Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Faith leaders urge voters to reject Tim Eyman's immoral Initiative 1033 (Part I)

Editor's Note: Welcome to the first installment of a special series chronicling religious opposition to Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033.

This morning, four leaders representing different faiths came together to urge the people of Washington State to reject Initiative 1033 because it is not in keeping with the values that our state and our nation were founded upon.

Each installment in this series will feature a statement from one of the four faith leaders who spoke at the press conference.

We begin with the Right Reverend Greg Rickel, who leads the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia as its eighth bishop. His words this morning were as follows.

You can call me crazy, but I guess I am still crazy enough to believe we are only as strong as our weakest link.

It would be easy to think otherwise if you believed we are not in any way, connected to one another. 1033 is based in the latter notion, that we are not connected to one another and that it is, in fact, okay to leave behind a large segment of our society, believing we are able to sustain ourselves alone.

It is smoke and mirrors, designed to make people who are already suffering believe they will benefit, when in fact, they will not. Ultimately, no one will. 1033 is, at best, laziness on the part of leadership and social Darwinism at its worse.

While I am quite sure the proponents of 1033 would say otherwise, this decision is no less than the people of this state choosing what kind of community our children and grandchildren get to grow up in, and perhaps even more importantly just what kind of people we will be. There is simply no other way to look at this.

Under I-1033, our communities would have fewer parks and fewer teachers – and more people without jobs and health care.

We know that I-1033 would reduce the funds that support education in our state by $5.9 billion over the next five years. That means more crowded classrooms, fewer teachers and kids less able to succeed in the global economy.

That won’t help our children or our community.

This initiative would unjustly put the responsibility for taxes and cost of services on those who are least able to pay, in a state that already has a tax system with a structural deficit and is the most regressive in the nation.

As faithful citizens, it is our duty to promote the common good, not to create more wealth for those who already have more than they need.

This initiative could have been different, the entire work of lessening taxes could have been done more equitably and strategically.

That is the smokescreen in this initiative, that it is equitable, when it is really nothing more than welfare for the rich.

This could have been done more strategically, but that would require work, judgment, and leadership. I am praying for a lot more of all three right now.

I am, quite frankly, tired of hearing of the tax burden.

While I am all for accountability, efficiency, and good stewardship of those dollars, I consider my taxes to be an investment, and without that investment, in education, in public safety, in social services, in building our community and in our people, we will get what we deserve and no one, ultimately, no matter what their wealth now, will be better off. Even the very wealthy depend on the basic health and care of the masses. 1033 is a risky gamble on just how far that can be pushed.

In my meditation this morning I was given to read a homily by Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-392) who wrote, "Never despise homeless people who are stretched out on the ground as if they merit no respect. Ask who they are and discover their worth... For God listens to them and their self-sacrifice, and what we squander cries out to God who fathoms the heart, in a voice clearer than the herald’s trumpet."

We live our faith publicly in response to our God who we believe desires a world that is equitable, fair and just. It is also a faith that believes we are called to be better than this initiative will make us. And we ask you to vote NO on I-1033.


Blogger Catherine said...

1033 has little to do with private enterprise, so employment, unless it is with the gov't would not be affected. In fact, it might be seen by private employers as a strength not to strap their employees with huge property taxes on top of a huge sales tax and fees on everything! Nowhere in the Bible does God suggest social engineering of "desiring a world that is equitable, fair and just." What the Bible does say is that God will be equitable, fair and just and as believers we are to do the same in our responses to people, so that I treat the poorest with the same respect I'd treat the wealthiest! You need to read Brendan Manning!

October 21, 2009 7:22 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Wrong, Catherine. I-1033 has everything do with private enterprise.

The essential public services that our government provides are the very foundation for economic prosperity.

Washington State businesses couldn't function without roads, the Internet, the nine tenths of the courts that handle corporate law, police and fire protection, or utilities such as water and sewer.

I-1033's assault on essential public services will hurt small and large businesses alike. Why do you think Microsoft and its executives have donated heavily to beat back this initiative? Why are so many chambers of commerce opposed? Because I-1033 is bad for business!

Under I-1033, cities will have no incentive to do any economic development. Governments will have to end up laying off public servants, which will increase unemployment. There will be greater competition for a scarce number of jobs that don't pay as well.

All policymaking, by the way, can be considered "social engineering". That's a phony phrase that conservatives love to use which is utterly meaningless.

I-1033 is immoral because it hurts those in our society who need the most help. It takes resources from them and gives them to people who already have it made. That is not fair.

Initiative 1033 is a measure which completely fails the test of distributive justice. That's why faith leaders are saying NO to Initiative 1033.

October 21, 2009 8:06 PM  
Blogger B said...

The sheer idiocy of this initiative is testament to the ignorance of the electorate to how their government works; how else to explain the lunacy of asserting this has nothing to do with employment? It also speaks to how broken the political system is in this state. With all these whack-job initiatives, we're starting to make Cali look sane.

October 21, 2009 9:31 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Well, let's talk about the "ignorance" of the electorate, shall we? When government hears that, by intiative, it's services may get cut, they always use the services that get the most emotional sympathy! For example, in my area, rural fire depts usually ask for either more money or extensions on money paid by property tax increases. And, their ploy to get voters to pass such extensions and new taxes is to say that 911 services and other very emotional services will have to be cut if such and such doesn't pass! When, in fact, what may not get funded is refurnishing the kitchen or repainting the inside of the fire house! To say you wouldn't do those things would garner little sympathy, but to say you won't be able to provide 911, well, that gets those voters to do the 'right thing.'

