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Monday, January 31, 2011

And Here I Thought the Purpose of the Op/Ed Page Was to Promote Debate, Not Crush It

Posted by on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Everything you need to know about what's wrong with the budget debate in Washington state can be summed up in this Seattle Times editorial, starting with its headline: "Note to state budget cutters: We're in this together."

Um... note to Seattle Times editorial board: it would be more accurate to call them "state budget writers," as calling them "cutters" starts from an unsupported assumption that an all-cuts budget is the only proposal on the table. It's not. Nor should it be.

SOMETHING strange is happening in Olympia, where two state lawmakers from King County are overly excited that urbanized and suburbanized counties contribute more tax dollars to state coffers than rural areas.

You mean "strange" in that two state lawmakers, a Republican and a Democrat, are working together in the sort of bipartisan fashion you constantly claim you want? Or "strange" in that, in defiance of your previous editorial dissing, they continue to attempt to spark a public debate over an issue our state's paper of record clearly doesn't want raised?

This fact is neither new nor news, but that has not stopped state Rep. Glenn Anderson, R-Fall City, from introducing a constitutional amendment to allow the state "to dissolve and reorganize" counties that receive twice as much in state services as they generate in tax revenues. He refers to Adams, Asotin, Ferry, Stevens, Lincoln, Garfield, Yakima and Wahkiakum counties. Oh, please.

Oh, please... the fact may not be new, but it certainly is news to hundreds of thousands of rural Washingtonians who are absolutely convinced that Seattle welfare queens are sucking them dry. How else to explain that they consistently vote to cut services that they don't pay for, and that they benefit from the most, while angrily sticking the finger in our direction?

It is obvious that urban-suburban areas will pay more on a percentage basis than rural areas. So what?

First of all, as I've previously pointed out, this disparity is not so obvious to a lot of voters, especially not its degree (for example, King County pays 42 percent of state revenues yet receives only 24 percent of state spending benefits.) And second... "So what"...? That's you're comeback? "So what"...?

You're not really suggesting that from where tax revenues come and where they are spent should have no impact on how we cut write our budget, are you? What are lawmakers supposed to base these tough policy decisions on? Coin tosses? Tarot cards? Extispicy?

If Anderson is merely trying to make a point. OK. Deliver a speech, but keep it short.

In other words, deliver a speech that we won't bother to cover. But for God's sake don't attempt to spark a public debate on a subject that might undermine support from misguided rural voters for a painful, all-cuts budget that would ultimately hurt them the worst.

Anderson's point is that rural counties bristle at King and other wealthier counties for dominating the state budget and agenda. But these wealthier counties net export dollars to places where lawmakers complain.

To paraphrase the Seattle Times ed board: So...?

Beyond that, Anderson says rural counties need a long-term plan to sustain themselves either by merging with another county or finding new ways to create jobs and become more self-sufficient.

So...? Are the editors suggesting that struggling rural counties don't need a long-term plan to become more self-sufficient?

The best way for Washington to dig out of its current budget crisis is to do it together as one state solving problems collectively.

Agreed. But it might help if we, working together as one state, actually understood the underlying facts. I mean, if Ferry County taxpayers truly understood that they receive back more from the state in DSHS spending alone than the total revenues they send to Olympia, their representatives might not be so eager to slash DSHS spending.

When it comes right down to it, this legislative session is all about math. And yet when two lawmakers from opposite sides of the aisle attempt to talk about some of the math that's driving our budget, the Seattle Times editorial board goes out of its way to ridicule them. I mean, talk about condescending:

This editorial page recently took on Rep. Reuven Carlyle, a Seattle Democrat, who had a similar revelation about disparate amounts King County sends to the state and receives back in services.

It is fascinating for about a minute that six counties contribute 75 percent of the state's total tax revenue and many others receive more in services than they pay.

Understand, this is the editorial board of our state's largest daily newspaper, making fun of elected officials for attempting to put factual, relevant information in front of the voting public. Honestly, what a bunch of assholes.

If this is all about having a conversation about the imbalance, discuss at will. But the constitutional idea is going nowhere. That involves the state sloughing problem areas off to counties, which are in no better shape than the state.

In other words, if this is all about having a conversation about the imbalance, discuss it quietly amongst yourselves. But don't you dare propose any legislation that might promote a real debate on budget drivers, by, say, manipulating us into running two editorials on the subject of why we shouldn't be talking about the subject we're talking about, thus cleverly using us as an unwitting tool in furthering your message. Or something.

