Food for Thought
Your proposition may be good
But let’s have one thing understood—
Whatever it is, I’m against it!
With the approach of every election with state propositions to consider, I start hearing Groucho Marx singing “Whatever it is, I’m Against It” from Horsefeathers in my head. That’s exactly how I feel when I look through the 12 propositions on this year’s ballot. Why are we even being asked to consider most of them? Why are there measures requiring massive public funding in light of the unfathomable public debt we have at present? Why are we being BooneDoggled by billionaires into approving their pet projects for self-enrichment? Why do special interests try and sneak through measures that ordinary people have no way of judging the merits of, or understanding their long-term impact on society? What business do we have legislating morality on behalf of a few religious nuts based on their fundamentalist distortions of the tenets of Christianity?
The late great comedian George Carlin had a hilarious bit where he deconstructed the Ten Commandments and found that nearly all of them were unnecessary and wondered what the hell they were even doing on the list in the first place. He reduced them to two and added a third: Thou Shalt Keep Thy Religion to Thyself. I think we could do the same with this year’s crop of twelve propositions and add Carlin’s Third Commandment as a thirteenth.
Starting with the religion category, we can eliminate Propositions 4 and 8 right off the bat. These have no business even being on the ballot and are a waste of citizens’ time and money when we have far more important matters to attend to. They contradict rights guaranteed in the US Constitution and they attempt to impose the religious judgment of Christian zealots on the state. I’m against them.
Ultraconservative gazillionaire T. Boone Pickens doesn’t have enough money and power as it is; he wants more and he wants us to pay for it. Other wealthy fat cats are trying the same. Voting no will stop them for now. Propositions 7 and 10 will appropriate more taxpayer money to the rich and replace small entrepreneurs with big corporate business controlled by Pickens and others like him. I’m against them.
Propositions 1, 3 and 12 mandate bonds for special projects. Prop 1 will obligate the state to the tune of $20 billion to create a high-speed 2 ½ hour rail service between Los Angeles and the Bay Area. This is not money well spent. What we should be doing is completely revamping our nationwide rail system with a public/private partnership of some kind that will make rail travel a viable transportation option for the entire country. This is something we should have done 50 years ago instead of dismantling the system to suit the automobile and oil industries. Now we are in the dark ages of public transport compared to Europe and Japan. Spend the money to improve rail travel for everyone, not just business travelers in a hurry. I’m against it.
Proposition 3 will cost us $2 billion over 30 years to improve children’s hospitals. We won’t need to take this approach with the coming of a national healthcare system. I like children and I want them to have the very best care and facilities in the world, as well as every other citizen. We’ll have that when we have real nationalized universal coverage, which is what we should be putting our energy in to. I’m against it.
Proposition 12 mandates a further $1 billion in bonds for Cal-Vet to loan to veterans to purchase homes. While this is a worthy cause, so is loaning money to people who aren’t vets. Our financial system is in turmoil because of mortgage problems as it is. We need to address those first. Also, the public just paid an enormous sum to bail out banks by being forced to buy shares in them. Let the nationalized banking system loan to vets and others with strict regulation and oversight. I’m against it.
Props 5, 6 and 9 relate to law enforcement and criminal justice programs. These are issues that should be considered by our elected legislators who have time to study all of the different facets of each measure. Most of us have no idea what these measures replace. The average person hasn’t the time or access to legal expertise to make an informed decision. In that case it’s best to do nothing. I’m against them.
We are now down to two Propositions, numbers 2 and 11.
Proposition 11 sets up a public board to redraw electoral districts. I am reading this one very carefully before I make up my mind, probably at the last minute. We need to do something about this issue, but given some of the crazy proposals we have been asked to consider already, I am wary of this one. I don’t know if this is the solution we seek, so unless I am completely convinced by the text of the proposition, it will be a “no” too. At this point it is a “maybe.”
That leaves lonely Proposition 2, where we are being asked to approve new laws that will raise the standards as to how animals are kept on corporate farms. Animals can’t speak up for themselves, so we have to do it for them. The truth is, a great many California factory farms keep animals in appalling conditions that would sicken any normal human being who saw it for themselves. I know it makes me sick. I am voting “yes” for this one.
The score for now: Groucho 10.5, State of California 1.5.
That leaves Carlin’s Third Commandment, our vicarious Proposition 13. To this I give a hearty, resounding “YES.”
NOTE: In the coming week, beginning later today, we will be running a series of pieces on each of the state propositions and many of the local city and county measures. These are a welcome consequence of our relationship with Silicon Valley Metro and the Virtual Valley Network, giving us a whole team of writers to call on for this special purpose. We hope that you will take the opportunity to share your views on all of these. In the meantime, please tell us what you think about the “Groucho” option below.