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.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What if Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033 was corporate policy?

It's no secret that Tim Eyman's latest scheme to wreck government and destabilize budgets (Initiative 1033) is a complicated mess that's difficult to understand. The initiative is marketed as a property tax cut, but in reality it doesn't cut property taxes... it redirects sales taxes and other revenue sources to cancel out the property tax for Washington's wealthiest citizens.

Initiative 1033's ballot title, crafted by people who work for Eyman's good friend Rob McKenna, the coauthor of one of his unconstitutional initiatives (I-747) doesn't say anything about I-1033 being a reverse Robin Hood wealth transfer. (Of course, if it did, people would vote against it en masse).

Even voters who take the trouble to read the text of Initiative 1033 won't find any useful information about the measure's devastating consequences.

So to help those who are trying to make more sense of Initiative 1033, we'd like to offer a fairly simple analogy that sums up what this scheme is.

We frequently hear Republicans (and some corporate Democrats) loudly proclaim that government should be run more like a business. We'd like to turn that misguided notion on its head here, and examine what would happen if Initiative 1033 (which is a proposed law) was actually a proposed corporate policy.

Imagine one day if you came into work and your employer announced that an outside consultant named Tim Eyman, the hotshot principal at the well known firm of Dunmire Strategies, had completed an evaluation of the company and its business practices. Mr. Eyman's findings are sitting in a report on your desk.

The report argues that lately the company has been foolishly investing too much money into its own future, and that the company should institute a policy stipulating that in the years to come, it can't spend a penny more of its revenues beyond what was spent in the current year. Not profit... revenue.

So as a consequence, company investment in research and development, expansion, the launch of new products, marketing, employee training... all of that and more would be frozen in place at current levels. Permanently.

A small but insignificant adjustment would be allowed for inflation periodically, but that's it. Any revenue that the company brings in beyond what came in the previous year will instead be set aside to be distributed as bonuses.

It does not matter that the company's expenses are certain to rise over time because Mr. Eyman is convinced the company is wasteful and bloated. However, his report does not identify any waste or specify what cuts the company should make.

When asked about this, Mr. Eyman says that middle managers must be responsible for making sure the company "lives within its means" under the new policy he has come up with. If necessary, the company can cut costs by "downsizing".

The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) has estimated that adopting Mr. Eyman's plan will cost the company and its subsidiaries a massive amount of money over the next five years, enough to eventually cancel out all of the revenue generated by the company's most loyal and reliable customers. Mr. Eyman says this analysis is flawed and should be discarded; however, many vocal managers disagree.

The report claims that everybody will get a nice bonus under the policy, but fellow workers who have been going to Mr. Eyman's meetings and critiquing his work have prepared a chart showing that in reality, the lion's share of the bonus fund would go to top executives. Longtime workers would get a pittance, enough to remind them that they're not very high up on the corporate food chain. Meanwhile, employees who are new to the company wouldn't get anything at all.

Given the resistance within the company to Mr. Eyman's plan, the chief executive officer has decided to conduct an anonymous straw poll to decide whether to adopt the report and its findings. You have one vote.

Will you vote Yes or No on whether to accept Mr. Eyman's proposal?

That is analogous to the choice that is before us now with Initiative 1033. We can choose greed by enacting Initiative 1033, or we can choose a sustainable future by rejecting Initiative 1033. Unfortunately, since I-1033 is a proposed law, the ramifications of the decision we make are much, much, much higher.

Every community and every workplace would be negatively affected by the passage of this thoughtless, backwards, me-first, jobs killing scheme that would help a small few at the expense of a great many. Initiative 1033 makes no sense as a business policy and it makes even less sense as public policy.

On November 3rd, let's protect our common wealth and secure the blessings of liberty for our posterity by voting NO on Initiative 1033.


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