Mostly, No

WEB EXCLUSIVE! Ladies and gentlemen, the propositions!

Proposition 86 Tax on Cigarettes
This would add 13 cents per cigarette in tax, but since this isn't prison, where people buy by the coffin nail, it means a tax increase of $2.60 per pack. That seems like an unfair burden to put on people who are pursuing a perfectly legal activity. Yes, it is an unhealthful habit, but so is fast food and no one is talking—yet—of adding a two dollar tax on Big Macs. Supporters say the money raised will go to educate/discourage smoking by kids while also helping to pay for emergency medical care and expand health insurance for kids. Those last two are good things, but is the pathetic state of the American healthcare system the fault of some poor schlub whose Marlboro Lights are the highlight of his dull day? Fix the healthcare system? Yes. Do it on the backs of people who didn't break it? No. (I was forced to write all that by Editor Will Swaim—a raging libertarian—and Rebecca Schoenkopf—a raging smoker, mostly when she's not allowed to smoke. I totally think you should vote YES on 86. Yes, there are other habits as unhealthful as smoking, but you can't get secondhand saturated fat. YES on a $2.60 tax, YES on health and education programs for kids. YES, YES, YES, YES, YES!)

Proposition 87 Alternative Energy. Research, Production Incentives. Tax on California Oil Producers.
Maybe you didn't feel your ovaries stir when Al Gore showed up on the airwaves touting Prop. 87. It's quite possible that was just us. (It's also quite possible that the moans of "Ooooh, Al Gore! You make us feel so . . . optimistic for our future, as there's actually some action we can take to get started on global warming and climate change before it's finally too late! Yes! YES!" coming from our bedroom were unique and unrepeated in the land.) But you should have. The reality of climate change is far more frightening than any war on terror, in that terrorists can only kill up to a few thousand of us at a time while climate change can turn us not into a failed state but a failed species.

The No on 87 folks—that would be Chevron—have been blanketing the airwaves with ads from people bitching, "A tax on oil that they'll just pass along to us? And spend on a bureaucracy? Are they crazy?" Well, no. California is currently the only state that doesn't charge an extraction tax when oil companies drill in its borders—we take in more money from hunting and fishing licenses than we do from drilling fees. And it would be the first state to spend that extraction tax on something awfully freaking worthwhile, namely research and development for alternative energy. We know you love your SUV. (Because you're an asshole.) But you're also tired of your kids getting asthma, and it's possible you're just a wee bit concerned about global warming and climate change. Wouldn't you like scientists to figure out a way to make that SUV run on, like, canned Spam? Or hemp? Also? The measure makes it illegal to pass the tax on to you at the pump, so those kvetchy ads are just about the lyingest things this side of . . . well, you don't want us to get into the whole thing Rush Limbaugh said about Michael J. Fox, which actually surprised us that we could still be surprised by something evil coming out of Rush Limbaugh's evil puss. It's a whole long story. Just trust us. Let's even say, for argument's sake, that everything in the anti-Prop. 87 ads was true. We would still be for it. There are times when people must shout that they're willing to make a sacrifice. We did it in World War II—nobody asked us to "keep shopping" for a sacrifice then. We had a chance to do it 30 years ago, when the importance of alternative energy first came on the scene. Instead, our cars got bigger and Ronald Reagan removed Jimmy Carter's solar panels from the White House roof. Think how far ahead we'd be now if we'd kept with it then. We'd probably be completely free from the demands of the Middle East, and the sky would be the oddest shade of . . . blue. Here is our chance to do the right thing and quite possibly save the world.

Proposition 88 Education Funding, Real Property Tax
We are of a mind that money does make good schools and that California schools have never recovered from the sucker punch that was Prop. 13. So, we're all for all of us sharing the burden of making sure teachers and students have enough money to learn in environments that are well-appointed and safe. The problem with Prop. 88 is it would raise next to bupkus when it comes to education. A $50 tax on parcels of property would raise $450 million for specific education goals such as class-size reduction and school safety. Now, $450 million may sound like a lot of money, and it is—if you're looking to make a down payment on something in Newport Beach—but it's not a lot when you're talking about dividing it between all the state's schools, many of which are in dire need of help. A tax like this is bound to piss off the NIMBYs, who will very likely point to it the minute some real funding bill comes along. "What? We just gave you $450 million. When is enough enough?" Shut up, Cletus! Anyway, we just don't think 88 goes very far. Money for schools? Good. Lots of money for schools? Mo' better.

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