Crosscut last week: The economy and public life

The economy is driving new looks at public policy, tax reform, and the shape of the Next Seattle.

With people making changes because of the economy, this week brought quite a few stories here about the economy's effects on communities. It's clear that the strained economy will create a great deal of decision making and thinking about public policy.

It's a subject that bears watching in the coming months as cities, counties, and the state develop their new budgets, and as individuals cope with the changes in the economy. Voters will have their say directly on some economic issues, including Initiative 1098, the proposed state income tax measure.

Daniel Jack Chasan began our coverage of I-1098 with a look at the larger economic questions and whether passage of the measure would hurt the state's competitiveness ("Would a state income tax harm the economy? Far from proven.")

On the budget front, Knute Berger looked at how Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn's progressive views could mix healthily with what seems to be his fiscal caution ("Mike McGinn: Don't call him Mayor Moonbeam"). Berger followed that up with a blog posting about the fiscal conservatism of liberal Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer, "Why progressives should be fiscal conservatives." Addressing the city budget directly and Seattle's declining job picture in recent years, Jordan Royer wrote "Smart budgeting needed in a city with jobs problem."

An article by Peter Ladner in Vancouver, B.C. looked at one aspect of how individual economic needs could be tied to smart action on climate change and resource use. In "Car insurance changes would drive fairness, clean air," Ladner looked at how pay-as-you-drive car insurance would have a variety of benefits.

Some of the other articles that drew a lot of attention this week included:

"Building a springboard to the next Seattle," by David Brewster.

"Who will speak up for Seattle cartoonist under fatwa threat?," by Pete Jackson.

"Morris Graves centennial: the show, the séance," by Jeffrey Long.

"New York's bike lanes put Seattle sharrows to shame," by Hugo Kugiya.

And, with college football season almost on us, there was Mike Henderson's "New book kicks fans' college football illusions away."

Story ideas welcome, by the way, on all parts of the front where the economy and public life meet. As George Gallup has written, the public is generally ahead of the leadership, and I suspect that's especially true when we face big changes like those occurring in the economy.

Joe Copeland is political editor for Crosscut. You can reach him at Joe.Copeland@crosscut.com.


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