Posts Tagged ‘california’

No on Prop 32 – Misguided Attempt to Limit Special Interests

November 2, 2012

Prop 32 is titled “Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction. Contributions to Candidates. Initiative Statute.”

The official summary reads:

Prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Applies same use prohibition to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. Prohibits union and corporate contributions to candidates and their committees. Prohibits government contractor contributions to elected officers or their committees.

Prop 32 is the most visible of all the initiatives on the ballot this November. Both sides have put on radio and TV ads, and according to Ballotpedia, the Yes side has raised $59 million and the No side has raised $68 million.

The proposed law is very straightforward. The full text of the law is very concise. It requires employers or unions to get employee permission before deducting money for political purposes. It also bans corporations and unions from contributing to campaigns.

The No on 32 ads are the second most misleading in this election, only behind those opposing Prop 37. They claim that special interests like big banks, Wall Street and Super PACs have written in special exemptions for themselves. Read the full text. These do not exist at all.

Super PACs are an easy target because voters associate them with super-rich political donors. However, they are federal and not state entities. They also cannot be associated with a campaign in any way; they must be independent. They can run ads but cannot have any communication with candidates. So the alleged “loophole” portrayed is because state law has no jurisdiction over Super PACs.

I fully support the laws proposed in Prop 32, but I feel it is really misguided. Even if it passes, big union and corporate money will just pour into Super PACs instead. Politicians in Sacramento will still support those interests. If we want to limit corporate and union interests in Sacramento, we should only elect those into office who have integrity and values and won’t be sold to the highest bidder.

To implement real change, we need to change the people in Sacramento, not the laws governing a broken system. We also need to hold those in Sacramento accountable and make them do their jobs instead of relying on ballot measures for any meaningful legislation.

So while I support the premise behind Prop 32, I personally will be voting NO on it. Prop 32 is an attempt to fix a broken system, but the real fix is to elect politicians with integrity and values who will not sell out to corporate or union interests.

Prop 31 – Unnecessary Budget Rules

November 2, 2012

Prop 31 is titled: State Budget. State and Local Government. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

The official summary reads:

Establishes two-year state budget. Sets rules for offsetting new expenditures, and Governor budget cuts in fiscal emergencies. Local governments can alter application of laws governing state-funded programs. Fiscal Impact: Decreased state sales tax revenues of $200 million annually, with corresponding increases of funding to local governments. Other, potentially more significant changes in state and local budgets, depending on future decisions by public officials.

Prop 31 addresses many issues, and I don’t think it addresses them very effectively.

First, it seeks to establish a two-year budget cycle instead of an annual budget. I’m not sure how this is supposed to help taxpayers. If Sacramento can’t balance a budget without accounting gimmicks every year, why is changing it to every other year going to help?

Second, it creates rules that for every government program that exceed $25 million, the legislature has to either raise taxes or cut programs in the amount of the new program. While this sounds like a good idea, it could easily backfire. What happens if the state is running a surplus and wants to add a program to help schools? I know, the state of California running a surplus is pretty farfetched, but if it did, the legislature would still have to adopt cuts to offset the new program that could be paid for out of savings.

Third, it gives the Governor power to cut the budget by his or herself during emergencies. Personally, I am very leery of giving this kind of power to any individual. It basically makes the Governor the King of California because we will always be in a state of financial emergency.

Finally, it allows for about $200 million of annual sales tax revenue to be sent directly back to local communities. I really like this part of the Proposition, but not enough to vote for it. $200 million is only 0.14% of our state budget so it will have a negligible impact to the state. But this is a law that the state legislature should just pass. Why does it have to be on a proposition at all? This is further proof that our politicians in Sacramento do absolutely nothing and wait for ballot measures instead of doing their jobs.

This leads me to a perfect segue to my closing argument. Many proponents of Prop 31 say that we can’t trust our lawmakers to balance a budget or manage taxpayer dollars so we need this to pass.

If we can’t trust our politicians, it is our job to vote them out! If we want politicians in Sacramento to balance the budget, we need to elect representatives who will do just that! It makes no sense that we need to pass ballot measures to do something as fundamental as balancing a checkbook.

