Politics

Monday, November 3, 2014

Not "like" like: What some politicians don’t get about Facebook

Posted By on Mon, Nov 3, 2014 at 1:05 PM

RTs, many a Twitter profile inform us, do not equal endorsements. Neither, for the record, do Facebook friendships, nor Instagram likes, nor Pinterest pins, nor LinkedIn connections.

A Rep. Matt Shea email shows his two most recent opponents are friends on Facebook
  • A Rep. Matt Shea email shows his two most recent opponents are friends on Facebook

But during political season, when an association can make or break a candidacy, some politicians fail to understand that. By now, it’s too late to provide a corrective for this campaign, but hopefully this can serve as a warning for future generations. 

Witness Rep. Matt Shea’s campaign against Josh Arritola in the 4th District. Shea has a lot of ways to tie Arritola to groups many conservatives despise — including Arritola publicly telling the nurses union he stands with them. (While he says he’s against Obamacare and for right-to-work, Arritola’s wife is a nurse, and he’s unapologetic for his support for them.) But Shea goes further than just pointing to donations, endorsements or campaign photographs: He goes to Facebook.

“In 2010, my then-opponent was a liberal, pro-choice, union-supported Democrat. She too, had a bad habit of lying about me and my record to gain support,” Shea writes in an email. “So, the fact that my then-opponent and my current opponent are friends makes perfect sense.”
As evidence, he posts a screengrab of Arritola’s Facebook wall, where —J'accuse! — he’s Facebook friends with Amy Biviano, Shea's Democratic opponent two years ago. 

The anonymous attack website against Arritola goes even further, saying “according to his ‘Likes’ on Facebook, he is supportive of Mainstream Republicans of Washington State whose website (washingtonmainstream.org) states that Mainstream Republicans are Socially Moderate Republicans.”

Because many Mainstream Republicans are pro-choice and pro-gay marriage, the site implies that Arritola’s Facebook like of this organization overrides his public statements against all abortion.

The opposite problem can occur as well. Back in 2010, County Commissioner candidate Al French’s campaign ran into trouble with its interpretation of Facebook: French simply listed everyone who “liked” his campaign on Facebook as a supporter (though not an official endorser) on his campaign website. That including Roseanne Lasater, a woman who had a Bonnie Mager campaign sign in her yard.

Even in December, after the election, and 50 days after she requested her name be removed from the list of supporters, her name remained as a French supporter on the website. It was only taken down after the Public Disclosure Commission opened an investigation into whether French violated the law by, “with actual malice,” falsely claiming the support of Lasater.

“There were a couple of ‘em that were obviously in Bonnie’s camp that were trying to get information off my Facebook page, but I don’t know that,” French told the Inlander this summer. He added them to their list of supporters “and the PDC said, you know what, that’s not illegal.”

More specifically, the PDC said it didn’t have a clear direction over whether campaign activity on the Internet counted as a “means of mass communication” subject to the state ordinances prohibiting false endorsements.

In fact, one name of a non-supporter is still listed as a supporter on French’s website for this campaign: Local hummus maven Victor Azar, listed in Lasater’s PDC complaint. Azar says he isn’t voting for French or any other incumbent this year.

“I don’t want my name being used in politics,” Azar told me. “I’m a non-partisan altogether. Yeah, I’m not voting for him, no.”

He friended French on Facebook, he says, but it was strictly business.

“I want everybody to be aware of my products,” Azar said. “But that doesn’t mean I endorsed the guy.”

Informed that Azar wasn’t a supporter, French wrote it down on a legal pad, intending to remove his name from the list. “If there’s anybody that’s still on there that doesn’t want to be, let me know and I’ll take them off,” French says.

Yet, to this day, Azar’s name is listed as a “supporter” on French’s campaign site.

In the large scheme of things, these are minor issues. But it gets at a bigger conundrum of this hyper-public, social media-saturated age. "Like" doesn’t necessarily mean like. "Friend" doesn’t necessarily mean friend.

Liking a Facebook status could mean you agree with the statement. But it also could mean you like the way it’s said, or you want to show support, or you have fat thumbs scrolling through a feed on your phone.

Friending a person on Facebook could mean that you are their friend and supporter in real life. But it also could mean you are their acquaintance, that you’d like to date them, that you met once at a party, that you want to keep close track of their statements, that you find their social media presence funny or mockable.

