“If you make any money, the government shoves you in a creek once a year with it in your pockets, and all that don’t get wet you can keep.” — Will Rogers
Ye gads and yellow-winged bats.
Recently, in a 5-4 decision, the state Supreme Court overturned Initiative 747 because its wording was “ambiguous” and may have misled voters.
Apparently, in a moment of utter befuddlement, several justices decided that we, the voters, are dumber than a mud fence.
OK, I’ll grant you that there are some among us who can, on a bad day (like the one those five justices just had), make a mud fence look positively Aristotelian, but I think that most of us have a pretty fair grasp of what’s what.
For example, when I first heard about it, I believed I-747 would impose a 1 percent cap on annual increases in property tax collections.
To make sure that this was the case, many of us read the initiative, studied editorials, listened to radio commentary, watched television discussions, and even argued about it with friends.
After doing this, we came to the conclusion that if it passed there’d be a 1 percent cap on annual property tax increases. So we voted it in.
How silly could we be?
Now, our betters in black robes have informed poor, unwashed us that we probably couldn’t spell “cat” without being spotted the “c” and the “t” and, for sure, likely had trouble understanding I-747.
Right, and I guess they also think that we believe Cheerios are donut seeds.
My wife and I, like most others outside of Olympia, run our household on a very simple set of budgetary principles: (A) How much money do we have? (B) How much money will we earn this year? And, (C) How much money do we plan to spend?
If A + B is more than C, we’re in great shape and we might even — after we’ve covered all of our necessities — stash a bit away or even buy a few of the nice things that we’ve always wanted.
If, however, A + B is less than C, then we’re back to necessities until I can convince my boss (for legislators, that would be the voters) that a raise would be a great thing.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but a lot of us are irked over the fact that what we’ve been promised lately in return for our tax dollars — most especially in the realm of transportation — hasn’t been anywhere near what’s been delivered. I won’t even go into what happens to cost estimates once a project has been approved.
Too, when we’ve told our elected officials what we want ($30 car tabs, for one), they’ve often skulked around until they could find a way around it or, worse, completely ignore us.
Such behavior has pretty much run the reservoir of trust dry and, just now, if the folks in Olympia said that the sun would rise in the east and the event would be free, many of us would be looking west and hiding our money.
As regards the striking down of I-747, one might have been astonished by the absurdity of the decision had one not already been stunned by the condescension of those who made it.
Gov. Chris Gregoire, recognizing the ticking bomb she’d been handed, quickly jumped in and asked taxing authorities statewide “to assure me that they will not increase property tax levies for their upcoming budgets as a result of the court decision.”
Knowing that elections are coming up next year, she may also have been thinking about the scene in the original “Dirty Harry” movie wherein Harry had just dispatched a bunch of bad guys and was standing over the only one still breathing.
Applying that scene to the current situation, she may have pictured Harry telling legislators: “I know what you’re thinking. You’re asking yourselves ‘how many times have we ignored what the voters told us?’ Well, to tell you the truth, we’ve lost track ourselves. But seeing as how our votes are the most powerful things in your world and can blast the lot of you clean out of office, you’ve got to ask yourselves, ‘Do I feel lucky?’”
After what’s just happened, I think many voters would dearly love to play along with this scenario and be given the chance to ask their representatives and assessors the next question:
“Well, do you, folks?”
Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.