Posts filed under ‘Government’
June 4, 2012
CALIFORNIA, June 4 – Tomorrow is a state primary. If you don’t live in California, you can skip this blog post and read the book reviews I just posted for Friday. If you do live in California, voting tomorrow is your chance to pick up some Good Citizen Karma Points you can then squander, at a later date, by talking during a movie or yelling at a child. And if you live in California and you’re registered with the Green Party, it will almost definitely be your only chance to vote for Roseanne Barr for president.
Two interesting ballot measures come up for vote tomorrow:
PROP 28: Change In Term Limits
This one chops state legislature terms from 14 years to 12. The alleged secret of Prop 28 is its duplicity, allowing a back door increase by redefining the limit as time served in either the Senate (now just 8 years) or assembly (6 years). And currently serving legislators are exempt. It’s a rare ballot that is both supported and fought by people sick of career politicians gumming up the works in Sacramento.
The real secret of Prop 28 is that term limits are stupid. We need career politicians, just like we need career pilots, and career surgeons, and career firefighters. Job experience is an asset, no matter what the job. Democracy is not a Frank Capra film; there are no Jimmy Stewart citizen-politicians waiting to sweep into the statehouse and set things right.
So vote no on 28, even though it will functionally maintain the current, more restrictive term limits. It’s kind of confusing. How about this: vote no and then stretch your arms flamboyantly in front of your polling place and look a stranger in the eye and say “WOW, term limits are an especially pernicious form of codified anti-intellectual horseshit, am I right?” (if appropriate, do a high five).
PROP 29 – Tobacco Tax For Cancer Research Act
This adds a dollar to every pack of cigarettes sold in California. Despite the $16 billion state budget deficit, the extra cash would “fund research for cancer”. It’s not a super precise goal. What kind of research? Who conducts it? Even with the impressive array of B-movie villains fighting 29 (most major tobacco companies, the state GOP, the CA Oil Marketers Association (?) ), the vagueness and potential waste should stop anyone cold.
Then there’s the fairness issue. Cigarette taxes are regressive: they place the heaviest burden on the poor. And tobacco, unlike fried foods or gentlemen’s clubs, is a physically addictive vice. I’ve known a lot of recovered drug addicts over the years, and I’ve never heard anyone recall heroin withdrawal the way I hear my smoker pals contemplate kicking cigarettes.
Taxing broke smokers to fight Big Tobacco is counterintuitive. It’s like fighting sex traffickers by arresting prostitutes, or protesting foreign policy by slashing veteran benefits. Seriously, if you vote for this, it kind of makes you a monster.