Category: [ ] Must Be Stopped

Fill in the blank. We all have an idea about someone or thing that must be ended, for everyone’s good.

[WA State Craft Brewery Tax] Must Be Stopped!

So I needed to resurrect the blog for this one, because the word definitely has to get out there.  I know a fair number of our (admittedly imaginary) readers are big craft brew fans (and a few of us are aspiring brewmasters and brewery owners as well), so I felt it was relevant.  Here’s the rundown:

Governor Jay Inslee announced last week that he has a new goal of expanding funding for early childhood education in the state.  Good.  Great.  Grand.  Wonderful.  Nobody can fault him for that, especially since our school systems have taken a significant hit in the budget-slashing that Olympia has been practicing lately.  However…the money has to come from somewhere, right?  This is where the [Must Be Stopped!] comes into play.  The Governor has proposed “expanding & extending” the 2010 state excise tax on craft breweries that was shoehorned in at the end of the session, behind closed doors and without a public hearing.  The main gist of the law enacted in 2010 was that the craft brewing industry was subject to a new, temporary tax to help balance the state budget during the recession.  There is a clause in the law that exempts breweries that produce less than 60,000 barrels per year, which basically means everyone in the state with the exception of Redhook Brewing Co.  Governor Inslee’s new proposal would make the taxes enacted under RCW 66.24.290 permanent and remove the exemption for breweries under 60K barrels.  So the politicians are spinning like it’s not a new tax (just an “expansion & extension”), but try telling that to the Elk Head Brewery (if you do, watch out for that shillelagh!), Diamond Knot, Elysian, Skagit River Brewery, Airways Brewing, and a whole host of other, excellent craft brewers that aren’t currently paying the tax.  I won’t go into all the reason why this is a terrible idea here, but I did write a letter to the state Senator and the two House Representatives for my district that goes into more detail and which I’ll include below.  Please, if you care at all about this issue, write your legislators and tell them how you feel!  Feel free to copy my letter if you’re disinclined to write one yourself, or plagiarize freely while writing your own, or whatever…just send something!

For more information on the tax and for further ways you may be able to help, check these links here and here.

Here’s my letter:

Dear Senator Eide,

 I am taking the time to write you this letter to inform you of my displeasure with Governor Inslee’s proposed “extension & expansion” of the 2010 state excise tax on craft breweries (Senate Bill 5039).  The tax unfairly increases the operating costs of an already highly-taxed industry, and has the potential to drive important business out-of-state, at the expense of our economy and hard-working citizens.  I understand that the legislature is looking for ways to balance the budget, and while I respect Governor Inslee’s goals of increasing early education resources, there must be better, more balanced ways to accomplish this.  I urge you to please vote a resounding “No” on any bill presented to the State Senate that would increase taxes on our burgeoning craft brewing industry.

            The Washington craft brewing industry is one of the most diverse and exciting industries in the state & country.  As an aspiring small business owner and avid home brewer, I’m currently in the process of building a business model to start my own “nano-brewery” with some friends in an attempt to turn a hobby into a sustainable career.  The expansion of the state excise tax (specifically the omission of the greater-than 60,000 barrels clause in the current law) would greatly increase the operating costs and reduce the profits in an already low-profit-margin industry.  This tax could mean the difference between another self-starting entrepreneur adding a healthy business to the state economy, or never getting the business off the ground.  Particularly alarming is the proposed elimination of the exemption for breweries producing less than 60,000 barrels per year.  This would hit every brewery in the state, with the exception of Redhook, with a tax that they were previously not paying – hardly an “extension of an existing tax” in their eyes, and a difficult burden for small businesses to bear.  In an economy that is still struggling to recover from recession, a tax such as this can and will cause existing small breweries to go out of business, increasing the unemployment rate and taking much-needed capital out of our local economy.

