I still hate propositions

On June 3, Californians will vote. There are a bunch of jackasses running for local offices, all clogging my mailbox with their fearmongering. I haven’t sorted through the candidates, and their fliers all go into the recycling anyway. I’ll work that out, though, with endorsements before the election.

There are also a couple of local initiatives, both of which just update small local taxes, and I’ll be voting yes on measures F and J. I’ll grumble a bit about the stupidity of a system of government which requires that minor tweaks like this constantly being stuck on the ballot to be decided by the fraction of the public who cares about the Democratic primary.

My real ire is reserved for Prop. 98 and Prop. 99. These are statewide initiatives, and both are asinine. I don’t want either enacted. Prop. 98 claims to reform eminent domain, but actually is an attack on rent control and other laws regulating abusive behavior by landlords. It’s an assault on the ability of government to issue regulations in other areas as well, and would be a total disaster. Prop. 99 is fairly harmless, revising eminent domain in such a milquetoast way as to be useless.

The thing is, I think there’s a good case for revising eminent domain to require public seizures of private property to pay a fair price and to show a clear public interest, not benefit for private enterprise. Widening a road is one thing, but building a mall is another. Neither of these propositions does this.

In a legislature, someone could say that and offer an amendment that actually addresses the real issues, but in the proposition system, you just vote yes or no. The only saving grace is that if both props pass, and if Prop. 99, which is harmless, gets a bigger majority, it supercedes Prop. 98. So even though I oppose both, I have to vote for Prop. 99 since otherwise the draconian Prop. 98 could pass. It’s stupid.

Now, you may say that voting for Prop. 99 is inconsistent of me, that I’m overturning the will of the people by voting for this lesser of two evils. If 98 has more support, why shouldn’t I just take my lumps?The answer is simple: Most voters don’t know what they’re voting on! I do, so I’m going to do what one does in the real world when stupid people (the authors of the state constitution, not the modern voters, obviously) force bad choices on you: I’m thinking not only of myself, but of the greater good. If I were King of California, I’d strengthen the legislature, repeal Prop. 13, make it much harder to put an initiative on the ballot (the slack being taken up by the duly elected legislature), and then abdicate the throne.

Actually, I’d name the Bay Bridge the Joshua Norton Memorial Bridge while I was at it.


  1. #1 Zeno
    May 30, 2008

    That is exactly why I am voting for Proposition 99: to set a backfire to protect against 98. Otherwise I would probably vote against both: 98 as deceptive and 99 as unnecessary.

  2. #2 Max Kaehn
    May 30, 2008

    Yep. 99’s major virtue is blocking 98. So why not put a proposition on the ballot that you should be made monarch of California, and promise to do just that?

  3. #3 Oldfart
    May 30, 2008

    So much for me reading your blog hoping for political news from Kansas.
    Ugh. Somewhere I wasn’t paying attention.

  4. #4 PeggyH
    May 31, 2008

    That is why I will also be voting for 99.
    One thing that would seriously improve the initiative process would be to make it illegal to pay people to collect signatures. Then at least the nutjobs would have to sit out in the sun collecting signatures themselves, instead of being able to buy an initiative.
    And a simple majority should not be able to amend the constitution.

  5. #5 KeithB
    May 31, 2008

    “If I were King of California, I’d strengthen the legislature, repeal Prop. 13, make it much harder to put an initiative on the ballot (the slack being taken up by the duly elected legislature), and then abdicate the throne.

    Here, here, I have seen our schools steadily deteriorate since prop 13.

    As far as eminent domain, would a railroad be a valid reason to invoke eminent domain? It generally just benefits a private company.

  6. #6 themadlolscientist
    June 3, 2008

    Emperor Norton. I love him. He may have been nuttier than a fruitcake, but he did have some good ideas that were way ahead of their time. I hope they rename the Bay Bridge after him.

    Just 2 brass farthings’ worth from an expatriate Californian.

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