from Everett to Seattle in 15 minutes, every half hour?
03.03.2010 | John Burbank | It is not just the cherry trees blossoming in Olympia. Our legislators are shaking off the winter doldrums. They know that public structures like education for our kids and basic health care are good things, necessary elements of a modern democracy and a vibrant economy. And they realize that cutting services further would be the most backward thing to do in a recession.
02.19.2010 | Marilyn Watkins | Our Legislature’s chief concern as it wrestles with how to close the $2.6 billion budget gap should be protecting and creating jobs. Contrary to what some pundits are saying, the best bet to spur private sector jobs is to raise taxes as much as necessary to maintain state spending. According to Mark Zandi, economic advisor to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and businesses around the world, each $1 of general state spending results in a $1.41 increase in economic activity. Does raising taxes also cost jobs? Yes, but not as many as the equivalent cuts in state spending.
02.17.2010 | John Burbank | This economy has pushed down wages for almost everyone, so both parents go to work to make ends meet, and single parents have no choice whatsoever. So who takes care of the kids? They are too young for public school, but the family paycheck cannot be put off for four years. So these parents, playing by the rules, depend on paid child care for their kids' well-being.
02.05.2010 | Marilyn Watkins | Washington’s $2.6 billion budget gap presents state lawmakers with a two for one opportunity to lay the groundwork for a more prosperous future. By raising revenue to protect important public structures like K-12 education, health care for seniors, and affordable colleges and universities, policymakers can simultaneously correct some of our tax system’s fundamental shortcomings.
02.03.2010 | John Burbank | Most of us have a sense of how much a dollar will buy. But it turns out there are times when is a buck is worth more than face value. For example, every public dollar we spend is actually worth about $1.41. So given the state’s projected revenue shortfall, it’s worth examining whether the numerous tax exemptions and preferences that have crept into our tax code over the years — nearly 600 of them, at last count — still serve a compelling public purpose.
01.20.2010 | John Burbank | The debate over the state budget involves much more than public revenues and public services. It is fundamentally about jobs, both public sector and private sector. Thus far the Legislature and the governor have been following a recessionary pathway, with cutbacks of public investments and spending that can only result in additional losses of private-sector jobs.
01.08.2010 | Marilyn Watkins | With the new year, kids are back in school, and the economy appears to be starting tentatively toward recovery. In the months ahead, kids won’t be the only ones taking exams. How well we as citizens do on the tests we face will influence how quickly our region regains prosperity, and whether all our kids have the chance to flourish.
01.06.2010 | John Burbank | We begin 2010 with a pretty severe hangover from 2009. The national economy is bouncing along the bottom, unemployment continues at record high levels, consumption is down, tax receipts are dwindling, and public services have been pulled back just when we need them the most. In short, all the “hope” of the 2008 elections has been dissipated in the economic implosion brought to us by Wall Street.
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