11 Replies to “Podcast #23: Cranky Contrarians”

  1. One big problem with pre-emptive coalitions like I-732 is it seems to skip the bargaining process between conflicting interest groups that produces buy in to the compromise in the first place. It alienates the natural base for this kind of legislation without bringing in many new votes from the target moderate group.

    Leave horse trading to the legislature.

    Initatives should also be kept conceptually simple so the average voter who doesn’t feel deceived when more details come out.

    I’ve talked to a number of moderate liberal boomer voters who were initially for the bill but turned against it when they found out it had some business tax cuts as well.

    Compromise like this probably not compatible with the initative process.

    1. The “bargaining process between conflicting interest groups” is what the kitchen-sink opponents are trying to do. “One for you, one for you, and one for you.” The initiative just tried to answer an essential question: if you want a revenue-neutral carbon tax (which is a good idea on its own merits), what do you do with the revenue? Because you have to do something. I would have preferred an annual check to all residents. But if you’re going to offset taxes instead, well, you have to offset taxes, so then you have to decide what proportion to which taxes. Which they did. If somebody is allergic to the word “Business” in a tax cut and doesn’t look further to see whether that cut might be a good thing, well, you can’t please everybody.

      1. The annual check to all residents would probably have been a more successful way to get Republican support. The Republican Party in Alaska defends that check (ca. $300 per year to every resident, as well as all the servicemembers who resided there for at least two years and then didn’t change their voter registration afterward) as if it were the Second Amendment. They also defend the ability of those who haven’t lived there in years to keep getting those checks, as if that rule were the Second Amendment.

      2. The negotiations didn’t occur with the folks actually voting, so we don’t actually know if those tax cuts bought any votes.

        It certainly seems to have cost votes.

        My point is this kind of tax swap is better handled in the legislature where negotiations with individual legislators may actually bring in votes on the bill.

        In this case those voting on the bill (average voters) had zero input in the process and hence zero investment in the compromise.

        Maybe the gamble will pay off, but from what I see, the initiative writers have alienated a significant number of liberal voters without reliability bringing in conservative voters.

    2. “if you want a revenue-neutral carbon tax (which is a good idea on its own merits),”

      This is what it really revolves on. I believe it’s worthwhile on its own because it acknowledges the public’s ownership interest in negative externalities (carbon emissions; the interest in a stable temperature, weather, species survival, etc) and natural resources (the Alaska Permanent Fund). This can be a model for other externalities later (congestion, pollution, etc). Theoretically it could fund all our government if we oriented taxes this way. (Although there is a counter-problem of having a financial benefit in other people polluting and not wanting them to stop, but that can be dealt with as a subsidiary problem.) When I first heard of this concept (in the context of Vancouver’s carbon tax inspired by Alaska), I thought, “Yes! We should do it!” There must be others who will likewise support it when they understand it.

      You seem to consider all this invalid, that the only purpose of the revenue-neutral part is to pick up tax-leery votes; i.e.,”horse trading”. But I think it goes beyond that. It’s a different philosophy of how to deal with environmental issues. The fact that it appeals to the tax-leery is a secondary benefit. It also doesn’t preclude raising a progressive tax for other things; it just makes that a separate vote. That’s important going forward because it reinforces this tax as solely an environmental issue. That may make it more resilient to future attempts to repeal it or cut into it. It would also put the voters on record as prioritizing the environment. That could help future environmental legislation get passed. In contrast, if it included spending on a bunch of progressive programs, then it could be interpreted as, “These people just wanted another revenue source for their programs, they didn’t care much about carbon emissions per se.”

      So it’s worth having a vote on a revenue-neutral carbon tax in any case, even if it fails, because it gets the issue out there. Marijuana legalization also had to try several times before it finally passed. Adding progressive spending to it may win some liberal votes but it would also limit the full potential of the approach. There are lots of progressive spending initiatives and there will always be more. There has never been a revenue-neutral negative-exernality initiative so we should give voters a chance to consider this approach.

  2. The discussion of 732, priorities, coalitional politics, and left strategy is incredibly smart and thoughtful, and a joy to listen to. Thanks for that.

  3. You discussed Martin’s twitter account, but forgot to link to it.

    So, let’s put the three in ST3:

    1. Three-car trains, all day, every day, so people spread out and make use of them. Yes, they will be somewhat empty during the day, and it will require slightly longer peak headway, but the consistency is the only way to distribute the riders and not leave most of them stuffed in the front two cars. Besides, we want to speed up the day when we retire these bus-style trains and switch to 400+foot open-gangway super-trams with enough standing room to handle eventual ST3 ridership. I realize that would require building 400+foot long maintenance decks, but ST may as well start planning for the obvious future. Making full use of the platforms all the time would help reduce peak dwell time substantially, and probably reduce average wait+travel time.

    2. Three platforms at ID/C Station, and Westlake Station and U-District Station while you are at it. Because dwell time impacts minimum headway, which determines maximum capacity.

    3. At least three of the four escalators at SeaTac Airport Station should lead downward. Seriously, why do they make people with luggage trying to catch flights take multiple minutes standing in a queue for the last working down escalator? The up escalators are never crowded. Also, put out trifolds or something pointing the people in the long queues at the Airport Station TVMs to those other three TVMs hiding at the north end of the station behind the pillar.

    4. Reduce the cost of ORCA cards by at least $5. (Three, sir). At least $3. Raise the ST Express cash fare to $3. Because the time of everyone else on the bus matters. There also happens to be a severe driver shortage (though I suspect ST Express and SDOT-purchased trips are held harmless), so reducing trip time means someone else has their bus actually show up.

    1. Bravo about the down escalators.

      If ST was trying to compete in a “worst possible experience for people taking luggage to an airport on a train” contest, I’m not sure what they’d have to do differently than they did. Trains configured so that there is essentially nowhere to stow luggage, check (I love the signs telling you to put it under your seat when a majority of the seats have no underside to them at all) Long walk from the station to the airport itself, check. Unpleasant and weather affected walk from the station to the airport itself, check. Long lines to take the only down escalator, check. $5 charge to buy a card that will allow you to go round trip and skip the lines at the ticket machines on your way back, check. Perhaps we could eliminate all the signs in English and substitute Esperanto.

      Note, by the way, I don’t include the run down MLK. The train is North King’s ST money, not a downtown to airport express. You want that, take a private bus or a cab. And there’s no neighborhood it could have gone through that made any sense if it went straight from downtown to SeaTac.

      1. “Trains configured so that there is essentially nowhere to stow luggage”

        There are other systems that don’t let you bring luggage at all. Before BART reached SFO there were two SamTrans bus routes, an express and a local. The express did not allow luggage. I saw it somewhere else too although I can’t remember where, where the best transit line didn’t alfow luggage and the secondary one did.

      2. Wishful thinking: With the planned large expansion of the international terminal, it sure would be nice to have a second Link SeaTac stop before Angle Lake.

      3. Why not expand the international terminal to the north, and have Airport Station end by the middle of the airport?

Comments are closed.