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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Monday, November 07, 2005

Mad Props

Tomorrow's Election Day, and here in California, that means we get to vote on things like Proposition 01: "Shall Los Angeles County be declared the sun and leisure capital of the world?"

Just kidding! That's the sample question on my official sample ballot. (I'd vote no, by the way. There's nothing leisurely about moving 10 miles an hour down a smog-filled highway.)

What I do get to vote on are eight state measures (Propositions 73-80) and one Los Angeles School District measure. So here's how I break down the issues. Hold any angry comments, please. Go vote instead. (Although if you have some insightful comments, I'd be happy to hear them.)

Prop 73 wants to require physicians to notify parents if a pregnant minor is going to get an abortion, and mandates that minors must wait 48 hours after notification before getting an abortion. At the risk of sounding like a sheltered kid from a good family and neighborhood, it seems to me that if your daughter is pregnant and wants an abortion, and you find out about it from the doctor, then you haven't been doing an outstanding job as a parent anyway, and your effectiveness in counseling her will be minimal at best. Then again, I don't have any daughters ... that I know of.

Prop 74 basically wants to make it more difficult for public school teachers to become tenured by extending the probationary period from two to five years. Also, once teachers become tenured, they could be fired after two unsatisfactory performance evaluations without the hearing that they currently get. When I was in grade school, I remember complaining about how some teachers who had tenure and had been there forever sucked. So maybe it would be easier to axe a bad teacher under a law like this. Despite that, I don't see how "YES on 74 rewards good teachers," as the argument in favor of it claims. All it does is make tenure less meaningful and tougher to achieve.

Prop 75 is really sneaky. At first glance, it looks like it provides for more individual political expression, and hey, isn't that a great thing in this glorious country of ours? But think about it - what it's saying is that public employee unions can't use their member dues for political contributions without the individual employee's consent. The whole point of unions is to represent their constituents' interests, and to require individual consent for union action is to take some power from the unions.

Prop 76 basically puts a statutory cap on the state's budget and would also cut school funding. As a student at a state-funded school, I say hell freakin' no on this one. UCLA grad students already got screwed by the Regents as a result of Kashmiri (for more on that, check this out). If the Governator wants to fix the budget issues facing California, he can stop hitting up the schools.

Prop 77 would create a three-person panel of retired judges selected by the legislation to redistrict California. The boundaries of the districts created by the judges would have to be approved by voters. Well, this seems sort of okay, since the voters get to vote on the district boundaries, except for one thing: The public is stupid. Currently, the legislature draws the districts and then the governor approves them. Seems fine that way. I'd rather have the larger, voter-created legislature drawing districts than a small, three-member panel of appointed retired judges.

Props 78 and 79 are related and kind of confusing to me, since they both seem to offer very similar things. It seems to me that the difference between them is that 78 basically lets the state negotiate and contract with pharmaceutical companies for discounts for poor residents, while 79 requires the companies to give a lower price. While I'm all about freedom of contract, it's hard to be sympathetic to the pharmaceutical companies. Also, when the "No on Prop 79" commercials air, they talk about how the evil lawyers will be filing lawsuits left and right to get rich. What does that tell me? They're afraid of class action lawsuits that will hold the pharmaceutical companies liable for jacking up prices for poor Californians. So that kind of pissed me off. I'll vote yes on 79, and no on 78, and God bless the lawyer who kicks the drug companies' ass as a result.

Prop 80 seems to let the California Public Utilities Commission regulate all sorts of things about electric service providers. The arguments for both sides run exactly counter to each other: "Proposition 80 guarantees a stable and reliable electric system with ample supplies of clean, affordable power and increased use of renewable resources" vs. "This confusing measure won't lower electric bills, won't prevent blackouts, and eliminates consumer choice." So if what I want is a cheaper electric bill and a power source that's more environmentally friendly, then I suppose I want more regulation.

Measure Y would allow the L.A. School District to issue bonds to raise money to increase school capacity and upgrade school facilities. Seems like a good thing to me. The argument against it is that this will raise taxes, and, yeah, that sucks, but education is important. Besides, the argument against it uses the phrase, "for taxpayers, Measure Y stands for Yikes!" I think that alone should highlight the need for improved education. (Admittedly, the argument for the measure says, "Y stands for Yes." See my discussion of Prop 77 where I pointed out that the public is stupid.)

Anyway, so that's my amateur, subjective analysis of the ballot initiatives. I have to say, even I was confused by some of this stuff, and I go to law school and consider myself somewhat intelligent. It's no wonder to me that people don't vote, especially in elections like this where the only items on the ballot are faceless initiatives.

Having said that, go exercise your rights and vote tomorrow. And do yourself, your government, and your fellow citizens a favor and try to get to know what it is you're voting on and for.

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  • At Tuesday, November 08, 2005 1:06:00 PM, Blogger Stoner The 420th said…

    Just remember the public employee unions get all their money from taxes. We pay for them to argue to raise taxes so their leadership can get more money from our taxes so they can argue to raise our taxes.

     
  • At Friday, November 11, 2005 3:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow. You managed to get it exactly wrong on just about every single proposition. Nothing personal of course. But it does illustrate why direct democracy didn't work so well in this case.

     

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