Tuesday, November 02, 2010

California Propositions

Prop 19: Legalizing Pot -- Symbolic YES.

I say symbolic because even if this initiative passes, it will not happen. It will immediately get tied up in litigation, both state and federal, that will go on for years. So as a result, both the nightmare scenarios outlined by opponents and the alleged increased revenues and decreased Mexican drug cartel activity outlined by proponents simply are not going to happen, at least not anytime soon.

I actually have respect for those who vote NO. My nephew told me that he thinks society has enough problems with alcohol, and do we really want to have a larger pot problem? From someone who has had a drinking problem, and who watched his pothead father graduate to methamphetamine, this is not a frivolous point.

The proposed law also provides that "no person shall be discriminated against or denied any right or privilege" for pot use, inviting a lawsuit every time an employer tries to require a drug test, for example.

There is also the obvious question: Do we really want a legally dumbed down society to the point where "the munchies" are the topic of discussion? I rather regret most of the times I spent getting stoned, they being in adolescent angst and all that.

Nevertheless, I am of the mind to vote YES, simply because with "medicinal" marijuana, we already have a fairly large exception by which thousands of people in this state are toking away, and probably passing it on to the non-afflicted. Our current anti-marijuana enforcement efforts are tantamount to telling Katie to bar the door after all the horses have already left the stables. To have such an unenforceable law is to invite contempt for the law in general.

As for the concerns that marijuana leads its users on to harder drugs, here there is an undeniable element of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Those who seek out marijuana tend to get it from those involved with the manufacture or sale of other illegal substances, such as methamphetamine. If it were legally grown and sold, as tobacco is, that would not be the case.

Finally, I am increasingly of the mind that we should "Legalize It, Then Demonize It", much as has been done with tobacco. And smoking tobacco has declined among the American population, relative to previous generations. Youth are still more likely to smoke than older adults, but that was true with prior generations as well. There is a very simple reason for this. Cigarettes and alcohol, for teenagers who wish to seem more grown up, are easy and false outward symbols of maturity, whereas genuine adult recognition and earned achievement are much harder to come by. (Nope, "Joe Camel" had nothing to do with youth smoking, "The Marlboro Man", however, probably did.)

I am reminded of the Wickersham Commission of 1929-1931, which, while acknowledging that Prohibition was very problematic and ineffective, would not urge its repeal.

Franklin P. Adams, a columnist for the now defunct New York World newspaper (from which the term "World Series" comes, as the newspaper was the original sponsor of the American Baseball Championship Game) wrote a ditty that mocked the government's report:
Prohibition is an awful flop.
We like it.
It can't stop what it's meant to stop.
We like it.
It's left a trail of graft and slime,
It don't prohibit worth a dime,
It's filled our land with vice and crime.
Nevertheless, we're for it.
And this kind of ditty is as appropriate now as it was in 1931.

Prop 20: Congressional Redistricting. (Symbolic?) YES.

Prop 20 extends the redistricting reform applied to State Senate and Assembly districts by previously passed Prop 11 to Congressional districts. Congressional districts are currently drawn by politicians in the Legislature. This measure would take control of Congressional redistricting away from the Legislature, giving it instead to a citizens commission.

Prop. 20 would end political gerrymandering. It’s widely agreed by good government advocates that politicians draw districts for political advantage, creating safe seats for incumbent politicians and protecting the majority party’s position of dominance.

This finishes the work we began in 2008 to get redistricting decisions away from self-interested state legislators and into the hands of a bi-partisan commission, to reduce the gerrymandering rampant in California politics. The original initiative was just for California state districts - this simply adds the Congressional ones.

I suspect this might face legal challenges, so it *might* be symbolic.

I really would like to see districts that respected municipal and county boundaries, trying to keep first counties, then cities, then neighborhood districts, together as much as possible, and were not bizarrely drawn. Obviously, a mega county like LA will have many representatives in it, but let us try to have districts that don't carve up established municipalities, established neighborhoods, or ZIP Codes.

