Friday, April 01, 2005

Twelfth Grade Economics Absentia

Here’s an idea: To create a budget, decide on everything you are going to spend, and then decide how you are going to pay for all you have spent. Sound a little backwards?

Senate Democrats have done just that. Only days after releasing their proposed budget, the Senate rushed to vote yesterday on its spending programs. All told, the new budget has $26 billion in spending.

Next week Senators are expected to vote on the funding mechanism for their budget. None too surprisingly, tax hikes are expected to reach $482 million – that’s $200 million more than the current governor’s proposal. Not even Sir Edmund Hillary could climb that high.

I must admit my malaise at this, and not for fiscally conservative reasons. Last week I tried to purchase a new car. The vehicle I wanted was listed at $18,925. However, my bank would only finance me for $18,825. With the steep 9.1% Pierce County sales tax, the car would have been just shy of $21,000 when all was said and done. I had to determine how much I could spend before I spent it, and it turns out that wasn’t enough. My envy rests with the government here as they are not confined to such rational principles. Otherwise I’d be rolling in my new whip right now instead of writing this blog.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Outlaw Sin

The new trend making its mark on the state budget is sin taxes. In recent years, boosting the”big three” (property, sales, and B&O taxes) has become an increasingly unpopular idea. Democrats have since strayed from the “tax and spend” moniker since the days Reagan used to blast them for it and since “new Democrats” like Bill Clinton have become more fiscally moderate.

In Washington State, sin taxes replace their hardcore predecessors. This year both the current governor and Senate Democrats are relying heavily on cigarette excise taxes for new revenue.

According to the
Yakima Valley Herald sin taxes are increasing sharply and are predominate factors in the new biennial budgets.

Gregoire's proposed budget calls for generating $73.2 million over the next two years by boosting the state cigarette tax by 20 cents a pack over the current $1.425. The increase would jump an additional 60 cents in the summer of 2007.

Senate Democrats unveiled their budget earlier this week and front-loaded their hikes. They would raise $168.2 million from cigarette tax increases — 60 cents per pack over the next two years and an additional 20-cent-per-pack increase thereafter — also bringing total increase to 80 cents.

In her press conference announcing her budget two weeks ago, the current governor said that if she could tax people out of smoking, then she is doing something good for the health of our state. Meaning, she is taxing smokers for their own good.

That seems to be the justification for taxing tobacco. We’ll force people into being more health conscious because no one will be able to afford to smoke.

If smoking poses such a high health risk, then why do we continue to allow it at all? Wouldn’t it be more prudent – in the name of health, of course – for Washington (or even the Feds for that matter) to outlaw tobacco?

This would seem at least a little fairer to tobacco companies in lieu of the outright discrimination against a single industry.

Just the other day I saw a television ad by Phillip-Morris that offered services to help smokers quit. This is in every logical way a bad business practice. Could you imagine Nike running ads to encourage people to go barefoot? To be sure, there is a tax incentive for companies like Phillip-Morris to be, well….anti Phillip-Morris. That doesn’t make it right.

In order for the government to truly adhere to its righteous principles, then smoking should be illegal. I don’t mean smoking in public should be illegal. I’m not a New Yorker. It should be illegal to buy, sell, and consume tobacco products. If liberals are truly concerned for the health of our citizens, then we should prevent them from unhealthy practices.

However, their neglect to move towards prohibition is truly telling of their real motives. Health and welfare masquerades the fact that democrats might not be so new in their ideology after all.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

If you haven’t acquired your daily vitriolic diatribe, I recommend you read this senate staffer’s email response to a state senator’s announcement of Washington’s annual Prayer Breakfast.

-----Original Message-----
From: Sen. Joyce Mulliken
Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2005 8:55 AM
Subject: Your Invited!

This coming Friday, April 1 is the annual Governor's Prayer Breakfast. Please come and enjoy the inspirational music, speakers from our Legislature...*

In your Service,
Senator Joyce Mulliken
13th Legislative District

*Irrelevant details have been omitted

-----Original Message-----
From: Keller, Barbara
Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2005 9:20 AM
Subject: RE: Your Invited!

Actually, I am not invited.

As an atheist - the only belief system that relies on science not mythology to explain the natural world - I continue to be appalled that, more than 200 years after the signing of the Constitution, even our legislators do not understand the concept of separation of Church and State.

While this breakfast and all the "fellowship" meetings may technically meet the requirements of the law, they are totally out of keeping with the spirit of our Constitution.

Throughout my employment here I, and others, have felt oppressed by this inundation of emails and events and its apparent endorsement by the State government of one particular religious belief system. I simply can no longer sit quietly by while those in charge of ensuring others' rights tread on mine.

Barbara A. Keller
Aide to Senator Adam Kline

It is ironic that Ms. Keller has asserted that her rights were violated. Surely she cannot mean her moral rights; to her those do not exist – you’d need God for that. So she must really mean that it is her legal rights that were violated….but wait, the email and the event itself “technically meet the requirements of the law”!

In any event, I recommend Ms. Keller seek the 9th Circuit on this, I hear they do wonders with religious oppression