...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

October 29, 2006

A Guide For Voters

Here are my California ballot proposition recommendations. It might be interesting to you, even if you're not from California, since it provides an insight into the workings of my political mind.

As I've said before, I have an easy way to decide on any bond issues. I vote no as a rule on every bond measure, no matter how tempting it sounds (with one exception, I vote yes on all prison bonds*). It seems to me that bond measures are a way for this state's government to spend beyond its means, even though excessive spending is its biggest problem. My philosophy is that the legislature should do its job and prioritize the budget so we won't have to rely on bonds to get things done.

I'm also sick and tired of two or three school improvement bonds every time we have an election. They generally win, because nobody (except me) wants to vote to keep kids learning under leaky roofs and without enough crayons or construction paper. Yet every election, the schools hold out their hand for more. Whatever happened to the promise that the California Lottery was supposed to solve all our school problems? I'm told that "Our schools win too" was the motto back in '84 when the lottery initiative passed. Well, I for one won't play that game anymore. Whatever they're doing with all that money isn't working, so let's cut off the spigot and force them to try something else.

Here's the propositions on the statewide ballot:

Prop 1A: TRANSPORTATION FUNDING PROTECTION This initiative would force the government to use gasoline sales tax revenues for transportation improvements only, instead of dumping that money into the general fund so the legislature can squander it as they love to do. I vote YES.

Prop 1B: HIGHWAY SAFETY, TRAFFIC REDUCTION, AIR QUALITY, AND PORT SECURITY BOND Here's an example of a bond measure with worthy goals, which I will reject simply because of my hard and fast rule about bond measures. If the legislature would do its job, cut the frivolous spending, and cut regulation and taxes to keep businesses from fleeing the state, we'd have enough money to do this kind of shit without mortgaging our future with 39 billion more in bond debt. I vote NO.

Prop 1C: HOUSING AND EMERGENCY SHELTER TRUST FUND More bonds. Hey, I'm all for helping out battered women and their kids, low-income seniors, the disabled, military veterans, and working families. But again, if this is such a priority, the legislature should find a way to do it without adding to the bond debt. Otherwise, let's encourage private charities to continue their good work in this area. I know that there are many fine non-profits that help battered women and provide shelter for their families, because I did pro-bono work for one of them last year. I vote NO.



Prop 83: SEX OFFENDERS. SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATORS. PUNISHMENT, RESIDENCE RESTRICTIONS AND MONITORING This initiative tightens punishment and monitoring of violent sexual predators. Again, where was the legislature on this? Why is such an important public safety issue being left up to the initiative process? A definite YES vote.

Prop 84: WATER QUALITY, SAFETY AND SUPPLY, FLOOD CONTROL, NATURAL RESOURCE PROTECTION, PARK IMPROVEMENTS, BONDS All important and worthy goals, which I support — Just not by increasing the bond debt. I sound like a broken record here. I vote NO.

Prop 85: WAITING PERIOD AND PARENTAL NOTIFICATION BEFORE TERMINATION OF MINOR’S PREGNANCY This proposition would require a doctor to notify parents when a minor comes in for an abortion, with certian exceptions. If I had a kid, I'd want to know if she was going to have an abortion. I don't care if some other kid doesn't have a good relationship with her parent. I'd want to know about my daughter. It's that simple. I vote YES.

Prop 86: TAX ON CIGARETTES This initiative would add $2.60 in taxes to each pack of cigarettes. Right now, they're about $5 a pack. If this initiative passes, a pack would cost more than it does in New York City. I was shocked at the cost of cigarettes during my last trip to New York. I suppose I should favor this proposition because it might motivate me to quit. But realistically, even though I grumbled, I still paid the seven bucks when I was in New York. I generally oppose sin taxes, because they encourage the black market. We already have enough problems with drugs and illegal aliens coming across the border without creating a whole new market for contraband. I vote NO.

Prop 87: ALTERNATIVE ENERGY. RESEARCH, PRODUCTION, INCENTIVES. TAX ON CALIFORNIA OIL PRODUCERS This is the most controversial measure on California's ballot. President Clinton is doing tv spots in favor of this plan, which would create a whole new alternative energy research bureaucracy funded by a tax on oil drilling in California. The opposition ads are disingenuous because they do not say that the law would prevent oil companies from passing on the tax to the consumer. It sounds tempting, especially to those who don't understand economics. But when you do the research, this proposition reveals itself as one of the worst ideas to come down the pike in a long time. Virtually every major newspaper to opine on the issue agrees that it's a horrible idea. And I'm talking the San Francisco Chronicle, the L.A. Times, the Sacramento Bee, the O.C. Register and the Wall Street Journal. That's a pretty wide sampling of the editorial spectrum there. I'd encourage anybody undecided on this measure to read those editorials, which can be found here. As much as we'd all like to stick it to the oil companies, It doesn't make much sense to punish them for developing domestic oilfields in order to achieve energy independence. If it's no longer profitable to drill in California, guess where our oil will come from? That's right, overseas. I also have a problem with the prohibition against passing the new tax on to the consumer. In my view, the way to encourage alternative energy sources is to let the free market work. High gas prices are the best way to create a demand for the new technology, not a poorly regulated and graft ridden new bureaucracy. I vote NO.

