Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Archive for April, 2010

Remembering Viet Nam Vets in History

Posted by Warren Peterson on April 30, 2010

On the anniversary (April 30, 1975) of the fall of Saigon, we should take time to reflect on the sacrifices of those Americans who served their country in the Viet Nam War and reflect on their history. Marine veteran of Viet Nam, former Secretary of the Navy and current U.S. Senator from Virginia, James Webb , wrote an article in 2000 that speaks to these points:

Heroes of the Vietnam Generation
By James Webb

The rapidly disappearing cohort of Americans that endured the Great Depression and then fought World War II is receiving quite a send-off from the leading lights of the so-called 60s generation. Tom Brokaw has published two oral histories of “The Greatest Generation” that feature ordinary people doing their duty and suggest that such conduct was historically unique.

Chris Matthews of “Hardball” is fond of writing columns praising the Navy service of his father while castigating his own baby boomer generation for its alleged softness and lack of struggle. William Bennett gave a startling condescending speech at the Naval Academy a few years ago comparing the heroism of the “D-Day Generation” to the drugs-and-sex nihilism of the “Woodstock Generation.” And Steven Spielberg, in promoting his film “Saving Private Ryan,” was careful to justify his portrayals of soldiers in action based on the supposedly unique nature of World War II.

An irony is at work here. Lest we forget, the World War II generation now being lionized also brought us the Vietnam War, a conflict which today’s most conspicuous voices by and large opposed, and in which few of them served. The “best an brightest” of the Vietnam age group once made headlines by castigating their parents for bringing about the war in which they would not fight, which as become the war they refuse to remember… To read the full article, click HERE.

Posted in Military | 1 Comment »

UW President Mark Emmert Resigns

Posted by Warren Peterson on April 28, 2010

After six years as President of the University of Washington, Mark Emmert resigned and will become President of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). A friend asked me if Emmert is the first person making over $400,000 to flee the state in anticipation of I-1077 (income tax on the “rich”) passing. I wonder if his replacement will demand a bigger salary to offset the income tax? Another unintended consequence of liberalism, eh?

Yes, Indiana, home of the NCAA, has an income tax but they also have a Republican governor and state assembly so they are not in the same league as Washington when it comes to budget shortfalls.

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U.S. Senate Race – The Thinning Starts

Posted by Warren Peterson on April 27, 2010

The Republican field narrowed by one with Chris Widener’s withdrawal from the race. That still leaves ten announced Republicans with possible number 11, the big elephant in the room, Dino Rossi, still playing coy about his intentions. If Rossi gets in, it is expected the other challengers would bow out except Paul Akers who says he’s running regardless of what Rossi does. Aside from Rossi, Akers, with personal funds, and Clint Didier, with Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman as his finance chair, look like the best hope for raising the money to match Senator Murray’s bulging war chest. This will not be another tilting with a windmill year for Republicans, Murray is in trouble. Akers, Didier, Dr. Art Coday and State Senator Don Benton are all claiming to be close to Murray in the polls.

Rossi would clearly be the Republicans best hope IF, after losing two quests for Governor, his heart is really in the race. Governor Gregoire cleaned his clock in the 2008 gubernatorial debates on TV. While Patty Murray is no Chris Gregoire, she is often “misunderestimated”. She’s a tough campaigner who has co-opted veterans’ groups, brought home the bacon and supports Boeing. It will be a down and dirty race as evidenced by Democrat preemptive anti Rossi ads and web sites already in the media.

Filing closes June 11 but that is too long to wait for Republicans to unite behind a single candidate willing and able to defeat the “Mom in Tennis Shoes”. It will take all the time between now and November 2 to convince a majority of Washington voters that they are not well served by a tax and spend liberal. It’s decision time Dino!

cross posted on Sound Politics

Posted in State & Local | 1 Comment »

How much tax is too much?

Posted by Warren Peterson on April 27, 2010

The question that never fails to stymie “raise taxes” liberals is: “What level of taxation do you think is fair – 20%. 40%, 60% – what? In detail, add up all the taxes one pays (federal, state and local) – income, sales, property, gas, excise, business taxes hidden in the price of goods and services, etc. – all of them. Divide the tax total by the sum of one’s income from all sources – salary, dividends, interest, capital gains, etc. – all of it. The result is the percentage that goes to taxes. Is it reasonable?

