Director’s Corner - the 2010 Budget
Last weekend, the Queen Anne Movie Guild showed our “Turning Points” video with the short film “Unnatural Causes,” which documents the public health consequences of growing inequality and high unemployment (people die younger). Paired with our Real Change movie, with its emphasis upon the dignity-restoring benefits of work and community, it made for a striking pairing of themes.
In “Unnatural Causes,” the U.S. abandonment of the poor and unemployed is contrasted with the Swedish approach, which grants 80 percent of former pay so long as the unemployed worker is in school or looking for a new work opportunity.
A Swedish official raises an obvious point. To paraphrase, “With globalization comes a very heavy responsibility for public policy. You have to tax the beneficiaries at a rate that allows you to offset the public harm.”
The notion that homelessness, poverty, and growing inequality arise from globalization is not some arcane political abstraction. During the post-film discussion, I focused in on this. Homeless advocacy’s micro-focus on narrow housing-based solutions that focus on personal dysfunction as opposed to outright system failure lead us away from grasping what should be more than clear.
As Washington state grapples with the fallout of years of regressive tax policy and squeezed human services, the wisdom of the obvious is upon us. The global economy imposes a responsibility to protect the vulnerable. This should come at the expense of those who benefit most.
Public policy that year after year gives the most to corporations while the economic insecurity of those with the least deepens offers a clear path to nowhere. The questions are under our noses. Will Washington state, for example, close $2 billion in corporate loopholes this year, or instead impose more regressive sin and sales taxes? The answers depend upon us.
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