Prop 88: EDUCATION FUNDING. REAL PROPERTY PARCEL TAX The schools got their hand out again. They're like the cookie monster, except it's not Chips Ahoy they want, it's your money. This time they want to add $50 to everybody's property tax bill. If we let them, next year it will be another $50 or maybe $100. Just say NO.

Prop 89: POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS, PUBLIC FINANCING, CORPORATE TAX INCREASE, CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION AND EXPENDITURE LIMITS Another corporate tax increase at a time when California needs to stop business from fleeing out of state. How is that a good idea? And how is it a good idea to make it harder for ordinary Californians to run for office by requiring "a specified number of $5.00 contributions from voters?" This initiative also puts limits on political contributions to state candidates, which is a free speech issue. I vote NO.

Prop 90: GOVERNMENT ACQUISITION, REGULATION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY The last ballot initiative is the Protect Our Homes Act, which I first heard about from Tim Sandefur. This is the anti-Kelo initiative. It would basically prevent the state government from using its eminent domain power to grab your property and give it to some corporation, which is what happened in the Kelo case. If you hated Kelo, vote for this. I vote YES.

There you have it. Since I encourage all my blog's visitors to be in complete agreement with me, I suggest that you Californians print out this post and take it with you on November 7th.

* The reason I vote against school bonds and for prison bonds is not because I'm a heartless bitch. I understand the argument that better schools may lead to fewer criminals. But school bonds always win, and yet we still need prisons. Insofar as my one vote can be a message, I plan to send that message. Where school bonds are concerned, my message is that the state should use the gobs of money we send them for schools each year more wisely. As for prisons, they're an unpopular but necessary part of our infrastucture, and my message is that I want them built. As the late Ann Richards said of Texas' vast prison system, when asked what kind of a message it sent to the world: "If you commit a crime in Texas, it means we got a place to put you."

Posted by annika, Oct. 29, 2006 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry


You are right about the bonds. The market is gunshy about California bonds now. I certainly would not buy any. All these new bonds could collapse the house of cards called California Public Financing.

They want to steal money from an industry that is giving us cheap energy and give the money to an industry that will only give us expensive energy. Most of the money to push this bill is coming from people who have big investments in alternative energy companies. As is the case with all the left's big ideas, poor people will suffer the most from this bill.

Posted by: Jake on Oct. 29, 2006

I'm torn on Prop 84, the last thing the state needs it more debt...but the money would be good for (my) business.

Posted by: the Pirate on Oct. 29, 2006

Since spending on education, and spending per pupil, both in real and in relative numbers has gone up continuously since the 1950's while performance has gone down. You could make a good case that more money equals stupider kids.

Also, the correlation between criminal activity and education is not the direct causality one might assume. It really means that the criminally minded are usually stupid, lazy, and not inclined to take education seriously. I don't see how any amount of government spending can change that.

In other words, be a heartless bitch, thats why we love ya.

Posted by: kyle8 on Oct. 29, 2006

Fifty years ago, when educational professionals were called teachers, they were both. Now, when teachers are called educational professionals, they are neither. They are government employees who hang around waiting for retirement, and rubber stamping the future. Oh, not all, just 90%.

Did you know that the highest paid public employees in America are public school superintendants?

BTW, I pledge to vote the Annikan Ballot.

Posted by: Casca on Oct. 29, 2006

I'd be right inline with your voting on these if I were in Cali. These education grubbers are all over this vast great nation. In Georgia these "initiatives" usually come in the form of Splost referendum. (special Purpose local option sales tax- or some such nonsense) I also vote no consistently but teachers and people who really don't know they're already paying for education, often trump me. And we continue to rank among the worst in education. People make education work-
not money.

