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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Microsoft Donates $75,000 to Oppose I-1098, Microsoft CEO Donates an Additional $325,000

Posted by on Tue, Oct 19, 2010 at 5:02 PM

As recent reports from the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission show, the Microsoft corporation has donated $75,000 to the campaign trying to block Initiative 1098, and company CEO Steve Ballmer has donated another $325,000 to defeat the measure (he's now given $425,000 altogether).

Never mind that this makes Ballmer, Microsoft, and the company's cadre of wealthy executives look like greedy schmucks—and this does make Microsoft look like a bastion for greedy schmucks—here's why you should care. Whenever Microsoft claims—as it does right here on its website and in its endless press briefings on the subject—that "Microsoft’s top public priority within Washington State has been our work to strengthen public education at both the K-12 and the higher education levels," you can say "no."

You can say, "No, Microsoft, you disingenuous hypocrites, public education isn't your top priority in Washington state."

Because if education funding was Microsoft's top priority, it would be flat on the other side of this campaign, giving money to pass I-1098. The measure—if Microsoft doesn't kill it—will "generate a net increase in state revenue of $11.16 billion over five calendar years to be used exclusively for education and health services," according to the official forecast by the the state's Office of Financial Management.

Nothing that Microsoft does currently comes anywhere close to compensating for the billions of dollars this measure would deliver to K-12 and higher education in this state. Programs like helping students with math—to reverse a brain drain from the state, which Microsoft is purportedly concerned about—can't compare to Microsoft's fight against public education.


Comments (53) RSS

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You've been loving all over the word "disingenous" last few days.
Posted by gloomy gus on October 19, 2010 at 5:13 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 2
Hope you like paying for that Billionaire's Tunnel, cause you ain't getting any funding from MSFT for that either.

$10,000 per household. Including renters and owners.

Are we having fun yet, in this age of Corporate Personhood, a legal fiction that is nowhere in the Constitution?
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 19, 2010 at 5:14 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 4
Even if 1098 passes, we'll still have the richest 1 pct paying less than one-fifth in taxes as the poor and one-third what the middle class pay.

Don't let them kid you about that.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 19, 2010 at 5:59 PM · Report this

1098 is Tax on the Middle Class

Vote NO on 1098
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on October 19, 2010 at 6:08 PM · Report this
TacomaRoma 6
Hey! We could just increase the markup on liquor in the state to make up for the shortfall...oh, right.
Posted by TacomaRoma on October 19, 2010 at 6:09 PM · Report this
#6 or you deadbeat WA residents could have a standard property tax just like the "real" states and cities you so desperately want to emulate.

WA residents pay on 25 percent the property tax of major east coast states -- yet expect premium government service.

Instead of the people who use the most service paying for it, they want to tax Middle Class people using 1098 and cut property tax.

Vote no on 1098

Consider a fair and just property tax.

Stop being bums, Washingtonians.

Pay up...with a property tax.

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on October 19, 2010 at 6:16 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 8
The rich are different than you or me, smarter and more ethereal. Their mere presence here is a gift: why would they live in this godforsaken place if we required them to pay?

Every night I say a rosary for the wealthy. Without them, life would be empty. Please vote no on 1098. It's unspeakably cruel.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on October 19, 2010 at 6:28 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 9
You should call them for a comment on why they're supporting this as a corporate entity and report what their reason is. Ballmer can do whatever he wants with his cash.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on October 19, 2010 at 6:31 PM · Report this
You know what's really disingenuous? Claiming that any tax is prima facie reasonable simply because the government swears that it will go to a "worthy" purpose, no matter the ramifications of the tax (like, y'know, causing wealthy folks and businesses to leave the state, which happened in other states with a tax like this) or the practical benefits of this purpose relative to the alternatives.
Posted by Sean P. on October 19, 2010 at 6:36 PM · Report this
Jonathan Golob 11
@5, 7: You are quickly approaching a spam level of idiocy.

You are, now and forever, objectively wrong on everything you're w…. Like most of the opposition, so far as I can observe.

Look, I get it John. You don't like this initiative. Or the people paying you to spam like this don't like it.