Have you ever used Wikipedia to see what your Congressional District looks like on a map? You might be surprised, infuriated, or amused. My own district looks like this, and it is actually one of the less bizarre ones.

Most other California districts, like this, and this, and this, and this, have no respect for city or county boundaries whatsoever. But the real champ of gerrymandering is this one. To "represent" certain liberal coastal enclaves, it is 200 miles long and in some places only 200 yards wide!

And what do those districts have in Common, except for mine? DEMOCRATS. Suppose the districts were drawn more with realistic city and county boundaries in mind. Might California be a little more balanced? I think so.

Meanwhile, it is time to boycott "The League Of Women Voters", who claim this:
"Tucked into the proposed law are problems that would make it harder to protect California's diverse neighborhoods."
In other words, The League Of Women Voters favors the kinds of ethnic Bantustan districts that allow corrupt creeps like Maxine "Kill Whitey and Free OJ" Waters to continue to get re-elected time and time again. Shame on you, League of Women Voters. Non-partisan, my fanny. Not anymore anyway.

Prop 21: Robbing Drivers To Pay Parks - NO.

Right now, state park users pay a nominal fee that helps pay for upkeep, assuring that those who use our state parks help pay for them. This measure ends shifts the cost to the rest of us by imposing an $18 per car tax increase whether we use the parks or not. Stealing money from highway travelers used to be called "highway robbery." Now it's called "Proposition 21."

Moreover, there is no guarantee that there will not be "bait and switch". Funds raised ostensibly for parks still may not be used to fix the parks, but may instead be raided by wasteful spending politicians to squander on other unrelated pet projects.

Frankly, in a time of budgetary woes, it may be time to reconsider and sell off those parks which have very low use, which have to be plowed or grazed by Cattle periodically to prevent wildfires, and lack facilities for campers. Coe State Park, in the Diablo Ranges east of San Jose, comes to mind. Originally one ranch gifted to the State, it has annexed most neighboring ranches and grown many times its original size, but it still lacks the most basic of park facilities and is inaccessible to most Californians.

Prop 22: State Hands Off Local Government Tax Money - YES.

Prop 22 is designed to protect local funds from being borrowed by the state government. In recent years, as the state has faced massive budget shortfalls, Sacramento politicians have partially made up for these shortfalls by borrowing funds from local government treasuries. Funds borrowed included money that local governments would otherwise have been available for services including transportation and public safety.

Sacramento politicians have raided their treasuries resulting in layoffs of police officers and fire fighters and hindering plans for transit projects that were supposed to be paid for with gas tax revenue. Instead, the Sacramento political class robbed local governments, forcing others to pay for their reckless spending and misplaced priorities. Prop 22 protects local funds from further raids by the state government ensuring funds are used for those local projects they were intended for, and not to bail out state level politicians.

This takes a giant leap toward restoring local government independence and protecting our transportation taxes by prohibiting state raids on local and transportation funds. Local governments are hardly paragons of virtue, but local tax revenues should remain local.

Many people whose opinions I respect oppose this initiative, on the grounds that it will make it harder for state authorities to defund local "redevelopment agencies" who abuse their eminent domain powers. But I think that is a problem of property rights, not of local control.

Prop 23: End The Man-Made Global Warming Hoax - YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In 2006, Sacramento's rocket-scientists enacted AB 32, imposing draconian restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions (yes, that's the stuff you exhale).

They promised to save the planet from alleged "man made global warming" and open a cornucopia of new "green" jobs. Since then, California's unemployment rate has shot far beyond the national unemployment rate and the earth has continued to warm and cool as it has for billions of years.

Prop 23 merely holds the "Environmentalists" to their promise: it suspends AB 32 until unemployment stabilizes at or below its pre-AB 32 level. For this the leftist propagandists call it "anti-science".

Gee, it sure is "science" when the global warming "scientists" have been caught red-handed adjusting / fabricating data to fit the "computer models". If the data doesn't fit the models, make it fit! And when they get caught doing this for decades, they merely assert that "the science is settled!" that much louder.

