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Income Tax Quashed, Ballmer To Cash In Billions 650

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
theodp writes "Washington's proposed state income tax not only prompted Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to spend $425,000 of his own money to help crush the measure at the polls, it also inspired Microsoft to launch a FUD campaign aimed at torpedoing the initiative. 'As an employer, we're concerned that I-1098 will make it harder to attract talent and create additional jobs in Washington state,' explained Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith. 'We strongly support public education, but we're concerned by key details in I-1098. This initiative would give Washington one of the top five highest state income tax rates in the country. I-1098 would apply this tax rate to all income, including capital gains and dividends, and would not permit any deductions for charitable contributions.' Nice to see a company take a principled stand, backed by a CEO who's not afraid to put his money where his company's mouth is, right? Well, maybe not. Just three days after the measure went down in flames, Ballmer said in a statement that he plans to sell up to 75 million of his Microsoft shares by the end of the year to 'gain financial diversification and to assist in tax planning.' Based on Friday's closing price of $26.85, the 75M shares would be valued at approximately $2 billion. All of which might make a cynic question what was really important to Microsoft — public education, or a $2B state income tax-free payday for its CEO?"
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Income Tax Quashed, Ballmer To Cash In Billions

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  • No surprise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @02:31PM (#34148482)
    A corporation is required to maximize the profits for its share holders. Ballmer is a major share holder. Of course Ballmer's profits matter more than public education.
    • Re:No surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 91degrees (207121) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @02:43PM (#34148564) Journal
      No it's not. Not exactly. The board is meant to run it in the best interests of the company, but this is not always about maximising shareholder profit. For example, an ethical farming company could quite legitimately refuse to sell a parcel of land to a developer which would use the land for purposes counter to the ethics of the company, and could probably be sued by its shareholders if it didn't no matter how much the other company was willing to pay.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dolphinzilla (199489)

        that may be true about not "maximizing" a profit but as soon as the company is not on the profit side the shareholders either sell their stock, or hire new management. At some point it IS after all a business - not much point in having it if its not profitable

    • Re:No surprise (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Locutus (9039) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @05:27PM (#34149596)
      Selling close to 20% of his stake in Microsoft seems rather interesting. Was the tax increase so great that his believe in the growth of Microsoft, or lack thereof, exceeded his ability to come out ahead down the road?

      That's a large chunk to be selling off just because of a tax. 75 million shares when out of something like 400 million total is more than just a tax issue.

      Behind the scenes, he must not have much faith in Windows Phone 7 making them much money. But he would know that Microsoft has lost billions and billions on lots of products which have been, and continue to be, money pits.

      LoB
  • Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by crumbz (41803) <<remove_spam>jus ... > g m a i l .com> on Saturday November 06, 2010 @02:31PM (#34148486) Homepage

    ...something is to be said for unenlightened self-interest. I am just not sure as to what.

  • by zippthorne (748122) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @02:34PM (#34148506) Journal

    Income tax is on income, not capital gains. He wouldn't have been paying income tax on his share sale anyway.

    And his argument was that it would hurt his ability to attract talent. Unless by talent he meant himself I fail to see how what he does with his assets has to do with this issue.

    • by Pharmboy (216950) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @02:40PM (#34148536) Journal

      I also fail to see the story. Ask any business manager and he will be against higher income taxes, in part because it makes it harder to attract new talent when your area has income tax higher than average. That means you have to PAY higher than average just to let the person break even on net bring home income. It doesn't so much matter WHAT the tax increase would be used for, as politicians have a habit of claiming that a tax increase is earmarked for a certain project, and in reality it just goes to the general fund.

      Here in NC, they sold the idea of a lottery that way, the "education lottery", as "all the money will go toward education". Sure, and for each million in additional lottery money, they just cut the budget by a million, so the net effect is ZERO advantage to education and for all intent and purpose, the money goes into the general fund. But you can "feel good" about voting for the lottery, since it means you are thinking of the children. Politicians love new money, just as businessmen love low taxes.

      • by epine (68316) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @03:32PM (#34148894)

        Ask any business manager and he will be against higher income taxes, in part because it makes it harder to attract new talent when your area has income tax higher than average.

        Miracle! If you frame the question as getting more than giving, everyone pipes up in full agreement. Uniform consensus is usually a dead giveaway that the question is half framed. It's also hard to attract talent if your civic structure decays until only Batman is holding the fort.

