Archive for the 'Politics – State' Category

No on prop. 84

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

This proposition presents itself as another infrastructure bond like 1E.  The reality is that it is nothing of the sort.  It is not a building project.  No dams or levys get built or fixed.  While I’m not sure I’m against the actions that the money would be spend on, they are not capital infrastructure projects and so would be crippling our future without any long term benefit.

Vote for 1E, not 84 if you want to protect California’s water supply and flooding.

No on prop. 83

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

Most people who know me know that my default position on propositions is to vote against them.  I really think they should only be used when absolutely necessary.  The Legislature should pass most of our laws, not the general public.

I’m somewhat on the fence about 83.  Obviously nobody likes the idea that known criminals are out there amongst our children waiting for their opportunity to abuse them.  But I think that as a society we treat these criminals like lepers and refuse to address the problem on its own merit.

As an example, this proposition will require all sex criminals to wear GPS devices so we can keep track of them.  This will have an annual cost around $25 million dollars.  To which I respond, it only costs $30K per year to keep these criminals in jail.  If we really don’t trust these people, isn’t the right place for them prison?

This seems like a politically expediant proposition that plays on our fears and disgust at this type of crime without thinking about what we’re really doing, whether it is the right approach and worth the costs.

Yes on infrastructure bonds (1A, 1B & 1E) no on pork bonds (1C & 1D)

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

Much of California’s infrastructure is falling on disrepair because of the underfunding that they have received over the last 20 years.  It’s time that we rebuild.  There are 5 bonds (1A to 1E) aimed at rebuilding.

I am very hesitant about issuing bonds because of how it causes lots of long term debt that can potentially cripple our children and grandchildren’s ability to have a balanced budget for California without taxing them into poverty.  That said, there are a few times when bonds are appropriate.  As the ad for these bonds say “build it now, pay over time”.  That makes a lot of sense when what is built will be used and valuable over time.  So things like freeways and flood protection which will benefit us both now and over time are reasonable things to spend bond money on.  For this reason I endorse 1A, 1B and 1E.

However, 1C and 1D are complete pork projects that do not benefit the state over the long term.  1C is the housing and emergency shelter fund.  I’m sorry, whatever this money is used for will be gone long before the bonds are paid.  In rare cases like New Orleans it make sense to use bonds to rebuild after disasters.  For most it is wiser to build up a savings account for a “rainy day”.  California should not be putting the re-occuring costs of emergencies and disasters on our children.

1D is similarly poorly focused.  The money for schools, while some of it goes to infrastructure projects, has too large a percentage that goes to re-occuring costs like textbooks.  The school system as it stands is mostly broke.  We shouldn’t over-invest in this area until things get straightened out and the reigns are put on the CTA and we definitely shouldn’t do it when we’re doing it with pork bonds.

Vote against prop. 87

Thursday, November 2nd, 2006

Proposition 87 is a large tax on oil companies with the intent of that money being spent on alternative energy methods.  The bill is written in such a way that supposedly the oil companies can’t pass “the costs” onto the consumers.  Not only is that probably against federal law it’s also completely impossible to do.

The costs will be passed on in the form of higher gas prices.  I can guarantee it.

When this proposition was originally written, it was written as a way to stick it to the oil companies for their record profits.  Now that time has passed, the focus of the public has shifted so the supporters have shifted their focus to what the money will be spent on.

Well, there enters the problem.  Since it was written to stick it to the oil companies, the payment of the money to a new half-baked alternative energy organization just isn’t compelling.  The money will be wasted.  That too I can guarantee.

Vote against prop. 87.  It means higher prices at the fuel pump without any benefits.

Vote yes on prop. 85

Thursday, November 2nd, 2006

To start off my endorsements I’ll start with the easy ones.  Proposition 85 is the 2nd attempt at requiring parental notification before a minor can receive an abortion in California.  Last years proposition was narrowly defeated.