I recommend voting NO on Prop 31. It adds unnecessary layers to the state budget and will not change anything in Sacramento. There is a need to vote those in Sacramento who are absolutely failing out of office. There is no need for Prop 31.

NO on Prop 30 – An Expensive Bandaid to a Bigger Problem

November 2, 2012

I haven’t posted in a while, but I’ve decided to write a series as a Voter Guide for this year’s election. Mainly this is a way for me to formulate my thoughts on matters. Ballotpedia is a great resource.

The first ballot measure in the 2012 Election in California is Proposition 30. It is a proposed amendment to the California Constitution.

Prop 30 is titled “Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment” and the summary reads:

Increases personal income tax on annual earnings over $250,000 for seven years. Increases sales and use tax by ¼ cent for four years. Allocates temporary tax revenues 89 percent to K-12 schools and 11 percent to community colleges. Bars use of funds for administrative costs, but provides local school governing boards discretion to decide, in open meetings and subject to annual audit, how funds are to be spent. Guarantees funding for public safety services realigned from state to local governments

Governor Jerry Brown says these new taxes will raise an additional $9 billion while other estimates are around $6 billion annually.

Many people in California are against Prop 30 only because it raises taxes. It could leave to wealthy individuals establishing residences in other states to avoid paying higher income taxes and by raising sales taxes, it actually disproportionately hurts lower income families and individuals. But I think that there are bigger issues that need to be addressed.

According to the current budget, California’s state revenue for this year is estimated at $132 billion. California’s state expenditures are estimated at $142 billion. Governor Brown’s revised budget with all the cuts still comes it at $138 billion.

The reason for this proposition is because our state is so dysfunctional that we can’t cut 4.3% of our state budget. You would think that you could find 4.3% somewhere. If you or your family is spending more than it takes in, you have to make sacrifices. You would probably be able to reduce spending by 4.3% fairly easily.

However, rather than trying to make meaningful cuts that could get our state going again, Governor Brown is proposing a couple of new taxes to increase revenues just enough to kick the can down the road a little bit further.

Prop 30 will not solve any of the current problems with California’s finances. It will only allow our politicians in Sacramento to put off any real changes for a few years before they have to come back and ask to raise the sales tax by another 0.25%.

The proponents of Prop 30 say this is saving our schools and it’s worth paying a little more to secure their futures. Having schoolchildren play the victim is a pretty easy card to play. Steven Spielberg even donated $30,000 to the pro-Prop 30 side. If Spielberg cared so much, why didn’t he donate that money directly to schools? Why donate it to a political cause?

I’m all for funding our schools, but I don’t think sending more tax dollars to Sacramento is the way to go. The current thinking in California, and the United States in general, is that we need government to take care of us. If the state or federal government won’t do it, no one will.

I am a much bigger proponent of local money supporting schools. Raise the funds at school district, city or county level. However, this money that we could raise locally will no longer be available because it has already been taxed away to Sacramento. For every dollar Sacramento takes from us in taxes, that is one less dollar we could have spent more efficiently at the local level.

To support schools in poor areas, we could have school districts set up partnerships with other school districts to help those in areas where funding is harder to come by. This would work much better than having bureaucrats in Sacramento arbitrarily dole it out.

Since Prop 30 is merely a band-aid to temporarily stop the bleeding in our state budget, I would strongly recommend voting NO on Prop 30. Rather than giving more money and power to Sacramento, we need to push for real and meaningful cuts to our state budget and open our minds to solve our school funding problems at the local level, where our dollars will be spent much more effectively.

Swine Flu Overreaction

April 28, 2009

The world is in hysterics over the “Swine Flu Pandemic.”.  This is a media fueled frenzy that is making a mountain out of a mole hill.  

Just a little bit of research on the internet shows that swine flu is not any worse than the normal flu.  Only 65 cases have been documented in the United States, and only one person that has been hospitalized.  In fact, only TWO people have died from the swine flu in the US since 1976, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Now, to top it all off, President Obama wants to spend $1.5 billion to prepare for and fight off the swine flu.  That is over $23 million for each confirmed case of the swine flu in the US right now.  

Another, much more potentially deadly disease, tuberculosis had almost 13,000 cases in the US last year.  Why aren’t we all up in arms about that?  People are fighting to get the government to spend $250 million a year to combat TB.

