Election Night at the VFW

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Wed, Nov 07, 2012, 1:21 am  //  John Servais

Riley and Bryna Sweeney working on live blogging.

It was a good night to be a progressive or member of the Democratic Party.  Obama won, key state offices went to Democtats and the Same Sex Marriage and Marijuana issues passed.  The Democratic Party reserved the VFW Post meeting hall for their celebration and it was a great decision.  The hall was a jovial and rocking scene all evening long.   Best after election party in many years.  

Riley Sweeney ran the election return station, live blogging on his Political Junkie site.  He has posted a number of photos of the evening's fun.   Riley has brought great energy, good insight and a sense of purpose to his website over this election season.  If you are not checking his site on a regular basis, I recommend you do.  He is part of our future.  

Of course elected officials were also there enjoying themselves, including past representatives.  State Senator Kevin Ranker, just reelected, helped out behind the bar for a while.  Different elected officials took the microphone and small stage at various times to thank supporters and give words of perspective.  Matt Krough received many compliments for his campaigning efforts and there was a sense that many have high hopes for him in the future.  

And all were relieved and estactic at the reelection of Obama.  

My own perspective.  I was a charter member of the Young Americans for Freedom back in 1960.  I was raised by a very conservative father.  And it was years before I moved to a progressive and liberal view of society and politics.  But I have retained my understanding of what makes conservatives tick.  And I think this reelection of Obama will put some of the most regressive of conservative politics into the junk heap of history.  Finally.  For the first time in our history, I am told this evening, the minorities in our country - Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, women, gays - elected this president.  The white conservatives - including most of the Tea Party folks and all those who think they are not racists but refer to Obama as "their" president - these white male conservatives have finally been  shown the door.   The Republican Party will either dismiss them and reinvent itself or go the way of the Federalist Party.  It has taken over 50 years.  

You will hear in the next few weeks - if you listen to the more right wing nuts on KGMI or Fox - that Romney lost because he compromised his conservative message - or because he did not explain it well enough.  That is just plain horse puckey.  He lost because Americans rejected the absurd policies of the extreme right in this country.  To me that is the beautiful lesson of this election of Obama.

But the biggest story of the evening is, I think, the incredible domination of the U.S. Senate by Democrats and women.  There may only be 21 women Senators as of January, but that is so many more than ever before.  And the idiotic brain-dead candidates who wanted to take basic rights away from women were tossed aside.  At the beginning of this next session, let's hope the Democrats have the basic sense to make rules that do not allow filibusters, or at least restrict them.  With that, there will be some leverage to use on the House for much needed legislation that Obama will present. 

With Obama's reelection, we embark on a new era of a more inclusive America.  This is the message.  Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars that the billionaires poured into politics this year, the American people had the common sense to ignore them.  Money did not buy America.  Karl Rove could not deliver.   Now let us hope Obama puts real effort into his promises and does not squander this second chance.  

State Senator Kevin Ranker, just reelected, helping out behind the bar.

Mike Rostron  //  Wed, Nov 07, 2012, 8:22 am

A great election for progressives and people with some common sense overall.  Not as good for Whatcom county.  It appears Overstreet and Buys will win.

Riley Sweeney  //  Wed, Nov 07, 2012, 9:08 am

Thank you for the shout out. Even the 42nd LD results couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm that night. That picture of Kevin in priceless.

Jack Petree  //  Wed, Nov 07, 2012, 10:55 am


I think you misread what happened last night.  Essentially, the national ethic has been significantly changing in recent years.  We no longer, as a nation, believe in the things America was traditionally all about but we are not yet sure what we want to be; we know we support the nanny state but have not yet achieved consensus about how that state will look.  You are correct about the minority blocks voting as blocks.  That is a reflection of the change from a land of people “...yearning to be free” to a land made up of people yearning for whatever we can get free.  Last night cemented the nanny state as the “founding principle” of the future America but we are not yet sure how to build an economy able to support that state.

As to the parties, the Republicrats long ago began to make the shift you speak of.  Romney was philosophically more aligned with Obama than with even his own party.  JFK would have considered the Republican party of today to be well left of himself just as Reagan found himself amused that as a Roosevelt democrat who never changed his mind he was seen as a right wing conservative by the time he was elected.  Today, had he lived and continued to believe as he did in the 60’s JFK would be exactly the kind of “regressive conservative” politician you speak of.

One thing for sure:  We are in for interesting times.

Mike Rostron  //  Wed, Nov 07, 2012, 9:04 pm

The fact you seem disgruntled is a sure sign that the election results are positive, and things may be improving!

In a perfect world we would not need the government - any government to protect the rights of the poor, gays, sick or those who have worked hard all their lives mostly to enrich the owner classes, only to be denied health insurance when sick, have their retirement savings stolen by shysters, and then kicked to the gutter in their old age.  Those who have little influence, money, or power must place their hopes in our imperfect democracy - flawed but apparently better than so many other alternatives.

I am so happy and proud to be a part of an electorate that has given the bum’s rush to so many bigots, religious fanatics, and scalawags, and proud to be a citizen of a state where a good portion of the electorate seem to have some decency and common sense.

Yes, the country is changing, and it is about time!

John Servais  //  Wed, Nov 07, 2012, 11:30 pm

Well, Jack, it is easy to take issue with you.  And it is interesting how the losing side tries to define the victory.  We have seen a bit of that on TV last night and today.  What has impressed me is the Ds did not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory - and I have hope - hope - that with victory they do not now get fuzzy with the Republican leaders and be nice.  All Ds, liberals and progressives in America fear Sen. Reid’s statement that “It is better to dance than fight”.  Scary. 

Jack, your side lost.  We will tell you what we voted for.  You will not tell us why we voted as we did.  Your post shows you have no clue as to how the majority of Americans think and voted yesterday.

