Friday, July 11, 2008

Oregon's awesome initiative system

Check out the initiatives that have already made it on the ballot for the upcoming election (via the Register-Guard):

The five initiatives already approved would create mandatory minimum prison sentences for certain theft, forgery and drug crimes;

Crap - mandatory minimums are and have always been a terrible idea.

exempt property owners from obtaining building permits for improvements valued under $35,000;

Sketchy - I'm a proponent of land-use planning, as land-use planning has proven to be at least somewhat good for the environment, and this smells like an effort to undercut that on the bizarre grounds that private property rights are sacred instead of merely existing because we all collectively choose to abide by them.

prohibit unions and others from using “public resource” funds for political purposes;

Crap - specifically put there to weaken the ability of unions to speak in the political realm. Don't get me wrong; I think money and politics need a quick and painful divorce, but this, being unilateral, would lead to an increase in the power of corporations, which I oppose. Also, I think it's sponsored by Bill Sizemore, who is a mortal enemy of unions and the public good.

prohibit teaching public school students in a language other than English for more than two years;

Short-sighted, racist crap. I don't think I need to say any more; even Hering is against this one, it's so obviously a bad idea. Come to think of it, it's a lot like cutting off federal funding to underperforming schools, like in No Child Left Educated Behind.

and would allow Oregon taxpayers to make federal income taxes fully deductible on state returns.

This is explicitly designed to starve the state of funds on the simplistic grounds that government = bad. I believe it's a Bill Sizemore initiative. Therefore: crap!

... don't get me wrong. Governments do stupid shit all the time; certainly I've been known to criticize all levels of government, from D.C. down to *cough* local school boards. But Sizemore's whole schtick is to starve the Oregon government of funds so it can't maintain the level of services it currently provides - and there's to be no replacement. Clearly, this is problematic, as it leaves a lot of people out in the cold.

What, you think the free market is going to solve that problem? Buddy, you must be outta your frackin' mind if you still believe that after that last several decades.

Washington Monthly blogger Kevin Drum, a moderate California Democrat, advocates taking a default position of "no" on all initiatives. For the first time, I'm inclined to join him. This year's crop of initiatives makes the entire system look like it's merely a conduit for moneyed, corporate interests to buy ballot measures.


Anonymous said...

The no permits for improvements under $35,000 is a good idea. On the other hand, when someone has to go get a permit and see how multi-layered the government beurocracy, maybe it would be good for them. I spent hours to get approval for my "non-permit" out building. And each person at the desk did a different part, so I kept having to go back and forth among the three. One day, one was sick and nothing could get done. Utter crap and a waste of time. Plus, you would still need permits for electrical, plumbing, etc.

Union dues for politics is stickier. I just hate mandatory dues that could be used against a candidate I like. If I don't like a particluar corporation, I don't go there. However, unions are losing power by numbers so they are starting to matter less. We could have a whole discussion on unions!

Mandatory prison sentences tend to imprison the wrong people. But, hey, I sure feel safer!

Someone steals a can of pop, but it was their 3rd offense and he has a pocket knife, to prison forever. We'll help reform you when you get out, we promise! Plus, we can't buid more prisons, we want the other initiatives to go through to cut taxes! Oops, oh well, we'll just wait for the economy to improve..., and look, when gas hits $6.00/gallon, look at all the less drivebys we'll have. Bad people won't be able to afford to drive!

Anonymous said...

Sorry about my inability to spell above. In a hurry and forgot the spell checker.

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