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 Last Lessons of Dr. David T. Mason

Sat, Mar 21, 2015, 11:16 am  //  Guest writer

Kamalla Kaur worked with David Mason on his biographical materials and offers this tribute to his illustrious life.

2 comments; last on Mar 23, 2015

County Meth Ordinance Sent Back to Committee

Fri, Mar 13, 2015, 5:00 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The Whatcom County Council has sent discussion on changing the meth ordinance back to the Public Works, Health and Safety Committee


Village Books

In historic Fairhaven. Take Exit 250 from I-5.

Robyn du Pre` Has Passed On

Thu, Mar 12, 2015, 1:06 pm  //  John Servais

Add your thoughts and remembrances. Robyn du Pre` was a stalwart and true environmental advocate for Bellingham and Whatcom County. She died this week.

9 comments; last on Mar 23, 2015

How the Party Treats Jeb and Hillary Tells You Everything

Thu, Feb 26, 2015, 10:39 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley shares some insight into the national political parties

5 comments; last on Mar 09, 2015

Dealing with Meth Contamination - A Race to the Bottom in Whatcom County

Wed, Feb 25, 2015, 6:31 am  //  Dick Conoboy

In a hearing, possibly on 3 March, the Whatcom County Council will consider an ordinance changing the rules for contaminated meth use sites.

1 comments; last on Feb 27, 2015

Rent-to-Own Scam on Tenants

Mon, Feb 09, 2015, 6:00 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Not all rent-to-own propositions are an unwise method to buy a home but some are schemes to rip off the unsuspecting tenant.


The Hidden Election

Mon, Feb 02, 2015, 9:34 am  //  Guest writer

No ballot mailed to you. You must request a ballot for voting in the Whatcom Conservation District election. Deadline to apply is Feb 9. By Barbara Perry


Little Hong Kong by the Bay

Thu, Jan 29, 2015, 10:56 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein Bellingham's billion dollar boondoggle is revisited

4 comments; last on Mar 03, 2015

A Call to Action to Support the Lummi Nation

Tue, Jan 27, 2015, 9:55 am  //  Terry Wechsler

The Lummi requested on Jan. 5, 2015, that the federal government, through the Army Corps of Engineers, honor Art. V of the Treaty of Point Elliott and deny…

1 comments; last on Feb 04, 2015

The Pickett House Museum

Sun, Jan 25, 2015, 12:32 pm  //  Guest writer

Adventures of George Pickett in the Pacific Northwest Wilderness

5 comments; last on Jan 28, 2015

Call to Action—Shell Anacortes Crude by Rail Proposal

Sat, Jan 24, 2015, 3:15 pm  //  Terry Wechsler

The fourth area refinery crude by rail infrastructure project to receive permits without benefit of environmental review is being appealed, and provides an opportunity to make precedent.


Riley Sweeney to Receive Paul deArmond Award

Fri, Jan 23, 2015, 12:13 am  //  John Servais

The second annual award for Citizen Journalism will be to The Political Junkie himself who runs the Sweeney Politics blog, Riley Sweeney.

2 comments; last on Jan 24, 2015

The Annexation Games

Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 3:07 am  //  Guest writer

Guest article by Sandra Alfers. Water and sewer connections drive unwanted annexation. Trickle Creek homeowners are muzzled by a "no protest zone."

1 comments; last on Jan 20, 2015

A Walk With Hope

Sun, Jan 18, 2015, 10:14 pm  //  Guest writer

Ellen Murphy gives us a poem for this Martin Luther King day of remembrance.

2 comments; last on Jan 21, 2015

Dead or Alive: How do you like your herring?

Sun, Jan 18, 2015, 9:15 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein the ridiculous is ridiculed

5 comments; last on Jan 21, 2015

Lodging Goals for Whatcom County

Thu, Jan 08, 2015, 2:54 pm  //  Guest writer

Tani Sutley guest writes about the vacation rentals situation and presents goals for the county council to consider for improving our rural neighborhoods.

1 comments; last on Jan 10, 2015

Water is Valuable

Wed, Dec 31, 2014, 1:16 am  //  Guest writer

Duuhhh! Try doing without it. Marian Beddill provides an overview of our rural Whatcom County water situation and the efforts to find fair solutions.

3 comments; last on Jan 08, 2015

Riley’s Top 5 Whatcom Political Stories of 2014

Wed, Dec 24, 2014, 1:23 pm  //  Riley Sweeney

The Herald gave us their top 10 stories, Riley gives you his top 5


Coal Ship Collisions Study Is Released

Thu, Dec 18, 2014, 5:04 pm  //  John Servais

One part of the environmental study for the proposed Cherry Point mega coal terminal has been completed and released. It deals with ship collisions - they call it…

2 comments; last on Dec 22, 2014

Twas the Week Before Christmas…

Thu, Dec 18, 2014, 12:26 pm  //  John Servais

Bellingham Public Works shows how tone deaf they can be to business concerns. They insisted on street work that takes away up to 80 parking spaces in Fairhaven…


Bellingham City Council Approves Rental Inspections

Tue, Dec 16, 2014, 3:51 pm  //  Dick Conoboy

7-0! City Council Unanimous. Rentals Will Be Inspected in Bellingham. Thanks go to WWU students for speaking out to city council.