You also twist my words.  I did not say minorities vote as blocks.  I did not even characterize minorities as being “blocks”.  You twisted the plain meaning of my sentences and then put words in my mouth.  You are a smart fellow and you know you did that.  Anyone can go back and read my post. 

Most of your post is an attempt to revise history.  In truth, Romney’s beliefs were poison to traditional American values.  Today’s Republican party is so extreme right as to be shameful.  All political positions must be judged by contemporary standards, not those of a hundred years ago.  Hell, we can go back to the dark ages and make meaningless comparisons.  But the Republicans these past couple years have been as racist or more racist in relative terms to the rest of society as they have been in the past.  Their organized efforts to deny the fundamental right of voting to the minorities and poor is evidence of that and will be a long lasting black mark on them. 

I know the conservative mind set - and my point is I think we have finally chased it out of our mainstream politics.  It will always be on the fringes.  The true believers on the right still think that they speak for a majority of Americans - as they have thought for half a century.  And they believe Romney simply wimped out and lost faith in the message and that is why he lost.  But I doubt the Republican Party will listen to them in the future.  And if they do, then the GOP will go the way of Federalists and dinosaurs. 

Finally, Americans showed in this election that we do know where we are going.  That is what I am so pleased with.  Your “nanny state” is a right wing scare fiction.  Nothing more.  The vote last night rejected such lies and Americans saw through the hundreds of millions of dollars spent to scare and fool them.  And that is why I feel elated and pleased.  We passed the test and are finally on to an America that is closer to our traditional ideals.

John Lesow  //  Thu, Nov 08, 2012, 9:17 am

Jack Petree’s comments have the refreshing ring of truth that resonates amid the noise and clutter of shallow partisan rhetoric.  Advice to liberals:  You won, but don’t get cocky…

Any unbiased fact check of history would affirm Jack’s points.  Remember that 50% of the electorate voted for the other side, most of whom are not shysters, scalawags and religious fanatics.  The positions advocated by Romney and company will continue to be part of the national dialogue, despite the attempts of anxious liberals to demean anyone who does not support their point of view.

There is no big tent inclusiveness in these post-election posts,  just stale talking points from the pup tents of small l liberals. 

If the economy tanks again in the coming months, these Dem perspectives will be irrelevant.  A second recession and a war in Iran will change political perspectives a lot faster than a presidential election marked by one of the most negative campaigns in recent history, a textbook case of style vs. substance.


Craig Mayberry  //  Thu, Nov 08, 2012, 2:51 pm

In answer to why I voted the way that I did.  The bottom line is that the Federal Reserve is printing money to the tune of $1.2Trillion dollars a year ($480B/year for QE3 and about $700B a year becuase the bonds used to float the government debt do not have enough buyers so the government sells bonds out of one hand and buys them with the other hand).  No country has ever thrived economically with the debt to GDP ratio where it is in the US, nor has a country every thrived printing money.  The fears of myself and many other Americans is not that we have a black president, it is that we will never have an unemployment rate that drops below 7% and economic growth never rises above 2% (see most of Europe as an example).  The policies put forth from this administration over the last 4 years has done nothing to solve the problem and they will not get solved going forward.  The talk that we are in an economic recovery is a mirage, we supposedly have been in an economic recovery for 3 years.  We are in a catch 22.  We cannot reduce government spending, most of which is entitlements (or welfare), but economic growth will never amount to enough to close the deficit, and thus we are back to printing endless amounts of money to fund ongoing trillion dollar deficits.  I would be perfectly fine with Pres. Obama remaining in office if I thought he had a clue what the problem was, but I do not get a sense that he does (or if he does he does not care).  On top of that the only solution is to raise taxes on the rich, that has been tried before and has not worked.  How many states (or cities) have raised taxes on the rich over the last few years (many including Chicago, NY, and Maryland and no CA)?  How many of them have solved their states deficit problems (none, they still have massive spending issues).  Taxes will get raise, which is fine, but the net effect will be zero, enough people will lose jobs because of it and will move from taxpayer to entitlement that it will offset the increase in taxes by the rich. 

I do feel an obligation to take on one rant and I do this at great risk.  John, I am frankly tired of you, the media, and many others claiming that the only reason the “right” is hostile to President Obama is because we are racist.  It is B.S. Your interpretation of the desire of many to want voter ID’s as racism is again complete B.S. and shows just how out of touch many are.  Our position is supported by the United Nations that even thought it was odd that you could vote without voter ID’s.  If there is not integrity in the election system then what is the point, voter ID’s is one way of doing that, if you have other suggestions then please make them.  We want everyone to vote, but only once.  The mail in ballot process we use here is a reasonable compromise and one that I support and does a good job of minimizing the risk of fraud and allowing everyone to vote.  You claim that you “know the conservative mindset”, please educate me on how you “know” that.  How many conservatives have you sat down and had heart to heart conversations with and had a desire to know what they really thought and did so with an open mind, or do you simple take snipet comments from conservative commentators and then use your own biases to assume what they are saying.

You can feel free to discount my rantings and claim that I am simply another example of a conservative racist that has no idea what is going on.  To do so however would completely discount the wide variety of experiences and learning that have formed my opinion, including having spent 2 years living in Northen England where I saw first hand the impact of the welfare state and government run health care.  The years teaching at BGI, one of the most liberal business colleges in the country where I did spend considerable time listening, asking questions and learning from many that were far further left then you.  The considerable education in economics, business, and corporate social responsibility along with actual experience in large and small companies, both of which are the engine of the economy.  The years spent teaching managing cultural diversity where we talk about white privledge, gender inequality, and socio-economic inequality.  And having run for public office I am well aware of what you can learn and not learn from elections.  Please explain why hundreds of people in Lynden voted for Barack Obama and Jason Overstreet and what we can learn from “rational” election results that then allow us to make sweeping generalizations about what they mean.

hotpickle  //  Thu, Nov 08, 2012, 10:07 pm

I would like to thank Craig Mayberry for stating the truth we now must live with.