To put that in greater perspective, the ALS Association that is a charity devoted to research for Lou Gerhig’s disease has raised $49 million since 1985.  Every year, 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS which is always fatal.  Do you think they could have found a cure or at least a treatment by now if they had $1.5 billion?  This is a huge waste of money and a misallocation of funds and resources.

Also, today, the State of California and the City of Los Angeles have declared a state of emergency, which allows for funding for the California Emergency Management Agency and grants them all sorts of special priviledges, and cuts off competitive bids for vaccines.  So, now a state that is already strapped for cash will be gouged by the big drug companies for swine flu treatments.

I cannot believe that we have become so accustomed to hundred billion dollar figures that we don’t even blink when the President wants to spend $1.5 billion on the flu.  Sure, it has a scary name like the “swine flu” but it still is basically the flu – you get sick and you get over it.  We should all be mad that the government is wasting more of our money, but instead, in the frenzy the media has created, we are all thanking Obama for saving our lives.

The Taxpayer Revolt

January 27, 2009

This year is going to be tough on everyone.  To make matters worse, this year, the state of California is going to be issuing IOUs instead of refund checks because they are broke. I rely on the money back from the state to offset the money I owe to the IRS.  You think the IRS will take my California IOU?

I know I shouldn’t be loaning the government money all year and expect a refund.  However, my wife works as a 1099 consultant, and normally, I end up owing about $1,000 to the IRS, so it all evens out.  A friend of mine has an accountant and does the same thing, so I don’t think I’m too far off.

So now, instead of a net zero situation or owing $1,000, I’m going to have to put almost $3,000 out of my pocket to the Federal Government, and hope that my IOU from the state gets fulfilled.  That’s exactly the kind of extra burden I need this year.  Thanks a lot, Arnold.

How many people across the country are in the same situation?  How many other people are strapped for cash and now will have to go further into debt to pay off these unexpected taxes?

An even bigger problem with the whole system is that my taxes are going to fund all these bailouts.  Why should I have to be burdened with thousands of dollars of taxes, when it is going to something I do not believe in?  It’s not just me either.  The majority of the population is against the bailouts, yet we all keep having to pay into the system.

At what point are we going to have enough?  It’s one thing to pay taxes that go to your local school or to a state project where you will see the direct benefit of the taxes.  It’s another when your tax dollars were donated to big banks and no one has any idea of where it went.

A main reason of the American Revolution was “no taxation without representation.”  Could this be any more true in the current environment?  The American Public is saying one thing, but the government is acting on its own.  At what point do we say that enough is enough?

It won’t take a whole lot more government intervention to make the current situation a lot worse.  At what point will the American Taxpayer start to revolt?  When will be our Boston Tea Party?  At this point in time, the last thing we need is the government wasting our tax dollars.  They would be much better served staying in our pockets so we can pay off debts or buy more things to support our economy.

Balancing the California Budget

November 7, 2008

I have no idea how we got so far into this mess, but I do know that there is an $11.7 billion hole in the California budget.  The easy answer is that we spent too much money and didn’t make enough to make it balance  However, $11.7 billion is more than ten percent of the $103 billion state budget, so someone did some serious miscalculating.

Today, our Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger revealed a plan to raise the sales tax by 1.5% and some other new taxes to raise about $4 billion.  In this same plan, he proposes cuts of around $7 billion to state programs.  Now there is an uproar about how we don’t need new taxes and how it’s going to kill our economy.

While I don’t agree with big government and over-taxation, at least Schwarzenegger has put a plan out there to balance the budget.  The state legislature had months to do this and they just sat there bickering and not working anything out.

On top of all this, the voters just approved almost $3 billion in new debt that will be issued as bonds.  So not only are we not meeting the budget now, but we just added to it!  Somewhere along the line, we need to increase taxes to meet this new spending.

I also believe that if we are going to have taxes, they should be at the state and local level.  At least we know what programs our taxes to go towards in the state.  There might be waste and inefficiency, but at least we know they aren’t going to an entirely different part of the country.  

So while people bitch and moan about a 1.5% sales tax increase and a tax on golf green fees, they should be complaining about all the taxes we pay towards the federal government to fund social security, welfare, medicare, two wars, and farm subsidies.  If those programs were better managed, we would be taxed less by the feds and could afford to pay more to the state.

