Tag Archives: War

The State is a Condition

29 Jul

“The State is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one another…”

Gustav Landauer

Have to pack and set up the Really Really Free Market in Olympia. Contracting other relationships, behaving differently toward one another? Can we really destroy the state by behaving differently?

Tax Rate Facts

11 Jul

Washington Post has a story on tax rates.

I know that a lot of people will think that the low tax rates are a good thing, and they may be in a few ways, but these low tax rates translate into austerity political decisions, cuts in services, cuts to environmental protection, cuts to education, cuts in regulatory functions. The same folks who will cheer these low tax rates (even at the same moment that they complain about high taxes and advocate for more tax cuts) will also cheer the cuts in non-military governmental functions.

This is fine, I support free speech. I respect the right to espouse ideas, no matter how crazy they may be, but it is weird when working class and working poor, middle class folks start drinking this 1% koolaid. This is our task. Somehow we have to reach these folks and help them understand that our wildly expensive military adventures, drone murder program, kidnap and torture foreign policy are very destructive to our future as well as being morally indefensible. We have to help these folks understand that the 1% oligarchy are cooking the books as well as the globe with their planet for profit approach to the natural world.

We have to understand that taxes are necessary. Here is what George Washington had to say about taxes:

It is essential to bear in mind that toward the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue, there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant.

George Washington, 1796

Here is a bit of the WAPO piece. I think the facts are important. If you have questions about tax revenue and trends, read this piece.

 

 

 

In 2009, Americans paid lowest tax rates in 30 years to federal government

 

By , Published: July 10

 

Americans paid the lowest tax rates in 30 years to the federal government in 2009, in part because of tax cuts President Obama sought to combat the Great Recession, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday.

A sharp decline in income — especially among the wealthiest Americans, who pay the highest tax rates — also played a role, according to the report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Household income fell 12 percent on average from 2007 to 2009, with income among the top 1 percent of earners decreasing by more than a third

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Pos

 

 

 

(The Washington Post/Source: Congressional Budget Office) – Average federal tax rates

We Can’t Live with Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power Plants

7 Aug

The annual peace walk to the Ground Zero Center in Bangor is wrapping up today with a talk by Dennis Kucinich at 6:30 pm. I was able to speak with Senji Kanaeda for a few minutes on July 31st and am finishing up a short video with Senji’s thoughts front and center.

I still have a little tweaking to do on the video, but it’s almost finished and I wanted to get this up. I am also using the video to publicize the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant event at Traditions on Monday, August 8th at 7 pm. We have to stop nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants. This is a road that leads nowhere.

Update from the Front Lines of the Class War

25 May

The Washington legislature continues to crawl through the special session. You can see where they have been by tracking the slimy trail.

Well. I guess that’s a little harsh. But here is a note about the current status from my friends at POWER:

POWER is an organization of low-income parents and allies advocating for a strong social safety net while working toward a world where children and care giving are truly valued, and the devastation of poverty has been eradicated.

For immediate release Tuesday, May 24, 2011

POWER members are asking their legislators the following questions:

Why is it that the only bill ending a tax break that seems likely to pass, SB 5587, targets low-income people, when there are so many tax breaks to wealthy individuals (country club memberships, elective plastic surgery, etc) and large banks and corporations?

Why is this the only bill ending a tax break that does not need a super majority?

Why are legislators adding a new tax break, SB 5873, that they can’t reverse without a super majority, while failing to provide basic services to the most vulnerable members of our state?

POWER members have called, visited and written their legislators. We have rallied, sang, shouted, even slept in the Capitol Building with thousands of Washington citizens forwarding the message to stop budget cuts harming Washington’s families, children, immigrants, and workers. We have asked that the rich pay their fair share.

“And this is what we get?” asks Shelly Robbins, POWER volunteer and 37th District resident. “I just can’t believe that Microsoft can’t afford to pay their sales tax, while I pay mine. The legislatures don’t seem to make the connection that passing a tax break decreases our revenue. And we’re stuck with these tax breaks once they vote them in.

Background Information:

The Senate passed SB 5873 which extends a huge sales tax break for Microsoft and 4 other large corporations: (http://www.seattlepi.com/default/article/High-tech-giants-seeking-massive-tax-break-1264165.php?source=mypi). Expected loss to taxpayers could be up to $1 billion. It passed the House Ways and Means committee yesterday and being voted on today and is expected to pass. They can do this with a majority vote, but cannot reverse it without a super-majority vote, thanks to Tim Eyeman’s initiative 1053.

The only tax break bill that seems to be moving is SB 5587, which closes the property tax deferral program for low-income home-owners. It has passed the Senate, without the requirement of a 2/3 majority, and is expected to pass the vote today in the House.

My buddy, Dana, in Olympia added the following observation to the POWER news release:

I think most of you know my opinion of politicians in general. This time their perfidy has surprised even me. While the Democrats were sticking a pacifier in our mouths in public they were stabbing us in the back during the secret back-room deals.

Here is the background: The Senate passed SB 5873 which extends a huge sales tax break for Microsoft and 4 other large corporations: http://www.seattlepi.com/default/article/High-tech-giants-seeking-massive-tax-break-1264165.php?source=mypi. Expected loss to taxpayers could be up to $1 billion. It passed the House Ways and Means committee yesterday and being voted on today and is expected to pass. They can do this with a majority vote, but they cannot reverse it without a super-majority vote thanks to Tim Eyman’s initiative 1053.

The only tax-exemption bill that seems to be moving is SB 5587 which closes the property tax deferral program for low-income home-owners. It has passed the Senate – without the 2/3 majority they say is required to close tax exemptions for corporate non-people – and it is expected to pass the vote today in the House.