4 comments; last on Dec 18, 2014

Council Moving Rapidly on Rental Registration and Inspections

Thu, Dec 11, 2014, 5:05 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The Bellingham City Council has added an inspection component to the registration-only rental ordinance proposal of Councilmember Murphy

4 comments; last on Dec 16, 2014

New Year’s Eve and Consumer Fireworks - Ban in Effect

Wed, Dec 10, 2014, 6:37 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The ban on consumer fireworks that took effect last summer is valid all year, even New Year's Eve

1 comments; last on Dec 11, 2014

Ship Breaks Loose at Port of Bellingham

Tue, Dec 09, 2014, 1:31 pm  //  John Servais

The Horizon Lines ship - the many year resident of the Port of Bellingham - broke loose this morning due to failure of some system. A few photos.

3 comments; last on Dec 10, 2014

Whatcom County and the New Sharing Economy

Tue, Dec 09, 2014, 2:25 am  //  Guest writer

Tani Sutley writes of how unregulated vacation rentals are invading the Lake Whatcom watershed. She urges action before the Planning Commission meeting on 11 December.

4 comments; last on Jan 03, 2015

War and Peace

Wed, Dec 03, 2014, 2:20 pm  //  Richard Lewis

Poet Richard Lewis reflects on Elizabeth Warren

3 comments; last on Dec 07, 2014

Prosecutor McEachran Calls Racism Charge “Preposterous”

Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 4:27 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein Whatcom's Klan heritage may be oozing from some cracks

8 comments; last on Dec 06, 2014

Where are the persuadable voters in the 42nd District?

Sat, Nov 22, 2014, 3:48 pm  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley dives into the data with precinct maps and historical perspectives


Campus View Apartment Project Officially Defunct

Thu, Nov 20, 2014, 9:15 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Campus Crest Communities, Inc. has officially offered for sale the Lincoln St. property that was to be a student apartment development.

2 comments; last on Nov 23, 2014

Howard Harris Dies - More Testimonials Added

Wed, Nov 12, 2014, 1:51 pm  //  John Servais

Updated Nov 12. Howard Harris, the founder of the Bellingham silent peace vigil at the Federal Building in Bellingham, has died. He and Rosemary were leaders in our…


A Veterans Day Note

Tue, Nov 11, 2014, 2:34 pm  //  John Servais

On this Veterans Day, a note about how vets need our government to step up - as has never been done. And a personal note on the power…

3 comments; last on Nov 13, 2014

Lincoln Street Apartment Development May Be Abandoned

Thu, Nov 06, 2014, 6:53 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The Campus Crest apartment complex may be the "victim" of a corporate restructuring plan.

3 comments; last on Nov 10, 2014

Doug Ericksen’s Tax Lien

Tue, Nov 04, 2014, 12:28 pm  //  John Servais

While smearing Seth Fleetwood over a common tax arrangement, we discover Doug Ericksen also has a benign tax lien - one he denied.

6 comments; last on Nov 11, 2014

A Recent GOP History in Not-So-Terse-Verse

Mon, Nov 03, 2014, 8:14 pm  //  Richard Lewis

Poet Richard Lewis weighs in on the Tea Party values



Sat, Nov 01, 2014, 12:29 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Or why to vote for Nyima, the dog, for County Prosecutor

4 comments; last on Nov 03, 2014

Election Recommendations

Thu, Oct 30, 2014, 2:18 am  //  John Servais

A link to Riley's Political Junkie for excellent recommendations - and a few thoughts of my own.

1 comments; last on Oct 30, 2014

Something Gristly to Chew On: The rest of the story -

Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 11:01 am  //  Tip Johnson

It's just how things roll in Whatcom County

5 comments; last on Oct 26, 2014

Point Roberts vs. the FCC:  Modern David and Goliath

Wed, Oct 22, 2014, 2:44 pm  //  John Lesow

Update Oct 22: John Lesow has posted a comment with considerable more information on this issue.

1 comments; last on Oct 22, 2014

Tune in TONIGHT for Political Comedy

Tue, Oct 14, 2014, 6:36 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley does a local political comedy show

1 comments; last on Oct 15, 2014

Bham Planning Director - Rick Sepler Chosen

Wed, Oct 08, 2014, 6:24 pm  //  John Servais

Three final candidates for Bellingham Planning Director spoke today at a cozy 'meet and greet' of government employees and developers.

6 comments; last on Oct 11, 2014

The Business of Government

Sat, Oct 04, 2014, 12:23 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein we see that sometimes government can do what business can't.

