Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why I’m Sick of Hearing About Ways to End the 2-Party System

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It happened again last night: I found another politically ignorant person preaching about how much better things would be if only we had a real third party in the United States. (To be clear: I’m not saying all people who feel this way are politically ignorant, just that this guy was.) Let’s see if I can simply explain why this is a non-starter. I do not disagree with the sentiment; rather, I consider myself personally agnostic on the subject. My objections to this line of thinking are based in how impractical it is to change the laws and constitution to bring about such a system. This piece explains what causes the 2-party system we have, what changes would need to take place in order to end it, and an analysis of how likely advocates are to successfully enact those changes.

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What Does Good TV News Look Like?

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I have been writing too much elsewhere lately, so the blog has suffered from a lack of attention. Fortunately, though, I think it is improving my writing.

Lately, I have been considering something from Hasan Minhaj’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner monologue.

A key bit for me:

Supporters of President Trump trust him, and I know journalists, you guys, are definitely trying to do good work. I just think a lot of people don’t trust you right now, and can you blame them? …you guys have been far from perfect.

Remember election night? I mean, that was your Steve Harvey Miss Universe moment. The look on your faces at 11 p.m. on election night. It was like walking into a Panera Bread and finding out your sixth-grade teacher has a part-time job there.

This is spot-on. Later he says this: “I don’t have a solution on how to win back trust. I don’t.” Well, I have an idea.

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Are You Paying Your Fair Share of Washington Taxes? Here’s How To Find Out.

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What a Tax March! My wife got interviewed for a local TV station and I was interviewed by a local newspaper reporter. Our sign disclosing our own federal income tax returns was a big hit.

For the non-Washington readers, Seattle’s Tax March had an expanded purpose to highlight the ridiculously upside-down tax policies in this state. [1] Washington, like a handful of other states, has no income tax and raises revenue only by other means: mainly property, sales, and business (B&O) taxes along with annual vehicle registration fees (which we call “car tabs”). Many probably assume that these fixed-percentage taxes that apply to everyone are automatically fair. Well, the two of us are a great counterexample for how the wealthy can avoid paying their fair share. Until I did all the math recently for 2016, I had no idea just how bad it was and how little we are contributing to the state’s tax base.

This post covers how to estimate your total state and local taxes as a percentage of your income. I will share our results next time. If you live in Washington, you should do the math and see how we compare.

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Bubbles, Part 2: How Social Media Makes It Worse

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My first Bubbles post focused on personal steps we can each take to broaden our perspectives and come to understand our fellow Americans. That half of the equation is extremely important, and I do not want the flaws in our institutions to eclipse it. So with that caveat, let’s move on to the discussion of what social media is doing to aggravate the problem and what they could do about it. I will focus on two platforms because they are familiar to me: Facebook and YouTube.

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Perched high, surveying the landscape, making occasional chatter. Credit: me, Sep 2016

Not Dead Yet!

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I missed an entire week and feel bad about it… a lot is going on. If you think progressives don’t do anything other than protest you are seriously mistaken!

This week I will publish another post on Bubbles and specific, fixable ways that some social media sites are making the problem worse. Name and shame, yes, and then propose ways to fix the problems.

I am also working on a state-level tax campaign. Hopefully that will start with a post that helps us renters understand how much they are paying in property tax. This will reveal how levies in initiatives as well as changes in assessed value contribute to rent increases. Spoiler: it’s not (just) your landlord fleecing you.

Next, for tax day, will be a demonstration of just how unfair Washington’s taxes are and what can be done about it. If this state wants to counter the negative impacts of Trump’s agenda, it must be able to raise revenue to pay for new or expanded programs in a way that does not burden the working class and exacerbate the very problems those programs are trying to fix. No one wants hard-working, middle-class Americans’ taxes to go up, yet that’s what keeps happening in this state because there are so few options on who to tax. This is the perfect time to fix that.

In the mean time, if you want some thought-provoking content check out Van Jones’ new show on CNN: The Messy Truth. In comparison, there is nothing else on TV worth watching.

Messaging strategy on the AHCA

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Something bugging me is the lack of strategic messaging in opposition to the American Health Care Act (AHCA). There is of course plenty of room for opinion on this one, but I want to make a case for how labeling the AHCA can advance progressive goals.

This is not a policy discussion, just a branding and messaging analysis. Here, what the people think and believe is truly more important than facts.

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Hey Progressives: “I Sense Much Fear In You.”

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In retrospect, this should have been my second or third post! I’ll get back to my Bubbles series later, but first us liberals need to talk about fear.

The title of this post is a quote from Star Wars Episode I. Yoda is meeting with young Anakin Skywalker and he, along with others on the Jedi Council, pick up on Anakin’s fear of losing his mother. Their concerns are largely ignored as Anakin becomes a Jedi, and the true extent of the problem is recognized only after it is too late. I hope this time the warning is better understood.

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Bubbles, Part… 1.5? The Role of the Individual, More Broadly

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I’m going to interrupt my Bubbles series to discuss an excellent column in the Washington Post that I somehow missed last week:

Americans have lost faith in institutions. That’s not because of Trump or ‘fake news.’

This column ties back to where my series is going, relating to how certain institutions can respond to the polarization in the country. It’s worth writing, first, about the relationship between institutions and the actions of individuals, since I focused so much on the latter in Part 1 but Parts 2 and (maybe) 3 will focus on the former. I don’t want to convey a sense of equivalence, and this is a great opportunity to address the difference.

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