John Servais  //  Fri, Nov 09, 2012, 2:00 am

OK John, I think you are dealing in hypotheticals and wishful thinking.  And you also need to falsify facts in order for your view to be possible.  50% did not vote for the other side.  Less than 50% did and - more importantly - over 50% voted for Obama. 

And you also put words into my mouth.  There was no suggestion that all or most of those voting for Romney were shysters or such.  This need to change what a Liberal actually said in order to refute it seems a habit of the far right.  One of the clues that I was on the wrong side as a conservative in the 1960s was the need for my fellow conservatives to change what my liberal friends actually said.  My contact with anti-Vietnam war protestors showed an entirely different reality than the one promoted by my uber conservative upbringing and the exhortations of the conservative press and my conservative friends. 

And here with John and Jack we again have examples of this.  Put words in the mouth of what a liberal said, revise a fact here and one there and then go into a fantasy description of wishful thinking. 

For example what if the economy now steadily improves and there is no war with Iran?  It was Romney who implied war with Iran and he never described his economic policy with specifics.  Your “if…” statement paints a predictive hypothetical.  Have fun seeing scary creatures in the dark.  Americans elected Obama because we think he will do a better job on such issues. 

Craig, you also have to put words in my mouth to justify your mournful long weeping.  And strange how you refer to a point you disagree with as a “rant”.  I did not say that all who voted for Romney did so as a racist reaction to Obama.  I said that those white conservative males who do that stuff have been shown the door and that we can now hope the Republican Party will reinvent itself.  That was a statement of hope - not condemnation.  I respect the basic principles of the Republican Party and respect those hold conservative values.  However, the past few years the GOP has been held hostage by an extreme right faction that did espouse hate and fear.  This faction grew from about 1960 from the witch hunts of the 1950s and has for over 50 years slowly taken control of the Republican Party.  My hope is that true Republicans will now toss these folks out.  Please reread that one paragraph that begins with “My own perspective.”  Last three sentences.

Doug Karlberg  //  Fri, Nov 09, 2012, 8:17 am

Romney killed a woman, and Ryan killed grandma.

Now let’s all get along. The misleading negative ads on both sides make compromise and governing difficult, and we pay the price. Both parties do it, and we pay the price. These negative and often misleading ads, are divisive - they divide us more.

Hardened positions in one party or the other reminds me of WWI, where every one is in the trenches, periodically coming out to kill one another, but to what effect, as more and more people are confronted with which trench to be in, or get killed in the cross fire.

How can this possibly end well for us normal citizens as money on both sides poor in to elections instead of being reinvested in our economy and society in rational ways.

What do we get for all his spending except airways full of campaign crap. $1.6 billion before the bill for Air Force One.

What did you get with this massive spending? Were you better informed? Do you think spending will be less next time?

I suspect that if both sides would stick their heads up out of the trenches, we would find broad agreement that we need to curb spending, as it gets us nothing, hurts our ability to come together, and leaves politicians a long list of which special interest is owed a debt due to this massive spending, and the common citizen is not on the list.

Four take-aways.

First, Bill Clinton was the single most popular President with minorities until Barrack Obama. Obama got a historically significant voter premium from simply being the first minority President. This alone likely was enough to seal this election with the lowest winning margin of a standing President for re-election, since 1916.

Second, one we want the officials in Washington DC to get along. This means real compromise on all sides. Either party can, and does get carried away. We are weary and frustrated, with simply blaming the other guy. With a 49-51 split, the idea of a strong mandate is silly.

Third, the Democratic Party wholly owns the outcome of the full eight years, and if they do not learn to add and subtract as well as the laws of economics, we will all pay one hell of a price, as the debt, deficits, and high unemployment are factually real. The Democratic Party will not be able to blame it on George Bush. Period.

Fourth, I owe John Servais a beer. (or two)

Craig Mayberry  //  Fri, Nov 09, 2012, 10:16 am

John, who are the racists that have been shown the door.  For the last 4 years we have repeatedly heard in the media by Democrat media operatives and politicians that anyone opposed to Obama is simply doing it because they are racist and do not want a black president.  Again, who has been shown the door?  Romney?  Was he the racist that has been shown the door, Akin? Mourdock? the tea party? who?  Who have we kicked out of the party that was racist?  Where did they go?  Am I the racist that has been shown the door because I did not vote for Obama?  Maybe I am confused by your lack of clarity and generalizations so it is hard to see exactly what you are saying.  My only frame of reference is the overall conversation in the media and the political arena that tend to throw out the term racist frequently in their political analysis.

Also, John L did not say you said Republicans were scalwags, etc., he was simply pointing out the stereotypically framing in the media and Democrat politicians and what they said.

John Lesow  //  Fri, Nov 09, 2012, 11:04 am

John, you need to take a vacation.  And a deep breath. You don’t engender any support for your point of view by accusing your contributing writers of falsifying facts.  The perspectives offered by Craig Mayberry and Jack Petree are intellectually honest points of view, based on their personal views and experience.  If I happen to side with them—and their conservative viewpoint—I am only guilty of premature good judgement. 

The problem with liberal/progressive groupthink—particularly in places like Whatcom County—is that if you don’t buy the entire progressive package, you are considered stupid; even racist.  Particularly on social issues.  Obama supports full term abortion. Even if the child is alive after a botched abortion.  What would have been considered radical just 10 years ago is now accepted as mainstream by progressives.  And they assume that everyone else should fall into line.  If you don’t, you’re a troglodyte. 

Let’s see what happens to the economy and Iran.  So far, nothing positive has occurred post-election.

