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, January 11, 2010

Right-wing distortions under the spotlight

Part of NPI’s mission is to counter the dubious “facts” that right-wing organizations spray like machine gun fire into the public debate. Take this quote from an Evergreen Freedom Foundation newsletter that recently showed up in my inbox and that has popped up in various publications around the state:
Just for starters, you and I pay $27,000 for a Poet Laureate. State lottery advertisements will get $11 million and we will pay $800 million for light rail art in Seattle. Are you happy about the $145 thousand we will spend rescuing derelict crab pots?
Inflammatory stuff. The author of this list, and those who are perpetuating it, go on to imply that the state budget is riddled with waste and that increasing state revenue in order to maintain public services like education and health care is unnecessary. They say all we need to do is cut out these wasteful expenses.

Too bad that some of the items they list are not even state expenses, and others are actually valid expenditures.

Let’s look at these claims, one by one.

For starters, after initial start up costs of $30,000 spread over the years 2007- 2009, the state poet laureate position is paid for by “gifts, grants and endowments from public and private sources,” not the state. Forty other states have a poet laureate.

The state lottery collects almost $500 million per year and spends about $12 million of that on advertisements and marketing, meaning advertising costs are about 2.4% of collections, near the average ad expediture for U.S. businesses.

Seattle’s light rail system is administered by the regional Sound Transit agency and is primarily funded by local sales tax. Any money spent on art in light rail stations is spent by Sound Transit, not by the state.

Thousands of derelict crab pots, which are pots that are no longer in use, litter the floor of the Puget Sound. One derelict pot can catch and waste from 10 to 72 crabs a year, in addition to other sea life. Derelict crab pots threaten the health of the Puget Sound and are a hazard to boaters. The state is just one source of money for the crab pot removal program, while the federal government, foundations and non-profits also contribute.

Shedding a little light on these claims make them a lot less offensive, although the spreading of half-truths still offends me.

NPI advocates for removing non-performing state tax breaks before cutting services or raising revenue, but we also understand that this alone won't fill the state's $2.6 billion dollar budget gap and preserve the essential services that we rely on for a good quality of life. Services on the chopping block, like education, mental health programs and public safety, are too vital and already weakened by last year’s cuts to hack into further.

The right-wing can't use deception to justify its crusade against government. The public deserves the truth.


Blogger Steve Breaux said...

Any with a problem of having a State Poet Laureate should take some time to yell at the Republicans - the bill that established ours, House Bill 1279, was sponsored by Rep. Mary Skinner, R-Yakima.

January 11, 2010 5:17 PM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

And it passed with almost total support.

January 12, 2010 8:53 AM  

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