Washington hasn’t had a state income tax since 1933, but in a TV commercial that’s also on the Web, Gates Sr. takes a plunge into a dunk tank, surrounded by kids having a wonderful time. Soaking wet, he says, “Some people say Initiative 1098 is about soaking the rich. But it’s really about doing something for the next generation. You see, state cutbacks have put our kids at risk, and we can’t just sit here and do nothing about it.”
Of course, life’s not that simple: not all the wealthy are in favor of being “soaked.” Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive; Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com; and John Nordstrom of the luxury department store chain are firmly against it, and spending big to have their say.