Fight the Pandemic: Healthy People and Vibrant Economy
Fighting the Pandemic: Healthy People and Vibrant Economy
Goal: Keep citizens healthy and the economy running
Washington should prioritize actions that support citizens to be healthy, happy and strong
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Provide Basic Healthcare services and treatment to all citizens regardless of their employment status. COVID-19 has taught us that health care is linked to economic resiliency.
Use the Rainy Day fund to directly support those undergoing economic hardship from the Pandemic
Enact a “Pandemic Response” tax on incomes of top 10% of earners to support the unemployed, small businesses, and the working class.
“At a time of massive inequality, I think we can raise substantial sums of revenue to address the needs of working families, the elderly, and the children, by asking those people who are doing phenomenally well to start paying their fair share.”
Goal: Preserve wildlands and wild creatures for our communities, our kids, and our future. We can reengineer our landscape such that a mountain lion born in Capitol Forest could walk to Idaho without putting paws to pavement.
“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
Aldo Leopold. Author of A Sand County Almanac
Problem: The odds of hitting a large animal in Washington state were 1 in 258, before the Coronavirus. Although some insurance policies may pay for damages, little is done to prevent those collisions. In addition to the risk to drivers, the roads and other human developments are harmful to our natural lands when they cut off the movement corridors for animals. Currently, a mountain lion born in Capitol Forest could find nowhere to cross Interstate 5.
“Save Wildlife from Cars, and Save Cars from Wildlife: A funding mechanism to save the world, starting with Washington State”. Dedicated funds will be directed to reduce animal-vehicle collisions and construct wildlife crossing structures on roads. A green infrastructure project, these wildlife crossings will allow wild creatures to cross under (or via bridges over) roadways without touching pavement in places where both wildlife and people are at risk of vehicle-animal collisions.
We need proven solutions to rebuild our roads and infrastructure in ways that we know will allow wildlife to move according to their natural pathways. Building specialized structures for wildlife crossings is the smart and sensible thing to do.
Problem: Millions of acres of Washington’s timberlands are managed for maximizing revenue to the detriment of the people and wildlife in Washington.
Encourage and direct investment to reorient the management of industrial timberlands for ecological services, outdoor recreation, and carbon sequestration rather than maximizing shareholder value for people that don’t live in Washington
Transforming Conflict: Rebuilding a Civil Society
Goal: Develop a reliable and trustworthy state government that functions effectively regardless of party affiliation.
“Peace is both the absence of war and the creation of positive social conditions which minimize destructive conflicts and promote human well-being.”
Joseph Sebarenzi, Author of God Sleeps in Rwanda: A Journey of Transformation
Problem: Our political system is unable to resolve deep rooted identity conflicts
Before they are sworn in, newly elected members of the legislature would jointly attend a training event to build trust and prepare for conflict resolution and transformation
Invest in neutral mediators to facilitate bipartisan engagement for highly polarized legislative topics.
Goal: Government should function even when leadership is dysfunctional
Problem: If legislators fail to approve a budget, taxpayer money is wasted and services are discontinued while government ceases opreations
PREVENT STATE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN!
The Zombie Government Initiative is insurance to prevent a government shutdown that could result from an inability of state legislators to enact a budget.
Washington needs a legislative “autopilot” mechanism to be enacted if a budget isn’t approved so that all State services and government will continue to function in reduced capacity when legislators fail to do their job.
How? Starting the first day without a state budget, government offices will remain open but, with mandatory closure and furlough of staff for 1 day per week across all agencies with an additional 10% across the board budget until the budget is passed. After 60 days without a budget, the closure will extend to 2 days a week and 20% additional cut.
Why? State government shutdowns result in wasted taxpayer dollars and unnecessary hardships for citizens. Reducing services and costs automatically is the more sensible approach.
Personal Note – During the irresponsible federal government shutdown of January 2019, I traveled to Las Vegas with my wife for a soccer tournament. I made a a large thank you card out of cardboard for the TSA workers who were there without pay which was signed by dozens of passengers waiting in line with me. Thank You Again!
Smart Taxes and Less Inequality
"An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics."
Plutarch, Ancient Greek Historian (c. 46-120 A.D.)
Goal: Taxes, fees, and surcharges should be crafted to reduce harm to society and the environment.
“ Modern economic thinking….. is peculiarly unable to consider the long term and, to appreciate man’s dependence on the natural world”
E.F. Schumacher – Economist and Author of Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered
Problem: Government revenue sources are not integrated into a system-wide approach for producing the greatest public good. Additionally, regulations are imposed that cost money for public agencies to enforce but do not have dedicated funding. This is an “unfunded mandate.”
Taxes on pollution emissions with revenues directed to renewable energy or carbon sequestration would reduce pollution and make Washington more energy independent.
Surcharges for auto policies could directly fund Wildlife Crossing structures that would both: reduce driver costs from vehicle-animal collisions and, make our public transportation/wildlife systems more resilient and safe.
Point of sale fees for products that will arrive in the landfills could be directed to subsidizing garbage services and cleaning up our land.
New regulations should be evaluated to assess whether a tax, fee, or surcharge could produce the same desired outcomes (Example: The reduction of cigarette smoking through taxation)
Goal: Taxpayers should be directly involved in where tax dollars are spent.
Problem: Washington residents don’t feel empowered over where their tax dollars are allocated.
Taxpayer’s Referendum: I propose that every year, a portion of state budget will be set aside for Washington state citizens to directly decide where their taxes will go. If a state surplus exists then, citizens can decide to have money returned directly to them or, get allocated to specific departments and programs of their choice.
Goal: The state government needs a broad range of tax sources to provide dependable services.
“We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both."
Louis D. Brandeis, U.S. Supreme Court Justice (1916-1939)
Problem: Washington state is overly reliant on a few types of tax mechanisms (especially sales tax) which heavily burdens the lowest income earners
The “Pandemic Response” or “Inequality” Tax would propose:
1.9% tax on incomes over $250,000 individually or $500,000 for married couples -
1% on top 10% income earners
Those who began paying this tax would have their own “Taxpayer Referendum”, to direct where a 5% portion of these added taxes would go.
Goal: The state government should stop providing tax breaks to individual corporations and pressure Washington based corporations to invest in the long-term economic well-being of state citizens
Problem: The state has lost tax revenue and allowed large corporations like Boeing to blackmail it into providing tax-breaks
The Washington State Pensions fund should be directed to become “activist” shareholders in Washington based companies to advocate for the economic well-being of state citizens. (Example – if the state had invested in Boeing rather than, donated to the company via Tax breaks then, they could’ve prevented the outsourcing of jobs to other states)