Balderdash commented on an earlier post of mine:

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You know, as much as I'm in favor of a progressive tax structure, if there's one lesson I've learned in the time I've lived here, it's that you can't trust Washington's government with money. I'll happily vote for an income tax, but only if it is absolutely set in stone that the sales tax dies at the same time. I'm not going to give them an income tax and let them just give their word that they'll kill the sales tax later at some unspecified time in the future.

I'll vote for 1098 just because of the high minimum income affected, but if the income tax is ever proposed generally, well... fuck that. Not until sales tax is actually gone.

(Emphasis added by me.)

To everyone who is constantly telling me how terrible our elected government is at investing public resources I say: Prove it. Come up with one example of what you consider to be wasteful governmental spending. And then, show me the hard evidence that your notion is correct. Then try to convince your fellow citizens that this spending is truly wasteful—and not just spending that is for someone else that you don't like.

Because, so far as I've been able to discover, Washington State (and particularly King County) have demonstrated a particularly prescient investment of our resources—generally saving the broader community costs that other places suffer under. I'm not claiming there is no wasteful spending. Just that on the scale of public spending, the percentage of wasted spending seems low—generally lower than most other (private, for profit) organizations I've had the misfortune of being under. The services we receive from our local governments are astonishingly valuable and reliable—on both a global and historical scale.

Want a data-backed example? I won't go after the obvious (King County's world-class public health department, for example. Or having firetrucks that respond to everyone's houses). No, let's go after something that would be easy for an anti-tax demagogue to pick on: Consider 1811 Eastlake:

A list of the region's most expensive alcoholics (in medical costs, jail costs, and shelter costs for alcoholism) was compiled. Each was offered a free room in a dormlike building at 1811 Eastlake in Seattle; with the room came (cheap) preventative basic medical care and counseling. The first 95 selected for this program cost society over $8 million per year before being moved in. After the no-strings-attached housing, total annual costs (including for the rooms) for the 95 dropped to about $4 million—half. On average, those provided housing drank less; some stopped altogether.

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Such a plan is ugly. It ignores questions of who deserves what. It worked. Sanctimony is objectively expensive.

What do you have?

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