            The current state excise tax on the brewing industry is already one of the highest in the nation, and any increase is sure to cripple what has the potential to become a vibrant and thriving industry and one that brings much needed capital into the state.  As the law stands, craft brewers are paying a little over $8 per barrel produced, which is already more than three times higher than our closest neighbor and biggest rival in the craft brewing industry, the state of Oregon.  With the proposed increase bringing the tax per barrel to almost $24, our local breweries will be severely handicapped in the marketplace and unable to compete with the millions of comparatively low-cost barrels crossing our southern border and undercutting prices.  Our breweries will either have to increase their prices (and effectively price themselves out of the market), or they will have to absorb the cost themselves at the expense of their already low profit margins.  This latter would mean cutting costs elsewhere, which usually comes in the form of layoffs, reductions of employee pay & benefits, and other detrimental actions that could turn an industry of hard-working, happy professionals into one of disgruntled, underpaid, and overworked laborers – much the way competition from Asia adversely affected the American automotive industry in the ‘70s and ‘80s.  If the Governor’s proposal is enacted into law, it will drive businesses out-of-state, and if more and more breweries leave, he will have to find his tax dollars for education elsewhere anyway.  Seems like a no-win situation.  There must be a better way.

            My final point of concern is with the way in which the original 2010 bill was passed, and the timing and presentation of Governor Inslee’s plans to expand the tax and make it permanent.  The fact that the bill was passed in 2010 “behind closed doors” and without public hearings makes it seem like the legislature has little regard for the industry and was attempting to “pull the wool over the eyes” of business owners, brewery professionals and employees, and beer-lovers all over the state.  I understand that when faced with a recession, hard choices must be made to balance the budget, but actively targeting a growing industry because it looks like “easy money” will only serve to handicap the industry in the long run.  Furthermore, the fact that the Governor made his proposal last week while a large part of the industry professionals were attending the Craft Brewing Conference in Washington, D.C. further supports the idea that at least a portion of our elected officials feel they can hoodwink the public by passing a bill into law before any momentum can build to oppose it.  Also, the way the governor attempted to spin the issue by linking it to a completely unrelated one is unconscionable, and just another example of certain (though certainly not all) politicians manipulating our beliefs and emotions to get what they want.  In other words, by increasing and expanding the tax on the brewing industry and using that money to fund early education, he’s effectively created a no-win situation for those of us who support early education but oppose the tax, with the idea that our views on education will trump our support for the brewing industry and force our hand.  The creation of an either/or scenario with these two completely unrelated issues (you either support education or – if you oppose the tax on breweries – you don’t) borders on coercion.  These are hardly the actions of a governing body that is proud of its actions and believes in governmental transparency.  I certainly understand that being a public official must be a difficult and often thankless job, but an approach such as this only serves to further alienate the public from our elected government when we should all be coming together in mutual support and cooperation.

            In closing, let me again urge you to vote “No” on any form of this proposal that is presented to the Senate.  In the interest of not sounding petty, I won’t say that anyone who approves the Governor’s proposed tax increase on breweries will never get my vote, but I can think of some people who would say that, and at any rate I’m sure you understand better than I do the consequences of having constituents who are unhappy with your decisions.  While Governor Inslee’s motives are honorable, I hope you understand why I cannot approve of his methods.  I personally feel that this proposal will only serve to handicap an industry that has done much to bring notoriety, prestige, and much-needed capital to our wonderful state.  I appreciate your time and attention to this matter, as well as everything you do in service of the State of Washington and its citizens.  Thank you, Senator.

Sincerely,

Jon Chouinard

etc., etc….

[ACTA] Must Be Stopped!

Hey all, it’s been a while.  Lots of stuff to do and not so much time to blog these days, but this one is definitely important enough to merit the effort.  If you’re looking for one of my quasi-funny, tongue-in-cheek posts, check out the Third and 7 archives.  This one is serious.  Nonetheless, you should take the time to read it, and hopefully take action afterwards.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA for short) must be stopped.  I say this in all earnest, as a believer in freedom and equality for all citizens of the Earth, and as a believer in the Constitution of the United States of America and our Bill of Rights (that’s the first ten amendments to the Constitution, in case you forgot your high school Civics class).  Here, in brief (brief for me, anyway), is why:

Government-sponsored, corporate censorship of the internet not only violates our First Amendment Rights, it opens the door to a dangerous precedent that any citizen of a free and independent nation should greatly fear.  ACTA essentially gives Big Business an internationally-approved “blank check” to prosecute ISPs and website domain hosts for the actions of a few unscrupulous users.  This threat of multi-million dollar lawsuits and/or criminal prosecution in turn forces the ISPs/hosts to censor sites and cave to unconstitutional requests for private user data, all in the interest of “combating piracy”.  This is a grave threat to individual liberty and national sovereignty and must be stopped.