I don’t have the economic props of a Craig Mayberry, but his points are thoughtful and may well be right.  As far as the vilification of Republicans in general and George Bush in particular, remember that in January 2007, near the end of Bush’s term, we had experienced 52 straight months of job growth.  The Dow was at 12,600 (nearly the same as today) unemployment was 4.6% and our GDP was 3.5%. Nearly twice what is is now.

The start of our economic decline was coincident with the Democrats taking over both houses of Congress in 2007 I was amazed at the number of voters that thought the bad economy was the result of a president that left office four years ago. Obama received an undeserved free past on Tuesday.  One that would never have been accorded President Bush.  And by the way, I admired President Nixon.  He saved Israel and got us out of Vietnam.

Just a footnote:  I wrote an article in your paper, the Whatcom Independent, in February 2007, suggesting that the “hot” economy, particularly in real estate, was going to reverse, which it did less than one year later.  Few paid much attention, however, because we were all enjoying the benefits of the housing bubble and the platform provided for consumerism.  People believe what they want to believe.  Even when events prove that they were wrong.

Neither you, nor me, nor any other contributor to this blog has any idea as to what will happen in the next 4 years.  The prospects of war and recession will not disappear;  we can’t wish them away. It think we are in for a tough time on many fronts.  Not a partisan position, just a personal one.  I supported Romney/Ryan and I am disappointed the GOP did not win.  But you will not find me vilifying the Dems or liberals in general, which does not serve any useful purpose.

John Servais  //  Fri, Nov 09, 2012, 12:40 pm

William Greider says it better than I can in The Nation. 

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Bottom line, imo you gents do not have a clue.  You do not get it.  You are like Clint talking to an empty chair.  You are not responding to what I wrote and what happened on election night.  Instead you are concocting a fantasy reality.  And if you do not figure it out then your Republican Party may wither away.

The Republican Party tried in a very organized way to take away the right to vote from those might vote Democratic.  They tried to impoverish most Americans with a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the very rich.  They ran a racist campaign against our President.  Their goal was to enslave women again as in the good old traditional days.  The GOP was captured and held hostage by its own extreme right - the Tea Party.  You guys - like the leaders of the GOP - simply seem unable to grasp that.  Romney, Rove and all the others are dumfounded - lost - and are now making stuff up.

No problem for us liberals.  Go ahead.  We now know we can ignore the lies and the money and win.  You can try to define this election and what it means, but we will simply not accept it.  We know very well what happened - and hopefully Obama will deal from a position of strength for all the Americans who elected him by a sizable margin - over 300 electoral votes.  That is more than George Bush got in either 2000 or 2004.  Obama won big.

Play nice kids?  The bullies - the national GOP as run by Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist - have just taken a hit and are now whining that we are not playing fair.  Same old thing.  We don’t expect you to fall in line.  We would suggest that you reconsider your understanding of the reality of what just happened.  And my suggestion is you might want to choose new party leaders who are genuine conservatives like you three are.

Craig Mayberry  //  Fri, Nov 09, 2012, 3:18 pm


The post was helpful and I suspected that was where you were headed.  I am not really as convinced that the liberal left own the interpretation of the outcome of the election, it is one interpretation, but based on the data there are many other alternative views.  I tend to occupy the intellectual space that you cannot really interpret election results.  As mentioned, I am still hung up on why a couple hundred people in Lynden voted for Barack Obama and Jason Overstreet or why tens of thousands of Washington residents voted for Barack Obama and Rob Mckenna, intellectually it seems incongruent.  If Obama has the mandate to raise taxes, why did the residents of Washington overwhelming approve the initiative to require 2/3rd votes from the legislature to raise taxes (for the upteenth time).  I do not really agree with most of the republican versions of why Romney lost, but again that is driven more by not really believing you can interpret election results because of the seemingly irrationality of voters.

Each of us have our life experiences, values, etc that tend to shape the way we think and respond to data.  In academic terms it is called heuristics or biases.  We listen to data that reflects are worldview and values and discount data that does not fit that mold.  We all do it, I am not less guilty than you or Karl Rove or Chris Matthews or Barack Obama.  That does not mean anyone is necessairly right or wrong, it just means that if you look at it through a certain lens you will see the world a certain way and if you looked at the world through a different lens you would see it differently.  Conservatives see the world through a vastly different lens then liberals and therefore come up with different results.  Liberals think they are right, conservatives think they are right and in the end both are right and wrong at the same time.  As soon as you engage the conversation then you quickly move to broad stereotypes to try to re-enforce your belief system.  That only compounds the damage as stereotypes are not really that accurate at the individual level, but in politics it is much easier to talk in broad stereotypes, even if you know they are not accurate.

By the way, I agree that I did not respond to your post on what happened on election night because I think it is a pointless discussion as I just logically stated.  I did respond very clearly why Romney had considerable support and why 48-49% of the people voted against Pres Obama (and it was not because of racism).  I will also respond with some additional conservative world views that shaped our vote once I have a chance to write some more.

I do agree that the world is changing in many ways.  I believe the country is becoming more progressive on social issues and things like gay marriage, legalization of marijuna and abortion are changing.  I also think there has been a slow and steady shift towards more inclusion of diversity in society.  I think on economic issues the country continues to remain much more conservative and that a majority of people still believe that there is a point that taxes are too high, government is getting too big, and that free markets is still superior to the alternatives, and that self reliance is better than government welfare.  The arguments there are whether the dial has moved a little too far or not far enough, but we are talking at the margins, not the extremes.

Tip Johnson  //  Fri, Nov 09, 2012, 3:35 pm

Probably the biggest blob of Republican BS currently fouling the political arena is the inane thesis of the nanny state and folks looking only for what they can get for free.  Maybe these so-called conservatives, who conserve nothing but want plunder all, have missed the fact that the United States is slipping.

