Originally published by The Stranger.
By Rich Smith
It's no surprise that the backdoor virgins in sensible shoes who sit on the Seattle Times Editorial Board would encourage their readers to reject Proposition 1, a minuscule albeit regressive sales tax that will raise money for arts, science, and cultural heritage education and enrichment. But it is a surprise to see that they barely marshaled a defense of their position.
In their rejection of the measure they frame Prop 1, again, as an "arts levy," despite the fact that science organizations and cultural heritage organizations (e.g. the Wing Luke Museum, Holocaust Center for Humanity) and 280,000 students all over King County will benefit.
The Times also reiterates its disingenuous argument about the county's priorities, saying we need to "be more focused on helping people who are homeless or suffering from mental illness or substance abuse," without mentioning that the money used to fund Prop 1 can ONLY be used to fund Prop 1 because the state legislature's process for funding shit is insane. Using the struggles of the homeless and the mentally ill as a deflection shield is pretty low. By rejecting Prop 1, the Times is calling on its readers to deny kids science, arts, and cultural heritage education and access. The editorial board should say it that way.
And! Then! They have the gall to toss out this bit of Marie Ayn Antoinette Rand bullshit:
"Those who can afford to should give their money freely to regional arts and cultural organizations by buying tickets and making donations. If the measure fails, kids who cannot afford to go to the zoo or the opera will still have access to free tickets."
I hate to repeat myself (I don't), but Prop 1 isn't just about free tix for kids to go to the opera. Though they should. The opera's great! It's about turning large organizations into service providers that offer vital educational and inspirational programming to poor people who don't have access to it.
For example, do you know which subject isn't required to be taught in Washington State schools? The fucking Holocaust. This is unfortunately relevant material in a country with an authoritarian "strongman" in the Oval Office and single-party rule in the rest of the branches.
Luckily for Seattleites, the Holocaust Center for Humanity goes around to schools and teaches students about life under fascistic rule so that maybe they don't grow up and fall victim to their own biases and prejudices. If Prop 1 passes, the Holocaust Center will be able to reach more kids with better materials. This program will be only one of the thousands of new educational projects this "arts levy" will unleash across the county.
The only new argument the Times brings up in their half-assed rejection is this one: "the money would be focused too heavily on supporting the region's biggest arts and culture organizations when help for smaller, local groups and more transportation for school children should be the higher priority."
Ohhhhh, I get it! The Times is looking out for the little guy. Well, don't worry! The little guy likes Prop 1. Look at all these little guys who endorse the measure!
The editorial board isn't wrong, though, to say that more money goes to larger arts organizations than to smaller arts organizations. But not explaining the reasoning behind that allocation of funds is slimy. So please let me clear up a few things.
It makes sense to give the larger arts orgs more money because they're already prepared to do more with it. In order for a smaller organization to handle a large influx of cash, they would have to adjust their missions to the size of their funds, hire more people and reorganize their hierarchies, and then come up with a plan for engaging the community in a very short period of time.
But The Woodland Park Zoo, which already has robust outreach and educational infrastructure in place, can do stuff like expand their paid internship program to include hundreds of employees instead of their current cap of 30.
Furthermore, as I've mentioned, those larger orgs have to spend half of their money on public school programs, increasing equity, and partnering with smaller orgs outside the city of Seattle and Bellevue. The other half can't be used to build big palaces. So, again, even though the money is raised regressively, it must be spent progressively.
Do the right thing. Don't listen to the Times. Vote yes on Prop 1.