Obama's evolution


Other than a few Mitt Romney supporters, most of us view evolution as a wonderful biological mechanism to which we owe our supposed higher intelligence. So Obama's "evolution" from a foe to a supporter of same-sex marriage deserves tremendous praise. But before we go all ga-ga over the president, let's remember:

He didn't evolve on his own. In this case, the evolution needed a push, from generations of LGBT activists and supporters, who put the issue in front of the world, made it a basic matter of civil and human rights, and forced Obama to realize that he could no longer duck and had to take a stand.

Remember FRD's famous statement to activists? "Now you have to make me do it." That's what happened here. Obama made the political calculation, of course, and it's a good one -- energizing his base is more important than angering a bunch of people who weren't going to vote for him anyway. But there's more to it, and I think Paul Hogarth has the right line:

Biden’s statement may have been the final trigger, but the LGBT movement deserves the credit – despite the odds – to hold firm on getting the President to take this historic stance. And it’s a lesson that other progressive constituencies should take heart in, as we strive to make Barack Obama the President we hoped he would be.

Let's also remember that this really started in San Francisco, with an act of what I like to call civic disobedience. At the time, a lot of critics said that Mayor Gavin Newsom was hurting the Democratic Party by making a move before the rest of the nation was ready for it. But what he did eight years ago was force the rest of the nation to get ready for it -- and the subsequent legalization of gay unions in a growing number of states has shown America what the Boston Phoenix referred to as "the utter, mundane normality" of same-sex marriage.

We all knew this moment was coming. The demographics can't be denied. Almost everyone younger than 30, and most people younger than 40, supports same-sex marriage. The country is changing -- in this case, in a very positive way -- and Obama was risking being on the wrong side of history. Even the Republicans seem to get that -- they're running away from this issue as fast as they can.

So now it's likely that L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will have his way and the Democratic Party platform will have a same-sex marriage component. Romney will be on the defensive on a key social issue - a huge change from the past. The Supreme Court will be more likely to uphold Judge Vaughn Walker's decision on Prop. 8 (yes, the high court is political and changes with the norms of society, sometimes slowly, but the president's statement will have a clear impact.)

So this is huge -- not just because of the impact but because of what it says about the power of progressive movements. Now let's make the president raise taxes on the rich.




Anything to the right of the Randian libertarian dogma of economic sharia is socialism.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 12, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

the last 30 years. Only in San Francisco are there still people who think the government is good at running businesses.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 6:38 am

for private interests to loot the commonwealth at the expense of the public.
No wonder that the world is in deeper doo doo now than 30 years ago.

Posted by Eddie on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 9:23 am

doing far too much. In some European countries more than 50% of the popu;ation were working for the government in one form or another, and businesses as diverse as phones, airlines, oil companies and car companies were all government departments.

Economically it was a disaster and government quite simply isn't suitable for running complex businesses, as anyone who rides muni can attest.

That is why now even Europe has private water and power businesses while SF clings desparately to the idea that bureaucrats make good entrepreneurs. They don't, and have no incentive to.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 9:45 am

Corporate tax reform is coming. The Obama administration has proposed reducing the tax rate from 35% to 28%, with unspecified "loophole" closures; Repubs have proposed a 25% tax rate with a territorial tax system exempting foreign based income.

Businesses - including corporations, partnerships, trusts and other business structures - have become so resourceful allocating profits to low-cost jurisdictions and allocating costs to high-tax places like the US and CA that "tax reform" has become a moot point. Some of the best tax attorneys in the world, including hundreds who work in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, have become masters at using fancy studies and highly degreed expert economists and accountants to justify shifting profits to low-cost countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland, Cayman, Netherlands and others. Most of the time these companies trounce the IRS when complex tax issues reach the court system. When so much company profit is being "legally" allocated outside the US (and othe high-tax countries), it really doesn't matter much what the tax RATES are since the company "profits" have already been sharply reduced. If I earn profits of 100 wordwide, but only "legally allocate 10 to the US based on my expert reports and fancy legal structures, even is the US had a 50% tax rate, I'm really only paying a 5% tax - (10*50%)/100.

Based on the very favorable overall tax rules governing businesses historically adopted by federal and state governments, it's beyond belief they will start taxing business profits much heavier now. In an international world it's fairly easy for companies to pick up shop and locate to more favorable locations that are thrilled to have highly paid business executives living there along with the business investment. Governments are sensitive to the fluidity of corporate location and invesment and often give these large busineses most of what they want.

The WAPO and NYT have been closely following the business/corporate tax reform issue for a couple of years now, with very thoughtful articles and diverse perspectives. Neither the LA Times nor Chronicle come close to informing their readers about the nuances and implications of the various "reform" proposals floating around. In the Bay Area where most liberals believe "corporations are bad" - but who naively ignore 90% of other businesses that aren't organized as corporations, but are just as powerful and often more profitable - it makes sense they would ignore business tax reform issues since their readers have mostly made up their minds about the issue.


Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2012 @ 10:29 pm

Businesses have had the upper hand with governments since the beginning of trade. It used to be easier when the big landlords and governments were essentially one and the same economic interests, like in many parts of world currently. But large businesses are far less dependent on government for favorable taxation since they can move their operations almost anywhere whenever government becomes too confiscatory.

Oregon is not the first state that has negotiated favorable tax deals with big companies, but this current proposal making the rounds is stunning for its length and lucrative pay-off. The proposal linked below (dated two days ago) is being driven by Nike who has essentially said to the Oregin government, "If you want more of our investment in Oregon, give us a 40 year deal with locked-in favorable tax advantages." Future generations be damned.


Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2012 @ 11:55 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 6:41 am

the incentive would vanish to push revenues thru Cayman or Bermuda. and corps would repatriate all those foreign profits.

Fix punitive tax rates and tax evasion and avoidance fix themselves.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2012 @ 6:40 am