By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Proposition 1A Transportation Funding Protection
Maybe we're just feeling cranky, but we don't like rigidity in government. For the same reason we don't like mandatory minimum sentencing that takes away a judge's discretion, we don't like taking away the occasionally necessary flexibility to rob transportation to pay Paul. There are times when transportation funds need to be raided—for instance, when Governor Schwarzenegger needs to pay back all of those billions he borrowed from the schools.
Proposition 1B Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality and Port Security
Proposition 1C Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund
Proposition 1D Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities
Proposition 1E Disaster Preparedness and Flood Prevention
Now that we've got you completely confused, please let us tell you that we love highways, schools and levees. Especially levees! We also like clean air and housing for poor people. Seriously, we really do. In fact, we like and/or love them so much we would like to actually put our money where our big fat mouth is . . . and pay for them.
We're tired of the governor promising to rip up our credit card before ordering up $37 billion in trinkets. Very, very important trinkets, certainly, but look at it like we do: $37 billion is a thousand bones per California resident. People earning the state's median household income of $63 thousand can afford an assessment of $1,000 per family member—it would be a hit, to be sure, but they could do it. People working at Wal-Mart can afford much less, however, and Don Bren can afford much more, so we'd make some adjustments like that. (We also love the graduated income tax.)
Rather than feeling beneficent in our willingness to pony up our grandchildren's future earnings (which won't cost a mere $37 billion; it will be compounded by interest) for these things we claim are necessary and worthwhile, why can't we be beneficent in our willingness to pony up our own earnings?
Proposition 83 Sex Offenders, Sexually Violent Predators, Punishment, Residence, Restrictions and Monitoring
Whaaaaa? How could we be against stronger penalties for sex offenders? We're not. It's just that all of the good points of Prop 83 were signed into law when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger put his signature to a bunch of laws that increased sentences for child rape to 25-years-to-life, made possession of child pornography a felony instead of a misdemeanor, and extended parole for violent sex felons to 10 years. Done. So, that part of 83 would just echo what's already in effect. It's the other parts of Prop 83 that are less attractive: there's the bit about registered sex offenders wearing electronic monitoring devices for life, which not only sounds a bit Minority Report-ish, it's also disconcerting that no distinction is made between the severity of the sex crime—some registered sex offenders' crimes run along the lines of streaking. Even more disturbing is the provision that prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools, parks and other locations where kids are likely to be present. Yeah, none of us wants our kids near child molesters. But this means there would be virtually no city in the state where these people could live, and they'll be forced out into rural areas—don't our sainted farmers have it bad enough, what with the spinach scare and the cow flatulence?—or simply driven underground. It's not that we're against getting tough on sex offenders, it's that we just did. Piling it on doesn't make good policy.
Proposition 84 Water Quality, Safety and Supply
Were you not paying attention during the Proposition 1s? Because they were right at the beginning, so you shouldn't have been bored yet. Go on back and have another look. We'll wait.
Proposition 85 Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor's Pregnancy
This measure would mean minors, girls, couldn't have an abortion until 48 hours after a parent or guardian is notified by a doctor. Now, ideally, any girl who became pregnant would go to her loving family and receive support and guidance. But anyone who's actually been part of a family, or who's watched House of Carters, knows families can sometimes be very bad things. Many girls are raised in circumstances that are at best very tough and at worst really nightmarish. And as gruesome as it is, the truth is some girls become pregnant by family members. A pregnant girl from a supportive family will likely to go to them for guidance anyway. It's the girl with the unsupportive family we need to worry about because this measure would be putting her in even worse straits, including, heaven help us, forcing her into the waiting forceps of a non-medical abortionist. Who's up for playing 19th century? Of course, the people who wrote this thing really don't care about girls. This is the second straight year they've put this type of measure on the ballot. Last year's Prop. 73, which only narrowly lost, had a line in it about life beginning at conception, which tells you they're not concerned about girls or families. Rather, they see this as a stepping stone to ridding women and girls of their right to choose. And they're using girls to get the ball rolling. How do they sleep at night? Our guess is like a baby.
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.
Proposition 89 Political Campaigns, Public Financing, Corporate Tax Increase.
Lots of Prop. 89 sounds great. Candidates can either accept public campaign funds or raise money on their own. If they accept public funds, they still have to raise some money on their own to prove they are worthy of their candidacy. They also get extra money to keep pace with some bored billionaire who thinks it'd be neat to run for Congress. Lovely. But that money is raised exclusively through taxing corporations and banks. Some would argue they should pay because they have warped the electoral process with their money. But the fact is other special interests, good special interests like labor unions and environmental groups, flood the political market with their millions. What's more, or less, actually, this measure also limits how much a corporation can spend in either opposing or supporting a ballot measure. Again, we're not crazy about Chevron pouring millions of dollars towards defeating a proposition that would mean clean air for blind orphans, but if you're going to limit that group then you have to limit other groups, even good groups. Fair is fair.
Others in the office, including the sap editing this entry, say fuck fair: let's vote yes on Prop. 89! Those others (sap included) have no problem taxing the corporations because, they would point out quite rightly, they're the ones with the money.
Proposition 90 Government Acquisition, Regulation of Private Property
Of all of our NOs, this one may be our most fervent. Prop. 90 springs from last year's Supreme Court decision allowing local governments to use the power of eminent domain to seize a private home or business and give it to a developer if the project is deemed for the greater good. This scared the hell out of property owners who believed that eminent domain would only be used in extreme cases to benefit the public: a freeway, for example, or another bathroom for Don Bren's dog's guest house. So people are likely to look favorably at any measure that would limit the use of eminent domain. But this measure goes way beyond that by allowing for people to recoup money—real or imagined—due to "government actions that result in substantial economic loss to private property." These could be losses from simple changes in zoning laws or environmental usage measures. It would hamstring local governments and make them vulnerable to anyone claiming a loss when governments are just doing their jobs. "Folks" could argue that any change hinders them from making a buck. You wouldn't do that, of course, but your jerk-off neighbor Hal would. Hal is such a jerk-off.