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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Paul Allen, Greedy Asshole

Posted by on Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 11:46 AM

Posted at 9:38 a.m. and updated with comments from Paul Allen's spokesman.

Paul Allen, the chairman of Vulcan, has donated $100,000 to the campaign to block an income tax for the wealthiest people in the state, new records from the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission show (.pdf). Initiative 1098 would impose an income tax on individuals making over $200,000 a year to pay for health care and education.

Washington state has the most regressive tax structure in the country. The poor pay 17.3 percent of their income in taxes while the rich pay only 2.6 percent of their income in taxes. Not. Fucking. Fair.

Paul Allen is worth an estimated $16 billion. But he's such a greedy, poor-hating, anti-education miser that he's willing to fuck over the state because he's such a greedy, poor-hating, anti-education miser.

Fuck Paul Allen.

UPDATE: Paul Allen doesn’t support regressive taxation and he doesn’t have a miserly soul made of carbon, says his spokesman David Postman, when asked why the Vulcan chairman donated to the No on I-1098 campaign. “We agree it is a regressive tax system” in Washington state, he says, but this initiative “is not a good fix to the regressive system we have.”

The problem isn’t what happens to the poor now; it’s what I-1098 would do to people who make over $200,000 a year. “If this passes, you have the fifth highest marginal tax… in the United States,” Postman notes. Moreover, the measure would create an income tax with no deductions for charitable contributions, he continues; government cutbacks require the private sector to compensate with charitable contributions. To that end, Allen has been a major northwest philanthropist (more than $1 billion in his lifetime). But some wonder if that’s enough for a man with so much dough.

Asked if Allen has ever directed his vast philanthropy to reform the tax structure he purportedly opposes, Postman says, “Not that I am aware of… I am not suggesting he is a tax reform activist. He does not think this is a good initiative.”

Another reason Allen opposes I-1098: We can’t trust the legislature to use the money the way voters want. Although the funds from I-1098 are collected in the state's Education Legacy Trust Fund, which is directed exclusively to education and health care, there is a caveat. The legislature can, if it elects to, siphon that money into the general fund for other expenses. And that’s exactly what the legislature has done before, Postman says. “History shows us... the legislature changes it every singe time.”


Comments (69) RSS

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Matt from Denver 1
Paul Allen, accidental billionaire. Has the guy ever really done anything to be considered a success? I don't think handing the reigns of Microsoft over to Bill Gates 30 years ago counts.
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 12, 2010 at 9:49 AM · Report this
Rotten666 2
You keep harping on our regressive tax structure, but how is this new tax going to level the playing field when it is applied to everybody else in a few years?
Posted by Rotten666 on October 12, 2010 at 9:49 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 3
Oops, I meant "reins," not "reigns."
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 12, 2010 at 9:49 AM · Report this
Way to keep your argument focused, non-personal, and classy.
Posted by john cocktosin on October 12, 2010 at 9:51 AM · Report this
danindowntown 5
More nuanced analysis and opinion from the News Editor. This reads like it was written by a high school dropout...oh wait.
Posted by danindowntown on October 12, 2010 at 9:54 AM · Report this
Doesn't $100,000 seem like an awfully small amount for someone like Paul Allen? Doesn't it seem like if he was really interested in defeating it, he would donate a bit more? Not saying I agree with the attempt to defeat I-1098, but it seems like it's a piddling amount for someone like Allen.
Posted by jambalaya on October 12, 2010 at 9:58 AM · Report this
@5 keep it above the belt, mister.
Posted by gloomy gus on October 12, 2010 at 10:01 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 8
@2: the slippery-slope argument again. what evidence do you have that the washington state legislature, which couldn't pass a resolution to celebrate 'cute baby animal day' if someone had a gun to their grandma's head, will extend the income tax downward? particularly in light of eymans 2/3 majority initiative? allen and his ilk must really appreciate your footsoldiering.
Posted by Max Solomon on October 12, 2010 at 10:02 AM · Report this
@8, careful, in arguing with a retard you risk becoming retarded yourself
Posted by Friedrich Nietzsche, sort of on October 12, 2010 at 10:10 AM · Report this
Rotten666 10
@8 Oh man, people like you almost make me wish that this piece of shit initiative would actually pass. Just so I can point and laugh at y'all when the law was extended to the lowly plebes.
Posted by Rotten666 on October 12, 2010 at 10:14 AM · Report this
dnt trust me 11
Paul Allen is a fuckwad, kudos Dom.