According to Bloomberg, Switzerland and Sweden are now more innovative countries. 
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Some may wonder why.

There are some major obstacles to innovation and entrepreneurialism.  The first is access to capital.  No one can implement new ideas and create jobs without capital.  This problem grows worse as wealth inequality increases.  Conservative policies exacerbate this trend.  The wealthy are not the main job creators. Most jobs are creates by business with under 100 employees.

But the second obstacle is where conservatives really miss the point.  Things like access to education, health care, housing and other basic needs do not drag the economy down.  Thy buoy it up.  Here’s why. 

How many will take the risk of starting a new enterprise if failure means landing in the gutter, losing ones home, having to tell your kids they can’t enroll in college?  Very damn few, only the economically irrational.

I have heard this straight from the mouths of entrepreneurs in Scandinavian countries.  Because they know they will all be safe, they are freed to take more risks.  They laugh at the idea that their tax rates are too high, observing that it would cost much, much more to provide for themselves if their country didn’t work together as a community to meet these needs.  They point to our health care system as a prime example.  They question why anyone would choose such a system.

We will restore a healthy economy when it is safe to take risks, and the tools are made available.

Craig Mayberry  //  Fri, Nov 09, 2012, 5:57 pm


I agree with everything you say except for one thing.  There are about 9 million people in Sweden, there are over 250 million in the US.  It is the equalivent of running a company of 100 people versus a company of 3000.  What would work in a business with 100 employees does not work in a company of 3000 and certainly not in a company of 30,000 and it becomes more difficult as it scales.  If we carved up every state and let them do there own thing then the Sweden model would have a chance of working, but instead everything is run out of Washington DC and therefore it will never work.  I will address your comments on education, health care and housing in a separate post but it is not as simple as you portray because at the end you still have to get a job and if no one is willing to hire you then it is all for naught anyway.

You also have long standing cultural issues that Sweden has always been more collective in nature as a society, US has always been more indivualistic as a soceity.  Most of our forbears came here because they wanted to get away from their country and that still permeates how many people think.  Maybe we could change our culture to be more collective and I think it is happening somewhat naturally, but not very quickly and not without a lot of pain and division.  To be honest, I think that is the underlying tension in the system.  That is a much more logical reason for the reaction of Republicans than the racism argument put forward by John and others.  It is probably getting where over 50% of people are more collective and less than 50% are individualistic which is driving the political narrative.

Doug Karlberg  //  Fri, Nov 09, 2012, 6:10 pm

Tip, you must have missed the memo, that Sweden reversed course years ago, when it discovered that high tax rates were a dismal failure.

From Forbes:

Peter Diamond and Emmanuel Saez (Wall Street Journal High Tax Rates Won’t Slow Growth) offer a beguiling Leftist narrative: The 1% will cough up incremental tax revenue up to a 70 percent rate without cutting the things they do to generate economic growth. We can then use their money to fund “higher-return public investments” (such as Solyndra and the public-education black hole?) without cutting back the entitlement state.

Although Diamond’s Nobel Prize and Saez’s J. B Clark Award make them eminently credentialed, Alan Reynolds (Of Course 70% Tax Rates Are Counterproductive) exposes the convoluted contortions behind their counter-intuitive finding that a tax that leaves you 30 cents on every extra dollar does not affect your decisions to start a new business, assume extra risks, or take on new clients. That’s a hard sell for anyone who thinks about it.

Economists can use different data sets and methods to debate forever how people react to marginal tax rates. “Natural experiments,” however, provide conclusive answers because they represent real-world experience. It is hard to ignore what your “lying eyes” (to use Groucho’s expression)

As described by Assar Lindbeck, Sweden’s social democrats and their union allies experimented with steroidal marginal tax rates to support an unbridled entitlement state from the late 1960s through the early 1980s. Sweden then reversed course when confronted with the disastrous consequences of its policies. The Swedish story ends on an up-beat note. Sweden and Germany are today the two best performing European states, both governed by center-right parties.

In 1970, Swedish high earners paid marginal tax rates of 70 percent, rising to 85 percent by 1980. Marginal tax rates on dividends and capital gains were only slightly lower, if at all. Sweden’s entitlement state featured universal benefits replacing 90 percent or more of lost income, a state monopoly of social services, and a union-inspired ‘solidarity wage” that featured (as the Swede’s scornfully put it) “equal pay for all work.”  Sweden’s distribution of income was as equal as the communist countries of Eastern Europe. Government spending rose to 60-70 percent of GDP versus the 45 to 50 percent in the rest of Europe at the time. Fifty percent more Swedes were “tax financed” than worked in the private sector.

According to Diamond and Saez, Sweden’s tax revenues should have grown faster than the rest of Europe as it raised its tax rates to unprecedented heights. In fact, Sweden’s growth of government revenues was one quarter less than the OECD average. We have plenty of anecdotes to explain why. More than half of Sweden’s billionaires live abroad according to Forbes. ABBA joined tennis star Bjorn Borg, film maker Ingmar Bergman, and many other Swedish notables abroad when the Swedish government took 85 percent of their earnings. The Swedes voted with their feet.

We do not know how many, but each departure lowered tax revenues.
Diamond and Saez should note that Sweden’s high marginal tax rates (and the associated Swedish welfare system) had a disastrous effect on economic growth. From 1850 to 1950, Swedish productivity growth was the fastest in the world. Sweden’s stellar economic performance made it the fourth richest OECD economy in 1970.  By 1995, Sweden had fallen to sixteenth place – the most dramatic relative decline of any affluent country in history.

Notably, Swedish firms operating outside of Sweden remained competitive. They were not the problem. The Swedish model was.
The Swedish experiment also shows the importance of what the government does with its money. Universal benefits destroyed the work ethic. Instead of “high return public investments,” Sweden raised public employment and expanded cradle-to-grave entitlements. The solidarity wage destroyed incentives to acquire skills or enroll in higher education.

