Common Sense Alliance – Message from Our New President
Dear San Juan County Neighbors and Friends ~
I am pleased to have been elected to serve as President of the Common Sense Alliance. CSA’s focus on “economy, environment, and community” has always resonated with my personal passions, and I am proud of CSA’s constructive stand on many important debates in San Juan County. One area of special interest for me is the economy, and I’d like to share my own views on that subject.
Government is our largest employer, and it pays the highest wages. Sadly, it also is the biggest drag on our economy. Except for government and utility workers, all other employment sectors in our County continue to languish with wages that are among the lowest in the state. According to a study of Gini coefficients by Eastern Washington University, income inequality in San Juan County is the worst in the Pacific Northwest.
Furthermore, active wage earners are outnumbered and out-earned by those with passive incomes. Politically, this has the effect of disenfranchising wage earners, who bear the disproportionate effects of regressive taxes that are habitually voted in by our County’s non-working, higher-income majority. Moreover, each of our many junior-taxing districts adds another straw to the backs of our anemic rural economic base. If that weren’t bad enough, we have a particularly cruel counter-Keynesian tradition in San Juan County—when hard times hit, our government asks The People for a bailout rather than the other way around.
And, if you are trying to engage in productive economic activity here, you will surely run headlong into our County planning process. Planning and permitting often seem like a patronage system of grants and special interests that talk “protection” and practice “degrowth”—except for the connected few. The cumulative effects of government overregulation, arcane planning, and poor fiscal policy rarely make headlines, but when we look around, we see foreclosures, empty stores, and an increasingly less diversified economy—the ruins of the hopes and dreams of our neighbors.
San Juan County is beautiful, but that beauty can distract us from ugly truths. It is my goal that CSA continue its policy of judicial engagement, promoting respect for individual rights while encouraging our government to behave more responsibly towards all members of our society. We have much work to do.
We have to be more careful – than we have been – with islanders.
President, Common Sense Alliance