But seriously, I'm accepting the invite to his fuckwad playland on Mercer Island. See ya there for next year's seder?
Posted by dnt trust me on October 12, 2010 at 10:14 AM · Report this
sloegin 12
Fear of the slippery slope is a winning argument sadly; rich folks convincing everyday people to vote against their interests; vote down a business and property tax CUT on the fear that maybe possibly someday this income tax might reach them.

Eyman and referendums and actual Washington state tax history for the last 20 years don't exist in this argument's universe, yet there ya go.
Posted by sloegin on October 12, 2010 at 10:16 AM · Report this
Cienna Madrid 13
@5, wow. There haven't been many times when I've felt embarrassed for commenters for their misplaced vitriol. Congratulations.
Posted by Cienna Madrid on October 12, 2010 at 10:19 AM · Report this
@13: Nice. Stranger staffers jumping in to defend each other from those mean old commenters.

@5 had one good point. Name-calling and throwing around the word "fuck" isn't exactly the height of news analysis from someone calling himself a "news editor." Really, is that the best Holden can do?

Posted by bigyaz on October 12, 2010 at 10:24 AM · Report this
Rotten666 15
@13 oh get over yourself.
Posted by Rotten666 on October 12, 2010 at 10:25 AM · Report this
Simac 16
I'm not sure what the rich people are so concerned about. State income taxes are deductible on federal taxes, so the net change to their tax bill is basically zero.
Posted by Simac on October 12, 2010 at 10:27 AM · Report this
schmacky 17
C'mon, Dominic. Forget about the fact that even some progressive-leaning people out there, like Dave Meinart, think this tax is a bad idea. And forget about the fact that rational and strong arguments exist against it (the legislature can extend the tax downward after 2 years; the damning statistical evidence from other states that have adopted a state income tax in the last 50 years, etc.)

Your implication that Allan is a "poor-hating" "anti-education miser" is simply childish and reactionary. Do you really think Allen, Bezos and Ballmer are voting against it because they hate poor people, or because they want to line their own pockets? Honestly, you come off as one of those assholes who voted against the Commons because you don't believe in "charity for rich people," or some other brain-dead class warrior horse shit.
Posted by schmacky on October 12, 2010 at 10:29 AM · Report this
@16 It's a deduction, not a tax credit. If your tax rate is 35% (currently the top federal rate, at least for now) and you deduct $100, it only saves you $35 in taxes. So it's not break even. You just don't have to pay federal taxes on the state tax itself.

That said, will this even matter to Paul Allen. I thought the guy was losing money on bad investments right and left (i.e., not a lot of actual income to get taxed) while owning a ton of property (i.e., that 20% state property tax reduction would help him out).

Posted by decidedlyodd on October 12, 2010 at 10:36 AM · Report this
danindowntown 19
@ 13 Misplaced vitriol, not to mention overuse of hyperbole and the endemic use of vulgarities are increasingly the stock and trade of the publication for which you write.

Perhaps you should encourage your news editor to engage more substantive analysis of the news rather than personal attacks. If he did you wouldn't have to feel "embarrassed" for me.

