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2012 California Propositions

I wrote last post that this year's batch of ballot propositions in California was a lot stupider than the last batch, which I actually voted 50% Yes.

This year, I voted Yes on 4/12. Even then, one of the Yes votes was a veto. (Usually, a Yes vote changes the law, whereas a No vote keeps the law the same, which is why in general a smart batch of propositions gets a lot of Yeses. However, one of the Propositions this year was a veto, so Yes kept the law as-is. Which means this year I voted to change the law 3/12 times.)

Because a Yes vote usually changes the law, and because it can't be undone by legislative action, I have quite high criteria for a Yes. If I feel ambivalent about it I vote No, and there were a couple propositions this year where I was.

Here's how I voted and why.

  • Prop 30: No. This was one of the ones I was ambivalent about: a temporary increase in taxes to fund education. Generally speaking, I have higher criteria for taxes to support education, since it's obvious the politicians are just using education to convince people to agree to more taxes. Because who's going to vote to withhold money from the children? I will, if you're using the kids to manipulate people. Still, with all that considered, I was merely ambivalent about it. (It passed.)

  • Prop 31: No. Set a bunch of constraints on the legislature, set up all kinds of oversight committees, and have state budgets be set over for two years. This was easily the stupidest ballot proposition I've ever seen. A few judiciously placed oversight committees can be a good thing, sometimes, but the number of committees this proposition would have created was beyond excessive, and everything else in the proposition was too stupid to even mention. (It failed.)

  • Prop 32: No. Prohibit unions and corporations from using payroll deductions to fund political campaigns. The claim that this applied equally to unions and corporations was a flat-out lie: unions derive nearly their whole income from payroll deductions, whereas corporations derive none of theirs that way. The lying nature of this proposition's proponents was enough for me to vote No on this. You know, I do think it's unfair to force workers (on pain of losing their jobs) to fund political campaigns they might not agree with, but this proposition went way too far. A well-written proposition to allow workers to earmark a certain portion of their union dues to be isolated from political contributions would be something worth supporting. This proposition was not. (It failed.)

  • Prop 33: No. Allow auto insurance companies factor your prior history of insurance coverage into your current rate. Given how ridiculously specific and unappealing to the general public this proposition was, I am sure it was the work of a small group of people who stood to gain if it passed. That's enough for a No vote from me. It's kind of stupid in any case and puts needless burdens on many drivers though in some respects it does make sense to use as a criterions. (It failed.)

  • Prop 34: Yes. Abolish death penalty in California. Given that criminals will rarely, if ever, make it to the point of execution in this state, as a practical matter it's best to just get rid of it and save everyone a lot of trouble. I generally disapprove of the death penalty in all but the most heinous cases, but those cases so exist. Some asshole shot up a salon recently down in Orange County and was, accordingly to witnesses, sickeningly cruel about it. I'd have no problem if the state wanted to blow that guy's head off with a high caliber rifle. Unfortunately, even that guy has people who will milk the system trying to save his life. And for everyone else eligible for the death penalty, there are doubts and unfair applications and such. So for practical reasons it's better to just let it go. (It failed.)

  • Prop 35: Yes. Increase the penalties for human trafficking. This one was something I really couldn't vote against; my only nagging doubt is why we needed a ballot proposition to do this. The legislature could have done this if the penalties weren't strong enough. (It passed.)

  • Prop 36: Yes. Don't apply the three-strikes law if the third strike is sufficiently non-violent. I really think the sufficiently non-violent crime shouldn't count for strikes 1 and 2 either. Either a crime is bad enough to count toward a lifetime imprisonment, or it isn't, and many of the three-strikes crimes aren't. This prop is at least moving in the right directon. Three strikes is a decent way to escalate the penalty for the worst repeat offenders, but I think a more comprehensive strategy that allows judges' discretion for first time offenses, then gradually removes it and increases penalties as offenses mount up, would be good. But this'll do for now. (It passed.)

  • Prop 37: No. Require labeling of genetically modified food. Here in California, quite a large percentage of products have a notice saying that known carcinogens were used in the manufacturing of these products. The notices are so common that everyone tunes them out: apparently carcinogens are used to manufacture a lot of things, have been forever, and somehow people aren't dying of cancer left and right. Whether we like it or not, the exact same thing would have happened had this proposition passed. Just about every food product would come to contain a GM label, because soon it'll be difficult to find reasonably priced food stock that isn't GM. In any case, most GM is not bad, per se. There are problems: some particular modifications are dubious, and some Big Ag companies are tenaciously absusive when it comes to IP (and they need to be stopped). But this proposition is going to be utterly ineffective. (It failed, surprisingly.)

  • Prop 38: No. Another tax to fund education. For this one, the tax is more stupid, and it's not temporary, so no ambivalence here, this was just a bad idea. (It failed.)

  • Prop 39: No. Tax changes for business operating in multiple states. The law had been that businesses could choose the lesser of two tax systems, and this prop would eliminate the choice, resulting in most companies paying more. I'm ambivalent. It's not like this situation is unheard of. Even we indivuduals have a choice like this in our Federal income tax: we can take a standard deduction or itemized deductions. (It passed.)

  • Prop 40: Yes. A No vote meant that the California Supreme Court would redraw the legislative districts. Of all the headaches we don't need now.... The funny thing is, the split was about 75-25 in favor, and probably would have been higher if people weren't confused about it being a veto vote. Hell, I had to reread the instructions three times to be sure I had it right. (It passed.)

I'll also mention one of the city initiatives. The Santa Monica and Malibu Unified School District wants to raise $320 million by selling bonds. That a third of a billion dollars, one school district. I voted no.

Tags: california, election, voting
Last Edited: 9 November 2012, 11:19 AM
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