People are always so serious about curbing spending and balancing the budget, but when push comes to shove, they want to keep spending while lowering taxes.  That doesn’t work for our household budgets, why do we think it will work for the government’s?  While the Governator’s plan might not be perfect, it at least it is the rare example of a politician actually trying to make things work.

The Voters Have Spoken – Prop 8 Passes – For Now

November 5, 2008

After one of the longest and most passionate proposition campaigns I can remember, the voters of California approved Prop 8 by a small majority.  The passage will Constitutionally ban gay marriage in the state.  The only other proposition I can remember with such a heated debate was Prop 187, which banned services for illegal immigrants.

I voted No on 8, but the electorate has spoken and the ban on gay marriage passed.  You might not always agree with the propositions, but at least it puts the issue and the debate out there.  It is much better than letting the courts decide the outcome, even though that will probably be the result of the passage of Prop 8.

Prop 8 will most likely fall to the same fate as Prop 187.  Before Prop 187 was passed, there was a court case that mandated that illegal immigrants be provided basic services like schooling and emergency services.  So, since Prop 187 directly contradicted the federal ruling, it was basically null and void.

The California Constitution has an “equal protection” clause that does not allow discrimination based on race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.  Prop 8 basically contradicts this part of the Constitution.  So what happens when a new amendment contradicts an existing part?  That’s where the lawyers and judges come in, and why I feel that even though Prop 8 passed, it will not be enforced.

That is the problem with these broadbrush, blanket propositions.  They cover such a huge scope that there is bound to be some sort of legal ramifications or problems enforcing them.

One of the main arguments for Prop 8 was that children would be taught about gay marriage in schools and that it was to protect our children.  If that was really the case, they should have made a proposition that controlled the teaching of gay marriage in schools.  This should have allowed parents to remove their children from class, require notification, and have more of a say in what is being taught.  It would also not have affected gay couples.

That would have passed with flying colors and without a lot of legal challenges.  It would be a fair proposition that pro-gay rights and anti-gay rights could agree on.  Rather than trying to limit civil rights of one group or the other, logical legislation should be discussed and worked out.  Focus on the smaller issues because those will have more room for compromise.

So, in the end, even though Prop 8 passed, it will be very hard to actually become part of our constitution.  All it really did was waste a lot of time and energy and create a lot of hate on both sides.

Where My Vote is Going

November 3, 2008

Well, there’s only a few days left until the November 4th election, and I think I’ve figured out who and what I’m voting for the most part.  Here’s my quick breakdown:

California Propositions (The title is how I interpret them)

Prop 1:  High Speed Railroad Bonds

Gotta say No to this one.  While a high speed rail system is an idea that should be looked at, I don’t think that we should use government bonds that will put the state millions in debt to fund it.  We need to have private developers partner with the state in order to get this project going.

Prop 2:  Standards for Confining Farm Animals

I oppose this proposition as well.  It sounds like a good idea to let farm animals like hens and veal to live in an enclosure that allows them to stand, move around, and go outside at least once a day.  However, this will cost farmers millions of dollars to change their methods, and the new rules completely contradict California Department of Food and Agriculture standards.  Due to the rising costs of California egg production, it will be shifted to farms in Mexico that do not have the same starndards we have, and there will be an increased chance of disease and illness.  Sorry to sound inhumane, but I favor my health and safety, keeping egg production in California, and keeping costs down over giving animals some fresh air.

Prop 3:  Children’s Hospital Bond Act

Yet another NO.  This Act will authorize $980 million in bonds to renovate Children’s Hospitals.  At this point in time, the last thing we need is to add almost a billion dollars in debt to the state.  I believe that these hospitals will be better renovated and renovated more efficiently if it is done by private donors.  State sponsored construction always goes over budget, doesn’t meet deadlines, and the quality and value is lacking.  There has to be a better, more well thought out way than $980 million (plus over $900 million in inerest) to renovate these hospitals.