It has become fashionable to re-label "global warming" as "Climate Change" to account for lower than normal temperatures and Little Ice Ages in recent decades. And that in a sense is true--over time the climate is always slowly changing. But those of us who remember the 1970's claims that industrial man, by stirring up sun-blocking particulate matter and putting more water vapor into the atmosphere, was going to cause a "New Ice Age", are skeptical.

Solar orbital cycles, sunspots, volcanic eruptions, natural ocean current shifts, and massive natural non-industrial sources of Carbon Dioxide, water vapor, and methane, all of which dwarf man's output, could not be reached for comment.

I am evenly split over whether these "scientists" and the politicians who trumpet them are sinister liars, or whether they are sincere "true believers" just looking for a "religion for the Godless." But either way, they do have motives: more research grant money at best, crypto-totalitarians looking to take away our mobility and therefore freedom at worst, and those looking for another excuse to tax us somewhere in between.

The disgusting propaganda opposing this initiative makes me ill. For starters, we have the vilification of two "Texas" oil companies, Valero and Tesoro. Gee, Valero and Tesoro between them operate four major refineries in the State of California, oilfields in the Bakersfield area, and have hundreds of service station franchises here. Outsiders? Really? Because they have their HQ's in Texas? To escape the punitive and business bashing California State Taxes, who wouldn't? Meanwhile, the aforementioned and exposed climate change hoaxers seem to come from around the world.

On a related note, it is time to boycott "The American Lung Association", who claim this initiative "causes pollution", even though this initiative doesn't lower a single standard for emissions of *real* pollutants (such as nitric oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons, the stuff that actually makes up "smog"). Carbon Dioxide is NOT a pollutant. Plants like it.

Shame on you, American Lung Association. From here on, any Christmas Seals, Easter Seals, or other American Lung Association fundraising letters featuring the poor asthmatic kids go right in the trash. Not one red cent to a corrupted organization. Not. One. Red. Cent.

Prop 24: The So-Called "Tax Fairness Act" - NO!!!!!!!!

Prop 24 repeals recently enacted changes in the tax code that were designed to somewhat ease the tax burden on California businesses.

Prop 24 raises taxes on California in three ways. First, Prop 24 ends a practice called “elective single sales factor” that allows businesses to choose between basing their tax burden on sales or property and payroll, giving them the ability to use whichever formula results in a lower obligation.

Second, Prop 24 ends a tax credit designed for research and development that allows companies to shift tax credits between profitable and unprofitable operations. Because research units do not usually earn profits directly, the ability to shift credits between units assists research and development units.

Finally, this proposition ends the practices of “net operating loss carryback,” a tax procedure that allows businesses to use previous tax years operating losses to reduce their liability in a current profitable year.

Various Democrats in the state are calling these "corporate tax giveaways". Giveaways? As if those revenues are theirs to give? Really, the Soviet Politboro-like arrogance of these people is something to behold. And that is why I call those various Democrats, "Commiecrats" or "Demunists".

Ultimately the reality is that for the most part the businesses don't end up paying the business taxes - we do. And when that can't happen, the businesses flee the state and are accused of "exporting jobs".

Business taxes can only be paid in three ways:
1. by us as consumers (through higher prices),
2. by us as employees (through lower wages) and
3. by us as investors (through lower earnings on our 401k's).

Proposition 24 is a jobs tax that will make unemployment worse when the ranks of the jobless are already at record highs. California’s business taxes are currently one of the highest in the nation and California has been ranked by numerous studies as one of the worst places to do business. Imposing billions in new taxes on employers would make the state an even more inhospitable environment for jobs and economic growth, increasing the exodus of jobs out of California and discouraging new investment.

Prop 25: Simple majority for new budgets - NO
Prop 25 allows a budget to be passed with a simple majority rather than the currently required 2/3 vote. The proposition also eliminates the power of referendum on the budget and budget related bills, making budgets take effect immediately upon passage with no opportunity for voters to stop implementation.