We live in a society where minors are the responsibility of their parents.  A 17 year old at a public high school has to get their parents on the phone before the school can give them any medication, even a simple painkiller like asprin.  Yet because of “a woman’s right to choose” not only is it legal for a teacher or administrator to allow a student to get an abortion but for them to physically take them to do so.  To make matters worse, not only do they not have to tell their parents, they’re obligated not to.

What’s wrong with this picture?

My biggest complaint about this proposition is how lightly it enforces the law and for those on the fence it should be enough to get them to vote for it.  It has an exception for everyone over-wrought concerns:

  • What if the child has abusive parents? The prop. has a legal route to avoid notification if it will result in violence.
  • What if the parents don’t approve of the child’s “choice”? It’s just a notification law, it doesn’t require approval.
  • What if the abortion is an emergency for the childs health? The notification requirement is lifted.

Vote for this proposition.  Every parent has the right to know if their children are going to be getting an abortion.

Upcoming political endorsements

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

I know all of the candidates along with my loyal readers have been waiting patiently for me to hand out my endorsement for the upcoming election.  I wanted to let everyone know that I’ll be making a series of posts over the remaining days leading up to the election on most of the state propositions, a few of the state wide positions and the notable local elections.  Expect to see these over the next few days with the last one coming by Sunday evening.

Also expect to see a post on the Catholic position on two topics that should impact a number of the races I’ll be making endorsments on:

  1. Torture
  2. Ethics of business.

Of course the Church teaches on a number of issues and I’ve spoken frequently about many but these are two I haven’t commented on much and are new areas of concern this election cycle, at least in my locality.

Expect to see the first couple of posts later this evening.

My thoughts on immigration reform

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

Well considering how much political commentary there is on immigration reform I thought I’d add my two cents.

First of all it is my belief that no matter what we do, the #1 important thing that must happen as a result of this is enforcement of the new laws.  Unless laws are complied with, laws are meaningless.  Laws are only complied with when the combination of the risk of getting caught and the penalty for being caught encourages most people to comply with the law.  In the case of immigration, with so many of those seeking to live in the US having very little to lose, there isn’t a strong enough penalty you can give that would deter illegal immigration on it’s own (or said differently with a low risk of being caught).  As a result, the only way to ensure compliance with the law to make the likelihood of being caught very high.

So whatever we do, enforcement of the new law MUST be our top priority.  If it isn’t, whatever our plan is will be meaningless.

Beyond that, my feelings are driven by two factors: respecting the lives of those who want to immigrate legally and relative stability of the US economy.

First, let me state what I think the biggest overlooked aspect of this debate is: employers abusing illegal immigrants.  When the debate is talked about, most speak as if the companies employing illegal immigrants and the immigrants who are illegally employed are perfectly happy with one another and would be content to just see the government leave them alone.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The reality is that although the alternative back home may be worse, most illegal immigrants face a world where they are routinely abused by not being paid for their work (in addition to the low wages to begin with), working in unsafe conditions, and rampant racism.

Why does this occur?  Because the illegal immigrants have no recourse.  They can’t go to law enforcement because they’re illegal.  And that’s the crux of the matter.  Many argue that by letting illegal immigrants into the country we are being humane to them.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  By letting them in illegally we are creating an environment where we are allowing them to be abused and we can turn our back in ignorance.  That is morally unacceptable to me.  We must ensure that our borders are enforced not only for “America’s” sake but to ensure the fair treatment of all who live in this country.

Next, I’ll attack another overlooked aspect: subverting minimum wage.  When politicians talk about a “guest worker program” what they’re talking about is a way for US employers to pay below minimum wage to immigrants.  Why should they be able to do that?  What makes these individuals less deserving of minimum wage than the rest of us?  I think that the “guest worker programs” as currently proposed are barbaric and de-humanizing.

I’m perfectly fine with allowing vast numbers of immigrants into our country.  However, that does not give us the right to treat them in sub-human fashion.  If they’re allowed to live here then they deserve the rights that everyone who lives here has.

Finally, what should we do with the illegal immigrants who currently live in the US?  This is the most difficult problem to address particularly considering that the US’s lack of enforcement in the past has been a de facto endorsement of their arrival.  Additionally, I heavily believe in the principle of forgiveness.