But then again critical thinking and the ability to disagree with someone without resorting to adolescent name calling is something that one learns in, what's the name of those institutions again?
Posted by danindowntown on October 12, 2010 at 10:37 AM · Report this
@17, I confess that "brain-dead class warrior horse shit" is exactly why I voted against the Commons in that election, which, let's be honest with ourselves, occurred when Dom was probably about six years old.
Posted by gloomy gus on October 12, 2010 at 10:37 AM · Report this
emor 21
What's Allen's current annual income? I ask because I am wondering how many years of 1098 taxes that $100,000 would have covered.
Posted by emor on October 12, 2010 at 10:38 AM · Report this
laterite 22
@21, this is a good point. Rich assholes like Paul Allen and rich asshole interest groups like AmBev are more than willing to toss hundreds of thousands to tens of millions(!) into the various campaigns that aim at further eroding our tax structure. Why not just give the money directly to the state and make political hay out of it? Allen and Bezos could pony up and fund the state's education budget for a year and put out a press release stating, "in exchange for this, defeat 1098 (or whatever)". I mean, how is it any less wasteful to toss money at a media campaign rather than, you know, contributing to the state's general welfare?
Posted by laterite on October 12, 2010 at 10:51 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 23
He's also trying to force you to pay for a deep bore tunnel instead of him and a Chihulhy Museum you don't want.

His income is mostly capital gains (at 15 percent AFTER EXPENSES) and dividends. And REITs.

Which means he pays about HALF to ONE-THIRD as much as a percent of his income as you do, depending on if you have a mortgage or not.

Yes, trips to his properties are deductible from his income.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 12, 2010 at 10:52 AM · Report this
Puty 24
Go Dom Go. You laid out the facts and called it like it is. I'm glad you're not stuck in lame-ass high-school thinking.

Rotten: Cienna's exasperation with that tragic asshole commentator was absolutely called for. What's your problem? Your apparent hostility to raising taxes on the wealthy while people in your state need health care, education, etc. is weird. Right now you're the guy defending the selfish actions of billionaires. That's who you want to be? A crabby little toady to the super-rich?

Money talks, bullshit walks and governments need cash to pay for the programs Americans need. Tax the rich more.
Posted by Puty on October 12, 2010 at 10:54 AM · Report this
@17: I voted against the Commons because it was a stupid urban renewal project designed to benefit developers. Just sayin'.
Posted by J.R. on October 12, 2010 at 10:58 AM · Report this
@2, even if an income tax gets applied to every single person in WA, it is still less regressive than the current sales tax.
Posted by rudedog on October 12, 2010 at 11:03 AM · Report this
Hernandez 27
Once again, I agree with the substance of your post. And once again, the superfluous name-calling and personal attacks that you tack on to an otherwise thoughtful argument makes it read like nails on a chalkboard. I keep on thinking that it shouldn't bother me, but it does. Those last two sentences contribute absolutely nothing to your point.
Posted by Hernandez on October 12, 2010 at 11:04 AM · Report this
JF 28
@24 Just so we're clear: Calling people assholes because they're rich and don't want to give more money to the government, totally cool.

Calling people out on their poorly constructed opinions which may be based on their lack of education? Worst blog commenting crime in the history of the internets.

Glad that's cleared up.
Posted by JF on October 12, 2010 at 11:08 AM · Report this
Puty 29
Danindowntown: As you full fucking well know, the Stranger's snappy tone is merely the stylistic cherry on a delicious cupcake of facts and reasoned analysis. The paper has mountains of content on a range of topics which you are willfully ignoring.
Posted by Puty on October 12, 2010 at 11:09 AM · Report this
Fnarf 30
@26, an income tax SHOULD be applied to every person in this state. But that's neither here nor there; that's not what this initiative is about.

Paul Allen left Microsoft BEFORE WINDOWS. That's how essential he was to the products that made them famous. That's what got him his famous house and yacht and museum and helicopter. The man earned almost nothing of it.
Posted by Fnarf on October 12, 2010 at 11:11 AM · Report this
Rotten666 31
@24 no dipshit, my allegiance does not lie with the wealthy. It lies with the middle class suckers that are going to get hosed when this tax is applied to them in two years (if the initiative passes).

"That's who you want to be? A crabby little toady to the super-rich?"

Ugh, grow the fuck up. Believe it or not, people can express a wide spectrum of political opinion without the need to be categorized by schmucks like yourself. Political opinions need not be defined in absolutes. Hopefully when you graduate college you will learn that.

