[guest post by JVW]
Proving the adage that everything noble is eventually corrupted, the citizens, interest groups, and legislature of the Golden State have once again conspired to place a series of foolhardy ballot measures up to the public for debate. Each election year we Californians, who put the “crazy” into democrazy, mull over a slew of initiatives and propositions which represent items so rancid that even the mono-party California Legislature refuses to consider them, or else they are ideas that either require the assent of the governed in order to be enacted or are controversial enough that the legislature prefers to let the riff-raff of the state have the final word. Once in a while a conservative group will cobble together enough valid signatures to place an item for public consideration, only to usually see it die a quick yet painful death.
This year our propositions are the usual collection of the stupid, the useless, and the foolhardy. I know many readers don’t reside in our dysfunctional avocado republic, but in the past some of you have mentioned that you enjoy hearing about the folly we like to inflict upon ourselves, so here you go:
What is it: It authorizes the state to sell $5.5 billion in bonds, the proceeds of which will be used to continue and expand the stem cell initiative of 2004.
Who’s for it: Big Science, as well as the wealthy philanthropist who spearheaded the 2004 initiative in response to the suffering of some family members.
Who’s against it: Just about everyone in the state who has figured out that the 2004 stem cell initiative did not unlock a bevy of cures which then in turn showered the state in the promised royalty and tax revenue.
How I’m going to vote: Against. I voted no on the 2004 initiative. There’s plenty of venture capital in this state, so if stem cells are a promising field they will have no trouble raising money privately.
What is it: The first major challenge to 1978’s property tax-limiting measure, Prop 13, this year’s measure would allow commercial property holdings in excess of $3 million to be reassessed at current market value for property tax purposes in order to allegedly raise $6.5 – $11 billion annually “for the schools.”
Who’s for it: The dominant leftist cartel, educrats, and a lot of people who rely upon state tax dollars for their employment.
Who’s against it: Business owners and associations, taxpayer groups, the last two or three small government advocates left here, the NAACP, landlords, some renters’ associations, pretty much anyone who understands he or she would directly or indirectly be paying these increased taxes and isn’t already filthy rich.
How I’m going to vote: No — aw, hell no! The left has long claimed that Prop 13 “starves” the state of needed revenue, even though we have somehow managed to fund a $222 billion budget in the meantime. With a pretty strong coalition against Prop 15, including some skittish Democrat legislators, I’m optimistic it will go down to a well-deserved defeat. Otherwise, look for the same coalition to sooner-rather-than-later come after residential properties too.
What is it: It undoes Prop 209 from 1996 which prohibits the use of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or natural origin in government decision-making. It would allow for these factors to once again be used in public college admissions, employment, and the awarding of state contracts.
Who’s for it: The wokedy-woke and the diversity industry. They have been pining for this moment for the past 24 years, and believe the hour has at last come. The legislature considered a run at undoing 209 six years ago, but kept their powder dry until this moment.
Who’s against it: The un-woke and those who believe that a pluralistic state which is now majority minority ought to judge people by factors that are not entirely related to DNA. Asian-Americans in particular feel that they have a lot to lose by repealing 209, and they were a key player in forcing the legislature to back down in 2014, though the rise of woke Asian-Americans complicates matters somewhat.
How I’m going to vote: No. I actually voted against Prop 209 two dozen years ago for a variety of reasons, but in retrospect I think that vote was a mistake on my part. I am afraid, though, that our state suffers from terminal wokedness and that Prop 16 will pass. If I am wrong, that’s a sign that there really is a silent majority in this state who is tired of all the diversity bullying.
What is it: Gives felons the right to vote after completing their prison term.
Who’s for it: The usual criminal-reform folks, racial and ethnic organizations, and Democrats who expect to benefit from voting felons.
Who’s against it: Law-and-order types, victims rights groups, Republicans who think this will lead to a higher Democrat vote totals.
How I’m going to vote: I suppose no. I would consider a yes vote if this forced ex-cons to complete their full probationary period before having voting rights restored. As it is, knowing that the Bernard Sanders crazies want even currently incarcerated felons to be able to vote, I would rather throw up a road block here and now than find ourselves sending ballots to Folsom and San Quentin in four years’ time.
What is it: Allows 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections, provided that they turn 18 before the general election.
Who’s for it: Democrats who rely upon naïve voters to unquestioningly accept their agenda.
Who’s against it: People like me and W.C. Fields who don’t particularly like the young.
How I’m going to vote: There’s a decent argument to be made in favor of this, but now that California primary elections with their “jungle ballot” oftentimes elect a candidate who achieves a majority of the vote without requiring a general election runoff, I think I’ll vote no. Some hard left hamlets, such as San Francisco, are pushing the idea of allowing 16-year-olds to vote, and I’m cynical enough to see that as an attempt to get mush-minded kids who don’t pay income tax to rally around big government initiatives that their parents would have to pay for. As with Prop 17, I would rather nip this idea in the bud right away.
