Monday, November 07, 2005

#208 - Woody's Voter's Guide for Curmudgeons®

It's time to take a curmudgeonly look at the various ballot initiatives on which we will be voting tomorrow and provide my reasons (such as they are) for the positions I've taken. If you're looking for in-depth analysis of any of these measures, look elsewhere. I may joke about some of what is discussed here, but my votes will be serious. If I say yea or nay, I mean it. You may have to read between the lines to find out exactly why.

[A tip of the ol' hat to Boi from Troy who neatly summarized his own views on these propositions and included invaluable links to background data on all the props!]

Proposition 73
The so-called "parental notification" amendment will require notifying a parent before performing an abortion for any underaged girl.

As a parent, the idea that either of my little girls could one day find themselves pregnant before they come of age is extremely worrisome. Rest assured that Mrs. Woody and I are doing everything we can to preach, exhort, encourage, and otherwise enforce abstinence for the Woodyettes. I've got the cardboard boxes with breathing holes ready to go the minute I detect any incipient male gender interest, and duct tape to seal the holes when they turn 16. (You always thought that was just a joke, didn't you?) I also have my brother-in-law-the-deputy-sheriff on speed dial.

Beyond those reasonable measures, I have to learn to trust my little girls. I dearly hope that, when they reach those critical years of adolescence, they will be able to confide everything in their Mom and Dad, even if some things might cause pain and heartache initially. I believe Mrs. Woody and I are mature and stable enough to be able to deal with such things in a reasonable and loving manner.

Then and only then will I put the boy that did it in the hospital. Count me as a YES on 73.

Proposition 74
This one increases a new teacher's probation period from two to five years, and modifies a school board's ability to dismiss a less-than-qualified teacher.

Ho hum. Another attempt to "fix" public education in the great (whoopee) state of California. I have no real feelings for this one in either direction, primarily because we homeschool, and "teacher quality" is not an issue in our academy. My kids have the best, and they're thriving.

In this case, one more attempt to reign in the madness can't really hurt, and certainly won't further flush a system that's already in the u-bend. Woody votes YES, if somewhat unenthusiastically.

Proposition 75
In simple terms (and we have to keep it simple for union leadership, right?), this proposition prohibits the use of union dues for political purposes without prior consent of the members.

The advertising for this one kills me. While the leftist unions try to show it as an attempt to "silence" their voice, one wonders just how much membership money was spent to create and air the campaign in the first place. Mrs. Woody, who was an active educator for several years, assures me that, contrary to the adverts, union members do not already have "protections" in place to prevent their dues and fees being used politically. Not unless you're on the board of that union, at any rate.

Put another way: the unions have become exactly what they fought against over a hundred years ago - corrupt bureaucracies with little regard for those they're supposed to protect.

Woody's take: Shut up and show us your cooked books, guys. We're voting YES on 75.

Proposition 76
Ah, yes. Schwarzenegger's "grab the money and run" initiative. This one imposes limits on state spending (current year plus some reasonable adjustments based on three year averages), and revamps provisions of Proposition 98. Also allows the governor to reduce budget appropriations under certain circumstances.

This one is being lambasted as nothing short of a political "power grab," which is - let's be honest - redundant. There's no such thing in politics as a "powerless" grab, no matter what you choose to call it. When I was a pup in high school, my American Gov teacher delineated the difference between Democrat and Republican. "They both want to spend money. The difference is how they want to spend it." I have found that to be more and more true in the ensuing years.

It's real title should be the "What to Do When the Legislature Refuses to Pass a Budget" act. That's really the only way the governor can "grab" the money, and there are no guarantees on either side that the governor would do anything more stupid than Sacramento does today. At least with this initiative the governor can look like he's doing something constructive. All he can do today is hurl sexist insults at them. Color me YES on 76.

Proposition 77
The notorious "Redistricting" initiative. This one scares the heck out of the libs, and with good reason.

Imagine that your two terms as Assemblyman are up and it's time to either run for State Senate or cut bait. What's a poor legislator to do? Redraw the lines! Sure! That'll work! I'll just create a new district and guarantee myself a shot at two more terms!

In the "Desperate Enough to Hire Living Fossils as Spokespersons" category, the No on 77 forces have made retired Judge Wapner their figurehead for this campaign. Give me a break. I was never a big Wapner fan when he was newly retired from the bench and farced his way through People's Court. Now I have to watch him try to stand upright and read his copy from cue cards that are the size of Buicks behind the camera. (On the other hand, the commercial showing three "judges" redistricting California into the shape of Texas makes me laugh every time. It's probably the only clever commercial of the entire election!)

Sorry, assemblypersons and senators. You can't do the job you were elected to do in the amount of time we've given you to do it. Go find another ball park to play in. Woody votes YES on 77.

Propositions 78 and 79
Drugs: Who Pays and Who Plays?

Proposals like these spring up about every other election cycle here in California. Democrats always try to make this an issue at a national level during general elections, but tend to fail miserably because free markets abhor working under price controls. Also, any attempt to control pricing of pharmceuticals tends to dilute the ability of drug manufacturers to continue research and development of newer, more potent medications.

Whatever the case, both initiatives are being fought over primarily by the drug companies and the insurance industry. They're both badly written and contain enough loopholes to keep lawyers happy for decades to come.

Want real reform? Update MediCal to include medications that seniors and disadvantaged people really need. Now. And apply pressure to Washington to do the same with Medicare. Then you'll get my attention.

Woody sez NO thanks to 78 and 79. In no particular order.

Proposition 80
"The Affordable Electricity and Preventing Blackouts Act" (according to its proponents).

Pardon me while I snort derisively. Price controls sound nice, but what happens when the providers no longer want to play ball? We will be stuck with a pricing structure that was enacted by ballot, and would then be locked until it could be voted on again, or somehow overridden by the California Supreme Court. In either case, if we somehow create another Enron-like debacle, we'd have Hades' own time undoing it.

Things may not be pretty now, but they'd be worse if 80 passes.

This one gets a NO from Woody.

One Last Thing
Just vote tomorrow. Everyone has an opinion. As long as you've studied it and are clear in your thinking, vote. I'd hate to wake up on Wednesday and discover that the main reason my life got worse overnight is because people decided it wasn't worth fighting over. If I'm gonna lose, I'd rather there had been a fight. Forfeiture just doesn't work in a democracy.

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