22 October 2008

Your Immodestly Californian Voter Guide . . .

Because it's never too early to vote (and you can never vote often enough!), here's my guide to the myriad (if by myriad you mean 12) of propositions infesting our state ballot.

Proposition 1A Hell NO!
The only way it could be better (and by better, I mean more ridiculous, of course) would be if it were for a proposed monorail. Instead Prop 1A wants to spend $20B over the next 30 years and operate a high speed rail link (220 MPH) between basically L.A., Silicon Valley, and the Bay Area, but the real goal is to build out 700 miles of track serving multiple communities at a likely cost of $80B not the $20B admitted to in the voter guide (and the proposal only claims to need $9B in bonds, but that's just to start this project rolling, but don't believe me, believe this 196 page PDF put together by Reason, Citizens Against Government Waste, and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation ). Never mind that this kind of rail link has never been successfully constructed over such a great distance (not at the proposed speeds, anyway, China's opened up 6000km of new high speed rail, but most of that is in the 120-150mph range, significantly slower than the California proposal), never mind that such a rail link has never gone through the kind of terrain found in between the target cities, and never mind that there's a reason commuter rail fails in the United States, nope never mind any and all of those things, instead push some pie in the sky dream of 'green' tech and high-speed mass transit that will be the envy of the world. Yeah, I don't think so. I'm not down on all high speed rail in SoCal, though, I think Desert XPress Enterprises has the right idea, and could be profitable if government gets out of their way (even just the Victorville to Las Vegas portion alone would alleviate a lot of car and air traffic between LA and LV, have a big park and ride center in Victorville, have adult only cars on the train, have plenty of booze, and maybe gaming instruction (and even strippers), and you got yourself a service planes can't beat).

Proposition 2 Hell NO!!
This one is to improve the conditions for farm animals. How can anyone be against better conditions for farm animals? I am, for one. The rules in place are sufficient, these new rules will give folks another reason to move their businesses from California. Now is not the time to be driving businesses away from California (and food stuffs are still really big business here in the Golden State).

Proposition 3 Hell NO!!!
This one raises nearly $1B for children's hospitals. How can you be against children's hospitals? That these various entities are spending $7M to get their hands on the $1B of government funding probably tells you most what you need to know. They're using sick children to justify bloated budgets, overly generous compensation packages for their executives, and the usual mix of sweetheart deals and graft that go hand in hand with freeing up $1B for building out new infrastructure. I'm for caring for sick children, but that's not really what this bill funds. Clearly, now is not the time for these kind of questionable 'investments' at taxpayer expense.

Proposition 4 Reluctantly No.
Amending the State Constitution to require adult notification for abortions by unemancipated minors seems like a worthy goal, but I'm not comfortable with amendments in general, and I can't imagine that this situation happens often enough to warrant tinkering with our Constitution.

Proposition 5 Hell NO!!!!!
Didn't we just have this on the ballot? It's a complicated bill that aims to add more money to treating drug addiction, expand the Department of Corrections involvement into drug treatment, and lessen the penalty for possession of marijuana. Some parts of this bill I'm for, but on the whole it smells of a boondoggle, and when in doubt when it comes to creating new levels of state bureaucracies to solve problems at the societal level that are more about individual choices, I always lean towards, "hell no!!! (with varying numbers of "!"). I think all the treatment crap was thrown in to cover for the main part of the bill which is reducing penalties for Mary Jane. I still believe that marijuana should be fully legalized, but I think incremental steps such as this when larded up with pork would be worse than no change at all.

Proposition 6 Hell NO!!!!!!
Another $1B in spending to screw up our state budget and limit the flexibility of what our governor and legislature can do. This time the $1B is to 'clean up the streets' and 'take back our neighborhoods' and would go to combating gangs and the meth trade. There's already enough laws on the books, and enough police on the streets to tackle the problem, the problem isn't money, or the number of prison bunks, or the number of cops, the problem comes from within the communities themselves. Money won't fix that, especially when that money comes from required budgetary outlays that will limit flexibility to respond to the other problems that cause these kinds of situations to arise in the first place. If you don't like the way your legislators are legislating, rather than trying to do their jobs for them by placing artificial impositions on spending priorities within the state budget through the ballot process, instead, vote the bums out.