(Kinda like the the time the Seattle Times criticized me for getting "the phrase 'horse's ass' into dozens of family newspapers." As if I held a fucking gun to their heads.)

Lawmakers must engage in solid budget cutting endeavors that do the least harm to all of Washington.

And there you have it: "Lawmakers must engage in solid budget cutting endeavors..." They shouldn't explore revenue alternatives, they shouldn't examine the underlying structure of our budget, and for God's sake, they shouldn't encourage an informed, public debate. Because any of that might undermine our assumptions, and get in the way of the cuts.

In fact, there are some legitimate arguments to be made in favor of an all-cuts budget—misguided, misinformed and economically short-sighted as they might be—but the Seattle Times' editors aren't making these arguments. No, they're just starting from the assumption that an all-cuts budget is our only option.

And any attempt to spark a deeper, broader, better informed debate... well, I guess that's just unacceptable.


Comments (25) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
You're expecting logic and thought where there is only emotion and an attempt to live off of Seattle taxpayers.
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 31, 2011 at 12:26 PM · Report this
At least The Seattle Times is for some kind of welfare. Granted its to freeloaders who want Seattle to build them roads and shit, and they are fine with kids and poor people dying from a lack of health care, but hey, its a start right?
Posted by giffy on January 31, 2011 at 12:33 PM · Report this
@2: Don't forget the sales tax exemption for newspapers!
Posted by Thunderbird on January 31, 2011 at 1:14 PM · Report this
Vince 4
To say we're all in this together disregards the fact that the rich pay nothing to live here.
Posted by Vince on January 31, 2011 at 1:40 PM · Report this
Stop reading the Seattle Times. Just stop. They have nothing to offer you. If you have an awesome neighborhood blog like the West Seattle Blog, go there for some super-local news. With what Times writers make you wade through, from Ryan Blethen, to Joni Balter to Geoff "check out this video of ME" Baker the nuggets of interesting local content just aren't worth it.

I hope Larry Stone and the handful of quality writers there find another gig when the Times inevitably goes under, but we need to stop supporting this dinosaur in Seattle. Let it become the Mercer Island Times like it always should have been. Then they can rail on about the rising cost of BMW polish and the project to add a new HOV lane on I-90 while the rest of us pay attention to shit that matters.
Posted by beernotwar on January 31, 2011 at 1:41 PM · Report this
Since when has the Times' editorial board been able to crush things? Ever feel like a windmill tilting at a windmill?
Posted by gloomy gus on January 31, 2011 at 1:48 PM · Report this
Geni 7
God, I hate that rag. I miss the PI.
Posted by Geni on January 31, 2011 at 2:02 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 8
@7 as do we all, Geni.
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 31, 2011 at 2:14 PM · Report this
Great commentary.
Posted by Turkey on January 31, 2011 at 2:28 PM · Report this
in-frequent 10
Fall City? Fall City is all over this one.
Posted by in-frequent on January 31, 2011 at 2:34 PM · Report this
MrBaker 11
The complete lack of presenting an argument based on facts is the disappointing part. This is about the level of discourse they achieved with their badmouthing Carlyle.

The empty headed declarations being passed off as "Editorial" is shameful.
Posted by MrBaker on January 31, 2011 at 2:38 PM · Report this
I wish there was an easier way of finding Goldy's stuff in all the other Slogs here.
Posted by Cynickal on January 31, 2011 at 2:59 PM · Report this
Goldy 13
Cynickal @12,

A little ingenuity will at least get you my headlines.
Posted by Goldy on January 31, 2011 at 3:06 PM · Report this
Eastern Washington breathes FOX News and thrives on magical thinking. All the while ignoring their irrigated desert land, farm subsidies, and cheap electricity is all courtesy of the government. Eastern Washington is the very definition of a welfare state and yet they all want to pretend that they are rugged individualists who pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps.

Of course they will respond that it is the state's fault because of land use regulations, business taxes, environmental regulations, yammer yammer nonsense.
Posted by Shemp on January 31, 2011 at 3:10 PM · Report this
This is always the conservative game. Whenever liberals point out facts that happen to show they are blathering idiots, biggots, or just plain assholes, their response is to feign outrage, OUTRAGE(!) that anyone would call some element of their objective fact devoid belief system into question. Then liberals, being folks that actually try to take other peoples' ideas and feelings into account, get all bashful and feel a twinge of pity and shame for hurting the loud mouth morons' feelings, and back off. At which point conservatives amp up the stupid talk, and win because our side wants to be nice and not call them stupid fucking assholes when that's what they are being.