Sweden began to reverse course in the early 1980s, and its per capita income ranking has since risen to eighth in the OECD. Sweden’s relative recovery was aided by the fact that a number of its European neighbors moved towards the Swedish model as Sweden abandoned it.

Sweden’s reversal has been constrained by the fact that the vast majority of its people depend on the state for employment and benefits rather than on the private sector. The situation must have been dire to convince such an electorate to reverse course.
The Swedish model also reveals one of the closest-held secrets of the Obama administration: Taxing the 1%  will not pay for the welfare state.

Swedish workers were saddled with marginal tax rates in the fifty percent range. They responded by working less, having more subsidized spells of unemployment, taking subsidized parental , permanent disability, or early retirement, or otherwise gaming the system.

Craig Mayberry  //  Sat, Nov 10, 2012, 12:46 pm

Doug is correct.  France is seeing this now.  Hollande raised income tax rates to 75% and raised business taxes and it is headed for disaster.  Hollande is now have to backtrack on some stuff but operates with a 36% approval rating, not good in a country that is pretty socialist.  England raised the top tax rate and then quickly had to reverse it as revenue plummetted.  Even cities and states in the US that raised top income tax rates a few percent are not seeing much if any growth in tax rates.  New York did it a few years ago and their budget issues have not been solved.  If you want to see where we are headed as a country and why conservatives are upset is to look at every inner city in the country (Chicago, Philly, Detroit, New York, etc).  This have been liberal bastions for decades and all of them are in deep trouble socially and economically, I am not sure why we want to replicate the results throughout the country.  I understand that there is intellectual delight in liberal economic policies, but they have never worked, so the question is why is Obama and the democrat left so intent on trying again.  Obama can go down as a great president, but to do so he will have to pull a Bill Clinton and move center right, not something Obama is going to do.

The War Has Just Begun

Slum landlords are alive and thriving. Over this summer 50% [corrected] of rental units failed the city's initial health and safety inspection.

Dick Conoboy
Fri, Sep 16, 2016, 8:02 am
16 comments; last on Sep 26, 2016

MNAC Paddy Whack Give the Dog a Bone

The vital role in city politics of the Mayor’s Neighborhood Advisory Commission (MNAC) has gradually diminished over the past five years and is now at an all time…

Dick Conoboy
Mon, Sep 12, 2016, 1:57 am
10 comments; last on Sep 24, 2016

Chapter 3: City Council Agenda Management

Anne Mackie writes the backstory that tells "the rest of the story" of how the August harsh attacks on citizens by the council had roots in July.

Guest writer
Sat, Sep 10, 2016, 1:02 am
1 comments; last on Sep 10, 2016

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Housing Forum on Wednesday, Sep 14

The York Neighborhood is sponsoring a forum on housing concerns on Wednesday, Sept 14th at the Garden Methodist Church at 7pm.

Dick Conoboy
Wed, Sep 07, 2016, 8:09 am
4 comments; last on Sep 10, 2016

A Big “Never Mind”

Anne Mackie gives us an overview of the planning kerfuffle during August between citizens and the Bham city council. And the bad attitudes of some council members.

Guest writer
Wed, Aug 31, 2016, 4:59 am
5 comments; last on Aug 31, 2016

Coal Trains Blocked by Local Protesters

Updated on Monday. An elaborate tripod was erected over the railroad tracks on the bridge over Chuckanut Bay and protesters sat in a sling. 11 hour train stoppage.

John Servais
Sun, Aug 28, 2016, 4:56 pm
3 comments; last on Aug 29, 2016

Chapter 2:  Playing the race card

Three emails: April Barker writes about ADUs and her perspective; Anne Mackie and Dick Conoboy respond.

Dick Conoboy
Tue, Aug 23, 2016, 9:02 pm
6 comments; last on Aug 25, 2016

Temper Tantrum Taints City Council

Council President Pinky Vargas loses it over minor violations of the three-minute comment rule. Is this any way to run a council?

Dick Conoboy
Mon, Aug 15, 2016, 3:13 am
11 comments; last on Aug 29, 2016

Anti-Nuclear Weapons ship ‘Golden Rule’ to Visit

Ellen Murphy writes about the sailboat that sailed toward nuclear test site in Pacific in 1958 and will visit Bellingham August 20 - 22. Now protesting modernization of…

Guest writer
Sat, Aug 13, 2016, 11:19 am
1 comments; last on Aug 15, 2016

Hiyu ferry for Lummi Island service - Explained

Jim Dickinson writes: Why the surplus Washington State ferry Hiyu should replace the Whatcom Chief for our Whatcom County ferry service to Lummi Island.

Guest writer
Tue, Jul 12, 2016, 10:55 pm
6 comments; last on Aug 06, 2016

Lummi Island Drawbridge

The Lummi Island ferry is a very old and decrepit vessel. The state ferry system wants to give us a newer one in great condition. Whatcom County says…

Tip Johnson
Sat, Jun 25, 2016, 10:08 pm
6 comments; last on Jun 30, 2016

Options High School: Great idea, wrong site

Tim Paxton guest writes about the defects in planning for the Options High School.

Guest writer
Mon, Jun 06, 2016, 5:03 pm
5 comments; last on Jun 26, 2016

Ferndale volunteers build kids playground

Over 2,000 volunteers have just built a new playground in six days. We do a photo story.

John Servais
Sun, Jun 05, 2016, 8:29 pm
1 comments; last on Jun 06, 2016

Greenways may reverse heron colony buffer purchase this evening

The Greenways Advisory Committee meets this evening and may reverse their May decision to purchase the heron colony buffer woods.