9 comments; last on Oct 07, 2014

Rental Conditions -  A Real Estate Inspector’s View

Fri, Oct 03, 2014, 10:26 am  //  Dick Conoboy

An experienced real estate inspector provides a window to the dangeroous conditions found in rentals in Bellingham

3 comments; last on Oct 05, 2014

Few Surprises at the Tea Party Debate

Thu, Oct 02, 2014, 2:33 pm  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley files a full report of the Tea Party debate for State Leg candidates

1 comments; last on Oct 04, 2014

Satpal Sidhu, Candidate for State Representative, 42nd District

Tue, Sep 30, 2014, 8:00 am  //  Guest writer

Wherein a Fulbright scholar, professional engineer and successful business owner files for public office

4 comments; last on Oct 02, 2014

Hickory, Dickory, Docketing…Yet Another Spot Rezone

Mon, Sep 22, 2014, 5:07 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Last Thursday, the Planning Commission voted to recommend the docketing of the spot rezone of 801 Samish from Residential Single to Commerical Planned (non-retail)

6 comments; last on Oct 03, 2014

Samish Way Experience - Drug Dealing Dangers?

Wed, Sep 17, 2014, 10:26 am  //  John Servais

We post a disturbing report of a personal encounter along Samish Way, with the permission of John Stark, who experienced it.

2 comments; last on Sep 17, 2014

Who Will Be Appointed to Lehman’s City Council Seat?

Tue, Sep 09, 2014, 8:21 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley and John share the short list of who might replace Cathy Lehman on the Bellingham city council on January 5.

8 comments; last on Sep 10, 2014

An Imminent Threat:  The State Plans for CBR Disaster While Counties Punt

Mon, Aug 25, 2014, 11:48 am  //  Terry Wechsler

While the state spends hundreds of thousands of dollars defining risks of crude by rail, Skagit County finds no significant adverse impacts of a crude-by-rail proposal.

1 comments; last on Aug 28, 2014

You can’t fight city hall: city hall doesn’t fight fair

Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 2:06 pm  //  Guest writer

Patrick McKee of the Sunnyland Neighborhood guest-writes about the August 11 City Council slap-dash zoning changes.

2 comments; last on Aug 23, 2014

Good Friends and Neighbors:  What $54 Million Doesn’t Buy, Part 2

Wed, Aug 20, 2014, 4:54 pm  //  Terry Wechsler

Not content with causing massive inconvenience, BNSF is now literally dumping on county residents.

10 comments; last on Aug 26, 2014

Devil In the Details

Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 3:48 pm  //  Guest writer

Judith Green of the Sunnyland Neighborhood guest writes this brief summary of what went wrong with the planning last week.

1 comments; last on Aug 22, 2014

Good Friends and Neighbors:  What $54 Million Doesn’t Buy

Fri, Aug 15, 2014, 7:12 am  //  Terry Wechsler

A massive upgrade of the Cascade [rail] Corridor has left residents stranded and the sheriff asking Washington, DC, to intervene.

7 comments; last on Sep 02, 2014

Reliable Prosperity

Thu, Aug 14, 2014, 3:13 pm  //  Guest writer

Sandy Robson guest writes of the need for real prosperity at Cherry Point, not a destructive short term coal port that destroys the fishing grounds.

5 comments; last on Oct 02, 2014

Fleetwood versus Ericksen: What Happened in Round One?

Tue, Aug 12, 2014, 10:52 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Some Context for the Primary Results


The Rule of Law - Bellingham Style

Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 11:31 pm  //  John Servais

Bellingham City Council abruptly changes zoning codes to force Planning Department plan on Sunnyland residents.

7 comments; last on Aug 14, 2014

Final Updated Election Results

Fri, Aug 08, 2014, 10:10 am  //  John Servais

Updated Wed evening. The Tuesday evening 8:20 pm Auditor report on the election is in.

5 comments; last on Aug 08, 2014

Councilmember Murphy’s Proposed Rental Ordinance Is Deeply Flawed

Fri, Aug 01, 2014, 8:00 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Councilmember Murphy's proposal is based on a complaint-based rental ordinance from Tacoma, demonstrated to do little for the health and safety of tenants.

14 comments; last on Oct 01, 2014

Trial by Fire:  A Rising Tide of Civil Disobedience

Fri, Aug 01, 2014, 4:47 am  //  Terry Wechsler

Carefully planned actions are rolling across the state to make the point that it's not OK to expose us to risks associated with CBR.

7 comments; last on Aug 04, 2014

Northwest Citizen Releases Polling of Whatcom Voters

Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 11:40 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Northwest Citizen has conducted a phone poll of likely voters, with some surprising results!

9 comments; last on Jul 29, 2014

Plan Commission & Samish Neighbors Bypassed on Rezone Docketing

Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 7:52 am  //  Dick Conoboy

In contravention of the Bellingham Municipal Code, the City Council will consider on 4 August a last minute docketing request that ignores the Planning Commission and Samish Neighborhood.

1 comments; last on Jul 30, 2014


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