Tag Archives: Washington State

Fish & Bicycles Lives!

Retro microphoneUm…hello…is this thing on?

Check! Check! 1,2,3 check!

Ok, so, how does one break a nearly year-and-a-half blogging silence?

Well, I left off with a June 2013 post, announcing that I was going on hiatus, partly because I’d been lacking inspiration, and partly because I needed to focus my attention on other things going on in my life (translation of the latter: I needed to get my shit together 😲).

In the interim, I’ve missed blogging a little bit, from time to time, but not enough to start up again, and yet just enough to renew the Fish & Bicycles domain name registration, twice.

So, what’s changed?

  • I’ve mostly got my shit together.
    • I’m doing yoga regularly.
    • I’ve lost 20lbs via a low-carb diet.
    • I’m spending more time with my now, gulp, 17-year old son.
    • I’m mostly achieving balance between work and play and family time.
  • I suddenly miss blogging enough to want to jump back into it.

And, what hasn’t changed?

So, let’s see how this goes. I’ll probably be rusty at first, right out of the gate, I’ll likely not be as prolific as I was before I left off, but maybe…

…just maybe…

I’ll find my groove again.

Cheers!

Marriage Equality: Way To Go Washington State!

You know, I haven’t been very pleased with the government here in Washington State lately. (Just one example.)

But, this morning I woke to some good news for a change.

Via The Seattle Times:

Historic Senate vote clears way for gay marriage in state

The state Senate passed legislation Wednesday night that would legalize gay marriage. The bill now goes to the House, where it’s expected to pass easily.

It’s always puzzled me that in a country where heterosexual marriages end in divorce 50% of the time, heterosexuals somehow still think that only heterosexuals should be allowed to marry.

Happily, Washington is poised to become the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage, and I only hope that that number will continue to grow.

When Boeing Says, “Jump!” You Say, “How High?!!!”

Just in case anyone needed yet another example of how corporate power is out of control, enter Boeing.

Boeing is a company that over the 3-year period from 2008 to 2010 paid an effective U.S. tax rate of…

…wait for it…

-1.8% (yes, you read that right, NEGATIVE 1.8%!!!) on $9.7 billion in profit, the fifth worst offender in the U.S., a company born right here in Washington State, a state where, during the same period, we’ve had budget shortfalls of up to $5 billion, resulting in massive cuts to public education, health care, state parks, transportation infrastructure, etc., with more “grim” cuts being proposed this year, and yet a state where Boeing enjoys state tax breaks to such an extent that the World Trade Organization determined the breaks to be, along with the U.S. federal tax breaks they enjoy, illegal under international trade agreements.

If that weren’t bad enough, Boeing has announced that it plans on overhauling it’s 737 airliner, that they’ve begun the process of determining whether they’ll keep 737 production in Renton, WA, or move it to another state, thereby motivating Washington Governor Chris Gregoire to propose $9.8 million in spending in order to protect 20,000 jobs and $500 million in annual tax revenues.

Let’s recount that quickly, shall we?

    October 27, 2011: The governor proposes $1.5 billion in cuts to health care, social services, prisons and education to help plug a $2 billion budget gap.

    November 16, 2011: The governor proposes $9.8 million in extortion payments to keep Boeing from firing 20,000 people and taking the little they do pay in state taxes to another state.

Breathtaking, isn’t it?

Just another arrangement of the “too big to fail” tune that corporations have been singing for WAY too long.

Thoughts Are With Japan

So, I’ve heard from most of my friends in Japan and luckily they and their families are all ok. Also, the friends I haven’t heard from live in Kobe, far enough south to have likely not suffered much, if any, damage.

Our current Homestay student, Shuichi, is from Nagoya, also far enough south to have dodged a bullet, and he reports that his family and friends are safe.

Meanwhile, the effects of this earthquake were felt as far away as right here in Washington State, where tsunami warnings were declared in coastal communities, resulting in traffic jams in some areas, particularly the Long Beach peninsula, where many people evacuated to higher ground.

We, the people of the west coast of the U.S. and the people of Japan, are all in this Pacific Ring of Fire together. It’s a scary reminder of what could happen to any of us, anytime, and a rude yet urgently needed wake-up call, screaming in our faces that we all need to be prepared.

Out of utter boredom, lying in my sick bed this past week, I just happened to watch the poorly-reviewed 2009 film 2012, which portrays a natural disaster that threatens to destroy all life on Earth and nearly does, save a relative handful of privileged and last minute mercy passengers who made it onto a few modern day arks.

It was not hard to think of scenes from that movie when looking at the photo above and watching the following footage of the tsunami hitting the Japanese coast, and it’s horrific to think that this is real life and not some Hollywood CGI.

The Cruel Joke of Austerity Measures

As I mentioned yesterday, I have a real problem with the massive and still growing economic inequality on our planet.

According to Wikipedia:

A study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research at United Nations University reports that the richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000. The three richest people possess more financial assets than the lowest 48 nations, combined. The combined wealth of the 10 million dollar millionaires grew to nearly $41 trillion in 2008. In 2001, 46.4% of people in sub-Saharan Africa were living in extreme poverty. Nearly half of all Indian children are undernourished, however even among the wealthiest fifth one third of children are malnourished.

Here in the U.S., according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI):

America’s wealthiest households in 2009 had net worth that was 225 times greater than the median family net worth.

And, as the EPI points out, it is remarkable how this disparity rose to a record high during and in spite of the Great Recession.