What is it: This is a retread of 2018’s failed Prop 5, which allows homeowners over age 55 to transfer their lower property tax assessment from a home they sell to a newer home that they purchase. Advocates have tried to sweeten the pot for progressives by at the same time tightening the ability for families to pass down non-primary-residence homes or farms to younger generations without triggering a new tax assessment.
Who’s for it: Senior citizen groups, realtors, developers, local politicians who believe the legislative analyst that this will lead to a net increase in tax revenue for cities and counties, which seems to me to be a questionable assertion.
Who’s against it: Anti-tax groups and some Republican legislators
How I’m going to vote: I voted against Prop 5 two years ago because I didn’t like the idea that it was essentially a $1 billion tax break for senior citizens when I think it is young families struggling to afford a home who deserve the break. Advocates have come back and added the part about forcing assessments when a $1 million non-primary-residence home or farm is transferred in order to allegedly make this a net revenue raiser for cities and counties, but I am skeptical. I am going to study this one a bit more, but I’m leaning towards a no vote.
What is it: Attempts to roll back some of the recent criminal reform measures such as Prop 47 and Prop 57. Increases penalties for some theft-related crimes. Restricts the ability of the state to give early release to some prisoners. Expands DNA collection program for prisoners.
Who’s for it: Law-and-order types who have been disgusted by the state’s move towards parole in lieu of incarceration. State prison employees and private prison operators whose livelihoods are threatened.
Who’s against it: Those who successfully pushed Props. 47 & 57 and who believe in miscreant rehabilitation and restorative justice.
How I’m going to vote: I’ll probably vote no, just because that’s my default vote on most propositions. Like our host, I do believe that Prop 57 went too far and that the state currently puts too much faith in hug-a-criminal programs, but I also recognize that the powerful prison employee unions have an ulterior agenda here. I want California to turn away from its coddling of criminals, but I don’t think that this ballot proposition is the way to go.
What is it: Allows local governments to enact rent control policies. Another rehash of a failed 2018 initiative.
Who’s for it: Advocates for lower-cost housing who don’t mind passing the costs on to landlords.
Who’s against it: Free-market types, landlords, rental housing conglomerations.
How I’m going to vote: Emphatic no, just like two years ago. Our friend aphrael makes a solid case for rent control as the least-bad of a number of bad options, but I respectfully disagree. And I resent the idea that a proposition which failed by a 3:2 margin two years ago is being introduced again just because rent control proponents believe that anti-Trump momentum will carry them to victory. They deserve to fail miserably again.
What is it: Exempts app-based rideshare and delivery companies like Uber and Lyft from the baneful effects of AB 5, against which we have inveighed since it was passed a year ago. In return, compels the companies to adopt limited benefits packages for employees.
Who’s for it: This ballot measure is fully conceptualized and funded by the rideshare companies themselves.
Who’s against it: Organized labor and their lackeys in the state legislature.
How I’m going to vote: I’ll vote yes for once, though I don’t like the fact that the rideshare companies have limited this initiative to their industry and not the myriad other industries which have been badly affected by this awful legislation. But once rideshare has their exit route, I’m guessing that AB 5 will collapse due to its own futility.
What is it: Establishes regulations for kidney dialysis clinics in the state.
Who’s for it: Organized labor, who put this measure on the 2018 ballot only to have it defeated.
Who’s against it: The people who operate dialysis clinics.
How I’m going to vote: I’ll vote no, like I did two years ago. This is a personal snit between union interests who have not been successful organizing workers in a particular industry and an industry with deep enough pockets to fight back against union legislative influence, and ought not to play out in the voting booth.
What is it: Further expands 2018 legislation to add new requirements for companies to maintain data privacy and allow users to opt-out of having their information shared. Imposes stiff financial penalties for non-compliance.
Who’s for it: If you believe the opponents of the proposition, it was written by Big Tech in cooperation with wealthy progressives and the legislators they fund, and provides companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc. with lots of backdoor methods of compromising and profiting from the user’s desire for online privacy.
Who’s against it: If you believe the proponents of the proposition, the opposition are people who don’t care about the online safety of your children and support Big Tech’s current ability to exploit your data for profit.
How I’m going to vote: Fuck all of these people. I’m voting no just because I want to continue to see them battle it out in the court of public opinion. One other reason to vote no is because this proposition would create yet another state regulatory body full of bureaucrats operating on the public dime.
What is it: Replaces money-based bail with a system based upon a judge’s determination of flight risk and public safety.
Who’s for it: The wokearati who believes that the criminal justice system is stacked against people of color and the poor.
Who’s against it: Bail bondsmen and victims’ rights groups; surprisingly, the NAACP and some Latino civil rights groups also oppose this proposition.
How I’m going to vote: I’ll vote against. I’m kind of sympathetic to the pro argument, but if we really have a problem with poor people languishing in jail because they can’t raise bail money then the proper solution is for wealthy leftists to create a foundation which posts bail on their behalf.
That’s that. This is how a reactionary and grumpy right-winger plans to vote: almost all noes (with the possibility that I might change my mind at the last minute on two issues) and one very grudging yes. Feel free to let me know how I have botched it all up with faulty logic or willful blindness.