If the Legislature fails to pass a budget on time, Prop. 25 requires that legislators forfeit their salaries and living expense allowance. That is a nice gimmick to sell the proposition, but the fact is that all too many state politicians have independent fortunes beyond their salaries anyway. Governator Ah-nold served without pay for years.

Now in fairness, this initiative does not directly make it easier for the Powers That Be to raise taxes--that would still require a 2/3 vote (unless that tax is relabeled a "fee"; see Proposition 26 below). However, this initiative does make it easier for the Powers That Be to spend money--and raising taxes follows that, surely as night follows day.

Prop 25 also does not place any restrictions on what can be included in a budget related bill, so politicians could also more easily pass other legislation currently requiring a super majority simply by inserting it into budget related bills. Super majorities are currently required for the passage of taxes, placing bond proposals on the ballot, and for imposing new environmental regulations on the Delta.

So in other words, while this Proposition does not directly challenge the 2/3 rule for new taxes, it is a stalking horse for ultimately overturning that rule. Their ultimate goal is removing the ‘super majority’ vote on the budget and raising your taxes.

Prop 26: Subjecting New Fees to 2/3 vote - YES

Prop 26 requires that new state fees be passed with a 2/3 vote of the Legislature and establishes the right of citizens to approve, either by two-thirds or majority, local taxes. California currently requires new taxes to be approved with a 2/3 vote of the Legislature, but only requires a simple majority vote to pass levies defined as “fees.” This has encouraged politicians to define new taxes as “fees” to ease passage. Prop 26, with limited exceptions, imposes the same requirements now applied to taxes to fees.

Under the Sinclair Paint vs. California Board of Equalization Court decision (1997), virtually any tax may be increased by majority vote as long as it is called a "fee," gutting the 2/3 vote requirement in the state constitution to raise taxes.

Surprise, surprise, surprise, over the last decade there have been many more fees. Billions in hidden taxes may be imposed on Californians simply by redefining them as "fees".

The proliferation of fees have added to California’s high tax anti-business climate. Closing this legal loophole by making the passage of fees no easier than the passage of taxes would protect jobs and California taxpayers. Prop. 26 rescinds the Sinclair Paint decision, restores the Constitution, and calls a tax a tax--as it should be.

Prop 27: Abolishing Citizens Redistricting Panel - NO!!!!

Prop 27 rolls back the previously passed Prop 11. which took the power to draw Legislative districts away from the Legislature and gave the responsibility to a newly formed Citizens Redistricting Commission, consisting of four Democrats, four Republicans, and three independents. It hasn't even been fully implemented yet, and already the gerrymandering forces want to undo it! Prop 27 would once again allow legislators to draw their own districts, and includes a “poison pill” provision that would kill Prop 20 if Prop 27 passes with more votes.


Bill Hilton said...

Regarding Prop 26 and its requirement for a supermajority for fees and local taxes. There is no logical justification for being able to require a 2/3 majority based on passage of an initiative by a simple majority. If anything, it ought to be the reverse. Amending the constitution should be MORE difficult than deciding how to handle a fee or to tax the citizens for services they've decided they want.
Add to that the fact that the Chamber of Commerce and oil companies are the principal backers of Prop 26, and one should be extremely wary of the purposes.
VOTE NO ON PROP 26 as well as PROP 23!

John David Galt said...

I agree with Bill Hilton. Amending the state Constitution should -- and did until fairly recently -- require a 2/3 vote of the people.

And that is why Prop 8 should never have been allowed to take effect.

Curmudgeon said...

If the Judicial (Butt) Pirates hadn't overturned Proposition 22 of 2000, Proposition 8 would not have been necessary.

Curmudgeon said...

And John, you are saying you want to go along with a leftist like "Bill Hilton" and make it easy to raise "fees" (taxes) on a simple majority, so 50.0001% can steal from 49.9999%?

Are you afraid of oil company boogeymen too?

Frankly, if local Chambers of Commerce are backers of an initiative, that is a reason for me to support it! Chambers of Commerce are GOOD.