John Servais
Fri, Jun 03, 2016, 12:29 am
10 comments; last on Jun 07, 2016

We need to protect our Great Blue Heron colony

Bellingham's only heron colony needs forested buffer - and the land owner is willing to sell. Greenways has voted to buy it, but our city council must act.

John Servais
Tue, May 31, 2016, 9:51 pm
5 comments; last on Jun 01, 2016

Memorial Day 2016 - Thanking a True Soldier

This veteran, Chris Brown, deserves our deep thanks for his achievement with Growing Veterans as Executive Director, a post that he has left. He will continue as President…

Dick Conoboy
Thu, May 26, 2016, 5:23 am
3 comments; last on Jun 08, 2016

Singing the Comp Plan Blues

As the city council takes up consideration of the comprehensive plan, citizen input is critical. Otherwise in a few years and in response to housing and land use…

Dick Conoboy
Mon, May 23, 2016, 5:21 am

Proposed over-water walkway is dead

The planned concrete walkway from Boulevard Park to the Cornwall landfill, using millions in Greenway funds, has been abandoned by Bellingham. We again thank the Lummi.

John Servais
Sat, May 21, 2016, 4:32 pm
11 comments; last on May 26, 2016

Breaking Free: A New Age Ghost Dance

Jay Taber, a strong environmentalist for decades, guest writes a harsh critique of the 350 org anti-fossil fuel demonstrations at the Anacortes oil refineries last weekend.

Guest writer
Wed, May 18, 2016, 4:46 pm
2 comments; last on May 24, 2016

Missing Options High School traffic study

Bellingham School officials expect a slam dunk by Hearing Examiner and city council on street vacation and conditional use permit. By Patrick McKee.

Guest writer
Tue, May 17, 2016, 7:45 pm
2 comments; last on May 18, 2016

Uber: Supporting the Troops?

Uber, the cheap ride taxi company, is targeting the troops to become drivers in ads disguised as articles in publications such as the Army Times.

Dick Conoboy
Mon, May 16, 2016, 5:20 am

Herons or Oil: Which are long term?

The March Point protestors this weekend will hopefully show serious concern and not disturb the heron colony near the refineries.

John Servais
Sat, May 14, 2016, 9:34 am
2 comments; last on May 15, 2016

No Coal Terminal at Cherry Point - Final

The Seattle office of the Army Corps of Engineers has formally denied a permit for building a coal terminal at Cherry Point in Whatcom County. Updated at 4pm.

John Servais
Mon, May 09, 2016, 12:10 pm
4 comments; last on May 09, 2016

Boring, predictable Trump plays to conservative Lynden crowd

Supporters say he will beat Hillary Clinton.

Ralph Schwartz
Sat, May 07, 2016, 10:47 pm
3 comments; last on May 24, 2016

Citizens: BPD dismissive of people of color

Group cites failure to investigate assaults on anti-police-racism marchers

Ralph Schwartz
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 7:04 pm
5 comments; last on Aug 25, 2016

An Open Letter to U.S. Representative Rick Larsen

Also to all U.S. Representative candidates in the 1st and 2nd U.S. Congressional districts for the election in 2016

David Camp
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 3:46 pm
1 comments; last on Apr 27, 2016

Five districts pass; GOP incites conservatives to fight map in court

Republicans rolled over and approved the Democrats' map to set the stage for a legal challenge

Ralph Schwartz
Thu, Apr 21, 2016, 8:40 pm
3 comments; last on Apr 24, 2016

Unanimous Yes vote for 5 county council districts

GOP vote for Democratic plan to prevent locked committee and then county council becoming decision makers of districting boundaries

John Servais
Wed, Apr 20, 2016, 8:01 pm
1 comments; last on Apr 21, 2016

Report on City Council Retreat

The Bellingham City Council conducted a retreat on 16 April to discuss a number of issues, including a set of proposed strategies to ensure "sustainable services."

Dick Conoboy
Tue, Apr 19, 2016, 5:14 am

OregonLNG quits: Cherry Point may be new target

Liquid natural gas terminal is rumored to be in planning stages for Cherry Point as the Oregon proposed LNG plan is abandoned.

John Servais
Mon, Apr 18, 2016, 11:55 am
6 comments; last on Apr 19, 2016

Deck stacked against Republicans at Districting Committee hearing

Fate of new county five-district map remains uncertain.

Ralph Schwartz
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 10:43 pm
5 comments; last on Apr 14, 2016

Don’t speak at tonight’s Districting Committee hearing

If you do, you better make sure you have something to say that's going to change someone's mind.

Ralph Schwartz
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 9:09 am
3 comments; last on Apr 14, 2016

Bellingham Planning tries to sneak one through

The Sunnyland residents have just learned they have only today to comment on a huge impacting building project in their neighborhood.

John Servais
Mon, Apr 11, 2016, 1:06 am
11 comments; last on Apr 23, 2016

No sign of agreement as districting committee enters final phase

After a public hearing next week, the committee will be asked to vote on a five-district map for Whatcom County in two weeks.

Ralph Schwartz
Wed, Apr 06, 2016, 9:18 pm
5 comments; last on Apr 09, 2016

Proposed redistricting map for your review

The Districting Master (the official title) has submitted his map for review by the Districting Committee this evening. Here it is for your review.

John Servais
Wed, Apr 06, 2016, 1:14 pm
5 comments; last on Apr 07, 2016

BNSF: A casual approach to railroad safety

At Clayton Beach, we have tracked increasing erosion under railroad tracks and written to the railroads and federal inspectors. To no avail.

John Servais
Mon, Apr 04, 2016, 8:17 pm
2 comments; last on Apr 05, 2016

$15 Minimum Wage - Assured Debt Peonage

Accelerating efforts across the U.S. to install a $15 minimum wage are playing into the hands of big business and codifying enormously insufficient wages for years to come.