We have a situation where a massive, global financial crisis was caused by large, under-regulated financial services companies operating in a multi-billion dollar industry…

Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman:

It was superwealthy players, not the general public, who pushed for financial deregulation and thereby set the stage for the economic crisis of 2008-9, a crisis whose aftermath is the main reason for the current budget crunch.

…while millions of people have lost their jobs, their homes, their healthcare, etc., and the rich have gotten richer.

So, what do the rich and rich-owned politicians suggest we do about?

Why, cut government spending, of course, spending that predominantly supports the poor, working, and middle classes.

And what do they have the nerve to euphemistically call these cuts?

Austerity Measures

It’s an outright bastardization of the whole JKF ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country thing. Cuz, you see, in times of economic hardship we all must make sacrifices.

Yeah right.

Meanwhile, the spending cuts talk is heating up in the U.S. capital, according to the New York Times, “Spending by the Department of Health and Human Services would decline in 2012 for the first time in the agency’s 30-year history under President Obama’s budget request…,” and yet Republicans are mocking the budget for not cutting enough.

Here in Washington State, where we have a $5 billion dollar budget deficit, state agencies, counties, cities, other municipalities, and average citizens are bracing for a 2011-2013 biennium state budget that massively cuts spending on things that they and their constituents rely on, such as education, health care, public safety, etc., with a draft from the governor that contains no increase in taxes in a state with the most regressive tax system in the country.

All this, while news from Germany suggests that “austerity” doesn’t even work.

How long will people stand for this?

Well, as it turns out, all across the globe, people are waking up and speaking out against austerity; Sarah van Gelder in Yes! Magazine suggests that there’s a connection between the Wisconsin demonstrations and the uprisings in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world; and Paul Krugman suggests that the Wisconsin situation (a situation that has now spread to Indiana), is not about the budget per se, but rather, it’s about power, an uprising against a clear move in the U.S. from functional democracy towards a third-world-style oligarchy.

These are momentous and turbulent times. Here’s hoping that some lasting justice will come of all this.

The Ups & Downs of Progress

While I could continue in the negative direction of my last post and go ballistic over news that a Washington State Senator — a Democrat no less! — is the lead sponsor of legislation that would charge Washington EV (electric vehicle) owners $100 per year to compensate for the fact that they won’t be paying tax on gas purchases, taxes that go toward the maintenance of roads that they will continue to use, albeit while not contributing to global climate change, I’d rather make peace with the fact that the road to progress is not a steady march forward.

Progress, instead, is susceptible to the same ups and downs that all life experiences tend to face. There will be setbacks, gross errors, maddening defeats of all shapes and sizes, and periodic one-step-up-two-steps-back dance sessions.

They key is to remember that for every down there can be an up, if we give up the downs will most certainly win, and so it’s up to us all to produce and celebrate more ups!

Therefore, while I could have written a rant on the first thing I came across at Inhabitat today, the Washington State EV fee, I’d rather celebrate the other EV news I found there a few hours later:

Proposed Bill To Give Electric Vehicle Buyers $7,500 Credit Right When They Buy

As a way to help advance President Barack Obama’s goal to get 1 million new EVs on the road by 2015, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow unveiled a legislative proposal on Monday that would give buyers of plug-in electric vehicles up to a $7,500 rebate at the point of purchase. Currently, buyers have to file their taxes to get the $7,500 federal rebate on electric cars, so receiving the credit right when they buy could really spur on EV sales.

The Charging America Forward Act would also award another $2 billion in grants to extend an existing public-private partnership to boost US production of advanced battery technologies. Additionally, businesses will get a tax credit for buying medium or heavy duty plug-in hybrid trucks until 2014. The credit would be worth between $15,000 and $100,000, depending on the size of the truck.

That’s awesome news and a great bill. Let’s all send Senator Debbie Stabenow an email thanking her, and let’s send emails to our own representatives in Congress urging them to support this bill.

Washington’s Coffee Fetish

With a projected state budget deficit nearing $5 billion, a gap that needs to be closed by the start of the 2011-2013 biennial budget on July 1st, it’s comforting to know that our elected representatives are hard at work in Olympia, pushing for…

…the establishment of coffee as the official Washington State beverage?!

Via the Bellingham Herald:

Washington has an official state fruit – the apple, of course – and a state vegetable, the Walla Walla sweet onion, which makes sense, too.

But if you want a state drink to wash them down, you’re out of luck.

That could change. Barbara Bailey, a Republican House member from Oak Harbor, has submitted a bill that would make coffee Washington’s official beverage.

Interesting priorities you got there, Barb, and funny considering what you say on your website:

The solutions to our challenges must take into account our state operating budget. With a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall, we need long-term solutions that reset, reform and reshape state government. As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, I am working to set priorities, find answers to tough questions and balance the budget without raising taxes.

Coming to her own defense:

As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Bailey knows the state budget needs far more attention than another state symbol. Still, she sponsored the measure (House Bill 1715) at the request of high school students in her district who are lobbying for the measure.

“Why would I want to shut my door to students who want to learn more about government?” Bailey said.

You mean, even if what they learn is stupidity?

Listen, this is not a Democrat or Republican thing. It’s a stupidity thing.

(Note: I post this snark today, knowing full well it’s in stark contrast to my mission to accentuate the positive, alluded to in my recent back-and-forth with mr. spaceneedl. What can I say? I reserve the right to a cranky moment from time to time.)