Thursday, October 07, 2010


So we're going in numerical order here, and the first out of the chute is our regular Eyeman Initiative.

Tim Eyeman often inspires eye-rolling and teeth-gnashing, but you have to admit that he has figured out how to turn a profit on the initiative system (one more reason to fix the damned thing). Every election cycle, he lofts a new initiative or three onto the ballot, usually backed by one or more donors with deep pockets. Said initiatives are usually intended to a) cripple state government and b)give everyone a pony. Oh, and c) served as a profit center for Tim Eyeman.

Here's the initiative in a nutshell: All state tax increases require a two-thirds majority to pass, as opposed to 51% for ordinary legislation.

The logic behind this proposal is attractive but flawed - if state government uses its money poorly, we should make it harder for them to get money to play with. Sounds good on the surface, but the past couple years they have had a LOT less money to play with, and as a result they have ... cut essential services.

Hmmm. That didn't work out the way we planned.

One of the reasons that the state has been woefully unprepared? A big part of it is our regressive tax system (but that argument is for another post), but another part has been I-960, a previous initiative which put similar constraints on the legislature. When the pro forces argue to "reinstate" earlier law, they are talking about this piece of steaming legislation (which was passed, you know, with 51% of the vote - democracy is apparently for chumps).

The end result of all this is akin to tying a couple anvils to Apolo Ohno and then complaining about his time trials (which can only be solved by -- More Anvils!).

Now, here's the twist - usually the annual Eyeman Initiative is funded by a couple of rich guys who fell for a power point presentation. This time, however, we're looking at major backing from the likes of BP, Tesaro, other oil companies, and banks. Yeah, BP, which you already know from the bang-up job they did in the gulf, and Tesaro, who ran that refinery up in Anacortes which blew up back around Easter, and who have been accused of criminal negligence.

So why are the oil companies wading in on this one? It's actually a bit of a trick shot for them. There has been popular movement in the legislature to up Big Oil's responsibility for cleanup for their messes, and that would be an increase in "tax" for them. So if they require any increase of tax to require a two-thirds majority, they have to buy fewer legislators. Profit! Sorry about sticking the rest of you with the bill.

Actually, it gets even better from a corporate standpoint. Close a loophole that's been bleeding the state dry? Sorry, that's a tax increase! You need a supermajority! Profit!

It's a great scam, and I only regret that I can't get in on it. Needless to say, since I can't get in on it (and neither can you), I'll strongly recommend you vote No.

More later,