My first admonition is given as a citizen looking for better governance—everyone should vote yes on 77, the redistricting initiative. Really, this is not a conservative/liberal issue. The Legislature is, as currently constituted, a total failure. It is unable to grapple with the problems of California. The main reason this is so is that competition for seats has been rendered moot by gerrymandering. This causes candidates of both parties to migrate to the extremes because the extreme groups of both parties’ bases choose the candidates. There is no penalty for stupid voting behavior by legislators. We need to change that. Both parties are guilty of this, and there is a lot of moaning and groaning from politicians about how this is bad for California. Bullshit. California desperately needs a better-functioning Legislature. Vote yes on this one even if you hate Arnold.
Yes on Prop. 73: Waiting period for minors seeking abortion
Abortion is not a pretty thing, though I am generally pro choice for adults. Minors are different. As a father I would like to be notified in such a case. It seems only common sense. I have to fill out umpteen forms at school to have Tylenol administered but she can get an abortion without telling me? Common sense—vote yes.
Yes on Prop. 74: Teacher tenure
I have thought about this for a good while. Millions of California’s poor school-age kids are caught in a cycle of poverty. A primary cause of that is poor schools. The quickest way to benefit millions of poor kids (listen up liberals—this is true) is to improve the schools—education is the key to success. The main block to this is not money. It is clear that throwing money at education does not really lead to much improvement in schools. Breaking the power of the teachers union to dictate working conditions, pay scales based on seniority, protecting bad teachers, work rules that prevent positive change etc., etc. The list goes on and on and is a small first step. Everyone else works in the marketplace, where if you screw up or you are lousy at your job there are consequences. Not if you are a teacher. It is more than reasonable that teachers wait an extended period to see if they are capable at their profession before earning tenure that other workers don’t get. Vote yes.
Yes on Prop. 75: Paycheck protection
This is the clearest conservative/liberal conflict on the ballot. Wise people can differ on this one. One thing is for sure: The public employee unions will eat California out of house and home. Government is an organized lobbying group for more government. Just look at the prison guards’ union—pathetic. How about the teachers, the nurses, etc., etc. The list is long and they all want more money from the state government. It is also true that many of these unions are ruled by liberal elites that are unresponsive not only to the public good but also to their own membership. Many members of these unions (like mine, I am a member of the Coalition of University Employees) are heavily leftist/liberal in orientation and don’t much care if a substantial portion of their membership doesn’t agree with this. I plan to vote yes, but I release all of you to vote as your conscience suggests.
Yes on Prop. 76: State spending limits
Look folks, California is broke. State government spends too much and can’t seem to control itself. Economic growth would be better stimulated by a state government that grew in size in a predictable way along with the growth of the state. There is no reason, in my view, that education should have first call on state funds. Education is important, very important, but so are other priorities. I think this vote should be obvious—vote yes.
Yes on Prop. 77: Redistricting (see above)
No on Props. 78 and 79: Discounts on drugs
I am suspicious of both of these. Frankly, I find dueling propositions to be boring and suspicious and I tend to vote no on both. Prop. 79 seems the worse to me because it vests too much power in state bureaucrats. No matter how much people may believe that the government can do anything it wants, in fact the State of California can’t manipulate and go against markets for very long and be successful. If I were to vote yes on one it would be 78. However, California is broke and can’t afford to subsidize drugs or create a new state bureaucracy. Vote no on both.
No on Prop. 80: Electric regulation
More state regulation of the electric industry is not going to help California. The State of California is not going to create cheaper electricity by fiat or by burdensome regulation. We need more power plants, period. We need more gas power, we need more solar power and we may even need more nuclear power. Let’s start building some new plants. What we don’t need is state government trying to remove more and more of the influence of the marketplace from the electrical business. The State of California can’t do much right and I can just bet that it will not be able to “solve” the electrical problem by more regulation. Yes, the old regulation scheme was flawed; let’s fix it not over regulate it. Flogging the dead horse of Enron will not solve our problems. Californians want power up the ying yang, but they don’t want power plants. It don’t work that way. Vote no.
Berkeley resident Alan Swain holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University.