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Last Minute Voting Advice

Posted by Rick · November 2nd, 2004 · 2 Comments

Some people have asked me how I’m voting on the issues today. Other than the presidential race and Measure Z (a local measure to support our zoo), I haven’t written anything up to now. And I doubt that many people are going to be influenced by my vote today. 😉

Nevertheless, because I’ve been asked, I thought I would post a few comments here to guide any folk who are still undecided.


I should note that I have a “default formula” for deciding on issues which I haven’t had time to extensively study. It’s based upon my theory of the Constitution and the purpose of government. That default formula says that there are certain functions government is intended to perform and many, which social activists and conservatives alike currently usurp its power to effectuate. For the most part, then, if I’ve not had enough time to evaluate a proposal and it’s going to add a new “service” or increase our costs, I vote “no.” In other words, I vote against any increased government spending, even if it looks on the surface like a good thing.

This particularly includes services that are going to be supported by bonds or increased taxes. Bonds benefit the rich who can afford to buy them — after all, the way they work is that someone lends their money in exchange for a promise from whichever branch of government is offering the bond. The promise says, “We’ll pay you back, with interest.” Since it is a government promise, it’s a guaranteed loan at whatever interest rate is promised.

But borrowing always gives you less bang for your buck, because only part of the government’s money thereafter goes for services it is providing, while the rest goes to pay interest on the loans.

Think of your own wallets: If you buy a washing machine for cash, it might cost a few hundred dollars; buy it on credit and it may cost a few hundred more dollars by the time you pay off the debt. The longer it takes to pay off the debt, the more you spend. And none of that extra money is for washing your clothes.

I start with that view: Spending money is bad. New services provided by the government are bad. Anything that increases costs is bad. It’s not a perfect rule, but it mostly works because, in my view, governments are supposed to be limited. Keeping them from spending money and/or increasing services automatically aims at that goal.

That said, I do feel there are some services which seem personally important enough that I will favor going against that basic rule. This is particularly true when — as with Measure Z (Fresno/Clovis) this year, which increases taxes by one-penny for every ten dollars I spend to support the Chaffee Zoo — the thing being supported will potentially increase the amount of money brought into my community. A better zoo means more people coming to Fresno to spend money. Some will use our hotels and restaurants, potentially increasing jobs. When those people spend money, some of the sales tax will benefit our local government. And then there are the benefits of the zoo itself, which I normally don’t think should be supported by the government, but, in view of the other benefits, I find it justified. (And, besides, the local government is going to support business interests. So why not force a little balance by having it support a socially-beneficial program, too.)

My default position on candidates is this: I support the Constitution of the United States of America. So, for the first time in my life, I’m voting for all Democrats. Republicans continually chip away at the Bill of Rights. Thus, they steal my freedoms. Democrats just steal my money. And these days, the Republicans do that, too, by forcing me to pay for endless wars to support Halliburton, Bechtel, Worldcom and others. Meanwhile, they fight in court (because they hate lawyers, remember?) to make sure that I’m not allowed to know who they’re meeting with to set Energy Policy for my nation. (Hint: They all own oil companies.)

In the interest of trying to keep this post shorter than it would otherwise be, I go directly to the few measures or candidates I want to comment about now.

Individual Ballot Measures

So far, I’ve decided the following:

Prop 62 – Elections, Primaries – No

This one is a no-brainer. Although this particular one exempts presidential elections, I’ll use the example most familiar to many of us right now, which does come from the presidential election. It is widely recognized (except by people who love Ralph Nader and people who love George Bush) that having Ralph Nader on the ballot hurts Kerry more than Bush. Consequently, the Republicans have lobbied hard to get Nader on the ballot in some states. These people aren’t going to vote for Nader in the “real” election. They just want him on the ballot so he can hurt Kerry. Prop 62 would allow more shenanigans like this. In the primary, droves of people could vote for the weakest candidate of the opposite party to make sure he or she ends up on “the real ballot.” Then, when the election comes, they’ve already knocked out the strongest opposition; they switch their vote to support their real choice, who wins by a landslide.

Prop 63 – Mental Health Services Expansion – Probably No

I really want to vote “yes” on this, because a) it provides a much-needed service and b) it only taxes the rich. But in keeping with my belief that some things are not meant to be handled by the government, I will probably vote “no.”

Prop 64 – Limits on lawsuits – No

Among other things, this will, among other things, take away the private right of suit for unfair business practices. Only the California Attorney General or local government prosecutors to sue on behalf of the general public to enforce unfair business competition laws. One of the kinds of cases we’re always reading in law school are cases where it turns out some horrible thing has been happening to the public, but a pro-business government refuses to sue. Then when ordinary citizens try to sue, their case is thrown out because “only the Attorney General of the state is allowed to sue to enforce this law.” In situations like that — and they’re increased after laws like this pass because businesses know that they own the government — the public is screwed and there’s nothing they can do about it.

Prop 66 – Three Strikes Amendment – Yes

Look, if nothing else convinced me to vote “yes” on this, the fact that those who oppose it think I’m stupid forces a “yes” vote. First, they tell me it won’t save any money. But their biggest complaint is that it will let tons of people out of jail and make it harder to put more people in jail! Apparently, they think we get to put people in jail for free. The food doesn’t cost anything. The electricity doesn’t cost anything. The waste management doesn’t cost anything. The new prison buildings don’t cost anything. Uh, right. You can’t have your cake and eat it to, folks. Prison costs from 1983 to 2004 went from $1 billion per year to $6 billion per year. I wonder what we could do with a few extra billion dollars spent on something other than prisons.