A local activist like Mariah McKay has 4,280 friends. Now, McKay is a pretty social person, but there’s no way she’s actually real-life friends with over 4,280 people. But for an activist, that's a pretty awesome tool to connect with all those people.

I friend Matt Shea on Facebook, I friend Josh Arritola on Facebook. I join Facebook groups about East Valley school politics, Complete Street design, The American Conservative, and the Idaho Democratic Party, but not because I necessarily adopt or agree with any of those views. It’s because I want to follow these people, hear what they say, and hold them accountable.

I accept almost any non-spam friend request, because I know extending my social network’s reach vastly increases the number of potential sources I can message without that message being dumped in the “Others” tab. Facebook chat has become a vital tool for a journalist: I was able to ask former councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin what she thought of Matt Shea while she was on vacation in Italy. That never would have worked if I'd avoided friending her because it would seem like an endorsement.

Many of us already live in a media bubble, with very little exposure to other points of view. The last thing we should have to worry about is being seen as endorsing the entire point of view of every person we "friend" or "follow."

Look, I’m sympathetic. The explosion of online methods of communication have introduced whole hosts of new semiotic riddles: Is that email sarcastic or serious? Is that winky-face because he’s into me? Is the animated pencil scribbling then erasing because he’s self-censoring? Is she now using squirrel emoticons on Skype instead of hearts because something subtle but profound has broken in our relationship, signaling a slow slide toward disengagement and contempt? (Probably.)

Heck, just check out this Key and Peele sketch about how easy it is to misinterpret text messages (language warning.)

Fortunately, there’s an easy solution to all of this: If you’re wondering what someone's “like,” retweet, Facebook friendship, or text message means, all you have to do is ask them. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, that’s easier than ever.


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Friday, October 31, 2014

If kids could vote, Cathy McMorris Rodgers would win and universal background checks would pass

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Kids these days like smaller class sizes and gun control. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Kids these days like smaller class sizes and gun control.
More than 18,000 kids in K-12 schools cast their votes in Washington's "Mock Election" this week. They narrowly passed Initiative 1351 to reduce class sizes (51 percent to 49 percent), overwhelming supported I-594 for universal background checks (69 percent to 31 percent), and soundly rejected anti-gun control measure I-591 (55 percent to 45 percent). 

Student-voter turnout, according to a proud press release from the Secretary of State's office, was the second-highest in Mock Election history. (Hey grown-ups, think we can do better?)

Kids in Spokane schools voted to send Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers back to Congress, 57 percent to 43 percent. They also would create a headache for the state Supreme Court by passing both of Washington's dueling gun initiatives: 56 percent supported I-591 while 68 percent approved I-594. You can click here to see the full breakdown of results by county, city and school.

For the voting adults out there, check out all of our election coverage here

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The Inlander's first-ever political TV ad awards!

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 11:52 AM

In less than a week now, your airwaves will be clear of the onslaught of political advertisements about this candidate or that candidate or that initiative that's going to either make the state the best damn plot of land in the country or transform Washington into one giant, freedom-hating turd farm.

But before election season blows away in the fall wind on Tuesday night (that's when you need to have your ballot in, patriots) we'd like to recognize the creative genius of the political season with our first-ever Best Political Ads of the Inland Northwest. We need a better name than that, so feel free to suggest something.

OK, let's hand out some prizes!

The MOST DEPRESSING USE OF STOCK PHOTOS award goes to Cathy McMorris Rodgers (or McMoRodge as her fans call her) for this spot. While listing off all the things she's against, the Republican says she tried to stop Obamacare, and accompanies that message with a stock image of the saddest grandpa you've ever seen, abandoned in a hallway. It's at the 20-second mark. If that's your grandpa, shame on you.



If you head over to Idaho, where there's a real live Democrat being taken seriously for the first time in, like, forever, we have the FRIDAY THE 13th AWARD for A.J. Balukoff's donning of a hockey mask. After some killer saves, Balukoff whips off his mask to reveal that the dude knocking the puck aside is actually — wait for it — the guy running for governor! The puck represents, um, problems or something. Questions remain, though: can this gubernatorial candidate really do those sort of splits? Inquiring minds want to know!



In the race for the 6th Legislative District's seat in the Washington state Senate, we've seen plenty of ads. And since Democratic challenger Rich Cowan owns a television and film production company, it makes sense that he would take home the BEST SCI-FI SPECIAL EFFECTS award for this ad in which his opponent, current Sen. Michael Baumgartner is turned into a ghost. Why the guy who helped bring a successful zombie show to Spokane didn't turn his opponent into a zombie is beyond us.



