Ok, its 2016, time to reveal my ballot.
The ballot proposititions were actually pretty intelligent this year. Only two of them were retarded (and misleading), and one more was dubious. The rest were actually decent, not that I agreed with all of them, but at least they were well thought out and addressed actual perceived issues.
I didn't pay any attention to any races except for President of the United States (more on that below), so I only voted on the propositions.
My general strategy on propositions to vote no unless I feel like there's a good reason for yes, especially for constitutional amendments (since they can't be overturned by the legislature), and there were a bunch I of them this year where I fell back on them.
- Prop 51: School bonds, Funding for K-12 Schools and Community College Facilities: NO. Ok, so one of things I'm always skeptical of is when politicians need for funds for schools. I feel like it's a dubious way to bring in more money. They think, correctly it seems, that people will approve it if it's for the children. I voted against all the education propositions. This one was the closest I came to voting Yes. But I'm sure why there needs to be a $9 billon bond release now, rather than smaller bonds as facilities need upgrading, so I fell back to a No vote. (Though I can see the logic of getting approval all at once.)
- Prop 52: Medical Hospital Fee Program: NO. I almost abstained from this one since I couldn't even follow what it was supposed to be doing. I pieced together what is was and ended up thinking it was pretty useless and maybe slightly worse, so I feel back to No.
- Prop 53: Revenue Bonds. Amendment. NO. I have mixed feeling about it, actually. $2 billion is a lot of money, and it would seem that having voters weigh in on projects that large might not be a bad idea. I ended up voting No because it is an amendment, and also because it lacked an obvious mechanism to raise the limit as inflation happens.
- Prop 54: Legislation and Proceedings. Amendment. NO. This is one of two retarded ones, and it's deceptive as well. It requires bills to be published for 72 hours before the state legislature can vote on them. Which pretty much cripples the legislature. It also requires legislative sessions to be televised, which is reasonable enough, but the literature covering the proposition emphasized that part and downplayed the retarded 72 hour requirement. Prop 54 ended up passing, and I feel like the state legislature is going to spend a lot of time finding a way to overturn it.
- Prop 55: Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare. Amendment. NO. The legislature could have done this, without an amendment, so I fell back to a No vote.
- Prop 56: Cigaratte Tax to Fund Healthcare, etc. YES. I don't smoke but smoking is addicting, so this statute basically exploits people who smoke, who will pay more money for smokes because they are addicted. I am fine with that. This might also convince a percentage of smokers to stop, as a bonus.
- Prop 57: Criminal Sentence, Parole, Juvenile Criminal Proceedings. NO. Honestly I thought it went too far, and let some of the non-violent criminals off too easily.
- Prop 58: English Profieciency. YES. This repealed the stupid requirement that English acquisition classes be taught in English, while keeping other reasonable requirements. Some people evidently thought that if you allow classes to be taught in another language you are eroding English as the national language or some naive thing like that, so they passed a different proposition years ago to prevent that. This reverses that proposition.
- Prop 59: Political Spending, etc. Advisory. YES. This is the one that advises the state government to purse an US Constitutional Amendment overturning the Citizens United decision. I never liked that decision though (for a slightly different reason than other people disliked it) so definitely worth pursuing.
- Prop 60: Adult films. Condoms. Health Requirements. NO. In essense just a way to try to get that industry out of California, since no one wants too see porn with condoms. I figured it would just drive that kind of thing underground and make it more dangerous.
- Prop 61. State Prescription Drug Purchases. Pricing Standards. NO. This is the dubious one. It has good intentions, I believe, but uses a naive socialist approach to the issue that's likely to backfire, as socialist approaches often do when no account is taken of how the price fiat is going to change things (and this prop didn't). Bernie Sanders was vouching for this one, figures.
- Prop 62. Death Penalty Repeal. YES. This prop repeals the death penalty. I voted for it because as, a practical matter, litigation lasts too long and costs too much, even in the rare cases (and there are some) where the death penalty might be appropriate.
- Prop 63. Firearms. Ammunitions Sales. YES. I thought this was mostly reasonable restrictions on firearms. There was one thing about limiting magazine size in there that I thought was both silly and slightly concerning as a precedent, but I thought it was not concerning enough for me to vote No.
- Prop 64. Marijuana Legalization. YES. This was a better proposition than the last time they tried this. I'm not going to lie, I don't use marijuana in any form and don't spend any time around people using it. I don't believe most of the promises they are telling us about legalization, and I definitely don't believe it's as safe as they say it is. If marijuana had not been illegal, most of the people cruelly incarcerated for dealing marijuana would have been selling other drugs, not running responsible dispensaries. Finally, stoner types are some of the most hilarious people to troll. Based on these points, I was tempted to vote no. However, it's clear society has made its decision, and full legalization is merely a matter of time. It's not like society will collapse if another vice is allowed.
- Prop 65. Carryout bags. Charges. NO, I think. This diverts all funds collected from sale of carry-out grocery bags to environmental causes. I actually left this blank on my sample ballot, and am not even 100% sure I voted for this at all. Right now I'd vote no because I mainly remember thinking that if retailers were able to keep the fees then it might save me a few cents on bread.
- Prop 66. Death penalty procedures. NO. This eliminates some frivolous litigation in death penalty cases, with the intention of making it possible to carry out some of these people's sentences. I thought this Proposition went way too far, though. Solid no.
- Prop 67. Ban on single-use plastic bags. YES. This was actually a referendum, the legislature voted to put it on the ballot. Because of this, I didn't fall back to my "No" default (at least not as hard as I would have an initiative proposition), and just voted for what I wanted. It might be a case of environmentalists blowing a relatively minor environmental problem out of proportion, but I'll tell you something, nothing really looks worse in nature than those bags. For that reason alone I voted Yes. Also, reusable bags are way better anyway.