Dick Conoboy
Mon, Apr 04, 2016, 5:25 am
2 comments; last on May 24, 2016

Cherry Point coal port development put on ice

Work on EIS put on hold as coal companies wait for Army Corps of Engineers decision. Well, it was not in March. This is not an April 1…

John Servais
Fri, Apr 01, 2016, 3:49 pm
3 comments; last on Apr 02, 2016

Fuller calls on Coast Guard to ‘stand on the right side of history’

Activist contests $10,000 fine for climbing on a Shell oil vessel. Rob Lewis guest writes this report.

Guest writer
Wed, Mar 23, 2016, 2:37 pm

Voting guide for Whatcom Conservation District

Updated Wed, Mar 16. Tuesday, March 15, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., any registered voter of Whatcom County can vote in person at the conservation district office.

John Servais
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 8:26 pm

Will Cherry Point coal port be denied this week?

Updated 4:30pm. Helena, Montana newspaper says GPT may be denied this week by Army Corps of Engineers. US Rep Zinke panics and accuses Army of politics.

John Servais
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 12:19 am
4 comments; last on Mar 24, 2016

Dems, GOP primed for legal fight over districts

Not even a letter from a coal terminal spokesman can save them now.

Ralph Schwartz
Tue, Mar 15, 2016, 12:04 am
2 comments; last on Mar 17, 2016

Districting maps E and F for reference

We post the next two maps to be discussed at the Districting Committee today, March 14. For the few who might study them and later contribute perspectives.

John Servais
Mon, Mar 14, 2016, 1:53 am

Democrats threaten legal action on districting

Legally threatening letter sent by Seattle law firm retained by prominent leading Democratic Party leaders.

John Servais
Sun, Mar 13, 2016, 1:06 pm
1 comments; last on Mar 14, 2016

The state of citizen journalism is strong: Two receive deArmond awards

The third annual deArmond dinner celebrated the work of Sandy Robson and Neah Monteiro.

Ralph Schwartz
Fri, Mar 11, 2016, 11:28 pm
2 comments; last on Mar 13, 2016

Potential Oil Exports From Cherry Point—Something else to put on your radar

What almost happened on the coast of Maine could happen here at Cherry Point. Portland, Maine, stopped oil exports - and Whatcom County can also. If we act.

David Camp
Wed, Mar 09, 2016, 11:20 pm

Durham, NH, - Surprise! - Rental Inspections Worked

Durham is an example of the efficacy of rental inspections, putting to bed the unsupported objections of landlords by presenting facts about conditions.

Dick Conoboy
Wed, Mar 09, 2016, 2:20 pm
1 comments; last on Mar 12, 2016

Dogged Pursuit of a Failed Vision?

Wherein, we correct some misassumptions but still ask the questions

Tip Johnson
Tue, Mar 08, 2016, 2:47 pm

Districting Committee: GOP accuses Democrats of gerrymandering

The Republicans made concessions on their district map but took a final stand at Nooksack, Everson and Sumas.

Ralph Schwartz
Tue, Mar 08, 2016, 1:15 am
6 comments; last on Mar 12, 2016

Idea for Our Times: Puget Sound Repair Project

Could this address the real problem with Puget Sound?

Tip Johnson
Mon, Mar 07, 2016, 10:40 am
6 comments; last on Mar 08, 2016

Districting Committee: Republicans lack legal compass

Republicans and Democrats remain far apart. Democrats have the legal high ground, but Republicans would go to court to challenge that if necessary.

Ralph Schwartz
Sun, Mar 06, 2016, 11:39 pm
1 comments; last on Mar 07, 2016

Punishing the Wrong Guys

Wherein someone's gotta do the right thing

Tip Johnson
Tue, Mar 01, 2016, 3:40 pm

D’Angelo undaunted by fine: ‘I had to make the moral choice’

Chiara D'Angelo comes across as emotionally intelligent and uncompromising in her high-stakes Coast Guard hearing.

Ralph Schwartz
Mon, Feb 29, 2016, 11:55 pm
1 comments; last on Mar 01, 2016

Elfo: Enforcement, Litigation or Risks?

Wherein inquiring minds want to know!

Tip Johnson
Sat, Feb 27, 2016, 1:24 pm

‘Goodwill’ wanted but lacking on Districting Committee

Republicans focused their efforts on torpedoing the Democrats' five-district proposal at the second committee meeting.

Ralph Schwartz
Tue, Feb 23, 2016, 5:01 am
4 comments; last on Mar 01, 2016

Anchor-chain activists face hefty fines

The Coast Guard has levied $30,000 in fines on two Bellingham climate activists. They will fight to have the fines dropped.

Ralph Schwartz
Thu, Feb 18, 2016, 5:01 am
16 comments; last on Feb 22, 2016

Jail Reform: Music to My Ears

Wherein sanity may finally be approaching a nagging jail issue

Tip Johnson
Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 8:54 pm
2 comments; last on Feb 19, 2016

Redistricting: Democrats may have upper hand

Republicans and Democrats traded barbs on the first day of the Districting Committee, but Dems may have won the first battle.

Ralph Schwartz
Tue, Feb 09, 2016, 5:02 am
5 comments; last on Feb 10, 2016

Stop the Rental Fires Now!

Inspections of rentals cannot begin too soon. Seven fires in rental units since 2011 and almost half with ONE landlord. No but the clock may be running out.

Dick Conoboy
Mon, Feb 08, 2016, 6:26 am

Super Bowl 50 - Wretched Excess

From all the monumentally boring hoopla to the shameful rousting of the homeless Super Bowl 50 exceeds all expectations for greed and excess.

Dick Conoboy
Fri, Feb 05, 2016, 12:45 pm
4 comments; last on Feb 12, 2016


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