Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Voting: My opinion of this crazy process

My ballot arrived yesterday and I quickly got to work on my duty as an American and voted.  I hope that the moment the ballot hits the mailbox that the nagging and dreaded political ads will stop. 

I wish that candidates would spend their advertising dollars to tell us what they have done that is noteworthy and not link their opponent to dreaded and dastardly deeds.  I think I would respond better to that.   I'm a Patty Murray fan, I think her efforts to support veterans and to bring earmarks to our state have been beneficial to our community.  Yes, she voted for the banking bailout (which most of the big banks have paid back) and she like every politician alive has taken money from big business and special interest groups - sorry people that's how this crazy system works.  I'm not impressed with Dino Rossi and haven't seen (or paid attention to) his plan to improve things.  His platform seems to be "time for a change".  That's a reasonable idea, but bring something to the table other than "I'm not her".   Both of them need a time out for their nasty and misleading ads.

The real effort in voting this go round are the multitude of initiatives and propositions.  Is it ok to sell booze at the grocery store?  I think yes.  Should we restructure the taxes on booze? I think not.  I don't mind paying a ton of taxes on unnecessary items like booze or cigarettes.  Yes, it is a slippery slope, I mean at what point do my pretty shoes become unnecessary and could be subject to more taxes than someone's work boots? 

Should we repeal the taxes on bottled water, soda pop and candy?  Again, these are taxes I don't mind.  It is a nutty convoluted calculation as to what is considered candy and what isn't, but  for the most part these are items that aren't required to live.  The bottled water issue could be questionable in an emergency situation, but we're typically not in emergency water situations. 

One ad went to town on the issue of certain local foods being subject to taxation that foods manufactured elsewhere weren't subject to.  This turned out to be true but not really accurate.  The local foods were subject to a B&O tax that the out of state items weren't subject to.  B&O is a tax that most, if not all, local business pays on their products and services.  If you hold a Washington State Business License, you pay B&O.  I paid city B&O in Issaquah as well as the portion of my consulting income that I paid to the state.  These out of state food manufactures are not subject to local B&O - they likely pay a similar tax in the location where their business is located.  Taxes like B&O are part of doing business and if you don't like it, move your business to a state or city that has low B&O rates.  (Did anyone notice that Boeing moved it's headquarters to a tax friendly location of Illinois?  Washington Mutual did the same thing when they moved their primary holding company to Arizona or some similar nicely tax friendly location.)   Granted, it is hard to establish a business license in a place where you have no physical presence, but when you're Boeing or formerly WaMu, you can move some poor lackey to the area and hold down an office without having to move your headquarters.   I think Boeing actually moved to Chicago - but none of the execs at WaMu moved to the southwest.

Some of the other issues were not so easy to land on a decision.  Thankfully, Jason and I can cancel each others vote out on topics like income tax for the wealthy.  I'm torn between thinking we need to do something to shore up our finances but am worried that we'll drive our big income families out of our state and open ourselves up to an entire state income tax.  Granted, taxes paid to the state in the form of income tax can be deducted from your federal taxes so our rich friends won't actually be paying MORE taxes we're simply redistributing the flow of money to our state.  But, is that the right thing?  Aaarg.  How are we supposed to know?

When little Lucy says she wants to be President of the US when she grows up I'll be thankful that the likelihood of that actually happening is more remote than my winning Project Runway. 

Jason says that he hates that we have to pay for postage to mail back our ballot.  I do agree that voters might be more likely to participate if they didn't have to find a stamp. (I mean who has STAMPS these days?) His suggestion is that every candidate contribute the cost of one ad to a fund to cover the cost of postage.  I think we need to go farther and require that for every single stinking dollar advocacy groups and candidates spend on advertisements that have any inkling of negativity or are found to be false or misleading that they contribute the cost of the ad (including the cost of printing, or airing the ad) to a fund for a good cause like education.

One thing is for sure, I will never run for office.  I've stated too clearly my distaste for negative ads, my support of equal rights for our gay community and my opinions on silly Lindsay Lohan to ever be taken seriously as a politician.   My inability to get through a debate without a "Frankly Mr. Opponent, You SUCK" would also knock me off the podium pretty quickly.

But, I will endure the season of negative ads and vote.  For this I think I get a cookie!


Peter the Cat said...

"Granted, taxes paid to the state in the form of income tax can be deducted from your federal taxes so our rich friends won't actually be paying MORE taxes we're simply redistributing the flow of money to our state."

No, this isn't right. A deduction comes off of your taxable income, not your tax. Someone in the top U.S. federal tax bracket of 35% who pays $1000 in state income taxes would reduce his or her federal income tax bill by $350 and pay net $650 more tax than if there were no state income tax.

It also seems inconsistent to applaud Sen. Murray for bringing us earmarks while telling any company that doesn't like our state's business tax structure to eat cake and shove off. Perhaps if fewer businesses were given reasons to leave the state, we would have less need for federal earmarks.

tp_gal said...

1) You are 100% correct on the tax thing. Again, my math leaves a lot to be desired. Reason 67431 why I'm not an accountant.

2) I wasn't suggesting that big business leave our state. I was simply stating that a couple have already done so. I think some states are better at, or more willing to bend their tax to entice businesses their way.

3) As for earmarks, I don't really like them and wish they weren't a part of our government processes, but since they are is it wrong to use them?

In looking at the list of 2010 earmarks it appears that much of it goes to military and infrastructure projects. These aren't projects that benefits just Washington State.

Here's where I'm getting my info in case my prior(made up) statements mar my credibility:

Rossi can claim, now, that he's against earmarks but in 2007 he benefited from them directly as part owner of the Aquasox who received monies for the rebuilding of their stadium. He was also not opposed to using the Washington State version of earmarks while in office.

Earmarks or "locally targeted investments" as they are called at our state level are one way that a portion of the budget (1% of the Federal budget)is spent locally.

I find it hard to believe that Mr. Rossi will be on the list of representatives that request no earmarks if elected. Those rare birds do exist, but I think the desire to bring projects and federal support back to his constituents will win out over his moral victory over Mrs. Murray.