Sunday, July 25, 2004

I Get Mail!

I never know when I post what will get a response, what will pass without comment, and what will turn out to be a part of a bigger blogging movement.

For example, while I felt my Linksys rant was purely a rant, I got two real-world comments and a couple e-mail comments on it. All of them were along the general lines of "yeah, I know 'em, they suck", but two of them mentioned that Linksys was purchased by Cisco a while back, and serves as their entry into the homeowners' market. I hope Cisco improves Linksys's merchandise and their tech support.

Not really. I hope Cisco burns the Linksys assembly plant to the ground and then salts the earth with spent uranium rounds as a warning to other companies. But that's just me.

Also, my comment about I-844 and the severity of state taxes brought some questions, a little research, and a change of opinion on my part. One post noted that the sales tax is by nature a regressive tax, in that it costs the poor more than the rich based as a percentage of total income, and raising it thereby hurts the poor more than the wealthy. This is one of the reasons that sales taxes are not usually extended to "necessities" as food and shelter (and in PA, clothing). With a little research, I find that Washington currently has the fourth highest "on-paper" state sale tax in the country, figuring in the average local, city, and county taxes as well. So upping the State Tax, even in a good cause, may not the smartest thing to do (and, while we're at it - does education get to keep its chunk of the budgetary pie that it already has, or does that part get sent elsewhere?)

However, it's usually not the sales tax that people (well, politicians) are complaining about when they are talking about the state's tax load, but rather other taxes that supposedly "bad for bidness", like the Business and Operating tax. On the plus side, Washington State does not have a personal or corporate state income tax, something several people noted to me when I first moved out here. Add all state taxes into the figures above, which they did at tax , and Washington State plummets to # 21 in tax severity. Ahah! We are not (horribly) overtaxed! (New York is #1)

BUT if you add in Federal Income Tax, again according to Tax, we bounce back up to #8. Ahah! But THAT number is a little tricky, because the Federal Income Tax is a progressive tax, with supposedly more taken out of the pockets of the wealthy. We pay more because there a larger chunk of the state in upper tax brackets. The highest-taxed state under this method? Connecticut, with its smaller population and a higher average income.

And to muddy the waters even further, the Small Business Survival Council puts Washington State at #8 for positive small business climates, so the tax situation must not be hurting us too much as far as corporations are concerned. Note that this last ranking put a chill through a lot of pro-business interests that have been telling their folks that TAXES ARE TOO HIGH, so there have been some push-back on this in the local business press.

So the change in opinion? Not that we are not too heavily taxed - as you can see, different manipulations of the numbers produce different results, so any pol anywhere in the country can make the claim for his patch of ground. After the research, I feel now is the time to institute that long-feared State Income Tax (personal and corporate) and in the process, create some Sales Tax relief - something that will be really felt by consumers. The opinion that has changed is the one where I said that Ron Sims (running for Governor as a Dem against establishment candidate Christine Gregroire) would not get anywhere running on a State Income Tax platform. Now, I'm not so sure - A Tax Reform platform which moves the load away from Sales Taxes and onto Income Taxes, might just be a tonic that this state is ready for, and has been endorsed not only by the media in the Sound area, but in more "red territories" like Spokane as well.

OK, enough on taxes.

Finally, there are those days that you suddenly wake and realize that you've become part of a bigger movement, that something you've talked about suddenly gets a much wider purchase and play. The "This Land" video has become the newest "Only in Kenya" video on the web, crashing servers and reducing productivity across the US and the world. It's been written up in the local papers, gotten web play, and been sent to me about a gazillion times by people who thought I'd be interested (and who don't read this journal, apparently). I suddenly feel like part of that great media machine

On the other hand, the rest of the world has yet to pick up on my "John Kerry is the Joker" meme. So I'm bummed by that.

More later,