Doesn't bother you a little bit that the only arguments you make against--that you can make against it, apparently--are simply and easily proven to be wrong? Not wrong, in the sense I have a different opinion. Wrong, in the sense that we can use math to show what you're saying is wrong.

Are you stupid or unethical? I can't tell. Help me figure it out.
Posted by Jonathan Golob on October 19, 2010 at 6:47 PM · Report this
Kinison 12
Previously I said that it wasnt a big deal that Balmer donate money to defeat this, it didn't reflect on Microsoft because Balmer is a private citizen. The 75,000$ donated today, way over the line. Fuck Microsoft!
Posted by Kinison on October 19, 2010 at 6:47 PM · Report this
#11 opines:

Are you stupid ...? I can't tell. Help me figure it out.

Seems like you would be the dolt, then.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on October 19, 2010 at 7:05 PM · Report this

Maybe its because Microsoft employees and contractors work hard, and would like to keep their salaries if they are in two income households trying to build wealth and pay for children.

1098 is a way for the entrenched few to tax the rising middle class.

1098 ultimately becomes a tax on everyone but the Asset Bubblers.

Vote No on 1098.

It's a Tax.

On the Middle Class.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on October 19, 2010 at 7:07 PM · Report this

Why a Seattle biotech leader opposes a state income tax

SEATTLE'S biotech industry opposes the state income tax, which is something all voters in the Seattle area should care about. Biotech is one of the most promising industries here.

The most promising company at the moment is Dendreon β€” and its top management is outspoken against the state income tax proposed in Initiative 1098.


And that requires the hiring of top talent from around the United States, says Rich Ranieri, the company's head of human resources. The need is for scientific talent and also commercial talent specific to biotechnology β€” a talent pool that has not existed in Seattle since the sale of Immunex in 2002. And that means recruiting men and women from the big biotech centers in Massachusetts, New Jersey and California.

Some people in those states jump at the chance to move to Seattle, but many do not. This is not the center of their universe. A recruiter needs enticements β€” and one of ours is no state income tax.

"Having no state income tax is an attractive tool for us," says Ranieri. "It matters."…
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on October 19, 2010 at 7:40 PM · Report this
Partly Cloudy 16
Grrr, Microsoft. Why'd you have to go and do this? I won't defend you on this one.
Posted by Partly Cloudy on October 19, 2010 at 7:43 PM · Report this
@14: As a former contractor at Microsoft, let me be the first to say: AHAAHAAHAAHAAAA!! Oh god, that's fucking priceless! Making over 200 grand as a contractor! Oh god!!
Posted by Ben on October 19, 2010 at 7:43 PM · Report this
Now, as a current Microsoft employee, I would like to say: God fucking dammit.
Posted by Ben on October 19, 2010 at 7:44 PM · Report this
Spicy McHaggis 19
The more rich fuckers I see opposing I-1098 the more I'm for it.
Posted by Spicy McHaggis on October 19, 2010 at 8:24 PM · Report this
Spicy McHaggis 20
No income tax is working so well for Nevada. 15% unemployment rate.
Posted by Spicy McHaggis on October 19, 2010 at 8:25 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 21
I take it that SROTU rents.
Posted by Free Lunch on October 19, 2010 at 8:25 PM · Report this
Simone 22
I'm not surprised anymore by these announcements from greedy corporations/CEOs.

I wonder if Apple has ever done something like this. I'll have to look that up.
Posted by Simone on October 19, 2010 at 8:49 PM · Report this
TacomaRoma 23
@14 - Very few people at Microsoft, FTE or otherwise, make more than $200k per year. This smells like an "upper management" thing.

@15 - I know scientists and other knowledge workers. They don't make $200,000 per year, either. That's a VP salary.

A "real" property tax, eh? That's a good idea. Now all we have to do is get the legislature to pass the measure with a simple majority and .... oh, right.
Posted by TacomaRoma on October 19, 2010 at 9:12 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 25
Will In Seattle or John In Kent: You decide.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on October 19, 2010 at 10:15 PM · Report this
watchout5 26
This hypocrisy is maddening, who gives a fuck what the outcome of the income tax will be, it seems pretty clear it's just going to die. So why the fuck make a HUMONGOUS political statement by telling the state NO to higher education? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. I'm burning $75,000 worth of modified (no key) copies of windows 7 and giving them out at westlake tomorrow with notes complaining about this shit. This crosses a line.
Posted by watchout5 on October 19, 2010 at 10:34 PM · Report this
Nobody is commenting how in two years 1098 gives the legislature the power to apply the income tax to each and every person.