I can give you two examples of why your rabid support of government is totally misplaced! Before WA had the lottery, there was huge public opposition to having gambling in the state, and because so many school districts were laying off teachers up to 25 years experience because of the 'levy system' of paying for education, the fine people in Olympia told the electorate that all money from the lottery, if they would pass it, would be used to fund education! In fact, the backs of lottery tickets said that all money would go to fund education. Within two years, because the governor and legislature saw the large amounts of money (without having to tick everyone off by raising taxes), they quietly passed legislation which put the monies from the lottery into the 'general fund' where it remains to this day while that same government whines and cries about not having enough money to fund education!

The second example was an initiative which reached the ballot to exempt all food and food-like items from the state's sales tax. And, why was this important, because it hurts poor people more harshly than anyone else, so the 'kind, considerate' voters elected to abolish sales tax on food, etc. Again, within several years, the legislature quietly passed legislation over-riding the voters. The stores which sell food or food items knew that shoppers would be furious if their receipts once again showed tax on food, so the stores simply raised the prices of the goods they sell in order to quietly pay the state the sales taxes they are supposed to collect, and the consumer/voter never knows the difference!

So, please educate yourselves regarding how government really works, and if you feel sorry for all those other people, publicize what the legislature really does to get its 'pound of flesh' from you whether you like it or not!

And, just because a business opposes something doesn't mean much when a government can promise them something in exchange! Perhaps you haven't noticed S1776 in Congress which will simply use tax dollars to the tune $247 billion dollars to pay off doctors who are opposing HC because they've taken Medicare pts at a loss, so this money will simply pay them the difference! WOW! Maybe you need to do a little more investigation into 'motives' and how government really works! Mark Twain said it best, "People are no damn good!" Or, has your so-called liberal education not even taught you who Mark Twain was?

October 22, 2009 10:33 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Catherine, you've done a pretty good job authoring a rambling rant that overuses exclamation points (writing tip: when you do that, it dilutes the effect) and wanders off into the weeds rather than sticking to the topic of the post.

Conservatives often like to assert that liberals are snooty, bookish elitists. Here you are sneeringly asking if I know who Mark Twain is. Well, which is it, Catherine? Are liberals elitists or know nothings? Conservatives can't seem to make up their minds.

"Mark Twain", incidentally, was actually not a person but the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who is one of America's most famous authors.

Liberals don't claim that government is perfect or the solution to all problems. What liberals recognize is that pooling our resources together to get things done is how we build a foundation for American propserity.

Read the archives of this blog and you'll find many instances where we have criticized the Legislature, for failing to accomplish real tax reform, failing to stop people like Tim Eyman from abusing the initiative process, failing to help homeowners whose houses have been damaged by negligent construction. The Legislature too often resorts to shortcuts, accounting tricks, and the like because its members, both Democrat and Republican, don't have the courage to take tough votes on legislation that would tackle the underlying causes of problems instead of symptoms.

This organization understands the shortcomings of government. And the shortcomings of the private sector, which are huge.

The shortcomings of our democratic government, however, are no excuse to be in favor of initiatives like I-1033 that seek to wreck government. If you want to live in a place with no government, with anarchy, chaos, then move to Somalia. Since there's no functioning government there, it's the perfect conservative utopia.

You'll be responsible for policing your own property, putting out any fires that might occur, dealing with any natural disasters, fighting off would be squatters and thieves, waste disposal, electricity, telecommunications links to the outside world, any roads going to and from your property, etc. Good luck.

October 22, 2009 12:24 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Also, where in the Constitution, either U.S. or State is there a mention of "distributive justice?" And, what "test" has been devised to "test" such a thing? Do you even know why we have those documents? They are to reign in government, not expand it! I'd advise The Federalist Papers to understand our founding father's thinking!

October 22, 2009 12:22 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

I hardly need a lesson in exposition or English lit as those were my majors! And, I will use as many ex. marks as I choose which does nothing to detract from the substance of my arguments to which you don't even refer because you can't. As usual, the other side often resorts to ad hominem arguments since sticking to the topic doesn't work when you have no real evidence to support your argument! If you did have concrete examples, you would use them.

Oh, and because when I first taught and there was not enough money in the school district to purchase a paperback copy of Huckleberry Finn for every student, I read it out loud to 5 classes per day until we finished it! So, I guess I do know who Mark Twain was!

And, good business models suggest people "pool their resources" to get more bang for the buck! However, if liberals just went ahead and "pooled their resources" I am sure conservatives might even join them since conservatives outgive via charitable giving 2:1 over liberals, but I digress, and you might get "lost in the weeds," to solve problems, that would be ok. But expecting the gov't which produces nothing itself except its own continuation will never solve anything which is why LBJ's Great Society has failed miserably and now, for example, in Chicago all those public housing monstrosities have to be demolished. Talk about a waste of "pooled resources." Wouldn't we have done a better job of actually helping people by helping them purchase their own homes, get some training to hold a job in order to make a modest house payment, and instilling in them with some pride in ownership? I bet it would have cost a whole lot less than the feds spent on building, maintaining, if you can call it that, the bureaucrat's salaries built around "managing" all of it and then destroying the whole thing?

So, I have no difficulty with the private pooling of resources - I do have a problem with growing a government who thinks it can "pool" better than "we the people!"

Some gov't is necessary, but most gov't, because people tend to sink to their lowest common denominators, has overstepped its boundaries to the point that lots of people like you expect it to do everything. Our form of gov't was never, never designed to do that, and that is why you should probably move to a nice social welfare state like Denmark.

October 22, 2009 7:50 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

By the way, citing specific, factual examples of my point of view is hardly rambling or wandering off the topic. Next time, save yourself some words and time by just grading my response with a letter grade, but whatever you do, don't hurt my self esteem.

October 22, 2009 3:16 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home