Baumgartner isn't actually a ghost, because ghosts don't win the BACHMANN TURNER OVERDRIVE, TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS WITH THIS HARD HAT AWARD. Just check out the incumbent state senator gettin' shit done all over the place in his spot. Talkin' with his hands, pounding the pavement with his people and, most importantly, just carryin' around a hard hat in case he needs to get to work on some heavy equipment.



In the race for Spokane County Commissioner, Mary Lou Johnson won the coveted BEST VOCAL PERFORMANCE award for her smooth, relaxing, comforting way of talking. Not since Bill Clinton (the 1992 version) has a candidate's voice been so inviting. I would listen to Johnson read the phone book for an hour. Not even joking.



Back in Idaho, you have to hand it to Butch Otter's campaign for their late-in-the-game TV spot that brought home the ROSS PEROT "WHERE ARE THEY NOW?" PRIZE thanks to an appearance by Mitt freakin' Romney! And he's standing in a Five Guys burger joint with Gov. Otter because, um... Idaho loves potatoes and Five Guys has French fries? But it was great to see career presidential candidate Mitt Romney back on TV, warming up for his third ill-fated run at the top office in the land.



Still in Idaho, there's this ad from Sheri Ybarra, perhaps the most entertaining candidate of the season because she couldn't remember when she got married or what degree she was studying for or how she copied her opponent's website or if she's won an award. Everything this candidate for Idaho's school superintendent position touches turns to a big ol' mess of confused amazement, including this spot. For it, Ybarra wins the HERE ARE SOME NICE KIDS, DON'T ASK ANY MORE QUESTIONS award.



That just about wraps up the show, folks. But before we leave, there's one last award. It goes to Matt Shea, who produced this spot all by himself from the middle of the woods! Although it was tough to declare a winner from the many, many excellent entries, Shea eventually came out on top for the BOASTFUL SURVIVOR MAN AWARD for this web ad in which he brags about a bunch of seemingly underwhelming achievements while standing in front of a tree... which we can only assume he chopped down with his bare hands the moment the cameras stopped rolling.


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Friday, October 24, 2014

Ranking: Washington is the most Democratic state in the nation

Posted By on Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Washington is the most blue state in the country, followed by Minnesota, Oregon and California, according to a new analysis from The Hill newspaper in Washington, D.C. 

The Hill examined congressional delegations, legislative make-up and voting trends from past presidential elections in every state. In Washington, The Hill noted, voters have chosen a Democratic president in the past seven elections. Washington also has two Democratic senators, six Democratic House representatives (out of 10), three recent Democratic governors and a Democratic-controlled state Legislature. 

On the opposite end of the political spectrum is Alabama, the most Republican state in the nation, followed by Alaska, Idaho and Kansas. 

You can read the full ranking here.
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

45 insane, inspiring and/or insightful Matt Shea quotes

Posted By on Thu, Oct 23, 2014 at 12:04 PM

shea.jpg

Rep. Matt Shea doesn't like to talk with the local media. He's even blocked us and deleted our questions on occasion. 

To his credit, last week he gave the Inlander a half-hour phone interview for this week's story about the 4th District campaign — though never called back for his promised followup interview. 

Shea has gone on the record a hell of a lot more elsewhere. He's given speech after speech to group after group and has over 150 podcasts to his name.  He's a speaker prone to parallel construction, to applause lines and rhetorical climaxes. 

He's also a speaker who says things that drive some crazy and make others say, "Amen, brother." 

I've tried to pick out some of his more interesting, controversial, and applauded statements, straight from Shea's mouth. When possible, I've provided links to the full speech and to the occasional bit of extra information, so you can check out the context surrounding the quote. I've bolded key words to make skimming easier.

Share your favorite, or add your own in the comments. 

Alex Jones interview (February 2009) 

1. “I am aware of what you’re talking about with FEMA camps. What is particularly disturbing about that is they are going to be on former military bases. A ton of people have expressed their concerns that what they’re building are prison camps.” (Read Shea's explanation for these comments here.)


2. “It’s great to be with you gun-toting, 10ther, pro-life, Austrian-economics, home-schooling, redoubt-living, Constitutionalist patriots this evening. I think that covers the SPLC's list.” 