ACTA is unquestionably a tool for multi-million dollar, international corporations to protect their “rights” (a.k.a. profits).  This is shown in no uncertain terms by the following quotation:

“Apart from the participating governments, an advisory committee of large US-based multinational corporations was consulted on the content of the draft treaty, including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the International Intellectual Property Alliance (which includes the Business Software Alliance, Motion Picture Association of America, and Recording Industry Association of America).”

– Wikipedia.org – visit the original ACTA article for the individual sources

By ratifying ACTA into an international treaty, the governments of the world are effectively allowing these corporations to circumvent the laws of individual nations.  In other words, they can completely disregard the US Constitution and due process when going after alleged “pirates”.  The fact that our supposedly “free and independent” government would sign such a treaty proves just how much control these multi-national corporations and their SuperPACs truly have.

Social media and internet journalism are two major factors that enabled the oppressed majority to overthrow their totalitarian shackles in the Arab Spring last year.  If we, as a free people, give up the freedom of the internet in order to protect the special interests of Big Business, we open the door to an unprecedented (in this country) level of totalitarianism.  We are, essentially, throwing away our ability to decide if and when our government, supposedly “of the people, by the people, and for the people”, has become “destructive of [Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness].”  Our Founding Fathers proclaimed these “certain unalienable rights” to be self-evident, and in the Constitution free speech is entrusted to us as one of the most important tools by which we ensure those rights aren’t infringed by an increasingly totalitarian government.  The justification behind this thinking is laid out in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence, specifically in this passage:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.  But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.  Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

Indeed, the entire point of our Constitution and Bill of Rights is to prevent the government set up by the Continental Congress from one day becoming another “King George”; they wanted to protect their investment, as it were.  We, the people, are that investment, and Big Business has no right to take that away from us in the interest of protecting their own status quo, or for any other reason.  If we freely give Big Business the power to influence our government and skew all the rules in their favor, we cease to have a free, elective democracy as well as a truly free market economy, two of the corner stones this nation was founded upon.

The internet itself is an extension of this basic freedom.  What will become of it (and our voice) if Big Business is given the wherewithal by our government to indiscriminately censor, prosecute, and persecute anything or anyone it perceives as being counter to its interests – interests which, as we’ve seen time and again, go against the basic rights and freedoms of the American people, and the vast majority of the (dare I say it?) “99%” the world over.

Anyone who believes in true democracy should oppose ACTA in any way you can.  Please visit the official Change.org petition here and sign it today.

SMA Must Be Stopped: Seattle Walk-N-Roll

Hello Friends-
 
Our efforts to raise money to find a cure for SMA continues this Sunday, October 16th with our Annual Cure SMA Seattle Walk-N-Roll. If you are interested in joining us for the walk please visit the below link and register for a $20 donation. If you choose to register, please make sure to select I Love Lucy from the Team Info page.
 
If you are unable to attend the walk but would like to make a donation to the team, you can also do so through the below link. To do so, please click on the Find A Walker button from the main page and select I Love Lucy from the team listing. From there you can find my name and Donate To This Fundraiser.
 
The site is a little wonky to navigate, so if you have any issues or questions please let me know.
 
 
Event Details:   October 16th @ 10 AM Registration, Walk Starts @ 11 AM
Location:          Bathhouse Theatre in Greenlake Park
7312 W. Greenlake Drive North
Seattle, WA 98115
 
Thank you all once again for taking the time to read; please feel free to forward this information to anyone that might also be able to contribute.
 
Love The Joneses

Retweeted by a Seattle Icon

Yes I, little ‘ol me living up in Bothell, WA was retweeted by THE Dave Simms.  Maybe not a Seattle icon, but it all went down like this:

I was tuning in to enjoy my new look Mariners on FSN when they showed Dave Simms and Mike Blowers in the booth.  Not to my surprise, Dave Simms was wearing yet another ridiculous looking hat…I know at least some of my colleagues agree that Dave Simms can be hard to listen to and completely over the top, so I know I’m not completely off my rocker here…So I was prompted to tweet the following:

how many hats does Dave Sims own? #DaveSimsMustBeStopped

Little did I know that THE Dave Simms would RT with:

I’ve lost count! It’s not a problem!!! RT @abuchanan30: how many hats does Dave Sims own? #DaveSimsMustBeStopped

Really?  That’s your response.  I’m not sure if he knew I was taking a jab at him or not.  I have to assume he did, so I do have to give him credit for taking it in stride and not taking it personally.  I gained respect for him as a professional, I just can’t stand him broadcasting for my baseball team.  Not only that, but other people defended Simms as well with their tweets:

@TheDaveSimsShow @abuchanan30 That is one sweet lid. #DaveSimsSweetLidClub.