Posted by: Mike C. on Oct. 30, 2006

We have a wonderful prison system here, and the county jails are top notch, especially in Dallas...now, if there were only more ladies like Annika out here, then Texas would be the place to be

Posted by: Scof on Oct. 30, 2006

I'm with you on most of these -- I've been torn about Prop 87 but I think I'll vote against it. I do think *something* needs to be done to wean us from our dependence on oil, foreign *or* domestic, but this bill only addresses one side of the coin (and the wrong one, at that). Don't get me wrong -- I've no love for domestic-product oil companies, but all this will do is make more people head to the Exxon Mobil station next door. The notion that this won't be passed on to consumers is just plain silly and bad economics. Of course the tax will be passed on to consumers, and the execs will hire enough economists to make it appear that they're complying with the law.

We need to be allowed to tax the foreign oil companies (and we need concrete goals for how to spend the money, not to create some stupid wasteful commission that only creates needless jobs and needlessly spends the money that way). I blame the dormant commerce clause for idiotic ballot measures like this one.

I, too, am sick of spending so much money on public schools without seeing results. A huge part of this is that throwing money at a problem doesn't work. Wisely investing money *might*, but generally the people who are smart enough to know how to fix schools aren't working for the government educational boards. I'm certainly not in favor of raising taxes just so kids in the richest schools get the option of checking out laptops for homework, while the kids in East LA (or comparable areas in other parts of the state) don't even get a complete set of schoolbooks for the year.

Posted by: The Law Fairy on Oct. 30, 2006

Hey thanks for the recommendations. I am also looking for recommendations on the judges. Am having a hard time finding any online. Any suggestions?

Posted by: Anna on Oct. 30, 2006

"Of course the tax will be passed on to consumers, and the execs will hire enough economists to make it appear that they're complying with the law."

Exactly what I was thinking, LF.

Anna, on judges, I'm as stumped as you. If I come up with any ideas, I'll post them.

Posted by: annika on Oct. 30, 2006

Is there really a fundamental difference between education bonds and prison bonds? One can claim that education should be funded out of the general budget, rather than bonds. Why not make the same argument for prisons - namely, that we shouldn't be funding something as important as prisons via a funding method as atrocious as bonds? Yes, I know that a previous proposition dedicated funds to education, and that there's no similar dedicated revenue source for prisons, but I still believe that we need a better source for prison funding - it should come out of the general budget.

Regarding politicians, my views are as follows:

(1) Unless there's some absolutely pressing need, don't vote for incumbents. They have to earn their keep, and normally they don't.

(2) Whoever strikes with the first negative ad loses. If you're getting enough money to air negative ads, then someone's funding you who probably doesn't have my best interests in mind.

(3) Don't be afraid to write in candidates that you like (Deborah Acker, here we come). It won't make a difference, but you'll feel better.

Posted by: Ontario Emperor on Oct. 30, 2006

I voted like that (absentee) - No on everything, and "NO!" especially whenever they bring out the old lie, "it's for the children" to pass over-funded school measures. It's bogus, they need to get over it.

Posted by: DirtCrashr on Oct. 30, 2006

"It doesn't make much sense to punish them for developing domestic oilfields in order to achieve energy independence. "

We cannot achieve energy independence through domestic oilfield development; not even close.

It will take major strides in 3 areas;

  • 1. Energy efficiency (more bang for the btu)
  • 2. Sustainable energy sources (so we don't have to do this again in another 20 years)
  • 3. Conservation (biofuels and related efforts will only get us ~20% of the energy we use now from petroleum)
  • While I agree with you that the proposition has some warts, it would assume high risk to believe that 'business as usual' is the answer.

    Posted by: will on Nov. 1, 2006

    Annika, i think your ballot proposition recommendations are responsible and well documented. I especially agree that we need more transportation funding protection and that we already pay way too many taxes.

    Posted by: CDNCC on Nov. 7, 2006

    I'm voting no against the school bonds too. Our schools would not be overcrowded if it weren't for the illegals and their anchor babies, and our school performance would not be nearly as dismal if it weren't for the huge numbers of non-English speaking kids in them that need special attention. Ditto our crubmling infrastructure -- it wouldn't be so bad if we didn't have four million illegals living here and using it for free. So "no" from me on the infrastructure bond too.

    Posted by: Mary on Nov. 7, 2006

    My dear Annie:

    I am your loyal Golden Bear friend and fan. And I cancelled you out on every single proposition, without exception. Go us!

    Beat the 'cats! Beat the Trojans!

    Posted by: Hugo on Nov. 7, 2006

    lol hugo! i cancelled you out!

    Cal Bears 4ever!!!

    Posted by: annika on Nov. 7, 2006

    Annie, you do know that Garamendi was a star lineman for Cal in the 1960s? Don't ex Cal gridiron stars automatically deserve a vote, regardless of their politics?

    Posted by: Hugo on Nov. 7, 2006