Get it? After all of the work time energy blood sweat and tears we expended the only tax exemption they are ending is for low-income home owners! The Wall Street banks that destroyed our economy and are now recording record profits as they steal all of our homes keep theirs. Cosmetic surgeons keep theirs. Country club members keep theirs. The only ones who lose their exemptions are low income homeowners. Rather than taxing the people who have the money they are gutting our schools, gutting funding for low-income health care, gutting support for disabled people, gutting funding for low-income families, so on and so forth and ad infinitum. They are gutting programs benefiting people who literally have nothing else and greatly increasing the wealth of the already wealthy. Children and disabled people are going to be thrown onto the streets while Microsoft and Wall Street banks continue to receive huge tax exemptions.

Keep in mind that while the Republicans promoted and supported these bills, we don’t expect anything else from them. It is the Democrats who are doing this to us.

It is pretty discouraging to watch the Washington State democrats fold like a limp t-shirt in the face of the tax initiative assault on good government. “Centrists” will complain that attacks on the Democrats make the party weaker, but they fail to recognize the possibility that their own lack of fight for core values makes the party not only weaker, but irrelevant. Well, lead, follow, or get out the way, would you?

Olympia Undead has some thoughts on the state of the State and you can read more of that here. I think their engineering to assist the Dems is admirable. The title is “how to pat yourself on the back when you don’t have a spine.” Nuff said.

No, probably more to say about all that.

Maybe it’s a good thing that medical science found a simple medical treatment that will stiffen some parts of the body, but there continues to be no treatment that can stiffen the spine of the average democratic legislator.

In election news, I got an email from Nancy Pelosi this am. Nancy was pretty excited about the democratic win in NY District 26. I don’t know if the newly elected democratic rep Kathy Hochul is supported by a spine, but I do know she only got 48% of the vote and won the election because a tea party candidate siphoned 8% of the republican vote. You do the math, baby, you connect the dots, kemosabe. This candidate will be gone in the next election cycle barring some miracle that persuades the electorate that republican plan to eviscerate the social welfare state and promote casino economics and a permanent war economy is not the way we are going to “win the future” (thanks to Barack and his speech writers for that bit of oratorical irony.)

There’s more, but I better stop there for today. Go get them. It’s hump day.

Sanity, Power, Values and More

11 May

“It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.”
— David Brin
(1950- ) Author

I don’t know much about sane folks, but I get the drift here from Mr. Brin. I figure the realm of politics attracts opportunists the way a basketball court attracts tall folks. It’s just obvious that this realm appeals to a certain population. One population that is called to politics are reformers, utopians, philosophers who want to see if their ideals can be put in practice. That is probably the best of the lot. Another group are or become pragmatists who think they can see a way to move a body politic toward an ideal through compromises and the politics of the possible. And yet another group are simply political functionaries who understand the political realm as primarily a playing field for exercise of power. All of the experimentation that attends the exercise of power and is done without the counterweight of the human values captured by Eleanor Roosevelt’s master work, the declaration of universal human rights is fraught with risk. Perhaps it is done in the context of a different philosophical realm – the social darwinism of Ayn Rand or the puritanical criminality of folks who come to power with the idea that ethnic cleansing of society is a means that is justified by their dream end of a pure society. And really, this ethnic cleansing model is simply operationalizing social darwinism. It is an impatient social darwinism that doesn’t even have the moral conscience to enact policies of neglect and exclusion that will achieve a similar end more slowly. I will give those folks points for efficiency. The trains will run on time or the conductors will be thrown under the wheels.

So, in an exercise of brutal or brutish efficiency, our country now engages in some horrendous stuff and there is not much outcry. Waterboarding? Is it ever ok to torture beings? I don’t think this is a tough question. Our efficiency (misunderestimated imho) overcomes our values and we are drawn into questions about whether torture works? Does torture work? Of course it works. The work product is tortured individuals on both sides of the equations. Torture creates monsters.

The correct question is should we torture beings? Is there ever a justification for torture? The simple and correct answer is no. Kick the question to ethics philosophers, to religious leaders, to large political bodies, the answer is the same. Torture is wrong. Don’t bother playing around the margins with sleep deprivation, isolation, stress positions etc. This is torture. Subject any of the individuals who favor these “pragmatic” options to skirt the clear moral and legal prohibitions to torture to enhanced interrogation techniques for 72 hours and let’s see if they continue to think this is ok. Of course, that is a rhetorical proposition. Unless the proponents of enhanced interrogation techniques volunteer for the treatment to show that is not inhumane, we who believe the treatment is inhumane cannot cross that line. It’s just that simple.

public domain Wiki CommonsHow about murder? Is murder ever ok? “Thou shall not kill” seems to be a pretty common principle in religions and moral philosophies. Geopolitics continues to find justification for wholesale violation of this principle in decisions to enter into wars or “police actions.” Intentional destruction of life is delivered through our proxies, the drones, that circle above us. The finger that pushes the button is isolated from humanity by electronic screens, the screens of violent computer games, the screens of electronic drone control panels, the human screens that allow this murderous activity to be conducted anonymously. Murder from behind the screen of anonymity. Pay no attention to the man behind the screen or curtain. The drone attacks are surgical and intelligent. We get the illusion of smart bombs when we need the reality of smart leaders, smart policies, smart action.

So, this country recently sent a team of assassins into another sovereign country in the dead of night to murder an unarmed man. Our agents captured a man who had been convicted of no crime and it is said they shot him in the face, possibly in front of his family members. Are we ok with that? Is that an event for celebration?

I say no.

So what are our values? Why do other folks around the planet find themselves in conflict with us? I will let John Foster Dulles have the last word:

 

“Somehow we find it hard to sell our values, namely that the rich should plunder the poor.”
— John Foster Dulles former Secretary of State