Actually, it’s not a sweet lid.  Another gem from the peanut gallery commenting on the ridiculous white hat Simms changed his profile pic to after he retweeted me:

@TheDaveSimsShow @abuchanan30 a man can never have too many hats, and that white one is terrific!

Actually, even if he only had that one hat, it would be one too many.  And here’s the last one…not really worth mentioning since it’s bland, but here it is anyways:

@TheDaveSimsShow @abuchanan30 Nice Hat Dave!!

So what does this all mean?  Nothing really, other than I’ve proven that Dave Simms doesn’t really care what I think, and I’ll probably have to suffer through many more years of him on television broadcasts if I want to watch my Mariners.  Here’s to hoping that the Mariners can be competitive so that it’s worth the suffering.  I guess it could be worse.  At least we don’t have to deal with Bob Costas or Dan Fouts.  Have you ever grated your ears with a cheese grater?  That would be about the equivalent to either of those two, but that’s another topic for another time.

What TV announcer can you not stand?  TV personality?  Sound off if you have an opinion.  I’m probably not worth following, but you can find me on twitter @abuchanan30 if you haven’t figured that out already.

[Evolution vs. Creation] Must Be Stopped!

I’m so sick of seeing Jesus- and Darwin-fish all over the damn place.  It’s getting really old, people.  Everywhere I go, it’s Darwin-fish here, Jesus-fish there, Darwin-fish eating Jesus-fish, Jesus-fish smiting Darwin-fish down with bolts of fire and brimstone…it’s honestly getting absurd.  Why do we as a nation – no, as a species – feel so intent upon dividing ourselves into so many separate camps, and then proceed to go to great and illogical lengths to prove that any other camp is wholly, utterly wrong?  Personally, I don’t see why the two fish are so different, really…I mean, one has legs, the other doesn’t, no big deal…

So why the hell can’t someone believe in evolution (which is based upon scientific fact, people; here, let me say it again: scientific fact.  Look it up if you don’t know what it means), and still believe that God created the universe?  Can we no longer grasp the concepts of metaphor and allusion?  If you believe God created the universe, did you never stop to think that maybe science and mathematics are part of the language God used to create everything?  Why is that so flippin’ hard to believe?  “Oh no, that’s impossible!  God doesn’t use science!  He just says the magic words, and it happens!  Duh…”. I mean, seriously?  If God is the creator of everything (the universe included), and every piece of scientific knowledge and learning that our species has acquired through the millennia points to the fact that the universe runs based on very specific scientific laws and principles, then it only stands that (and all you people who passed Philosophy 101 will agree with me here)…drum roll, please…  God created science as a set of guidelines by which his creation should work.  It’s all this old-fashioned superstitious mumbo-jumbo kind of thinking that keeps us from getting anywhere as a society.  Now, I know that evolution is a theory in the scientific sense of the word, as any self-respecting biologist (my brother included) will tell you.  Darwin didn’t get it exactly right, and there is still a lot for us to learn about exactly how it works (not to mention the all-encompassing “Why?”, which is well beyond the scope of this article).  Nonetheless, it’s the best theory we have, and is viewed as “fact” in the common understanding of the word because no other theory has replaced it or disproved it.  Anyway, if you believe in an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God, what harm can a few scientific theories really do Him?  Further, if the teaching of evolution is such a faith-threatening act, it seems to me that the Creationists’ faith could use a little evolving itself; even Thomas believed in the resurrection after putting his fingers into Jesus’ wounds.

