Initiative 722 and its predecessor I-695 passed overwhelmingly for one reason only -- and all the networks made reference to it, characterizing the vehicle tax as unfair. Regarding I-695, a person could not have sold a vehicle for what the Department of Licensing based its excise tax on if his or her life depended on it. Everybody knew it. No one made any attempts to correct it for years.
Identically, property taxes so disproportionately levy the tax burden on home owners (as opposed to manufactured home owners, among many other inequities) that the word that comes up again and again is the same: unfair.
People accept their responsibility to support legitimate state spending. They simply insist the money be collected fairly. This tax revolt is not about trusting the legislature to spend taxpayer money wisely, but rather a protest against the way the money is collected -- make no mistake about it.
So, in the effort to dissect this issue, please understand this is not about voter greed. It is all about fairness.
Reading your local music issue got me thinking about what it's like being a musician in Spokane. For starters, it means you won't be living on Rockwood Boulevard any time soon. As a musician, you are in the business of providing entertainment. And so you must compete with more conventional forms of entertainment, such as television, movies, hockey games, symphonies, dancing, gambling and cruising East Sprague. Therefore, the number of people available to be entertained who would choose to listen to live music is small at best.
To compound the situation, most people who enjoy live music prefer to listen to songs they hear on the radio on the way to work, or songs that were popular when they were in high school. If you are in a band that plays songs that do not fit these categories, then you are at a severe disadvantage, especially if you are not cute like Britney Spears or the Backstreet Boys. In fact, if you are performing unusual music in public, a casual observer will regard you with the same amount of enthusiasm that they would a large mechanical puppet singing on stage at Chuck E. Cheese. Contrary to popular belief, there are no large crowds of screaming teenagers in the audience, and seldom does anybody throw money onto the stage. Also, Burger King refuses to market action figures of our band members.
Some people I know are surprised to learn that I play music in a band. Sometimes they buy a CD out of pity, perhaps. Sometimes they even listen to it.
I play for the Occasional String Band. We have released two CDs. The first one (Balding Men With Day Jobs) made our parents proud, since they always knew we'd amount to something. Some people raised an eyebrow and said, "You did what?" Our second CD (Grey Dust Hits) generated no noticeable reactions in human life forms at all.
So why do we do it? Why do we rehearse obscure songs for hours and hours that were written by the band? Why do we spend countless hours coming up with thought-provoking lyrics that hardly anybody will ever hear? Why do we perform difficult musical maneuvers that would pose a formidable challenge to even the most seasoned professional musicians? Why am I writing this letter? I do not know. But I do know that I need to sell two more CDs, and then I can afford to put a new roof on my cardboard house.
& & Steve Schennum & & & &
& & Spokane, Wash. & &