There were some measures as well for Los Angeles County and the City of Santa Monica.
- LA County Measure A. Tax increase for parks, etc. YES. This was fairly harmless, the tax was something like 1.5 cents per square foot per year. Local taxes are bit more palatable than state taxes, because the state caps the amount localities can tax (although I am not sure there's a cap per square footage). If a tax is earmarked to something good, like maintaining parks, it makes it harder for them to use taxes on stupid things.
- LA County Measure M. Transportation Improvement Plan, YES. This is probably the happiest I've ever been to have a 0.5 percent raise in sales tax. It's a thorough, well-thought out plan that includes funding for all different phases of transportation (bicycle infrastructure, too, but I never said it was perfect). That's the problem with a lot of these kinds of measures, they forget that people still drive, and focus on a single approach (a railroad usually). This is a practical multi-faceted approach to the transporation in Los Angeles. I almost can't believe a government could come up with something so reasonable. And, once again, that's less money available under the sales tax cap for stupid stuff. This measure had to get a 2/3 supermajority of ballots to pass, and it did.
- Santa Monica Measures GS and GSH. A 1/2 percent use tax increase. I'm always scratching my head over these. Santa Monica is a very wealthy community and I wonder why they keep needing these nickle-and-dime tax increases. I'm quite sure there's some shady business going on. It's a well-run city so I'm not going crazy over this, but I'm still not voting for it. Also, this will bring back the days of the government guilting me into self-reporting. The main place where use tax is charged is out-of-state online sales. Online retailers are now required to collect this, and most retailers are up to the task. But I doubt most retailers are going to be collecting use tax for cities. Which means now I have to self-report, blah.
- Santa Monica Measure LV. Require voter approval for developments higher than 32 feet. NO. This has got to be the most retarded ballot measure I've ever seen. I'm somewhat sympathetic to the idea (I think the city is moving a little too fast on redevelopment) but this is draconian beyond all reason. It's also the one of the most heavily contested. I got flyers in the mail every single day for weeks on LV, most of them against. It failed.
- Santa Monica Community College Measure V. Bonds for College improvements. NO. Again, for the children. As with the high school, it's kind of ridiculous that a wealthy school like Santa Monica College has leaky classrooms, such that they need to sell bonds. Perhaps instead of building a bunch of crap they could have fixed the classrooms instead. You got it backwards, guys, you're supposed to fix classrooms with general funds and sell bonds to build new buildings. But if you do that you don't get all the votes for the children, do you?
Anyway, voters have approved all of the tax increases and bond issues on my ballot, which I think is pretty weak-minded of the electorate. Geez, citizens, I'm not saying all taxes are bad, I voted for a few myself, but push back a little. And don't be duped into thinking the school districts in Santa Monica need to sell bonds to keep classrooms in repair. Come on.
President of the United States
Clinton or Trump, talk about a bad choice. In elections for people, my philosophy is that a person who's got a big advantage in votes will tend to be too secure in their jobs, and so will not be all that afraid of doing shady things. Worse, an official might think they have a "mandate" of some sort, which they argue gives them the freedom to take whatever measures are necessary. This scares me. As such, whenever the outcome of an election is not in doubt, I prefer to use my vote to reduce the margin of victory. No matter who it is, or which party it is, the closer the vote is to 50-50, the better they'll behave.
The presidential election is bit different for two reasons. One, the electoral college. Two, the candidates.
There was no question that Clinton was going to carry California. However, when it comes to behaving, I'd expect the electee to pay attention to national vote counts more than state vote counts, and at national level Clinton only had a few percentage point lead in the polls. In a normal election, based on that small percentage, I would have reverted to my standard practice for elections that are in doubt: to vote for whoever is most likely to defeat the worst candidate.
Unfortunately, that meant Clinton. Trump is probably not going to be the anti-Christ everyone says he's going to be. Proabably. But there is a small chance he is the anti-Christ, and I didn't want to take that risk. So I was hoping--well "hoping" is too strong a word. Let's just say my carefully considered decision was that it was preferrable for Hillary Clinton to win.
But this was not a normal election. Because of the electoral college system, that small percentage lead she had was apparently good enough for a decisive victory. That's what all the pundits were saying. And because I lived in California, which had no chance of not choosing Clinton, my vote was not going to affect the election. Which meant that reverting to my in-doubt strategy was unnecessary. In fact it was actually good: because Clinton, the person who I'd decided was preferable to win, was going to win both California and the electoral college handily, I was free use my vote to reduce her vote totals. So my plan was to vote for Trump.
Day of the election, I walked into the ballot box and had a thought: what if Trump does win? Then I'd be voting to increase his margin of victory, and I don't want that either. I knew that the pundits had all but handed her the election. I knew that "everything had to go right" for Trump to win, and that he had to carry all those tossup states, and even if he had a 50/50 chance of winning those states (and he didn't) then he'd still have only about a 1/30 chance of winning. But I also know Hillary Hate. I know because I have it. I can't even utter the words, "I am rooting for ---", she is so odious. But I am a rationalist, and if I'd been living in a state where the electoral votes were in doubt I would have given her my vote to help defeat Trump, in spite of how I feel about her. But not everyone is like me. A lot of people vote with their guts, and an awful lot of people hate her guts. I decided in that ballot box that Clinton is not the shoe-in everyone was saying she was, and the election was in doubt after all.
I ended up abstaining.