Tag Archives: Olympia

History of Student Movements and Activism at The Evergreen State College

History of Student Movements and Activism at The Evergreen State College

by Peter Bohmer, faculty in Political Economy, The Evergreen State College

September 29, 2016

Slightly revised version of my article in the Fall, 2016 Disorientation Manual


Students have played a major role as have student movements in struggles for reform and revolution in the United States and globally. Let me give a few examples, mainly from the 1960’s in the United States before I turn to Evergreen. I will also share a few conclusions based on many years of activism with student movements. …

College is a Right for All, Testimony to Olympia City Council, July 12 2016

Testimony by Peter Bohmer to Olympia City Council, July 12, 2016 in favor of Opportunity for Olympia Proposal!

Olympia has a chance to stand up and take a step towards the right to education for all, paid for by those who have benefited by the obscene growth of the inequality of income and wealth. Almost  all of the gains in income since the supposed  end of the great recession in 2009 have gone to the top 3%, approximately the percentage of  households  who would pay this tax.

In fall, 1987, I moved to Olympia to teach Economics and public administration at The Evergreen State College. Tuition and fees that year were $1272 for in-state students.  For the coming year, 2016-2017, tuition and fees at Evergreen are $7500 a year, six times more than 1987.  Tuition has risen many more times than wages. The minimum wage was $3.35/hr in 1987; in 2016 it is $9.47 an hour. The minimum wage has gone up by 180% since 1987while tuition has grown at almost three times the rate of the minimum wage. This increase in tuition is true for all of higher education. Students are being priced out of higher education. Passing this proposal will begin to reverse this growing lack of affordability.

The right to college is a necessity today, not a luxury. High school became a necessity for most jobs, 100 years ago, as college is today. Having more people being able to attend college is not only a question of fairness but will also increase their productivity and incomes which will decrease poverty and increase spending and employment here.  Increasing access to higher education will also make for more informed citizens and a better Olympia. College education is a basic right today, as higher education became that in the past and was free.

The cost of this proposed tax to the top 3% of the income ladder is minimal Any household making up to $200,000 will not pay any additional taxes. For example, a household making $250,000 a year will pay a 1.5% income tax, only on their income above $200,000, or 1.5% of $50,000 = $750 a year. That is not much of a burden; much less than their gains in income over the last seven years.

I urge you to pass this modest proposal of a 1.5% tax on incomes over $200,000 to fund students going past high school.  Rather than waiting for change at the federal or even state level, let us support this Opportunity for Olympia proposal, maybe with the small change of  using federal income tax returns to measure income. We can and should take an important step here in Olympia for fairness and increased access to higher education. This will be leading by example, which is likely to spread to others places in Washington State and then nationally.  We need this type of change at the national level but tactically, we are more likely to be successful by starting locally. Be courageous! It is urgent that you take a stand, a step towards education for all, paid for by a fairer tax system. Let us start with the Olympia City Council. Thank you!

Postscript-The Olympia City Council, taking the side of the wealthy, voted on July 12, 2016 against supporting this proposal or passing an alternative proposal that would have taxed higher income people to support students who want to go to college.  Let us actively support this Opportunity for Olympia proposal and vote for it in the November 2016 election!

Connecting the $15 an Hour Movement to the Movement for Racial Justice and other Social Movements

Connecting $15 an Hour to Movement for Racial Justice and to other Social Movements.

by Peter Bohmer, September 26, 2015

At the Working Washington organized Gathering and Rally at Heritage Park, Olympia, Washington

Working Washington and the fight for $15 an hour is a very important movement and I want to thank the organizers and all of you for attending this gathering. You are involved in this necessary struggle for economic justice. I recently returned from a month in Greece where because of inhuman policies forcing Greece to cut government spending, cut pensions, lower the minimum wage and raise taxes on basic goods and services, unemployment, poverty, low wages and job security are even worse than in the U.S. Many Greek people asked me about important issues and social movements for justice in the United States and I usually mentioned the ones for climate justice, $15 an hour and a living wage, and the Black Lives Matter movement that has focused on exposing and stopping police shooting of Black people.

$15 an Hour: Its Time has Come!

First a little about significance of the fight for $15 and the statewide Working Washington organization. Since the 1970’s, the gaps between the rich and poor have grown significantly in the United States. The top 1% today takes more than 20% of national income; the average household in the poorest 20% of the population earns about 1/100th of the top 1%. The 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement made public the obscene inequality in the United States between the 1% and the 99%. In Olympia, four years ago, Olympia residents occupied the land where we are standing for more than two months as part of the national Occupy Movement. … (Connect to link above to read the entire talk)


Why I Support the Boycott of Israeli Goods from the Olympia Food Coop

by Peter Bohmer, August 23, 2010

The decision by the board of the Olympia Food Coop to not buy Israeli made goods and boycott them is a positive and important contribution towards  ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine. It is part of a global grassroots boycott, divest and sanctions (BDS) movement to pressure the United States and Israel to fundamentally change their policies. I strongly support this courageous and important decision made by consensus by the Olympia Food Coop board on July, 15th, 2010. My support for the Olympia Food Coop’s Boycott of Israeli Goods