Monday, February 3, 2014

A Rather Mild Take On Inequity, Though Hopefully Of Value

This week I choose the article “Income Inequity A Hot Topic On California’s Ballots” from the SF Chronicle, Saturday the 25th of January. 

The main issue is that Californians and other Americans are paying attention to the factors behind rising inequality, and the author, Joe Garofoli, does a good job describing the various measures (ending subsidies for oil companies, effectively raising their taxes—and raising the minimum wage among them) expected to be on the ballot this November that may mitigate some issues, at least short term. Garofoli goes through the positions for and against each idea, giving the story behind recent national and state-wide momentum for addressing this issue.  The point I am convinced of is that in California we do have an opportunity at least in each election year to go after issues that are nearest and dearest to our hearts. Lucky for us, this direct democracy thing allows that, but it does also allow for the opposite voice in any argument to do the same: spend and lobby to shape public opinion. 

The person mentioned in the article that I am most interested in fact-checking is one Grover Norquist, he of the ‘No-New-Taxes-Pledge’ fame. In the article he is quoted:  "If you are the modern Democratic Party - and you just spent 50 years explaining that you were going to have a war on poverty and then people see that 50 years later there's more poverty than ever - you're looking and feeling pretty stupid…" He must think that people are on the whole stupid because America stopped funding the war on Poverty in the mid-70’s, during the Nixon administration. By the time Reagan blamed all of welfare fraud on one crazy Chicago lady, the War on Poverty was a ‘conflict in Vietnam’—or at least that’s where the money was going.

Another anti-taxer, Jon Coupal (president of the STAUNCHLY conservative Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association), says that the proposal to raise the minimum wage "should be called the Guaranteed Teenager Unemployment Act…because employers will be less likely to spend more money on younger workers.” But an idiot’s Google search finds that the average age of fast food workers is actually 29…so clearly the anti-tax logic is a little off from the start. 

That brings me to this week’s assigned article and what I think is the pull quote: “We also went through our tea party-like phases, beginning with Proposition 13 in 1978, continuing with spending limits, legislative term limits, the Davis recall, the ban on affirmative action and a long string of other tax limitation initiatives.” The idea that taxes can fix anything and everything is just plain wrong and stupid, and rightfully scares those who fear an overbearing state. But to say that climate change is a liberal farce and that there is no such thing as a good tax, and et al etc., is equally irresponsible, and I could not agree with the author more than when he states that if California were to be where the national tax revolt came to an end, it might do more than save our state, but could provide an avenue to a restored democracy. 
Ending the ‘no-new-taxes’ pledge of Norquist is where I believe we should start. California has long been a model for the nation and could be again.

"" Sacbee / HYPERLINK "" Opinion / HYPERLINK "" Viewpoints 

If any group made a serious effort to tweak Prop. 13, it would be bombarded unmercifully by anti-tax zealots and the business lobby.”

Article Analysis Assignment

First, read a news story from the newspaper or the Internet.  Answer the following questions regarding your news story: 1) What is the main issue, who are the main actors being discussed;  Then, choose one of the assigned articles you read for this week.  Answer the following questions regarding the assigned article: 1) What are the basics of this article (who, what, when, how, why, etc.);  2) What is the overall main point the author is trying to convince you of?  3) Do you agree with the author’s argument?  Why?  Why not?   Finally, tie together your news story with what you learned from the assigned article, textbook readings, podcasts, videos, etc. for this week.  Type your answers in the box below using your own words, no outline or bullets, complete sentences and paragraphs, single-spaced, full-page. 

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