3. “Where have we come as a country, when loving the Constitution, being a patriot, loving Jesus is extremist? Let me tell you what I think is extreme, is a president who was raised by communists, taught by communists, who was supported by communists, and whose self-appointed, self-admitted heroes are communists. And that, I think, is un-American.”

4. “You know, we’ve been right on everything, haven’t we? We told people about drones five years ago, didn’t we? We told people about the NSA five years ago, didn’t we? We told them about indefinite detention. We told them you can’t come after the internet, that’s unconstitutional. You can’t do warrantless searches, that’s unconstitutional."

5. “We need to prepare for the inevitable collapse that’s going to happen. Yes, I say that as a politician on stage. It’s going to happen. We should look it at as an opportunity, not as something to be afraid of."

6. “Number one, we need to get in shape, number two we need to shoot, number three, we need to learn self-defense, and number four, we need to study small-unit tactics... If you do not have 5,000 rounds of .223, 5,000 rounds of .22 and 1,000 rounds of handgun ammo, as a MINIMUM, you’re wrong. We need to train our families how to shoot as well. We need to get food. We need to have a year's supply of food, two years supply of seeds, we need to have a year's supply of sundry items. That's what it means to be an American. We prepare for the worst but hope for the best."

7. “We had pastors testifying in favor of gun control. And they were quoting the Bible, too, for it. And there were no pastors on the other side testifying against gun control... I had to literally open up my Bible and read scripture to these pastors in a hearing in Olympia. A politician had to read scripture to pastors.”

8. We need to understand that being an accomplice or accessory to those who seek to enslave our posterity, is no better than being the folks that are locking the chains themselves."

9. "We need to ask ourselves a question: Do we trust God? Is he not the same yesterday, today, and forever? And if he is, then how is compromise a strategy? It's not a strategy, it's wholesale surrender."

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

General Election Voters' Pamphlets going out this week

Posted By on Tue, Oct 14, 2014 at 12:30 PM

voters_pamphlet.jpg

Throughout this week, the pamphlet for the Nov. 4 General Election finds its way to 3.2 million households all over the state of Washington to help you become the most informed voter you can be. 

According to the Washington Constitution, every household is required to receive a pamphlet, and to make it more accessible, Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, and audio, plain text and Word document versions are available. 

Initiatives on the ballot this fall include: 
- Initiative 1351, an effort to lower class sizes in public schools 
- Initiative 591, which would loosen gun control
- Initiative 594, which would tighten gun control

The pamphlet features more in-depth information about these initiatives in addition to background on state candidates.

Keep an eye on your mailbox, and if you don't receive you pamphlet by Oct. 22, call the Voter Hotline at (800) 448-4881, email [email protected], or stop by your local post office, long-term care center, disability service center or library where additional copies are available.  
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The Pakootas for Congress campaign launches its first TV ad

Posted By on Tue, Oct 14, 2014 at 9:45 AM

A screenshot of the Pakootas campaign's new TV commercial - PAKOOTAS FOR CONGRESS
  • Pakootas for Congress
  • A screenshot of the Pakootas campaign's new TV commercial

Fifth district congressional candidate Joe Pakootas released his first campaign commercial yesterday.

The 30-second spot features a narrator commending Pakootas' support of "equal pay for equal work" and his belief that women's healthcare decisions "should be made between a woman and her doctor — not a woman and her boss." The ad is bookended by personal endorsements from Heather Foley, wife of former 5th district congressman and Speaker of the House Tom Foley.  

No surprise here: Campaign manager Susan Brudnicki says the ad was designed specifically to target women voters. It debuted on network channels yesterday and airs on cable today. You can catch it during commercial breaks for the Today show, Ellen DeGeneres, Live with Kelly and Michael, and network news.

Pakootas, a Democrat, is vying for Republican incumbent Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' seat. He's been vastly outraised by the congresswoman, 12 to 1, and until last week, couldn't afford any TV or radio ads.

“We wanted to reach out and let them know that a lot of the issues Cathy has voted against impact woman and that Joe is supportive and will work to strengthen those things she has voted against,” Brudnicki told the Inlander, "like the Violence Against Women Act and equal pay legislation. ...All the things that Cathy has voted against all these years impact women in some fashion or another, whether it be cutting food stamps from the SNAP program or not extending unemployment insurance."  