        Around here people are opposed to the HST (harmonized sales tax). This raises more revenue for the province, and helps to balance the books. There are only two alternatives: increase a different tax, or cut programs (unless you count waving the magic wand of waste-free administration, as much beloved by the pumpkin pie in the sky sect). The programs large enough to achieve the necessary cost savings are most likely the usual suspects: education, health care, and pensions.

        What people are really in favour of is decreasing taxes while increasing programs. You can sell that proposition any day of the week. You can even return from the political grave to mobilize heroic opposition. (Damn, I thought we had put a stake in that guy. Bill Voldemort. I dare not speak his name.)

        Government is a necessary evil. Solutions proposed by the cheerleaders of polarization (no government/all government) are worse than the disease. The useful debate is on subjects such as accountability and effectiveness, not self-interested wishful thinking by sober capitalists cloaked in the gravitas of expensive suits while fixing their beady eyes on their next quarterly bonus payment.

        The joy of capitalism is the pursuit of narrow self-interest. That's why it works, and that's also why you don't solicit the people involved for balanced perspectives.

        Besides, fat cheques speak louder than words.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Around here people are opposed to the HST (harmonized sales tax). This raises more revenue for the province, and helps to balance the books. There are only two alternatives: increase a different tax, or cut programs (unless you count waving the magic wand of waste-free administration, as much beloved by the pumpkin pie in the sky sect). The programs large enough to achieve the necessary cost savings are most likely the usual suspects: education, health care, and pensions.

          Is that Ontario or BC?

          For BC at least, the issue is not just about HST itself, but about how it was sneaked in - a supposedly fiscal conservative party got voted in by claiming, in public, that they would absolutely not support the introduction of HST, because it's so bad and awful. One month after the election, they proudly proclaim that they're signing up for HST, and go ahead to explain how totally awesome it is, all while saying that they didn't quite understand it before the election. It's no surprise

      • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @03:49PM (#34148998) Homepage
        Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't California have a state income tax as well as the highest sales tax and yet it still manages to a magnet for high tech companies. Even Microsoft has offices in Silicon Valley which, to me seems a bit unnecessary especially if high taxes are so detrimental to businesses.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hedwards (940851)
          It's because it's a bunk argument. MS is more or less stuck in WA state because they use our courts. They have chosen in recent years not to pay their taxes, except for the property taxes and what sales tax they can't avoid. But they owe the state a huge amount of money in back taxes. The number is somewhere around $1 billion or so at present.
        • You're wrong. High tech companies are fleeing California for low tax states. In fact, high earners inevitably flee high tax states for low tax states [wsj.com]:

          Examining IRS tax return data by state, E.J. McMahon, a fiscal expert at the Manhattan Institute, measured the impact of large income-tax rate increases on the rich ($200,000 income or more) in Connecticut, which raised its tax rate in 2003 to 5% from 4.5%; in New Jersey, which raised its rate in 2004 to 8.97% from 6.35%; and in New York, which raised its tax rate in 2003 to 7.7% from 6.85%. Over the period 2002-2005, in each of these states the "soak the rich" tax hike was followed by a significant reduction in the number of rich people paying taxes in these states relative to the national average. Amazingly, these three states ranked 46th, 49th and 50th among all states in the percentage increase in wealthy tax filers in the years after they tried to soak the rich.

          Here's a comparison between California and Texas that explains, in great detail, how and why Texas is kicking California's ass. [texaspolicy.com]. This is also why more than half the new jobs created in the last twelve months were created in Texas [nationalreview.com]. Another reason is strong vs. weak or no public sector unions [nationalreview.com]. One thing that articles notes:

          Renting a 26-foot U-Haul truck to go from Austin to San Francisco this July would cost you about $900. Renting the same truck to go from San Francisco to Austin? About $3,000. In the great balance of supply and demand, California has a large supply of people who are demanding to move to Texas.

          High tech employees are fleeing California for Texas, because they can keep more of what they make, the government isn't going bankrupt, and the roads and schools are now better in Texas. Despite all the money California spends on a a bloated public sector, the actual core services delivered are worse in California than they are in Texas [city-journal.org]:

          “Today, you go to Texas, the roads are no worse, the public schools are not great but are better than or equal to ours, and their universities are good. The bargain between California’s government and the middle class is constantly being renegotiated to the disadvantage of the middle class.”