For me, just federal income, state and local sales and property taxes amount to about 16% of my income, not all that bad. But I am retired. If I were still working, I’d add in Social Security/Medicare and gas tax, which would bump my percentage to over 23%. Excise taxes might raise the number to 24% or so. Who knows the amount of pass through business taxes but I wouldn’t be surprised if they would be enough to raise the total government take to 30% or more. Will it stop there? The Value Added Tax (VAT), some are proposing for the United States, is currently 5% in Canada. That is on top of income taxes, provincial sales taxes, and a host of other taxes and fees. Congressional “reforms” from health care to financial oversight will only add to the tax burden. Consider also that the taxes we pay now are insufficient to sustain benefits such as Social Security and Medicare not to mention the unfunded liabilities for government pensions and debt service. Now add in the new health care entitlement; well, you can see where we are headed.

I’m not opposed to taxes per se. Governments need money to fix the roads, provide security, help the indigent and perform all the tasks the people, through our elected officials, demand. Though we may disagree on what tasks are appropriate, we get what the voters allow. Local property taxes are high in many cases because voters approve rate increases for all manner of goodness from schools and parks to arts and sports facilities. We allow our representatives to promise what is not paid for, raise taxes and fees and then spend us into greater and greater debt. They use our money to lull us with cake and circuses into reelecting them.

I support a progressive tax system. The growing wealth divide between the very wealthy and the average citizen is a concern but at what point of taxation do we kill the Golden Goose? Yes, the rich live better materially than most but they also provide investment capital, fund new ventures, create more jobs and support charities. The two problems crying out for a solution is the revenue raising system and a truly transparent view of the actual cost of government. Government is so over committed that running a red light is no longer just a matter of safety but a new source of revenue. Spending, including future obligations is out of control. The tax system is frequently unfair and far too complicated.

Is there a future President and a Congress with the intestinal fortitude to take on these problems? Is the public ready to face reality? I have my doubts.

cross posted on Sound Politics

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State Income Tax, Maybe, If…

Posted by Warren Peterson on April 24, 2010

Defeated in court once (1933) and five times resoundingly at the polls, Initiative 1077 proposes another try for a state income tax. Unlike some previous proposals, this one is not revenue neutral but would raise $1 billion a year for schools and health care.

All campaigns to add an income tax claim that a three-leg stool of property, sales and income taxes is fairer for the citizen and more stable for the state. This is a strong argument if voters could be assured the Legislature would be fiscally responsible and not raise one leg one year and another the next year and so on. In the mid 1970s, a bi-partisan group of state legislators offered a referendum to add an income tax with the following restrictions: 1) property, sales and income tax rates would be in the State Constitution 2) any rate changes would have to affect all three taxes proportionally 3) any rate changes would require a vote of the people. To no ones surprise, the referendum never saw the light of day. The fear then and the fear now are once the income tax was authorized, constitutional restrictions or not, some way, some how, rates would go up. History cannot be denied.

California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and most other states have all three tax legs but are all in some level of budget crisis. An income tax is not the budget panacea supporters’ claim. The problem is government desire for spending the people’s money is insatiable. This cuts across party lines. Republicans push to spend lavishly on security and public safety and Democrats promote no end of social programs. Even the voters get in the act. “Three Strikes You’re Out” and lower class size initiatives are not free.

We simply do not have agreement on the roles and mission of government. Until we do, tax and spend limits imposed by Tim Eyman’s initiatives and tsunami elections like 1980 and 1994 will only slow the decay.

cross posted on Sound Politics

Posted in State & Local | Leave a Comment »

Obama in Country Music

Posted by Warren Peterson on April 1, 2010

Thanks to Bob K. for this You Tube gem. A couple of aspiring young country musicians composed a little ditty about guess who? Yep, this one’s about our favorite President, or not. Click on this url http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_W57aBMYKvU
and enjoy.

Posted in Presidential Politics | Leave a Comment »

 
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