Are you all that blind?
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on October 19, 2010 at 11:07 PM · Report this

If there's anything this state is not hurting for its higher education.

There are several large college chains that offer low cost (and high cost) college to almost anyone who needs it, plus a substantial number of out of state and foreign students.

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on October 19, 2010 at 11:10 PM · Report this


Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on October 19, 2010 at 11:11 PM · Report this
Spicy McHaggis goes on to say...

The more rich fuckers I see opposing I-1098 the more I'm for it.

Conversely then, shouldn't you be against it because Bill Gates III (not just Sr) is for it?

Or is it just some rich guys that you hate....?
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on October 19, 2010 at 11:12 PM · Report this
Q. Will 1098 result in a state income tax for all Washingtonians?

A. We believe so, yes. After two years, our Constitution allows a simple majority of State Legislators to amend 1098 any way they wish. We fully expect this income tax to be expanded downward, as it’s very unlikely that Washington will be the only state in the union to levy an income tax purely on high earners.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on October 19, 2010 at 11:14 PM · Report this
come on supreme drooler. do 'they' really believe so, when the state is going to be handcuffed w/ a 2/3 majority needed to raise taxes?

anyways, 1053 will be declared unconstitutional if it passes. why does eyman not want to live in a republic? is he a fascist? who cares if it dribbles down? i've lived on the east coast. our taxes here are hilariously low. there is a reason schools suck, roads suck, public transit sucks. a regressive tax system that soaks the poor while the rich keep whining and lying would be the reason why.
Posted by holz on October 19, 2010 at 11:53 PM · Report this
ly_yng 38
@ Will - Corporate personhood doesn't need to be in the constitution. A right to health care isn't there either. However, they're both part of federal law, which is just like constitution, only easier to change.

@ Supreme - The legislature has the right to pass an income tax right now, if they wanted to. It may be politically easier in two years when the initiative becomes fungible, but don't pretend like this initiative somehow opens the gates. It's more an issue of political expedience.

@ Golob - You're my hero, as always, but stick to science writing. A didactic tone is a lot more effective when you've got the weight of scientific proof behind you. Economics is infinitely more fuzzy.

@ Everyone else - Yeah, I know it's a WSJ opinion article, but I found the figures in the table pretty striking:…

I don't think this I-1098 thing is as black and white as the SECB is trying to make it. If the bill hurts the long term economic prosperity of the state then that means everyone, rich and poor, is going to be harder off.
Posted by ly_yng on October 20, 2010 at 12:13 AM · Report this
I am so sick of hearing about how this initiative is so great for the lower class. It does absolutely NOTHING for them. How many low income families do you suppose rent their homes? Guess what their property tax burden is? What's that, their rent pays the property tax for their apartment? Sure. Anyone want rp place bets on how much rents decline after this initiative passes? I hear landlords are all very charitable people after all.

Talk to me when you have an initiative that reduces sales tax. You know, the really regressive tax?
Posted by digitalwitch on October 20, 2010 at 12:27 AM · Report this

I think the WSJ is confusing correlation with causality.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on October 20, 2010 at 12:29 AM · Report this
ChadK 42
@ Sean P

"y'know, causing wealthy folks and businesses to leave the state, which happened in other states with a tax like this"

Right. Because Boeing totally moved their headquarters to the great state of Illinois because of their spellbinding absence of a state income tax.

Do you frequently operate on such logical fallacies?
Posted by ChadK on October 20, 2010 at 1:43 AM · Report this
ChadK 43
@ Supreme Ruler

"Nobody is commenting how in two years 1098 gives the legislature the power to apply the income tax to each and every person."

Do you honestly think that anyone that wants to get re-elected into a paying post of prestige w/ no term limits would expect a positive result from that?

Universe... Your spatial core must be a black hole.