          Here's a slightly older analysis from 2007 [alec.org]. Since then, of course, things have gotten better (relative to the rest of the nation) for Texas and worse for California.

          Low taxes and small government create jobs. High taxes and big government destroy jobs.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 06, 2010 @02:40PM (#34148538)

      Income tax is on income, not capital gains. He wouldn't have been paying income tax on his share sale anyway.

      You didn't even make it through the entire summary, then. It said "I-1098 would apply this tax rate to all income, including capital gains and dividends".

    • by CajunArson (465943) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @02:46PM (#34148592) Journal

      Stop using logic when Slashdot is having its 2 minutes of hate for Microsoft! And for the love of There-is-no-God don't point out the fact that Ballmer will be paying more $$ to the Federal goverment in Capital Gains taxes in this one transaction than all of the collective readers of this Slashdot story will pay in any form of taxes for their entire lives combined. Ballmer is rich, and therefore must have stolen the money from the Government! Anyone who makes more money than the Slashdot poster bashing the rich is automatically an evil rich bastard!*

      * (Exceptions apply to CEO's of companies we are fanboys of, and billionares who dump money on left-wing "grassroots" causes like Moveon.org, with an exception-to-the-exception being Bill Gates who is still evil even though he dumps money on causes that the group would approve of if anyone else dumped the money)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by schmidt349 (690948)

        I think you're exaggerating a bit. The Two Minutes Hate is really reserved more for Apple and Facebook these days.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MartinSchou (1360093)

        Ballmer will be paying more $$ to the Federal goverment in Capital Gains taxes in this one transaction than all of the collective readers of this Slashdot story will pay in any form of taxes for their entire lives combined.

        Really? Interesting claim. Let's examine it a bit.

        It' not entirely unfair to assume that each member is a reader. In fact, we can safely assume that there are more readers than members, but there are also inactive members (i.e. people who used to read, but don't any more), but since you d

  • And so what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Flozzin (626330) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @02:35PM (#34148510)
    Just because the CEO then uses the tax free environment he helped create the article questions his intentions? Of course it was going to benefit him greatly, and just because it does, doesn't make any of the prior points against the tax less valid. Its his money, he worked for it. Get over it.
    • Re:And so what? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Saturday November 06, 2010 @02:42PM (#34148546) Journal

      There's nothing socialists hate worse that failing to get their hands on someone else's money.

  • It's not as if Gates's philanthropy is a mantra of MS as a whole. It answers directly to the shareholders most of which could care less what impact things like this have on the state...as long as it doesnt effect their net worth.

  • There's more to it. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Starteck81 (917280) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @02:43PM (#34148560)
    The biggest reason why I-1098 didn't pass has little to do with Ballmer. I believe the biggest reason was that in only two years the law makers could modify the tax to include all Washington tax payers, not just the rich. There is quite a large distrust of the spending habits of the progressive law makers here so 60% plus of voters decided not to risk it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Totenglocke (1291680)

      Which is exactly what happened with the federal income tax - originally it was just a 1% tax on the "evil rich" and then the government kept taking more and more money from more and more people. It's good to see that the people in Washington learned from history and didn't let the bill pass.

      Also, income taxes are a very inefficient form of taxation because it discourages people from working (Economist Gregory Mankiw wrote an article in the NY Times recently about this). Consumption taxes (sales tax) are m

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Also, income taxes are a very inefficient form of taxation because it discourages people from working (Economist Gregory Mankiw wrote an article in the NY Times recently about this). Consumption taxes (sales tax) are much more efficient and fair system of taxation.

        Consumption taxes mostly affect the poor. Why? Because they spend a larger fraction of their income on goods. So in that sense it's a much more unfair tax. On the other hand, concerning the argument that an income tax discourages from working: with an income tax you have more money if you work more. How's that discouraging? Could you expand on Mankiw's argument?

      • by drsquare (530038) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @04:11PM (#34149130)

        Also, income taxes are a very inefficient form of taxation because it discourages people from working

        This is actually total horseshit. For most high-paid jobs that end up in the top brackets, there are way more people willing to do the job than positions available. No-one's going to turn down a seven figure paper-shuffling job because they only get half of it.

    • by Mr2001 (90979)

      I believe the biggest reason was that in only two years the law makers could modify the tax to include all Washington tax payers, not just the rich.

      Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. That's one of the talking points the anti-1098 campaign was using before the election. It was FUD then and it's FUD now.

      Here's why: if the legislature wanted to pass an income tax, they would've done it already.

      "Only two years" is how long it takes after an initiative passes before the legislature can change it. The anti-1098 campaign baselessly speculated that the legislature would extend the tax to cover everyone, even though they've been free to do that all along and have ne

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Starteck81 (917280)
        When has this legislature ever repealed a major tax without replacing it with another tax that will generate even more money for them?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DerekLyons (302214)

        if the legislature wanted to pass an income tax, they would've done it already.

        You are obviously not a Washington State citizen or resident, or if you are - you are profoundly ignorant of the political situation here.

        Nobody in the State House or Senate will ever propose an income tax. Ever. It's a third rail issue here, and even proposing an income tax could be a career ender. Voting in favor of an income tax would be political suicide.

        Every time an income tax has been placed befo

  • Not just Microsoft (Score:5, Informative)

    by schnell (163007) <me@scLAPLACEhnell.net minus math_god> on Saturday November 06, 2010 @02:44PM (#34148570) Homepage

    It wasn't just Steve Ballmer or Microsoft fighting I-1098 ... this measure was very unpopular all across Washington State and failed at the polls by a 65% - 35% margin [ballotpedia.org]. Washington State is one of the few states in the US without a personal income tax (the sales taxes here are very high to make up for the revenue deficiency). I-1098 would have introduced a personal income tax on the "richest" residents (those making over $200K individually or $400K as a family), but the reason it failed by such a wide margin is that most Washington residents (including me) believed that once they introduced a personal state income tax here, the politicians would plead "necessity" and keep lowering the threshhold over time to the point where most residents would be paying it, and without any decrease of the sales tax to compensate. The majority of the population here is all in favor of education and healthcare, we just don't believe that a state income tax is the way to fund them.

    FWIW, Microsoft and other large businesses in Seattle do have a legitimate interest in avoiding a personal state income tax, as for recruiting and keeping high-priced talent there is an advantage for them to come to Redmond and live in a state with no income tax vs. going to some other company - say, in California - and paying the tax rates there. An equivalent pay job offer in the Seattle area vs. many other states actually means more take-home pay here.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by queequeg1 (180099)

      Precisely. You can see why 1098 failed in another initiative that passed: Initiative 1053 (which requires a 2/3 vote of the legislature to raise taxes). This is the third time Washington voters have instituted such a restriction. The legislature keeps getting rid of it after the requisite two-year waiting period. It's clear to most Washington voters that if an income tax in any form were to be passed, the reaction would be much like a junkie employed by a pharmacy: just wait until the boss leaves the st

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 06, 2010 @02:45PM (#34148580)

    It is staggering to look back at the decade Ballmer has been in charge:

    * Stock price has been effectively flat for an entire decade

    * Lost hundreds of billions in market cap since Gates left

    * The cellphone market failure

    * The Xbox fiasco

    * The search market failure

    * The online services failure

    * The portable music market failure

    * IE's stagnation and market-share shrinkage

    * The resurgence of OS X market-share

    If Ballmer is soon to get dumped from the top spot at Microsoft it is bad news for Linux and Apple whoever replaces him can't possibly do any worse than Ballmer's disastrous decade at the helm.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dbIII (701233)
      You forgot Vista.

      I tried to forget it as well but the nasty little thing still creeps in on users laptops every now and then.
  • 419? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @02:55PM (#34148636)
    As a Nigerian, I am deeply jelous of your corruption!
  • by BearRanger (945122) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @03:03PM (#34148690)
    Is that the biggest rat is deserting the sinking ship.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 06, 2010 @03:06PM (#34148706)

    > ...a $2B state income tax-free payday for its CEO...

    He is selling the stock this year. The new income tax wouldn't be retroactively applied to this year. Whether it passes or not, it has no effect on the sale. Why lie and try to make it appear that they do? Your agenda is showing.

  • Gates vs. Ballmer (Score:5, Informative)

    by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @03:22PM (#34148812) Homepage

    The summary should have mentioned that the tax proposal was authored by Bill Gates Sr., and was supported by Bill Gates Jr., which is some pretty good evidence that Gates Jr. really has managed to separate himself from Microsoft.

