RANDOM JACK. DISSEMINATE FREELY.
By Jack Random
When one considers statewide initiatives to amend the constitution, the fallback position and natural predisposition should be skeptical. It costs a great deal to put a proposition on the ballot in the great state of California. The people gathering signatures outside your local grocery or drug store are not volunteers. It costs real money to gather enough legitimate signatures to cover five percent of the latest gubernatorial election.
If someone goes to the trouble and expense of putting a proposition on the ballot through the initiative process it is rarely for the public good. It is rather for the benefit of the sponsor. There may be exceptions but they are rare.
On the June 8, 2010 ballot we have five statewide propositions. Three are the work of the legislature. Of these three, one is uncontested and of minimal consequence and two are worthy of passage. The remaining two, whose true sponsors and intent are cleverly disguised, are clear examples of what is wrong with the initiative process. Reminiscent of the infamous Prop 13 of 1978 that more than any other single act or event set the stage for California’s eventual financial collapse, they are the work of con artists. In plain language, they are lies and deceptions.
The following is a voting guide for those of similar political and policy views.
Proposition 13: Elimination of Seismic Retrofitting Disincentive. As the ballot guide states, passage would enable property owners to upgrade buildings for earthquakes without incurring property tax penalties. Vote Yes.
PROPOSITION 14: Relatively Open Primaries. Enables voters to vote for any candidate in primary elections regardless of party. The top two face a runoff in the general election.
Any measure that lessens the major party stranglehold on the electoral process is a step in the right direction. The opposition is disingenuous in its objection that the candidates would no longer be required to state their party affiliation. They protest that candidates will charade as “independents.” Is that really a problem? I have no problem with a candidate “pretending” to be independent as long he or she votes as he or she pretends. Is that the best the opponents can do?
Mark it: If the polls show this one is close, the big money from the major party machines will come in to knock it down.
PROPOSITION 15: FAIR ELECTIONS, PUBLIC FINANCING. Repeals the ban on public funding of political campaigns. Provides equal financing for qualified candidates who refuse to take corporate or private contributions.
When did we ban public funding of elections? Whose brilliant idea was that? Were we insane or did we like having our politicians sold to the highest contributor? Repeal the ban and restore some semblance of sanity and fair play. The opposition is obviously the same lobbyists who are required to pay the cost of public funding under this initiative. How’s that for justice? The opposition says it “raises taxes” but the voter’s guide says it actually increases revenues by imposing fees on lobbyists. That’s the kind of “tax” we can all live with.
PROPOSITION 16: PROTECTING THE PG&E MONOPOLY. This one is the biggest lie and deception of all. Does anyone out there still remember the energy crisis of 2000-2001? It effectively transferred $50 billion from the California economy to Texas oil and energy corporations through fraudulent manipulation of energy prices. The only localities protected from the manipulations of traders were those who contracted their own energy supply. This proposition would be an open invitation to do again what they did in 2000-2001. The California corporations that hold near monopoly control now and want to secure their dominance through this initiative are Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric. They are not public entities. They are private corporations out for a buck. The claim that they represent the people’s right to vote is laughable. I would actually consider voting for such a proposition if they called for a vote of the majority. That would be democratic. That they call for a two thirds vote to overrule their dominance is a clear giveaway. This is a hustle and a scam.
PROPOSITION 17: THE MERCURY INSURANCE STING. This is a proposition with one sponsor: Mercury Insurance. Not known for their ethical or generous practices, they have connived to offer some of us a discount maybe under certain circumstances as long as we allow them to punish our friends and neighbors with outrageous surcharges for allowing our car insurance to lapse at some time in the past five years. Read the fine print and figure it out. It’s a hustle. When was the last time an insurance company put a measure on the ballot so it could lower rates?
VOTE NO AND BOYCOTT MERCURY INSURANCE.
Funding Data according to “Politics and Society” (University of Southern California):
Primary Sponsor of Proposition 15: California Nurses Association.
Primary Sponsor of Proposition 16: PG&E $35 million.
Primary Sponsor of Proposition 17: Mercury Insurance $10 million.
JACK RANDOM IS THE AUTHOR OF THE JAZZMAN CHRONICLES, HARD TIMES, GHOST DANCE INSURRECTION, THE KILLING SPIRIT AND NUMBER NINE: THE ADVENTURES OF JAKE JONES AND RUBY DAULTON.