Anyway, the same could be said of the scientists/Evolutionists as well.  They should be the first ones to consider that there are things in this universe which are beyond the scope of our current human comprehension (black holes, the nature of space-time, how light can behave simultaneously as a wave and a particle, the quantum states of energy…just to name a few).  We’re quick to accept the possibility of life on other planets in other solar systems, or even in our own (think of how much money has been spent searching for water and traces of life on Mars).  Remember the Golden Record sent out on the first Voyager mission?  Obviously the possibility of other life in the universe is great enough that our top scientists didn’t see it as a waste of time and valuable resources to put that mission together.  So if scientists believe in the possibility of some form of higher intelligence somewhere in the universe, why is the possibility that a higher Higher Intelligence could exist and have created the universe so hard to believe?  I understand that this concept takes a little bit of Critical Thinking (which scientific minds praise so highly)… but it doesn’t seem any more of a stretch to me than believing that a black hole can have infinite mass and density in a nonetheless very finite space.  Scientific thought is important, and it’s the foundation on which our society has been built, but Science needs to know when to admit that it doesn’t understand something.  Socrates (who we revere as one of the greatest philosophers – a.k.a. Critical Thinkers – of all time) stated that true wisdom comes in knowing that you know nothing.  You can look at a diamond and say that it’s made out of atoms of carbon arranged in a complex matrix…but do you really understand it?  Can you say what a carbon atom really is, without reverting to the Periodic Table, or speaking in quarks, leptons, and bosons?  What exactly is the force that causes these things to behave the way they do?  When asking these sorts of questions, you reach a point where Science fails you, and you have to admit that they behave in such a manner simply because it’s in their nature to do so…but what defines that nature?  We…don’t…know…  In my humble opinion, the idea that the universe was created out of the void in a Big Bang with no impetus or particular reason takes as much Faith (as opposed to Logic) as the belief in God…but then again, what do I know?  I just live here.

[SMA] Must Be Stopped

This is pretty much the first time I’ve opened up in regards to SMA and the recent effect it has had on me and my family. To start with SMA stands for Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a genetic disease that prevents the muscles surrounding the spinal cord to develop and thus prevents the person from being able to walk. The other aspect of SMA that I typically push out of my mind is that the afflicted person typically lives into their early twenties, before succumbing to lung failure.

Lucy Faye Jones was born with SMA, Type 2. She is the brightest, sweetest and funniest child you will ever meet. Just last Friday she was fitted for her future wheelchair, and what did the kid do as soon as she sat down? That’s right, grabbed the gear shift and started driving down the hall! It’s going to be a rough journey, but we are going to make it. I have to change the subject because I feel tears coming on…

In hopes of finding a cure for SMA, our Northwest chapter is having a fundraiser which I would hope anyone reading would be able to attend, whether you like me or not. Join us July 17th at Safeco Field as the Seattle Mariners take on the Texas Rangers. A portion of the ticket cost will be donated to the FSMA foundation. The key, if you would like to join us, is to order your tickets through the below link, that way the donation is secured. We will be sitting the $20 section, which might not be that great for the view, but is great for the cause. Thank you for taking the time to read.

https://oss.ticketmaster.com/html/group_corp_start.htmI?l=EN&team=mariners&owner=1697466&group=1118&err&event&customerID

Apple & Verizon Must Be Stopped

“If you don’t have an Iphone, you can go to hell”  

I think that’s how the ad goes.  It might as well say that because I’D LOVE NOTHING MORE THAN TO OWN AN IPHONE!  Here’s the deal.  I got the first “Droid” because I was under the impression that Verizon would never get the Iphone.  You want a review of the Droid Eris?…It’s a giant piece of chihuahua dung.  I should know.

Reasons why this is the phone of the devil:

  • The processor is so slow that the web browser crashes constantly.
  • The phone has the ability to pocket dial everyone in your phone book.  (Sorry for the 2 am calls from the bar Grandma)
  • Phone calls get dropped when being answered.  Not a lack of signal, the processor literally crashes the phone because the damn thing rang.
  •  Battery lasts for half a day at the most.
  • The camera takes 116 minutes to load (approximatively) so you can’t take a quick picture.  By the time the camera is ready, the midget riding the scooter with his overweight girlfriend on the back are out of view.  Heart breaking really.
  • The keyboard is not fat finger friendly.  Between my poor spelling and the inability to type, I might as well stop texting all together.
  • I could go on but I’m sure both my readers have lost interest by now…
I’m too cheap to pay full price for an Iphone. $750? What rich douche has that kind of money to throw around?  My only option is to wait until November when my contract is available for an upgrade.  Then, I have the PRIVILEGE of buying another out of date device.
This will be a summer of Verizon and Apple mocking me with their commercials for jumping the gun and purchasing a Droid I didn’t want in the first place.  So I’ll be stuck with this piece of junk.