Posted by Rotten666 on October 12, 2010 at 11:18 AM · Report this
JF 32
@29 Or to put it another way: pointing out Dom's education is just a snappy cherry on a delicious cupcake of facts.
Posted by JF on October 12, 2010 at 11:19 AM · Report this
OuterCow 33
@10: Yeah... cuz us liberals sure hate taxes and the programs they support. Yup, that's why we're liberals all right. Cuz we hate taxes.
Posted by OuterCow on October 12, 2010 at 11:19 AM · Report this
Paul Allen--contributes against 1098, yet seeks millions from the public for Quest Field and South Lake Union so he can turn more profit.
Jeff Bezos of Amazon--gives NOTHING to the community or philanthropy, yet gets a sweetheart deal from the city for Pac Med only to abandon it for South Lake Union
Steve Ballmer--whines about our state's education system constantly and lobbies for tax breaks for Microsoft and against 1098

Fuck them indeed...
Posted by westside on October 12, 2010 at 11:19 AM · Report this
danindowntown 35
@ 28 Here, here.

@ 24 & 29 I would address your the woeful purple nature of your prose but I don't have the time.

As for my toadying to the rich I am hard pressed to find that in the text or subtext of my comments. Apparently you missed you too missed the class where your English teacher taught the class to examine arguments and positions critically and support your analysis with examples from the actual text.

That being said my position on state income tax I am in agreement with Fnarf. We should have a graduated income tax that applies to all citizens of this state. I also plan to vote to approve this initiative, which is flawed but is still better than nothing and perhaps even a good first step.

Posted by danindowntown on October 12, 2010 at 11:20 AM · Report this
Fish Wrench Asteroid 36
Mainstream news is too polite. It's a dick move by Allen, and somebody needs to call him on it in print.

Rich people are allowed to constantly fuck over the American people, ruin our lives, take our homes, buy off our elected representatives, send us to war, and poison our children, but we're not allowed to call them on it because it isn't 'professional'.

Thanks for being a tool, Dan in Downtown.
Posted by Fish Wrench Asteroid on October 12, 2010 at 11:27 AM · Report this
danindowntown 37
@ 36

You are welcome!

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. The Stranger's news editor relies heavily on name calling. Why shouldn't we commenters?
Posted by danindowntown on October 12, 2010 at 11:32 AM · Report this
Because I'm lazy, from Wikipedia:

"Through the Foundation, Allen awards approximately $30 million in grants annually. Roughly 60% of the Foundation's money goes to non-profit organizations in Seattle and the state of Washington, and 12% to Portland, Oregon. The remaining 28% is distributed to other cities within the Pacific Northwest. Allen has donated US$900 million of his money, as of 2007"
Posted by Quincent on October 12, 2010 at 11:33 AM · Report this
Rotten666 39
@36 don't forget "create jobs".
Posted by Rotten666 on October 12, 2010 at 11:47 AM · Report this
@39, must be awesome not to have a job and be able to comment on Slog all day long, you lazy, fat welfare queen
Posted by rotten cunt on October 12, 2010 at 11:50 AM · Report this
Rotten666 41
@40 aw shucks, you made me blush!
Posted by Rotten666 on October 12, 2010 at 11:56 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 42
@38 all tax-deductible. Every penny.

As a percentage of his income, he donates less than most middle class people do to the arts.

Posted by Will in Seattle on October 12, 2010 at 11:56 AM · Report this
The man has given a billion dollars to charity, and people are harping on him for a $100,000 donation to fight an initiative that he thinks is wrong?

Whether or not he's correct in that thinking, I believe he's earned enough good will by now.

And on top of the charity, Paul Allen also bought the Seahawks when Ken Behring was trying to move them to L.A, saving the NFL in Seattle. Even if you're not a football fan, you can thank him for all the revenue and civic pride they bring.
Posted by jj41243 on October 12, 2010 at 11:59 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 44
(income measured as dollars received, not taxable AGI which lets rich people go to corporate meetings and deduct the trip, the rooms, the food, etc - man, that was fun when I did that in the Caribbean and France - yeah, you pay for the rich TWICE if you're working poor or middle class)
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 12, 2010 at 12:01 PM · Report this
This is not the first time Cienna has had to chime in to defend Dom.