More specifically, it probably resembles something like this *
Posted by ChadK on October 20, 2010 at 1:57 AM · Report this
Spicy McHaggis 44
"Conversely then, shouldn't you be against it because Bill Gates III (not just Sr) is for it?

Or is it just some rich guys that you hate..."

No fuckhead. I don't hate rich people. I hate hypocrisy by those that won't carry their own weight.

Ballmer and Microsoft complain that the state does not do enough to support education. The money raised by 1098 is dedicated to schools. It cannot go to anything else.

It is against the Washington State constitution to use dedicated taxes for any other purpose than what they were enacted for. Look it up.
Posted by Spicy McHaggis on October 20, 2010 at 5:49 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 45
Asking the wealthy to pay their fair share is a terrible idea. What if they were to leave? Think of all of that empty waterfront property and abandoned private schools. All the nordstrom stores would become Kohls, and the Four Seasons would be converted to a Crowne Plaza. Bellevue Square would be an outlet mall faster than you can say "Who is John Galt?"

We'd lose God's invisible dome of protection, and Mt. Rainier would undoubtedly explode, covering us all in mud and ash that we would be too dumb and lazy to clean up, lacking the intelligence and "can-do" arritude of the wealthy. We'd be a sludge city, our port filled in with goo, and altogether indistinguishable from Tacoma.

I urge all of you to join me in voting no on this horrible "initiative", and in participating in "hug a rich person day" to let them know how much we appreciate them. If they taser you, just offer it up to the Lord, in the hopes that he will intervene for His Chosen People - our beloved wealthy.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on October 20, 2010 at 6:41 AM · Report this
JF 46
I would just like to point out that it is possible to be for public education and against this initiative. They are not mutually exclusive. Perhaps the brains at Microsoft think there is a better way to fund public education without targeting a specific minority.

@4 What about absolute dollars, Will?
Posted by JF on October 20, 2010 at 7:30 AM · Report this
prompt 48
For the love of God. Microsoft has donated hundreds of millions of dollars for education. Don't be so alarmist, it makes you look republican. Or beckian.
Posted by prompt on October 20, 2010 at 9:03 AM · Report this
Supreme leader guy is lying about what I-1098 says.

"NEW SECTION. Sec. 1004. The excise tax rates in section 501 of this act may not be increased for any income level without a majority vote of the legislature and submission of the changes to the people for approval."…
Posted by shabadoo on October 20, 2010 at 9:36 AM · Report this
@ChadK: I don't think you know what a logical fallacy is, given that "general statement X is necessarily false due to single example Y" is a pretty big one. I guess you also don't know that Illinois has the lowest rate of any state with an income tax (a flat rate, no less), making Boeing's decision a rather useless example here.

Perhaps you could try again with a few examples of companies and high-wealth individuals willingly relocating to Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, California, or Maryland since those states enacted their millionaires' brackets (it might be tough - California and the northeast have had negative net domestic migration over the past 10 years).
Posted by Sean P. on October 20, 2010 at 10:06 AM · Report this
We're spending twice as much on education as thirty years ago. Spending more money won't do a lick of good.

The truth is, Bill Gates does a better job at accountability and rating success of his various projects than the government does. A dollar he spends is worth five the government spends. So why would he want the government to waste more money?
Posted by Mr.Joshua on October 20, 2010 at 10:13 AM · Report this
@49 The legislature can change *any* initiative after 2 years. They could pass a bill to remove the public vote clause from the initiative and change the rates, so long as it's after 2 years. Now, whether that would be politically viable is a whole other issue.

I voted for I-1098 in the hope that perhaps at some point in the future the legislature or another initiative might apply the income tax to everybody while simultaneously slashing sales taxes. In addition to making taxation more progressive in this state, it would take away the incentive to shop in Oregon. Time to make Clark County pay their fair share.

