Friday, October 24, 2008

How I Voted On The Spending Props: No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No And One Yes

Sherman Oaks, California

They want $28 billion from me.

"They" are the people who placed the various spending propositions on my November ballot, and I told all but one to take a hike.

Actually, $28 billion is a low ball, since several of the spending props are worded in a way which prevents an educated guess as to their actual costs. I'm also not including the interest payments on the bonds, which will easily double the figure.

In California, most bond issues have to be approved by ballot, as do most tax increases by local governments. Consequently, our ballots are riddled with spending props, i.e., proposals to raise taxes or borrow money.

The biggest piece of nonsense this time around is Proposition 1A, which seeks to borrow $9.95 billion dollars -- I guess $10 billion seemed too large a number -- to fund a pie-in-the-sky proposal to build "clean, efficient high-speed train service" linking all of California's major population centers. (A characteristic of statewide propositions is that they promise spending in every corner of California, all the better to attract Yes votes.)

This fantasy has been around for decades. Nothing's come of it except for costly consulting reports, and, while the bureaucrats dithered, Southwest Airlines figured out a way to profitably move people around the state in a "clean, efficient high-speed" manner. We don't need more rail in California; we need more runways.

The most risible ballot measure is Proposition 3, which would borrow $980 million for public children's hospitals. My objection to Prop. 3 isn't so much the spending as the weepy radio ads which argue that, if you don't vote Yes, you hate children and want them to die. Anybody running ads like that deserves to be voted down.

Proposition 5 was the closest call, and it's the only spending prop on which I voted Yes. It expands drug and alcohol treatment and diversion programs within the criminal justice system and allocates $460 million in the process. Prosecutors don't like it, arguing that felons could receive a pass if they claimed to be addicts, but I trust judges to sentence correctly; besides, if the law has adverse consequences, we'll change it next election.

All the other money props: No, no, no. No to $965 million for law enforcement (Proposition 6); we're too close to a police state as it is. No to $5 billion for research into alternative fuel vehicles (Proposition 10); I'm not paying for R&D that the Big Three automakers should be doing on their own dime. No to $900 million for farm and home aid to veterans (Proposition 12); veterans' affairs are a federal responsibility, with a Cabinet Secretary and everything.

No to Los Angeles County's request for a half-percent sales tax increase to fund public transportation projects (Proposition R); it's a union boondoggle. No to the Los Angeles Community College District's request for $3.5 billion (Proposition J); community colleges need to emphasize basic literacy and math skills, not blow money on a Media Arts Building and an Allied Health/PE, Recreation and Wellness Center, to pick two of the more than 100 projects that would be funded by the prop. No to the Los Angeles Unified School District's demand for $7 billion (Proposition Q); I despise every cent I have to pay to the LAUSD, a system which I will never, ever use, even if I somehow have a dozen children.

So this year, my view on the propositions is pretty much the same as it is every year:

Vote No! On General Principle!

Pictured: The Time magazine cover featuring Howard Jarvis, the father of Proposition 13, the tax-cutting law dubbed "the first shot of the Reagan Revolution."



Anonymous Anonymous said...

This state is beyond broke. Any suggestion that we borrow more to afford things we can't afford should be clearly and decisively REJECTED.
Oh, and vote NO on Prop 8. Our gay brothers and sisters deserve the same rights as everybody else — the privileges and responsibilities of matrimony, civil or otherwise.

1:51 PM  

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