07 November 2005


Californians, vote early, vote often, vote no.

The ballot initiative process is not your friend. The ballot inititiave process is a spawn of Satan. Consider this from a review of Paradise Lost: California's Experience, America's Future.

An apparently unstoppable cycle set in, in which initiatives limiting government would be followed by initiatives ordering government to do things that were popular. Between 1911, when the initiative system was created by reformers to circumvent the Southern Pacific Railroad's iron grip on the state legislature, and the time of Proposition 13, Californians passed 42 initiatives. Since then, 40 initiatives have been passed, almost as many as in the 67 years from 1911 to 1978. A big-money signature-gathering and ad-producing ''initiative industrial complex'' has grown up, and it is probably more controlled by special interests (trial lawyers and environmentalists on the left, the familiar business groups on the right) than by the legislature.

The more initiatives pass, the more hamstrung the state government becomes. As Schrag puts it, ''there is no give left in the system,'' even in boom times. The less legislators can do, the more unpopular they become, and the unpopularity fuels more initiatives. In 1990 Californians registered their disgust by passing Proposition 140, which not only imposed term limits on elected state officials that are among the nation's most restrictive but also cut their staffs by 40 percent and severely curtailed the analysis of pending bills. The legislature now, as Schrag describes it, is practically vestigial, thanks to erosion by a torrent of initiatives. No out-of-town television station any longer maintains a state capital bureau.

Consequently, my blog is endorsing voting no on all ballot initiatives. This is especially true this time around, when most of the initiatives are bad news all around. Check out DeLong on Ezra Klein's endorsement of the LA Weekly endorsements. He says the only one worth voting yes on is 79.


Reya Mellicker said...

When I first moved to San Francisco, I always signed the petitions for initiatives. Nice looking people would approach me in Noe Valley (for instance), holding clipboards, asking questions like, "Do you want to save the planet?" It was impossible to understand what the initiatives were really about. After elections, many measures were challenged in court, or proved to be faulty - even dishonest - in many ways. I agree with you. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Looks good --76 Went down and others headed that way and the Prez was a great help in Virginia --He energized independents as well as Democrats to get out the vote and my "red state" said Kaine, Kaine, Kaine! Even I can live in a "red state" comfortably.



Anonymous said...

Congratulations, California Voters!

You defeated all 4 propositions.

It's a great morning.

Kate (Mom)