So where does that leave us?  It leaves us where the right solution is to do the following:

  1. Dramatically step up enforcement on the border
  2. Create a temporary residency program that has a path to permanent residency and citizenship for all immigrants and gives those immigrants the full set of rights of current legal immigrants, including minimum wage.
  3. Allow those who are already living in the country to join the above program with some credit based on the length of their stay although never so much that they immediately become permanent residents.  Despite the fact that they deserve forgiveness, there must be some requirement that they go through a immigration process.  Residents who have arrived in the last year(?) would have to apply similar to non-residents and would not get any time based credit.
  4. Set target number for these programs that are realistic and are “front loaded” to accept the reality that millions are already living here and will be joining the program “mid-stream”

Now, is that so hard?

A basic lesson in statistics

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

OK, so there’s this article in the Sacramento Bee about Don Peralta pulling his support for the Pre-School Initiative to be on the next state-wide ballot.

I don’t want to comment on the Initiative because I don’t know anything about it so I don’t know if I’m for or against it.

What I do what to comment on the continual misuse of statistics by various proponents. At the end of the article a proposition supporter is quoted as saying:

“half of all 4th graders can’t read at grade level”

That’s like of like saying “Did you know half of all people are shorter than the other half!?!” Grade level is determined by the average performance of kids in that grade. Since no one performs (well MAYBE one person) at EXACTLY grade level, half score above, half score below. It’s just a fact of life no matter how smart or how stupid kids are nor how much pre-school they attended. 100 years from now, when kids in the 4th grade are doing Calculus because of our advances in teaching techniques, half of them will STILL be performing below grade level. Similarly, if in 100 years we’ve completely given up on pushing our children to learn and we’re teaching them how to walk in the 4th grade, half of the class, that incredible group that can not only take a few steps but walk across the whole room, will STILL be performing above grade level.

What a joke.

Taxing only the rich

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

I was reading this heavily biased story when a thought of mine re-occured to me. The statement that did it was:

“It’s (a new ballot initiative to pay for pre-school for all children) also about taxes, as it would raise the state income tax rate on the richest 1 percent of Californians – married couples earning over $800,000 or individuals over $400,000.”

I fundamentally disagree with this type of taxation particularly when put in a ballot initiative. The basic premise of these types of techniques is “we want this type of benefit… but we don’t want to have to pay for it.”

Listen, I’m OK with a graduated tax (where lower income is taxed at lower levels), but whenever we’re going to increase taxes, EVERYONE’S taxes need to be increased. They don’t need to be increased the same amount, we could choose to increase rich people taxes more than poor peoples, but if a new initiative needs taxation, then we’d all better be willing to contribute at least something. To at least be willing to make SOME kind of sacrifice, even if it is pale in comparison to what another group will be making.

Even if it is $50 a year for the “average family” as opposed to $100K for the millionare at least then we all have to make a trade off; to say to ourselves “is this really worth spending money on?”

Otherwise there will be no limit to our ability to spend money wastefully because it will be “free money”. I’ve already heard people basically admit it with statements like “Hey, if it only affects the millionares, why wouldn’t we do it?”

Why? Because it isn’t fair no matter much money the millionares have. We’re all citizens and we all need to contribute.

California proposition endorsements

Friday, November 4th, 2005

As I promised about a month ago, I’m going to endorse one side or the other of all of the propositions. I’ll be giving those endorsements and the reasons for them in 8 sequential posts today.

But before I get to the actual endorsements I want to make sure everyone is aware of my philosophy on propositions. I believe that for the majority of cases, laws should be written by the legislature. After all, that is their job. Propositions, to me, are kind of like a single issue recall of the entire legislature. The right to recall elected officials is an important right, but one that should not be taken lightly or used frivilously. Since I view propositions as a type of recall, I’ll only vote for a measure if the issue has been seriously mistreated by the legislature and deserves the weight of a single issue recall. Said differently: when in doubt, I vote no on all propositions.

With that in mind, read the below posts (and remember to vote next Tuesday!):