    As to why Ballmer is selling now, there's a pretty good chance it was for tax planning purposes. Many think there's a high chance the capital gains rate is going up soon, and so taking long term capital gains this year is indicated.

  • by XaXXon (202882) <xaxxon@gmaiCHEETAHl.com minus cat> on Saturday November 06, 2010 @03:29PM (#34148872) Homepage

    Right now in washington, the income tax is political suicide. In order to take more money, they're trying to get the voters to pass it. Sure, they can't adjust it for 2 years, but after that.. well, we'll just lower the threshold by 10%. It'll only affect a small number of people. The rich people will already be taxed (so why do they care), and people below $180,000 still won't be taxed, so why do they care?

    Next year.. wash, rinse, repeat.

    That's why I voted against it even though I wouldn't have been taxed.

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @03:30PM (#34148876) Homepage

    All of which might make a cynic question what was really important to Microsoft — public education, or a $2B state income tax-free payday for its CEO?

    If the measure had passed, the tax would not have started until 2012, so that was a pretty stupid question. Ballmer's stock sale was income tax free regardless of what happened with 1098.

  • by magamiako1 (1026318) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @03:59PM (#34149060)
    I'm not really sure what you guys are concerned about. I get taxed out the ass but I don't really see much of a problem with it.

    Amusingly enough....Maryland has also been a leader in the nation for job growth for a large duration of the "recession". We were far less hit with it than anyone else around us.
    • by TopSpin (753) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @05:18PM (#34149536) Journal

      Amusingly enough....Maryland has also been a leader in the nation for job growth

      Yep. That is mostly due to huge deficit spending by the Federal government, a lot of which somehow failed to make it out of the "Washington area", including Maryland, which surrounds D.C (for those unfamiliar with the geography.) You can see the effect of this here [washingtonpost.com]; the Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan Area [wikipedia.org] has seen far less decline than the rest of the nation.

      Government hiring, spending spurs D.C.-area job creation [washingtonexaminer.com]

      Choice quotes:

      "The hundreds of billions of dollars of stimulus money -- that was an enormous shot in the arm, and we really benefited from it in this area,"

      Federal hiring accounted for roughly 19,700 of the D.C. area's new jobs...Federal spending also led to increased hiring in D.C.'s private sector. Professional and business service firms, which often provide contract work for the government, added about 13,500 new jobs last year thanks to an estimated $84 billion in government procurement spending.

      Thing to keep in mind is that we just had an election here in the US. The stated goal of our newly elected House of Reps leadership (the folks actually responsible for writing the budget) is to revert discretionary spending [wsj.com] to pre-TARP/stimulus 2008 levels. That 'discretionary' spending is the part that has propped up your local economy.

      I suspect the next few years may be less 'amusing.'

  • Strange bedfellows (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @04:21PM (#34149214)

    The income tax initiative was pushed by Bill Gates Senior, the father of Slashdot's favorite person. His son also (eventually) came out in favor of it. But Ballmer and Allen were both against it, IIRC.

    Washington state has a very regressive tax structure, with a stupidly high sales tax rate that IMO puts way too much of a burden on lower income people. But the stupid thing was that the income tax measure didn't really address the sales tax inequity - instead, it was going to lower parts of our property taxes and also cut the B&O tax - neither of which would directly benefit low-income people. I voted for it anyway because I thought it was a small amount fairer than the current system - but it didn't really get at what I see as the underlying problem here.

    That's the thing about the income tax initiatives that've come through our state. There've been a few in the last 30+ years, and they never make a significant dent in the sales tax rate.

  • by sycomonkey (666153) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @04:49PM (#34149362) Homepage
    I voted for the income tax, though I didn't expect it to pass legal challenge. Rich people can buy a lot of lawyers. And in the end, we are back where we started: An antiquated, recession-prone sales tax that hits poor people a lot harder than rich. Washington's the sort of state I thought would be daring enough to perhaps someday implement a negative income tax, but if we can't even pass a traditional income on less than 2 percent of the state, then I really don't know about that. I'm just appalled people are willing to accept the status quo. But the most interesting point here is that this also say something about certain (but not all) macroeconomic theories. Some theories rest on the idea that individuals will always make decisions based on their own personal interests. Passing that income tax would have been in the interest of any person that made less that 200k a year, that is to say, about 98% of the state. The prop lowered taxes on these people. They would have received a direct financial benefit. And yet they voted it down by something like 60%. That either means that people are incredibly concerned about the welfare of rich people, or that people are more than willing to make decisions that harm themselves if they are convinced to do so by advertising.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      'm just appalled people are willing to accept the status quo.

