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November 2nd, 2010

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I was going to try and stay disinterested in the election today because a) the results are most likely going to be very depressing and b) I ain't got time for that s*** -- not with thirty-five oages of torts reading staring me down.

But then...

Someone in my property class, call him Bill, said he hadn't filled out his ballot yet (in Washington all voting is done by mail and they can be postmarked as late as today) and so I urged him to vote for the state initiative that creates a state income tax on individuals making more than $200,000 a year and households making more than $400,000 a year. Someone sitting next to Bill, call him Jon, piped up: "Oh, that's a slippery slope, first they'll tax those people and then -- " I didn't let him finish, cutting him off with a raised voice that drew the attention of my other classmates. I didn't care.. The stupidity of the slippery slope argument is so stupid that it had to be called out.

Many people think that if our state imposes an income tax on rich people now, eventually that tax will slide down the income tax bracket and affect them (and by them I mean the people who are making this idiotic argument). This argument can be defeated by one simple word: "How?" How will the state approve new taxes? By the initiative process (as is being done currently)? That's laughable. If there's an initiative that says, "Everybody making $50,000 a year or more will have an income taxed imposed upon them," would go down 90% to 5%. Maybe you're afraid teh state legislature would impose an income tax on middle-class families. Sorry, no. State legislatures like to get re-elected. There would be no income tax coming from Olympia. In short, your slippery slope argument is invalid because there is no slope on which to slide.

"Jon," I said, "Why are you really opposing this initiative? It wouldn't affect you."

"It would if I won the Tournament," by which he meant the World Series of Poker Tournament -- Jon used to be a professional poker player. I nodded at him and said, "Oh I see. You're looking out for your own self-interests. I understand that."

But what I was thinking was, you f****** idiot. You're not going to win the World Series of Poker. If you were that good of a poker player, you would not be at law school. Now, I've looked up your stats on Google and see that you've won over $175,000 playign cards. Holy cow! That's a lot of money. But even if you won all of that money in one year (which you didn't; it took you several years to accrue that amount), you STILL wouldn't be affected by the proposed state income tax! Look, you are not going to make $400,000 playing poker (I use $400,000 because Jon has a wife and two kids). Even if you get a big law job after graduating (which is doubtful) you won't be making $400,000 a year -- probably not even if you make partner (which again, would be several years down the line).

Then I turned to Bill whose unfilled ballot prompted this whole discussion. "Well, you should vote for the initiative, " I told him.

"He;s going to scare you now, Bill," interjected Jon, "He's going to scare you by telling you that if you don't vote for it schools will shut down and teachers will lose their jobs. There will be no teachers. No teachers, Bill! Is that what you want!?" This sarcasm was referring to the fact that the money raised by the state income tax would fund public schools. Now, I'm not sure if Jon has noticed, but our state is suffering a bit of a budget crisis and services are being cut. And some of those services are being cut from our schools. But don't take my word for it -- no, wait. Do take my word for it. When I was running my SAT prep business I was in contact with a number of counselors at neighboring public high schools. One autumn when I try to call them up to remind them who I was and what services I offered I was told that those counselors no longer worked at the schools. Why? There positions had been eliminated due to budget cuts. Psshh, you say. Those are just counselors. Well, at Ballard High and at Ingraham High they also eliminated one teacher position a piece. So, yeah, we're already losing teachers. And did I mention that Jon has two children both under the age of six? I wonder what the student-teacher ratio will be by the time they get to high school.

Jon laid out his final argument: "This is just class warfare. Wouldn't you admit that?"

"Yes!" I nearly shrieked, "It IS class warfare and we've been getting our asses kicked for the last 30 years. It's about time we fight back."

Why poor and middle-class people vote against their own interests to fatten the wallets of a few mega-rich people -- people that they will never meet and who will never give them a job -- is beyond my comprehension. I've always liked to be politically involved and do my part, but at this point, I'm done. The American electorate is too stupid to be worth saving.

(Apologies for any typos -- I'm dashing this off between classes)

(2 comments | Leave a comment)


Date:November 3rd, 2010 03:04 am (UTC)

Your sister-in-law agrees 100% with you...

..and your brother wishes to have you in his ear when he deals with similarly minded software engineers.
Date:December 1st, 2010 07:45 pm (UTC)

Comment on election day blues

Your father also agrees 100% with you. The recommendations of the deficit
reduction commission (appointed by a democratic president you say?) call for
chucking the mortgage deduction -- which matters to anyone trying to get
by on $100,000 a year or less (Bush 1's definition of a household in financial
trouble in 1992) and hold on to a house, with the trade off that the top tax rate
paid by our beloved superior wealthy folk would drop to 29%. And if you don't
like it, Alan Simpson, the sage co-chair of the commission, has identified you
as a representative of 'dark forces'. He may have been kidding, but it sure has
spooked the press, which won't go near it (NPR is still smarting from being
called Nazis by Roger Ailes; just send them money, you liberals, because
there's nothing else out there for you.) Hmm, class warfare is alive and kicking,
and the only ones with boots are the upper class.

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