In 2012, McMorris Rodgers opposed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act passed by the Senate, which added new protections for LGBT people, Native Americans and undocumented immigrants, and sponsored a stripped-down version of the bill in the House. She ultimately voted for the Senate's version of bill a year later. She also voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and Paycheck Fairness Act in 2009. 

The candidates held their first debate at Whitman College in Walla Walla last week. They'll square off again on October 30 at the Lincoln Center. The debate, sponsored by Greater Spokane Incorporated, starts at 4pm and costs $10 to attend. Click here to register to attend. 


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Monday, October 13, 2014

Poll: 60 percent of voters favor I-594 for universal background checks

Posted By on Mon, Oct 13, 2014 at 1:54 PM

Although both of Washington's conflicting gun-control measures are losing support, the majority of voters still prefer Initiative 594, the measure to expand criminal background checks for all gun sales, according to a new poll by Elway Research.
Screen_Shot_2014-10-13_at_12.29.12_PM.png


In the latest poll, released this morning, 60 percent of voters surveyed said they would "definitely" or "probably" vote for I-594. Meanwhile, 39 percent said they were more likely to support its rival measure on Election Day, Initiative 591, which would prohibit the state from enacting any additional background checks except those mandated by the federal government.

Support for the competing measures has been declining since April when voter majorities paradoxically favored both. This change may indicate that voters are less confused about the similarly titled initiatives than they were six months ago.  

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Friday, October 3, 2014

WA Senate Democrats announce plan to override Hobby Lobby decision

Posted By on Fri, Oct 3, 2014 at 4:48 PM

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent
  • Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent
Unhappy with the U.S. Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision in June? A group of Washington state senators said they've found a way to neutralize the court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate in Washington state.

In an announcement outside a Hobby Lobby store in Seattle on Thursday, five state senate Democrats – Sen. Karen Keiser, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, David Frockt, Kevin Ranker and Jamie Pedersen — introduced a proposal that would make access to birth control a fundamental employee right, regardless of an employer's objection to providing contraceptive coverage on religious grounds. Citing the Washington Law Against Discrimination, the proposed bill would give women recourse to take legal action if their employer-based health insurance plan won't pay for their birth control. 

"If you are working for an employer who treats one class of employees differently, and puts a burden on and barriers up to one class of employees...that's the definition of discrimination," Keiser, D-Kent, told the Inlander over the phone. Keiser said the senators have been working on this legislation since mid-July. They plan to introduce the bill at the start of the 2015 session. 

"There are very serious health and economic issues involved when you have unplanned pregnancies and unplanned births," Keiser said. "We have to remind people there's a reason birth control is important. Not only is it an individual right, it's really a way to have healthy families and kids.

We interviewed U.S. Senator Patty Murray, D-Washington, about the Hobby Lobby case in April. After the Supreme Court's ruling in June, Murray spearheaded a bill to override the justices' decision, but the measure failed to garner enough votes to move forward.  

Of course, with the November election just weeks away, senate Democrats are hoping their latest proposal will draw voters to the polls.

"If we end up with an outcome that doesn't change what party is in the majority [in the Senate]," Keiser said, "we can finalize the proposed bill, but it will never become law under the Republican majority because, unfortunately, birth control is a partisan issue." 
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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Q&A with Seattle venture capitalist, minimum-wage activist and one-percenter Nick Hanauer

Posted By on Thu, Oct 2, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Nick Hanauer
  • Nick Hanauer
Nick Hanauer is filthy, stinkin' rich. The Seattle-based venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur has started or funded more than 30 different companies. He was one of the first major investors in a small bookseller start-up you may have heard of: Amazon.com. Seven years ago, he sold one of his businesses, an Internet advertising company called aQuantive, to Microsoft for $6.4 billion in cash. 

A self-professed "proud and unapologetic capitalist," he's also an unlikely advocate for raising the minimum wage and reducing income inequality in our country. Last week, Hanauer spoke with the Inlander over the phone ahead of his lecture this evening at the Fox Theater. The event, hosted by the Thomas S. Foley Institute at Washington State University, is free to attend and starts at 7:30 pm. For more information, click here. (His responses have been lightly edited for length.)

INLANDER: Your Politico Magazine article this summer, a memo to your "fellow zillionaires," and 2012 TED Talk on inequality both have gone viral. Why do you think your arguments have resonated with so many people?

The first reason is that economic inequality is a much bigger problem in our country than it once was. The income share of the richest one percent has tripled over the last few decades while everyone else’s income has stagnated, so ordinary people are feeling the effects of economic inequality in a more and more palpable and real way in their everyday lives. The subject is very much on most people's mind.