Cienna, why can't Dom answer for himself?
Posted by Jeff on October 12, 2010 at 12:18 PM · Report this
having lived in several states with an income tax, all I can say is: Get over yourselves Washington.

A state income tax is not a bad thing. A state income tax which only effects the very, very rich is a great thing.
Posted by dwight moody on October 12, 2010 at 12:23 PM · Report this
To those suggesting Allen is acting out of greedy self-interest: Do you really think the money this tax would take makes a whit of difference to him?

It's just possible he has well-thought-out reasons for his stand. A lot of people -- most of whom will never be touched by this tax -- have serious reservations about this initiative.

But it's a lot easier for a hack like Dom to just call names and disparage those he disagrees with -- and throw in a few "fucks" to show his debating prowess.

And then he always has toadies like Ciena to attack those who would call him out.
Posted by bigyaz on October 12, 2010 at 12:23 PM · Report this
Yep super greedy guy. To bad he has done all the work to improve South Lake Union... I guess it was just for his benefit only...
Posted by bobbybybyebi on October 12, 2010 at 12:25 PM · Report this
Mickymse 49
Really, Dominic?

So it's okay to make "rich" people pay for the things I don't want to pay for? Because they make more than me? That's so unfair...

Paul Allen pays much more in taxes than all of us commenting on here combined. I'm sorry if that's not a high enough percentage of his income for you.

And he STILL gives hundreds of millions of dollars to charity every year. Which is really what "rich" people should do -- voluntarily give their earnings to good causes.

Couldn't you find an actual greedy person who makes tons of money and doesn't do anything positive with it but beat up puppies or steal candy from babies?
Posted by Mickymse on October 12, 2010 at 12:27 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 50

And you claim not to be a toady for the rich? Bitch, please.


It's unfair for people who have money to be expected to pay for shit? What the fuck is wrong with you?
Posted by keshmeshi on October 12, 2010 at 12:39 PM · Report this
JF 51
@43 He also gave us a professional soccer team than is the envy of every other soccer city in America.
Posted by JF on October 12, 2010 at 12:41 PM · Report this
Sure, soak the rich, they can afford it, but income tax will reach down--and it should.

Even if it's just 5 lousy bucks a paycheck, everybody benefits from state services and everybody should pay for them, even the poor. Maybe if we all had skin in the game, we could get over all the crybaby name calling and actually improve our state for all citizens.
Posted by Westside forever on October 12, 2010 at 12:44 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 53
@51 no, you're living in "singe time". (see last para of Dom's post)

Gave is a strong word.

It's a profitable team. VERY profitable, and it maximizes his other investments, which you'd know if you ever went to fundraisers and other parties at Qwest like I do.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 12, 2010 at 12:46 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 54
@23 - yes, most if not all of his income is capitol gains, dividends and interest, but that income is subject to this tax just the same. No deductions are permitted.

@21 - if he sells as much stock as he usually does, he'll owe the state around $50 million. That's for one year. So, yes, that $100,000 seems well spent.
Posted by Free Lunch on October 12, 2010 at 12:50 PM · Report this
JF 55
@53 His last paragraph, not couting the update, is "Fuck Paul Allen".... (?)
Posted by JF on October 12, 2010 at 1:33 PM · Report this
Isn't Paul Allen's current business being a patent troll?
Posted by podperson on October 12, 2010 at 1:44 PM · Report this
Rotten666 57
@50 see @31. Use your noodle, stupid. I can't make myself any more clear on the subject than I already have.

Posted by Rotten666 on October 12, 2010 at 1:45 PM · Report this
So basically the argument seems to be that once someone starts earning over a certain point, the state government has an obligation to take even more of their money? Wow, that's awful, piss-poor rationale.