      No, we didn't vote for the status quo - we sent a clear message to Olympia to trim state spending. The state budget has grown 80% in the last decade, and we're tired of paying for it. We're tired of the Legislature overriding the express will of the people (by twice removing the limits on tax increases put in place by initiative). We're tired of the Legislature raiding earmarked funds for other purposes. Etc... etc...

      That either means

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @04:53PM (#34149378) Homepage Journal

    Don't you worry about income taxes.

    I am against income and payroll taxes (that's my bias) I am also pretty much against all government.

    ---

    Realize that taxes are going up. Not only taxes on your income, don't you worry about your income, taxes are going up on your entire net worth.

    Gov't is printing money.

    Fed is printing hundreds of billions of dollars.

    This automatically takes away your purchasing power.

    Inflation is rampant.

    Fed is causing rampant inflation by printing money. By printing money they are taking away your savings in form of dilution of your purchasing power.

    ---

    Your purchasing power is going down with every new dollar the Fed is printing.

    Note, that the Fed came out (helicopter Ben) with a promise to print 600 Billion dollars more over the next 7 months.

    That's just by June and it's about equal to the amount that the Federal gov't will borrow over the same amount of time. This means they are the lender of last resort to themselves. This also means that they know the US bond is on its last legs - nobody wants to buy more.

    US gov't is broke. It's monetizing its debt and it's trying to cover that they are doing it, but it's not working as a cover, it's too "in your face".

    Abandon ship, get rid of your US holdings, they are becoming worthless fast.

  • Why be cynical? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by djlowe (41723) * on Saturday November 06, 2010 @04:54PM (#34149388)

    All of which might make a cynic question what was really important to Microsoft — public education, or a $2B state income tax-free payday for its CEO?"

    Why be so cynical? Can't it be both? I know that so many here are incapable of anything other than binary reasoning, and want their moral conundrums to be perfectly black or white, right or wrong, good or evil, and that is pretty much what drives the "wannabe nerd" moral outrage 'round about these parts, these days... but the real world isn't binary, you know.

    Hell, the real world isn't even digital - it's analog. And let's face it: Analog is messy, at best.

    And, I think I just created my new sig *grin*

    "Life isn't binary... Hell, it's not even digital. Life is analog, and analog is messy, at best".

    Regards,

    dj

  • by mschuyler (197441) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @05:14PM (#34149500) Homepage Journal

    I live in Washington. Here's the deal. The State has increased its spending 80% in the last ten years when inflation and population growth has been 40%. No one can see a 40% increase in services. They just spent more money. Now that the recession has reduced the state coffers the State is whining that it has a deficit. If the State went back to a 40% growth rate over the last ten years there would BE no deficit.

    Now, this is like the umpteenth time the voters have said NO to s state income tax. Why? Because we know it's just the camel's nose in the tent. They're trying to get a class war going so all the people will want to tax the "rich," then when that is implemented, in two years the state legislature will reduce the threshhold so that we all pay or inflation will be so bad we'll all be in the 'rich' bracket. No one trusts the legislature.

    One of the ploys was to say "it's for the children." Right. Just like the lottery was supposed to be for education, the legislature has shown its stripes so many times by raiding earmarked funds that it makes a travesty of the claim.

    Voters also passed, for the third time, an initiative calling for a 2/3 vote of the legislature to raise taxes and fees. The legislature has managed to override the last two. One of the complaints was, why should 51% vote for a 2/3rds majority? OK. This time we approved the intitiative by 67%. Capiche? We don't have a revenue problem in Washington. We have a spending problem.

    I don't care one whit what Ballmer & Co do with their money. I just know my money is more precious than his because I don't have anywhere near what he does. And I'm tired of having it confiscated by a state that doesn't understand it has to live within its means.

    • by SEAL (88488) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @06:43PM (#34150156)

      There's an even more pressing concern. The income tax proponents state it as only taxing the rich (i.e. 200k+ income per year). Just like the AMT in federal law, though, it is not indexed for inflation. So even if the state legislature left it unmodified by some miracle, people would start falling into the tax trap.

      Anyone who believes we're not in for some massive inflation is in a fantasy world. The Fed is printing money left and right.

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