Prop 4:  Watiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy

Clinics that perform abortions should be required to strongly encourage the minor to notify their parents, undergo counseling, and explore all options before deciding to terminate their pregnancy.  They should not be required to give parental notification.  It is the choice and decision of the girl and her doctor.  If she wants her family involved, she will tell them.  However, if she comes from an abusive household, she might not want her parents involved and could do something stupid like going to an illegal clinic and harming herself.  This all leads to a NO for me.

Prop 5:  Nonviolent Drug Offenses

This is a step in the right direction, but more changes need to happen before a law like this can take effect.  We need to stop our War on Drugs.  It leads to much more crime and gang violence and fills our jails with drug offenders.  Now, it has started emboldening Mexican drug cartels who have kidnapped thousands of people in Mexico and are now crossing our borders.  Nonviolent drug offenders should be offered rehab, rather than taking up prison space from a violent criminal.  Good idea, but the wrong plan at the wrong time.  Yet again, No on 5.

Prop 6:  Police and Law Enforcement Funding

This will require almost a billion dollars to be allocated from the state general fund for increased funding for sherriffs and police that will mostly go towards anti-gang programs.  I don’t see how you can mandate funding requirements.  How do you know what the budget is going to look like?  I can see allocating a percentage of money towards these programs, but mandating a dollar amount seems excessive.  That’s another NO for me.

Prop 7:  Renewable Energy Generation

This proposition is flawed in so many ways, I can’t even start to go into the details.  It’s basically funded by an Arizona billionaire who could make a lot of money setting up solar and wind farms in California.  A lot of the mandates in this proposition are already slated to go into effect anyway.  It’s overkill.  Renewable energy needs to be a priority, but this seems to be one man using the “green” catchphrase to make some money.  No on 7.

Prop 8:  Constitutional Amendment to Eliminate the rights of same-sex couples to marry

I’ve already written a couple of other posts on Prop 8.  It’s a definite NO for me.  It’s discrimination plain and simple.  It will not force anyone to accept same sex marriage.  It will not effect your church or your family if you are against it.  Also, it will not effect the education of your children.  If you have a problem with teaching gay marriage, go to the school board and district and change the rules so you can pull your kid out of same-sex marriage teachings.  No on 8, no on discrimination, no on government intervention in our lives.

Prop 9:  Criminal Justice System. Victim’s rights.

Again, a proposition that sounds great on the surface, but fails the smell test.  Victim’s of crimes should be notified when convicts are going to be set free on parole.  However, we already have a Victim’s Bill of Rights in California.  If we follow this law, there will a duplication of effort all throughout the state.  It seems that there is a strong propaganda campaign for this that uses anecdotal arguments to create a blanket law.  That is flawed logic to me.  No on 9.

Prop 10:  Alternative Fuels Vehicles and Renewable Energy Bonds

Wants to use over $3.4 billion to give incentives for alternative fuel cars and researching other renewable energy sources.  Why can’t the state just give tax breaks for the cars?  Why can’t private companies invest in renewable energy?  Give tax breaks to companies instead of costing tax payers billions!  Too much debt for me.  No on 10.

Prop 11:  Redistricting

Finally, a YES vote from me.  State assebly and senate members should not be able to draw their own district boundaries.  There is a HUGE conflict of interst there.  Putting redistricting in the hands of a nonpartisan commission is a great idea.  Even if this uses a small percentage of the budget, it will help restore a little credibility to our government in Sacramento.

Prop 12:  Veterans Bond Act

This is a state sponsored incentive that I believe is necessary.  Bonds that will help provide low interest loans to veterans is a positive step in the right direction.  More needs to be done to help our veterans and to encourage enlisting in the armed forces.  I have never served, but I feel that more needs to be done to restore the military as a choice of profession.  This is a continuation of a program that has existed since the 1920s in California.  The only qualm I have is that provisions should be made to allocate money to those who served in combat situations.  Yes on 12.

Thanks for reading this guide and I hope this might help you sort out what is going on and how a “small government” individual sees the issues.

Also, this brings up one big question:  What do they do in Sacramento anyway?

That will have to be a post in itself.

The Slippery Slope of Prop 8

October 30, 2008

I’ve already written one post in opposition to Prop 8, and I’ve seen so many conflicting ads the last few days that I’ve been inspired to write again.

Passing Prop 8 will set off a slippery slope, where people can use personal beliefs to strip the civil rights of other individuals.  If you do not believe in gay marriage that is fine and the decision is up to you.  However, you should not be able to disallow the rights of others.