I know how each of you would feel once that level of state-approved appropriation sinks down to your tax bracket. Why not let the people keep their money and do with it as they see fit? Or do you really think the powers in government are going to do any sort of a good job spending your money sensibly?
Posted by qwester on October 12, 2010 at 1:47 PM · Report this
Jesus, listening to some of you chime in is scary.
Suddenly the powers that be are gonna decide whether this man deserves his money by how hard he did/didn't work for it? What does any of that matter to the issue? You're making knee-jerk moral calls on something someone acquired in what would seem to be a legal fashion. If one of you hit the lotto tomorrow, are we allowed to scrape it out of your wallet because you didn't "earn it"?

The moral economic mob mentality is embarrassing coming from a crowd that probably regards itself as enlightened.
Posted by Trey Songz on October 12, 2010 at 1:54 PM · Report this
@59- If we won the Lotto in most states of the Union, we'd be paying about 40% in taxes.
Posted by dwight moody on October 12, 2010 at 2:03 PM · Report this
#13: You should be embarrassed, but only for your blithering, ham-fisted butchery of the English language.

I mean, just look at this clusterfuck of verbiage in your post: "There have not been many times when I have." It took you nine words to say what any competent writer could have said in three. And then there's this awful, clanging construction: "for commenters for." Just ugh.

(How's that for misplaced vitriol?)
Posted by Furcifer on October 12, 2010 at 2:22 PM · Report this
I'm happy to give money directly to a school. I don't want to get Olympia involved.
Posted by Immigrant on October 12, 2010 at 4:15 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 63
@54 wrong. AGI is Adjusted Gross Income.

Adjustments are expenses for Capital Gains (which is done on the worksheet - and DO include flying to the nice resort for the annual meeting, staying at the fancy suite, eating the fancy food, and so on).

ADJUSTED means Adjusted.

First thing you do when you get rich (actually before you do) is get a good lawyer and a good accountant. If you didn't do that, you deserve to pay the ONE-HALF what the working poor pay rate.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 12, 2010 at 4:18 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 64
@63 - Just because it's "adjusted" doesn't mean it doesn't include capital gains. Yes, the federal government allows you make deductions that lowers your AGI, but it will never, ever be zero, and the (proposed) state tax allows for no further deductions. The combined AGI of the Forbes top 400 earners is in the hundreds of billions of dollars.
Posted by Free Lunch on October 12, 2010 at 4:48 PM · Report this
the Stranger writer that can't spell or punctuate sticks up for the high school dropout, weird
Posted by Reader1 on October 12, 2010 at 6:12 PM · Report this
curtisp 66
Now, now Paul, we all have to pitch for your stadium every time we buy something. Such taxes wind up being a much higher proportion of our income than yours. Now play fair. You already bought an election. And if you super rich guys did not keep so much for yourself and pay for what you want in full then perhaps there would not be so many poor people for you to be charitable to. Ok.
Posted by curtisp on October 13, 2010 at 7:52 PM · Report this
curtisp 67
"Postman notes. Moreover, the measure would create an income tax with no deductions for charitable contributions, he continues; government cutbacks require the private sector to compensate with charitable contributions."

Well gosh Mr. Postman, perhaps if some of us did not have to pay such a high proportion of our income in sales tax then maybe we could give more to charity. Why the heck should we be grateful when guys like Allen give to charity? What an honor to be able to do so. Jerk!

Posted by curtisp on October 13, 2010 at 8:00 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 68
@64 read what I said. You get to deduct your private jet to the golf course resort where the annual meeting is at, the place you stay at, the food you eat, and the golf course fees because you're "talking business deals".

You're being ripped off by the rich and you're too stupid to know it.

I've paid estate taxes. I've hired accountants and lawyers to minimize taxes.

Seriously, stop being so gullible. You're being ripped off. Mostly by older people who got a free college education and now want to deny you your chance.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 14, 2010 at 2:13 PM · Report this
No doubt taxes are the main income source of government. So if one's tax payee, should pay tax on time. It would be used in social welfare.........
Posted by indiacube on October 18, 2010 at 11:10 PM · Report this

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