The second thing is that my argument is quite different from the traditional liberal, fairness-based argument, which is that we should feel sorry for people and pay them for that. My argument is a more effective and robust argument about the nature of prosperity and capitalist economics and the obvious connection between the money that workers earn and the sales that businesses enjoy. Pointing out the connection between those two things and the necessity of making sure workers earn enough to continue to support the businesses that form the backbone of our economy is just common sense. People who argue otherwise are just idiots. 

Income inequality in this country is growing to historically high levels. CEOs today make 300 times more money than their workers. How did we get to this point?

It’s a combination of things. Part of the problem was a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of economic theory by policymakers. Some of this is a consequence of good-natured misunderstanding. Some of this is consequence of the pursuit by wealthy citizens of their narrow self interests.  For 30 years policy makers on the right and left accepted that trickle-down theory and they enacted policies that they thought would create general prosperity, and in fact, only enriched the already rich. What we're trying to do is point out that that’s idiotic. We’re trying to remind people that a thriving middle class is not a consequence of growth, it’s the source of growth and prosperity in capitalist economies.

In fact, your “middle-out” economic theory is based on your argument that trickle-down economics doesn't work. In nut shell, what's middle-out economics all about?

The essential argument for middle-out economics is that a thriving middle class is not a consequence of growth. Rather, a thriving middle class is the source of growth and prosperity in capitalist economies, which means that a policy focused on the middle class is how you generate prosperity and growth — not policy focused on rich guys like me.

What policy solutions would you recommend for reducing income equality and helping grow the middle class?

A tax code focused on the middle class — where rich people actually pay more in taxes than middle class people unlike in our current system, where the $400 billion the government spends annually on tax exemptions theoretically to make people rich (which are simply rewards to rich people for being rich) are rather deployed to help middle class people become rich. A fairer split between workers and owners in the value of what business enterprises create by raising the minimum wage and ensuring middle class people are fairly paid and closing the gap between the pay of CEOs and ordinary workers.

In your Politico Magazine piece, you warn your fellow plutocrats that the "pitchforks are coming" as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, noting that the United States isn't immune to the "same forces that started the Arab Spring—or the French and Russian revolutions." Do you think we really should be worried about some kind of social uprising?

At the end of the day, what history will show is if you concentrate power and wealth enough you will either have a revolution or a police state or both. That there’s only so much abuse ordinary citizens are willing to take. It makes little sense in a democracy to disenfranchise most people. Participation and inclusion are the most important things in an economy. The more people who are included, the better it goes, and democracy is the form of government that leads to inclusion, which is why it causes prosperity and why all prosperous places are democracies. But when you allow wealth and power to concentrate, you end up with an economy that isn’t inclusive. And that kills the economy.

Did the Ferguson thing scare you? It scared the shit out of me. That is what I’m talking about. That’s not about race. That’s about exclusion. That’s about disenfranchisement. That’s about a bunch of people who are excluded from the economy and they’re pissed. The thing that happened in Ferguson — that is what I'm talking about. These are people who are poor, angry, disenfranchised and poorly treated and not well politically represented, and so you have this powder keg situation where you have a bunch of white police officers trying to keep under control poor, angry people of color. Then something bad happens. And that can happen in Spokane where you live if we are not careful.

So what do your one-percenter friends have to say about your views?

I would say five years ago my views made my fellow one-percenters very angry and very defensive. Today, most of the wealthy people I know and associate with have in one way, shape or form come around to generally agreeing with my view. And I think the nation is making progress. Morgan Stanley, of all institutions, released a report stating economic inequality is the number one threat to the economy. The fast food industry is struggling. No one can afford to eat their stuff anymore. Walmart sales are flat and that's because when you don't pay for your workers enough to buy their stuff, that doesn't work out for anybody.

Is this a problem we can expect Congress to solve? 

Oh jeepers. I would say forget about Washington D.C and focus locally. I see no hope for the federal government to do anything materially or constructively in the near term, but Spokane, Washington, could institute a higher minimum wage and should, for my money. That's where people's energy should go. Spokane could certainly use a slightly higher minimum wage, not $15 dollars an hour because the cost of living out there is much lower than out here, but you could certainly do more than $9.32. But me? I’m absolutely not thinking or worrying about the United States Senate. 


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