Proponents of Prop 8 say Churches will get sued and lose their tax-exempt status if they do not marry gay couples.  If Prop 8 fails, they will be forced to marry gays in their chruch.

Currently, will a Catholic church lose its tax-exempt status if they refuse to marry non-Catholics?  No.  I know of couples where one is Jewish and one is Catholic and they had to search for a church that would marry them.  Neither their Catholic church or Temple would allow it.  Did their churches lose their tax-exempt status?  No.

Churches refuse to marry people all the time because of their beliefs.  Prop 8 will not change any of this!

Another argument is that schools will teach gay marriage as early as kindergarten.  First, I think it is really low to drag children into this debate.  If you are an adult and are against gay marriage, that is fine.  Why do you have to use kids as pawns in your religious debate?

Each school district has established rules on the subject of sex education.  I know in my class, certain kids left the room during the lessons.  Their parents did not want them to be a part of the discussion.  Why not have the parents sign a waiver if gay marriage is going to be taught?  If you do not want your children learning about gay marriage, have the teacher pull them out of class.  It’s not that hard.

Or, they could just refer the questions of gay marriage to parents.  They do not need to address the subject, but if it comes up, the teacher could tell the child to ask their parents about it.

What needs to happen is better communication between parents and teachers.  We do not need to strip civil rights of millions of people because you don’t want your kid to learn about gay marriage.

Everyone has different religious beliefs.  I’ve heard the Adam and Eve argument over and over again as well.  It wasn’t Adam and Steve for a reason, is what they say.  Again, this is your personal belief.  Government should include the religious beliefs of what could be 51% of the population.  What’s next?  Do we not recognize Muslim marriages because they aren’t in the Bible?  I know this is extreme, but if we use religion to govern us, this could happen.

I urge everyone to vote NO on Prop 8.  Not because of how you feel on gay marriage, but because of how you feel about freedom and equality for all.  You can still be against gay marriage and your church can still choose not to marry gays.  However, it is not the government’s place to get involved in this set of beliefs, no matter what.  Passing Prop 8 will create a slippery slope where people can use their beliefs to discriminate against any race, gender or religion.  So, please separate your religious beliefs from your civic duty and vote No on 8.

No On 8 – Yes on Civil Rights

October 21, 2008

If you live in California, you know what Prop 8 is all about.  If you do not know, Proposition 8 will amend the California Constitution to say that only marriage between a man and woman is legal and valid in California.

I don’t even have to know the arguments for or against Prop 8.  I don’t care who is marrying who.  What I care about is freedom, liberty and civil rights.  Just because someone is gay, does not mean they shouldn’t have the right to be married and enjoy the same rights as married couples.

The main argument for Prop 8 is that gay marriage will have to be taught to kindergarteners if you vote no on Prop 8.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  Each school district can decide what curriculum can and will be taught.  Many school districts already just tell students who ask about gay marriage to talk to their parents.

As a Californian, I can not believe so many people would support blatant discrimination of a group of people.  It’s funny if you go to their website, they mention nothing of marriage having a religous background until you go the “Testimonials” page.  Then you see almost every argument has a theological backing.

My question, to all these religous leaders who support Prop 8:  What happens if a person doesn’t believe in the Bible?  What happens if a Muslim wants to marry a Christian?  Or a Catholic to a Jew?  If two people do not have the same beliefs, how can they get married?

This question should be left up to individuals, families, and their own church leaders.  If a priest or pastor wants to marry a gay couple, then let them marry.  If a priest does not, then that is his business.  The same thing happens every day when couples of different religious denominations get married.  Sometimes they have to seek out a priest and church that will marry them.

The last thing we need is the government intervening more and more in our every day lives.  If you do not agree with it, that is fine, but don’t take away someone else’s civil rights in the process.  Also, if you do not want your child learning about same sex marriage, just have them leave the class.  We had some other students leave the class when they taught sex ed to us.  Just let the teacher know before hand.

In this day and age, we need to be more tolerant of each other.  We need to protect our civil liberties and freedom and equality for all.

No on 8.  No on Government Intervention.  Yes on Freedom.  Yes on Civil Rights.