Next, they complain that murderers, rapists and child molesters will go free. One thing that really inflames people is child molesters. And Prop 66 increases the prison terms for child molesters. In fact, although overall Prop 66 saves money, because it reduces the number of non-violent offenders in prison for life, the cost for maintaining the child molesters is the only area that results in increased costs . . . because they go to jail longer.

Meanwhile, no one convicted for a violent third-strike gets out of jail. Some people who were imprisoned for non-violent third strikes might get a chance to be re-sentenced so that they end up with a shorter sentence. They don’t necessarily get out of jail; they just get their life sentence reduced. Again, that only affects them if their third strike was non-violent.

We can lock everyone up if we want, but what makes us more likely to go bankrupt? Spending $1 billion per year on prisons? Or $6 billion? Let’s use our heads and vote for some sanity in the sentencing procedures.

Prop 68 – Gambling Casinos – No

I cannot believe I’m saying this, but I agree with the Governator on this one. Imagine how hard it is to get everyone living on your block to agree to have their taxes go up 25%. No problem, right?

If you answered “right,” then I want to encourage you to listen to your doctor and your family: Go back on the medication.

Prop 68 requires all Indian tribes to agree to renegotiate their current contracts with the state. Unless all of them agree to do this, it allows the Mob to come from other states and build 16 new casinos, like the kind they have in Las Vegas, in Northern and Southern California.

In other words, since it’s virtually guaranteed that at least one Indian tribe will refuse to agree to increase its taxes by 25%, there will be 16 new mob-run casinos operating in California.

Supporters says, “Look at all the cool tax money the state will collect!” And all you have to do to get it is agree to go into business with criminals. Hopefully, that’s “’nuff said.”

Vote “no” on 68.

Local Issues

Measure A – Director of Public Works – No

Here’s an idea, huh? Let’s pay two people to do the job of one. Supporters say they want this amendment because they can’t find qualified people for the job of Director of Public Works. So in order to get more people to run for this more-than-$100,000-per-year job, they want to allow the Director of Public Works to be someone who isn’t qualified for the job. And to make sure that we have someone who is qualified for the job, they want to allow the Director of Public Works to hire someone to do that job.

Wait a minute. Why not just have that person be the Director of Public Works!? If the argument is that you can’t find enough qualified people to appoint someone to the Director of Public Works position, then how are you going to find people for the Director of Public Works to hire for that position? Is there a difference between hiring someone to be the Director of Public Works and hiring someone to be the Assistant to the Director of Public Works who has the same qualifications as someone who is hired to be the Director of Public Works?

I hope that sounded as nutty to you as it did to me. Vote “No” on Measure A. And while we’re at it, we should find out who proposed this and vote them out, too.

Measure B – Libraries – No

Seems to me we already increased taxes for this and got nothing in return. As for the literacy programs — I thought that’s what school was for.

Measure J – Hotel/Motel Tax – No

Now here’s an idea for you! Let’s drive the homeless out of the motels and into the streets! Let’s make it more difficult to attract tourists to Fresno by increasing the room rates! Sorry, this tax strikes me as a dumb idea. I think those hardest hit will be the homeless and tourists, while little (if any) benefit will come from it for the rest of us.

Measure Z – Save the Chaffee Zoo – Yes

I’ve written about this in a couple of other places. If you need to see the arguments, look at Zoo You Care? and my wife’s article about “Doc” Chaffee’s comment on things we don’t think about until we’ve lost them.

Officials

Look, this one is also a no-brainer. As I wrote yesterday, you vote for Republicans, you get the continued erosion of the Bill of Rights. You vote for Democrats, you might get your pocket picked. But, lately, the Republicans are intent with not only destroying our Bill of Rights with things like the USA PATRIOT Act, but they also want to bankrupt us with a war that will never end. Meanwhile, schools and other useful services are cut. And even our military requires parents to send body armor to their kids to give them a fighting chance because the government sends them to Iraq without this stuff.

At least if you vote for Democrats, you’ll still retain your freedoms, which you can then use to keep them from picking your pockets!

Normally, I’m an independent. Normally, I don’t vote straight ticket for anyone. And I seldom vote for Democrats. But I am of the opinion that the very future of our Constitution depends on not electing Republicans this year. So, for the first time in my life, I will be voting for all Democrats.

Send a message to Republicans: We like our Constitution.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chepooka // Nov 2, 2004 at 2:17 pm

    I forgot to vote! Just kidding … the thirty five hang tags on my doorknob luckily reminded me. *rolls eyes*

    THIS IS IT. I got my wine and my laptop ready. Chat at Chepooka in a little while, stop in if you can.

  • 2 Rick Horowitz // Nov 2, 2004 at 2:32 pm

    Forgot to vote! Yeah, I’ll buy that! 😉

    I went out early this morning and voted. I heard a couple people talking about how they thought they should get to see how everyone voted. I could have sworn I heard the old guy watching the votes say, “Come back at the end of the day and we’ll all look!”

    Hopefully, he was kidding. But I sure wouldn’t put it past them. I happen to live in the middle of about the only pocket of Republicans in this part of the country. (Although, from what I heard, not all of them are going to give Bush another shot. Let’s hope enough of them don’t.)

    I’d stop by to visit you, but I’m logged in from the computer lab at the school. Judge Ardaiz, I’m told, is substituting for our regular Evidence professor tonight. Rumor is that he is tough and will rip us up if we aren’t prepared.

    So guess what I’m doing today? 😉 Can’t wait to get home tonight and hear how many days they’re projecting before the lawsuits end!

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