On a recent morning in Woke City, I had to perform a double take while swallowing guffaws between lumps of oat bran. Yes, I can be quite the multitasker that way.
“People were sick of the status quo and they wanted change,” Sara Nelson said on election night.
I was confused. Nelson (absolutely no relation) ran against Nikkita Oliver, who was the biggest change agent on anyone’s ballot that day.
Then — snap — I thought, were we the status quo she was talking about? And by we, I mean folks who want to reform the police, have compassion for the homeless, and take a jackhammer to income inequality. And by folks, I mean mainly Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, who are the most impacted by that Bermuda Triangle of social inequity.
This week’s “long read” is a research report from the Economic Innovation Group looking at Americans’ different sources of income and in particular focusing on the one most closely tied to wealth: income from assets.
The report categorizes income into three types: “transfers” such as Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and food stamps; wages and earnings; and income from assets. An asset can be a financial investment such as stocks and bonds, but it can also be the housing that a landlord rents out, an apple orchard generating produce, or a manufacturing plant used to create goods.
Over the past fifty years, there has been a steady shift in the sources of personal income from Americans. In 1969, 77% of income was from wages and earnings; as of 2019, it was only 63%. Income from assets, however, has grown from 15% to 20%.
Every day for the past year, I’ve heard from families across Washington State about just how hard this year has been. Single moms who were struggling to find quality affordable child care for their kids because the pandemic has closed down so many child care centers. Hardworking parents who were laid off because of COVID-19 and are unable to make ends meet. Kids who struggled to adapt to online learning. Grandparents raising their grandchildren who were afraid to send them to school for fear of bringing home the virus. When I hear from communities of color, I hear about how long-standing inequities made the effects of the pandemic even more dire.
Every day for the past year, I’ve heard these stories, and I’ve taken them with me back to the other Washington to fight for all our state’s families and make sure no community gets left behind. After a year of Republicans saying “no” to the kind of bold relief families in Washington State have been demanding for months — and after voters in Washington State and across the country made their voices heard in November and January — Democrats have finally passed a bill that begins to acknowledge the scope and scale of the crisis Washington State families have been facing.
A report published this week by the nonprofit Prosperity Now reveals that even before the pandemic arrived, certain communities of color in Seattle have less wealth than fellow white residents, are more likely to experience homelesness, and are more likely to be unemployed. In response, Prosperity Now will join five community organizations, including the Africatown Community Land Trust and Communities Rise, in a virtual meeting at noon on Tuesday, March 16 to focus on addressing this racial wealth divide in Seattle.
Washington’s State Senate has taken a major step toward a more just and lasting recovery from COVID-19 with passage of a new tax on extraordinary profits from the sale of stocks and other assets of the super-rich. Revenue generated from individuals who have continued to rake in wealth during the pandemic will help fuel the urgently needed rescue of families and small businesses and provide a start toward the long-term investments in child care, public health, and other supports our communities need to thrive.
If Senate Bill (SB) 5096 makes it past additional legislative hurdles to final passage, it will generate over $500 million annually from 8,000 or so of Washington’s wealthiest residents. The first $350 million of new public funds will go into the education legacy trust fund to finance childcare and early learning, K–12 education enhancements, and college access. Revenues beyond that will go into the general fund to support other priorities such as public health and housing and into a new taxpayer fairness account where it could finance the Working Families Tax Credit and other relief for lower-income households.
M. Anthony Davis(Mike Davis)is a local journalist covering arts, culture, and sports.
Featured Image: Inauguration Day Sunrise — attributed to Geoff Livingston under a Creative Commons 2.0 license (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
Before you move on to the next story …
The South Seattle Emerald is brought to you by Rainmakers. Rainmakers give recurring gifts at any amount. With over 1,000 Rainmakers, the Emerald is truly community-driven local media. Help us keep BIPOC-led media free and accessible.
If just half of our readers signed up to give $6 a month, we wouldn't have to fundraise for the rest of the year. Small amounts make a difference.
We cannot do this work without you.Become a Rainmaker today!
While COVID-19 cases have increased in King County since the beginning of the month overall, South King County, one of the most diverse parts of the Seattle area, has recorded disproportionate numbers of cases.
Whereas 3.2% of all tests in King County come back positive for the novel coronavirus, simply looking at the map of positive tests in the county on King County’s Daily COVID-19 Outbreak Summary webpage (you must choose the “Geography tab” in the dashboard to view the map) will show you that these numbers increase the more you travel south. For example, overall positivity rates in Auburn stand at 8.4% and of individuals tested at the Auburn testing site at 2701 C Sreet Southwest, 12.8% of tests have come back positive since Sept. 1, according to a Seattle Times article.