Proposition 7, Hell NO!!!!!!!
The boondoggles to top all past boondoggles. This bill imposes all sorts of 'green energy' requirements on power generation and use within the state, and comes up with all sorts of time tables and goals that aren't currently feasible with available technology (the bill makes all sorts of assumptions about innovations that are 'just around the corner'). It's "Green" so it must be good. But, "Green" and "Greed" are off by only one letter for a reason, and what this bill really is a sweetheart deal to the folks pushing wind and solar as the be all and end all to power generation. If we do this and go down this road, good bye business. We'll have brownouts and higher costs when compared to neighboring states that choose an 'all the above' path towards generation. Electricity fuels the economy, we need energy period, cleaner or not, by placing artificial restrictions on the sources of this energy, we'll destroy our economy. This isn't about the environment anymore, it's about namby-pamby pie in the sky wish fulfillment and it's about Californians buying into some fairyland of cheap, renewable, CO2 free energy generation. I'm not sold, I'm not buying it, and the costs of voting yes on this one will be a massive reduction in the competitiveness of our entire economy. Not a good idea to gimp our economy, not now, not ever.

Proposition 8 No
This one is getting a lot of national attention. It's a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage in the state as between a man and a woman. I'm not pleased, personally, that our state courts invented a 'right' to marriage within the existing Constitution, but it doesn't upset me to the point where I think codifying a traditional view of marriage is needed. I'd vote for this if it amended the Constitution to eliminate all state recognition of marriage, period. Then there'd be no hint of discrimination, marriage shouldn't be a state matter to begin with, whether it between Dick and Jane, or Dick and Dick. I sympathize with the bill, but I find it flawed, and I'm not comfortable mucking up the state's Constitution over something that in the long run is a personal matter and won't really have much effect one way or the other.

Proposition 9 No
This is a victim's notification bill on steroids. Victims are currently notified at sentencing and parole proceedings, this proposition would extend that to notification at every stage of the legal system, from bail, to plea deals, to sentencing, to parole. It's micromanagement of the criminal justice system, and I think it's a solution to a problem that doesn't really exist. It's unwieldy, and unnecessary, so as usual, I vote no.

Proposition 10, Hell NO!!!!!!!!!!
Another green bill, this one focuses on vehicles rather than power generation. This is just as dumb as Prop 7, and potentially just as costly to our economy. Alternative fuels will happen when they happen, government fiddling won't make petrol disappear any faster. It's a waste of taxpayer money, and won't bring about the coming 'green paradise' any sooner. Let the dopey Europeans waste their money on this crap, let's tax Californians less, and spend the funds we have on maintaining the current infrastructure, not fairyland dreams of cars powered by unicorn farts.

Proposition 11, Yes?
I didn't realize Yes was in my vocabulary when it came to propositions. This one is yet another scheme to take redistricting away from the legislature and put it in the hands of a bipartisan commission. I can live with that, even if the plan is a bit overly complicated, this is one change that I can accept and can readily believe that doing something is better than doing nothing given that we live in the most gerrymandered, least competitive politically, state in the nation. Enough is enough, and since our legislature won't do it, the people will have to, even if they have to embrace a less than perfect instrument in reaching the goal of creating competitive districts that reflect the will of the people and not the will of the incumbents. The current system is sufficiently broken to require amending our State Constitution, this is an example of non-frivolous change.

Proposition 12, No.
Another bond, another $2B outlay of funds our state doesn't have. This time the target for California taxpayers' gold are our veterans. They're worth it, but not by this much. The legislature can figure out a way to get stuff like this done by legislating, I refuse to pay for bond issues through the proposition process, even for bonds that otherwise might make sense. In this case it's not about the bond itself, the target for the money, or the amount of money, it's the principle of the thing that informs my decision to say "no".

So that's my voting guide, one yes snuck in there amongst a cavalcade of nos. I guess I'm contrarian, or I don't believe that I should have to do the job that my elected officials were elected to do, one or the other. For those not in California, hope you enjoyed a glimpse at the mess created when you have a very active initiative culture within the political system. The populist impulse to give people a direct voice and vote in making policy may have good origins, but it's morphed into another form of rent-seeking where interests groups try and buy themselves with a few million in advertising dollars a billion or two in bond money over a decade or two. Sometimes props lead to positive changes, mostly though, it's just a windfall for local broadcasters and leads to legislative gridlock and future court cases where the poorly written propositions get tied up in some judge's chambers. That's why you have the first round of a prop where it's just a proposed law, and then when it's struck down, it returns from the dead as an amendment the way Prop 8 is doing. I understand the process, I see why it happens, but I don't have to like it, and in all but rare cases, I will not support it.

1 comment:

blake said...

Wait, I thought you were from New Hampshire....