At the Nov. 4 election we will also be voting whether to pass or reject 11 propositions, decisions that will have a tremendous impact on our state.
The difficulty with propositions is they, like most information we receive, are subject to spin. Even with objective publications such as the “Official Voter Information Guide” it is sometimes difficult to determine what we’re actually being sold. The following represents an attempt to strip away the rhetoric and see just what the pros and cons are talking about.
PROP 1A Translated: Should we spend money on the development of high speed passenger trains now?
The pros subtly raise the point that this mass transit solution is inevitable and it’s a question of pay now or pay more later. This expenditure is essentially “seed money” to get that process started. The cons are opposed to any tax expenditure, let alone one whose final financial projections are so uncertain. The pros’ financial projections are “blue sky” and therefore suspect; the no new/no higher tax zealotry of the cons’ is unrealistic, but this measure should not be passed until better numbers are provided and the massive number of players involved are sounded out and their positive participation guaranteed. NO.
PROP 2 Translated: Should we have more humane standards for farm animals?
It is difficult to credit the pros’ arguments that animals whose sole purpose is to be a source of food, and whose life expectancy is usually measured as a matter of weeks deserve the degree of “humane treatment” that this proposition calls for. Nonetheless, simple common sense tells us that the current measures are in place because they represent the most cost-effective manner for the cons to mass produce and manage these living commodities. The majority of the information conveyed by the cons was little better than scare propaganda. This proposition should require more humane standards but as a part of a much more comprehensive regulation of an industry that has skirted consumer safety for far too long. YES.
PROP 3 Translated: Should we issue almost $1 billion in bonds for the support and expansion of “Children’s Hospitals”?
Both sides completely miss the point on this one. It is not about more taxpayer debt, it is not about saving the lives of the acutely ill; it boils down to providing the most people possible with preventive medical care or funding programs that continue to focus on treatment instead of prevention. If prevention was funded, the money spent to establish low cost clinics would free up tremendous sums that hospitals currently devote to urgent care, which could then fund continuing treatment. NO.
PROP 4 Translated: Should physicians performing abortions on minor females be required to notify certain third parties (parents, legal guardians, other legal designees) prior to the abortion and be penalized if they fail to do so?
Since this is a battle of extremes, it’s impossible not to get tarred as belonging to “pro-life” or “pro-choice” if one tries to navigate a middle course, but from a strictly legalistic standpoint this is a bad proposition. It is another attempt to circumvent the laws governing freedom of the individual by through pressuring unemancipated (and non-voting) females to reconsider having an abortion by making them wait 48 hours, informing individuals that the patient may have decided not to inform themselves, and by frightening physicians through the threat of legal action if they abide by the wishes of their patient. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If both sides of the debate could get that through their collective thick skulls and co-operate on finding ways to reduce the need for abortions we could conceivably resolve this issue. NO.
PROP 5 Translated: Should “rehabilitation sentencing” be given a greater role in the case of non-violent drug offenses?
The debate on this boils down to a simple “retribution v. rehabilitation” equation. In general, retributive drug policies as a whole have not been very effective and have oft-times been unequally applied. The majority of individuals serving time for drug related offenses are low-level users and dealers. The cost of incarcerating them is far greater than the cost of rehabilitating them. This proposition goes some way towards “leveling the playing field” when it comes to sentencing and is certainly no walk in the park for the offender. It’s time to stop turning people with a substance abuse problem into criminals, right Rush? YES.
PROP 6 Translated: Should police and law enforcement funding be essentially guaranteed; should certain criminal penalties and laws be strengthened?
There was an uncomfortable degree of vagueness in this proposition. It does not specify if monies would be used for salary increases, nor was there an indication that putting more officers on the street was a component. There are funds for building more incarceration space; something addressed in Prop 5; there are good points in increasing penalties for gang-related crime, but most of language deals with the suppression of crime, and little, if any, with unraveling the underlying causes of the criminal behavior. “Gang” behavior is not always geared to criminal activity. When we understand better why these subcultures have seemingly completely rejected the mainstream cultures within which they reside, we may be more effective in disbanding them. NO.
PROP 7 Translated: Should major energy suppliers be required to comply with mandated targets for renewable energy generation?
So far, the toughest one to have to sort through, and no clear conclusion was drawn. In this instance, it boiled down to looking at the sponsorship. The major opponents of this proposition are the ones who stand not to profit from it. YES.
PROP 8 Translated: Should marriage be defined as a union of two consenting adults or strictly limited to a union between a man and woman?
Our society was founded on the freedom of the individual. Same-sex marriage harms no one. Two people who love each other and are willing to commit to that love in front of their chosen witnesses, deserve that opportunity regardless of gender. NO.
PROP 9 Translated: Should victim’s rights be given more weight in the judicial process after the convicted party is sentenced?
A great of what this proposition demands is already in place. There is no need for redundancy. As far as the notification procedures go, no system is perfect and some miscommunications will occur. Changing parole criteria is still an emphasis on retribution over reform. This proposition is too vague on all facets to consider passing. NO.
PROP 10 Translated: Should government funding be used to facilitate the development of green energy technology?
Certain provisions of this proposition are just a way to have the government to subsidize the research and development of for-profit companies. No.
PROP 11 Translated: Should authority to redistrict be shifted from elected officials to an appointed commission?
Redistricting has been a tool used by both parties to gain an edge over their opposition for decades. This proposition as written, offers the best chance to date to de-politicize this process. YES.
PROP 12 Translated: Should veteran’s be give favored status for loans to purchase homes and farms that include both low interest borrowing rates and enhanced protections in default situations?
No one disputes that we owe our service personnel a huge debt, yet this proposition has serious flaws. It has no provisions prohibiting real estate speculation by recipients of the program and would appear to protect them if the speculations failed. Furthermore, as the offered default protections are not available to all, they may be considered unfair and discriminatory. NO.