I like local progressive rich guy Nick Hanauer when he's writing editorials demanding higher taxes on himself and his fellow rich guys. But when he's stupidly accusing teachers of "literally strangling our public schools to death," not so much.

I mean, put your money behind Republican Rob McKenna if you want, Nick, though you'd only end up (figuratively) strangling public schools yourself by electing a governor who would oppose any tax hike intended to fund them. Meanwhile, charter schools, for which you seem so eager to throw your fellow Democrats under the bus, there isn't a single comprehensive study to show that they outperform their traditional public school counterparts.

Whatever. I'm not here to argue charter schools. Been there, done that. Instead, because I'm in a giving mood today, and because Hanauer is a man of means who obviously cares deeply about public policy (even when he's occasionally wrong), I'd like to offer him a bit of free advice: If you really want to make a difference, Nick—if you really want to help move Washington state forward toward a fairer, more progressive, more prosperous future—gather up a few hundred million dollars and buy the fucking Seattle Times!


See, one of the biggest problems in Washington state politics, Nick, is the crushing asymmetry of our professional opinion industry, which starts and ends on the pro-business/anti-tax op-ed pages of the Seattle Times. As painful as it is to admit it, the Seattle Times is our state's paper of record, and as such leads the way for the rest of Washington's pro-business/anti-tax editorial boards.

Yes, most normal people don't read these editorials, let alone heed them, but politicians do, and so part of the reason why we are absolutely incapable of debating both sides of the budget ledger is because our editorial boards refuse to allow this debate to occur. As you know, Nick, without tax restructuring—without substantially raising taxes on rich people like you—state and local governments will inexorably shrink, gradually giving us the Republican agenda by default.

Quietly, off-the-record, most Democrats will admit that taxes are too low to sustain the government services and investments necessary for our state's economy to thrive, but they fear taking a stand on this issue, knowing that they'll only be pilloried by their local editorial boards. Hell, even many Democrats, having heard the mantra over and over again, are reluctant to challenge the corporatist dogma that low taxes and smaller government automatically create more and better jobs.

But imagine how different the conversation might be if the Seattle Times were in the hands of a publisher whose values more closely reflect that of the majority of Seattleites, rather than just those who chat over pomegranate lacquered diver sea scallops at the Rainier Club? And that publisher, Nick, could be you.

Seriously. You've got the bucks. Make them an offer they can't refuse. One which the extended Blethen family will pressure Frank to take, rather than watching the rest of their inheritance continue to wither away in the post-print era. And a man of your business acumen, Nick, you might even manage to turn that stodgy old fish wrapper around. Try some of that "innovation" stuff you're so keen on, maybe even put a few entertaining writers on the editorial board, scribes more skilled at making arguments than excuses. (You know how to reach me.)

Hell, with the op-ed pages of the state's largest daily newspaper at your disposal, you could even feed your charter schools jones (though I warn you, Republicans don't see charter schools as a means toward greater innovation, but rather as an excuse to crush teachers unions, steal their pensions, lower their wages, hike their health care premiums, and spend even less on K-12 education).

The point is Nick, the reason the right has been so successful at getting their message out through the news media is because they own it: Every single daily newspaper in the state, and most of the broadcast outlets as well. But you've got the wealth to rebalance the local media landscape in one fell swoop.

Talk is cheap, Nick. If you really want to make a difference, it's time to pony up some big bucks.