Nobody's hit on why Microsoft (as opposed to individuals like Steve Ballmer) is against this initiative. It seems pretty simple to me. Having a state income tax for high earners means they'll have to pay more money to attract execs and other high paid employees. A friend who works for Microsoft says the pay to work in California is identical the pay in Washington except they gross up the annual salary by exactly the amount of the CA state income tax.
Posted by decidedlyodd on October 20, 2010 at 10:16 AM · Report this
Porcupine 53
At #47. You have very little in the way of assets and all your income comes through W-2s. The day you lose even one of the two jobs you are fucked pretty fast. So yes, I'd say you are middle class.
Posted by Porcupine on October 20, 2010 at 10:21 AM · Report this
The "extending the tax to the middle class" argument is bullshit. If the state government wants raise taxes, they will find a way. And I would greatly prefer it be a flat or progressive income tax than a higher regressive sales tax.

And as a Microsoft employee I'm ashamed. This is clearly a case of the leadership (who make over 200k) looking out for themselves, while screwing over most of the employees that don't make that kind of money.
Posted by ALEX37V on October 20, 2010 at 12:10 PM · Report this
@53 Under no reasonable definition is a couple making $270K/year middle class.
Posted by ML77 on October 20, 2010 at 12:31 PM · Report this
Oh, hey! Look at that.
Posted by Mr.Joshua on October 20, 2010 at 1:02 PM · Report this
@41: Sure, the billions from the income tax is earmarked for education and healthcare, but that just means the legislature can spend all that general fund money on something else. I'll be very surprised if there is a significant increase in either the education or healthcare budgets after this passes.
Posted by digitalwitch on October 20, 2010 at 1:34 PM · Report this
I'm pretty sure SROTU is actually a supporter for 1098. He's like that guy at highschool basketball games that would yell obscenities at his own team because it could draw technical fouls (free points).

I doubt I would have voted before reading this thread. I was actually made so curious by #5 and some of the following posts by SROTU that I decided to read up on it.

The only good argument against 1098 is the effect it will have on corporate CEO's decisions regarding offices / work locations in the state of WA, and maybe to some extend their ability to recruit people to move to WA (I don't buy it). Realistically, it shouldn't actually affect the business at all (employees making over 200,000$ (400k$ for couples), capital gains), but rich people are greedy.
Posted by benkeke on October 21, 2010 at 12:48 AM · Report this
watchout5 59

So if the state isn't hurting for higher education why does Microsoft need HB-1 Visa's for their workers? Couldn't this mean that *gasp* America isn't turning out the kind of workers they need? Which in turn you could easily conclude that Washington isn't turning out anywhere near enough skilled labor that they need.

Your answer is to go to cookie cutter college? You're fucking stupid, you probably went to one of those shady places. They do nothing but drive up the cost of a real education, but without actually providing you with an education for reality. I work 40 hours a week but since I don't have several kids the state gives me no help in my schooling, I don't even have an AS yet and the state considers me too rich to further my education so I can earn more than 27k a year. I understand that most community colleges are expanding physically but so are their tuitions, and it's putting the cost of higher education more and more out of reach. I used to be a full time student but I had to go to part time 110% because of money. I have the time, the will and the determination to see my education through, but it's absolutely out of reach to go to school full time. If it's hard for me, it's gotta be hard for the people living within the poverty line. You're just being a greedy asshole who thinks the university of phoenix is a real college.
Posted by watchout5 on October 21, 2010 at 12:59 AM · Report this
Mickymse 60
Right... Because if you tie a tax to education funding we should all support it?

I seem to recall a "latte tax" proposal a couple of years ago that The Stranger referred to as "goofy" and other silly words?

Was that because you're all just a bunch of rich, liberal elitist journalists who can't stand to give up your fancy coffees in order to help poor students get a good education?
Posted by Mickymse on October 21, 2010 at 10:16 AM · Report this
This measure is dead at the door anyway, but out of curiosity...

Do the merits of an idea depend on who funds for or against it and how much? If I found a single mom on welfare opposed to this or a rich CEO in favor of it does that tilt the merits of it at all?
Posted by Will2Power on October 21, 2010 at 8:40 PM · Report this
curtisp 62
Rich guys like Ballmer have no problem with taxes being raised on the middle class. To guys like him we are not paying enough because our yearly tax bills are much lower than theirs due to income disparity and that is not fair. Whhaaaaa. Their dire warnings that I-1098 will mean a future income tax on the middle class are a bullshit straw man. They would be fine with that if it eliminated the tax on them.
Posted by curtisp on October 21, 2010 at 10:31 PM · Report this

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