Fuck that. Conservatives are quite frequently stupid fucking assholes. Since their side is all about tough love and playin' the tough guy action hero, they should be able to take, and indeed appreciate, having their noses rubbed in their piles of shit. If they aren't well, then they are tough talking pussies, and they should be mocked for that, just as they are want to pass judgement on how big a pussy liberals, the French, or anyone else they don't like supposedly are.

Further if there is anything my 37 years on this planet have taught me, it's that the reason Republicans rail against social programs is mostly about projection. They are self-centered people who tend to look at the world as a place where you stomp all over others to get ahead. It's hard for their little greed wracked 12 steppers minds to be able to conceive of people needing to take assistance for reasons beyond their control without getting addicted to it, or justifiably needing to persist in taking it. Republicans are actually precisely the weak minded, weak willed, shamelessly self-centered people of their welfare queen nightmares. No one else should get it, because if conservatives did they know they couldn't handle it. Just like beer, sex, sex's cousin abortion rights, and many other Republican taboos. They want/need us all to be 12 steppers with them, because they suck. And god forbid they have to admit it for once.
Posted by Mike Silva on January 31, 2011 at 3:41 PM · Report this
Goldy 16
gus @6,

Don't confuse ability with intent.
Posted by Goldy on January 31, 2011 at 3:50 PM · Report this
You people are no better than the idiots who will only watch Fox News. "They don't agree with us, so stop reading them!" WAAAAA!"

The editorials are one small part of a major newspaper that does a damn good job of covering the news and major issues around here. Most of the commentary on Slog and elsewhere, including Goldy, stems from original reporting done in those pages.

Posted by Tony the Tiger on January 31, 2011 at 4:22 PM · Report this
Yes, the do a good job of coverage, if by that you mean a braindead conservative slant on local issues. They also do awesome original reporting, if by original reporting you mean brain dead conservative slant of issues covered in much more detail by The Stranger, or neighborhood blogs weeks earlier.

But yah, because you are a lazy news consumer, I am just like them. Oh wait, as a liberal I was just supposed to roll over, right?
Posted by Mike Silva on January 31, 2011 at 4:34 PM · Report this
Thanks, @16. I haven't been reading you very long, but it sounds like that's going to be good advice for me as you publish more on Slog.
Posted by gloomy gus on January 31, 2011 at 4:38 PM · Report this
20 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
Ohhh touché 20. Can I try?

Enumclaw, where they like their talk hard, their horse penis harder, and their state and federal subsidies quiet.
Posted by Mike Silva on January 31, 2011 at 5:37 PM · Report this
headless lucy 22
Well, if you were watching local TV instead of reading the newspaper, you'd know all about the latest spectacular car crashes and the number of kittens burned to a crisp in the latest apartment fire.

Budget cuts? How does that affect me?
Posted by headless lucy on January 31, 2011 at 6:48 PM · Report this
I do like their snide tone of mockery delivered at two lawmakers who actually care about (a) where our state government's money originates, and (b) where it goes. Their solution -- exactly the type of bipartisan "tough love" that corporate centrists always claim to love (in theory, anyway) gets a wave-off worthy of a bored teenager. If a county is such a sinkhole of our tax money, why should our state continue to subsidize it? The editorialist(s)' snotty lack of concern about the fate of Seattle's tax dollars really makes Goldy's point about "The Bothell Times".
Posted by tensor on February 1, 2011 at 12:29 AM · Report this
Times ed board = classic suburban sweep-it-under-the-rug passive/aggressive mindset.

They love Seattle - they hate Seattle. They love the rugged Eastern Washington individualist myth - and get scared anytime some liberal tries to expose the Red half of WA for what it is: a bunch of self-deluded guv'mint trough suckers...who hate government.

And they slept through the massive WAMU meltdown, focusing instead on the light rail boogeyman - or the "corrupt" influence of progressive "special interests". Hmmm... I wonder why the Times gave Kerry Killinger and his toxic mortgage stew a free pass. Think money may have had $omething to do with it???
Posted by Garth98112 on February 1, 2011 at 1:17 AM · Report this
Hey Goldy. Atrios links to you.…
Posted by Emily68 on February 1, 2011 at 7:26 AM · Report this

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