As usual in an election year in California, our mailboxes and TV screens are overflowing with recommendations how we should vote. And as if our choices who to vote for weren't enough, with so many offices to be filled, the California ballot initiative process again presents a bumper crop of choices what to vote for. There is so much information, and so many passionately conflicting claims, it's hard to tell what's true and accurate, and what's downright deceptive.
Recently I was able to track down my old and true friend Publius ; and as in 2010, I asked him for his opinions on our California initiatives. Publius is decidedly progressive in his sympathies, but I appreciate his thoughtful reflections on the issues, and his openness to various points of view.
Busy as he is, Publius provided me these brief recommendations of what will be most helpful, in his humble opinion ; then he was off to serve his fellow Californians, country and world in other ways. So, with a "Thank you !" to Publius, these are his picks :
"Here is my opinion, but I encourage you to take even a brief look if you can at the voter’s guide, and to vote differently than I suggest if you have a different opinion :
Prop 30 : Yes. - this is the governor’s proposal to have a small increase sales tax by ¼% for 4 years & increases income tax on people earning more than $250,000 per year, to fund schools ; if this measure does not pass, school funding in California will be cut by over $5 billion per year.
Prop 31: No strong opinion - this transfers $200 million per year of sales tax revenue from the state to local governments; the main concern is that it is a constitutional amendment and thus is more difficult to change if there is a problem.
Prop 32 : No - This initiative was written by some billionaires trying to bust the political power of unions; it prevents unions from using dues collected from worker payrolls for political purposes.
Prop 33 : No - allows auto insurance companies to set rates based on whether or not you had prior insurance; so if your insurance lapses they could raise your rate ; current law established by voters years ago is much better and says that insurance rates must be set by driver record, miles per year driven, and number of years you have been driving.
Prop 34 : Yes - eliminates the death penalty and replaces it with life sentence without parole; there are too many mistakes in the death penalty, it is used disproportionately against minorities, there is little good evidence that it protects public safety, most developed nations in the world have eliminated the death penalty and the UN is trying to begin eliminating it all over the world, the death penalty is most often associated with authoritarian governments and un-free societies like China, Iran and N. Korea, and in my opinion it is a cruel punishment.
Prop 35 : No - makes much longer prison terms for human labor and sex trafficking ; the US already has some of the longest prison terms in the world, and one of the largest prison populations. While people who engage in some of these acts may well deserve longer sentences, this law is not well written. For example, it provides life terms for forced sex trafficking of a minor, which means that there is no additional prison time if the criminal murders the victim or kills a witness. I find that scary.
Prop 36 : Yes - reforms three strikes law so that a person could only be given a life sentence for a third crime if it was serious or violent. Current law allows the state to lock up a person for life even if they commit minor theft, and are otherwise no threat to public safety. This is wrong.
Prop 37 : Yes - requires labeling of genetically engineered food for sale in grocery stores.
Prop 38 : No - raises taxes for education ; this the wrong year for this initiative, since it is competing with Prop 30, and risks sinking both initiatives.
Prop 39 : Yes - provides funding for energy efficiency and clean alternative energy sources, as well a green energy jobs, by taxing businesses that earn money outside of California to avoid tax.
Prop 40 : No opinion - this initiative approves a redistricting map for the state senate ; the map was created by a state commission. As I have not studied the map and have no idea of its effect, I have no opinion.
I hope that is helpful for you,