But first this photo again, because it's worth setting today's Occupation in some historical context. We are now in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression, and in Washington State, back during the ol' Great Depression, people marched on the state Capitol Building—just like they will today—to demand more help for the working class. Back then they called it a Hunger March, staged on behalf of the Unemployed Citizens League and other organizations. Today it's called Occupy the Capitol, staged on behalf of the 99 percent. But the basic demand is the same: a state that does more to help its citizens get through very hard times.
Vibert Jeffers, Susan Parish Photograph Collection, Washington State Archives, used with permission.
"On January 16, 1933, people converged on Olympia for a 'Hunger March' to demand food, shelter, relief and programs to create jobs for the unemployed throughout the state."
Now, here's the hard question that today's Occupiers will have to answer:
Should the Occupy protesters support Gov. Gregoire's proposal to "buy back" about $500 million in cuts to education, prisoner supervision, and care for the developmentally disabled by temporarily raising the (regressive) state sales tax by half a penny?
So far, this half-cent sales tax increase is the only major revenue-raising idea formally on the table in Olympia. It has the benefit of getting needed revenue into the state treasury immediately to save important programs. (Unlike other taxes that are collected once a year, sales taxes are collected constantly.) But it has the problem of forcing the working poor to pay more, as a percentage of their income, to save programs meant to help the working poor. While Occupiers from all over head toward Olympia this morning, how about a poll on what they should say when they get there:
Should the Occupy movement support Governor Gregoire's call for a temporary Washington State sales tax increase to "buy back" basic state services?