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onsafari

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I'm struggling with a values conflict today. My frugality (carefully cultivated and nurtured) is fighting with by liberal and progressive political beliefs. There's an initiative that might be coming up for a vote this fall that wants to establish an income tax people above a certain income tax bracket to offset lowering property taxes and B&O tax for small businesses. Any extra funds generated by this new tax would go to public schools and health care.

I'm all for almost all of this. The funding things, yes; the lowering of property taxes to avoid taxing people out of their homes, yes; encouraging small business, yes! There are just 2 things I don't like - the first is easy. This state promised when they established the Lottery that money from that would go to public schools. They've proven that to be a big fat lie. So the accounting here sucks rocks, and I don't buy the theory that leftover funds will actually be allocated as stated.

The second is FAR more complex. When I first read the coverage of the announcement of this initiative, I thought my family would fall into that tax bracket. My first instinct was to reject it - largely based on the creation of a new tax for people perceived as "rich." It kills me to admit this, because it means I'm a a hypocrite. I'm ok with taking other people's money, but not my own? Woah, double standard. And this is really pissing me off.

But now that I've discovered this beautiful mess in my brain, I'm going to go back and do some more research on exactly what this bill is. i always do the math when they propose new taxes to see if it's something we can afford to pay when voting, so I'll just have to apply that here. Even if it doesn't apply to us now, it might in the future. And I really shouldn't expect people to shoulder a burden I wouldn't. I hate this new voice in the back of my head calling me a hypocrite, so I'm going to kick him right out.

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So...based on the analyst of the lotto system, yeah. The problem is that it went into the general fund with a "priority to education" which is, yeah. Secondly, the myth of the lotto as the big problem. Yes there are a lot of people bad at using math, but...not enough. The lotto doesn't bring in near the amount that education requires. Its also really really variable.

The thing about the initiative I like (see here: www.sos.wa.gov/elections/initiatives/text/i1098.pdf)
is:
1) It is really seperate and doesn't go into the general fund
2) From my read, there's no way to touch the money except for education and health
3) For those folks who get the tax, they also get another tax credit with the governement
4) In my mind it sets the stage for a more fare taxation

I don't think its a hypocritical thing that you are talking about, I think it is a fundemental problem with a tax system. Someone always thinks "someone is free-loading" and someone always say "I'm taxed too much" or "I can want to do x with my money." Its hard for most people to not say "I don't want to pay more if they are going to misspend it."

Mostly, I don't things are "mis-spent" and I don't think in general government employees are milking the system or are that well paid compared to the private sector. Plus, things cost more now then they did last year, or the year before that, and we have to maintain things. From my own view, if we are ever making 400k a year, we are rich. We aren't middle class anymore as we are making (for a family of 4 assuming 75k a year) 5 times their median income. Should I run out and blow it on hookers, blow, a million dollar house and a yacht, or should my tax burden go up proportially to support school lunches, teachers, health care, better roads? I think the latter, granted I will probably by a nicer house, but I'll still be able to do that as that 5% would mean 20k in taxes (that I then get to claim on my federal return).

You get a say in if you get to shoulder that burden and get to influence other people about that as well. But I think says something about who is pushing for it. I'm going to sign it because I think it should be put to a vote. I also think that I'm tired of having education the slave to the fickle whims of sales tax and want it more secure then it is.

Anyway, its not hypocritical. Its a fair question "is this tax justified? is it fair? what will the impact be?" If it passes and we ever fall into it, I'll be more then happy to pay it, just as I am with my federal taxes.

we recently voted for a tax restructure for funding fire and health emergency response systems. Doing the math - our bill came out to be something that I thought was pretty hefty. But then we put it in this context...how often would you call the fire department or 911 to receive ambulance services - we did some research and realized it's about once every 7 years. So I multiplied the cost I calculated annually by 7 and then thought about that number in terms of: is not having my house burn down, or saving a loved one's life worth this cost? Can I afford that security?

The answer was yes.

I think it probably plays out the same way for schools. Are schools worth it? Can we afford the security of a better educated public? At some point, you just might not be able to afford it...but on the other hand, we're already behind lots of other countries in general education - in fact we're only in the 'top' because of our size the ratios play out that we have more smart people across the whole of our country than most other countries (but they are smaller in size/population).

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