Monday, November 01, 2010

Ballot question summaries and recommendations part 1: Propositions 106-113, the Constitutional amendments.

Unlike in years past, I have not had time to cover each ballot question in detail. (Interested in joining this project? Send me an e-mail.)

However, I've had time to read them and to think them over and have received enough requests to do so that I'll provide recommendations for each:

  • Proposition 106, health care freedom redux

    Recommendation: Yes.

    A stand by the people of any state in the union against strong Federal restrictions of individual choice in purchase of health insurance and health care would have been more useful in 2008 than it is this year. Defeat of 2008's Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act, an initiative that this 'blogger strongly supported, may have impaired the Democrat-controlled Congress in its effort to simultaneously ban actuarially fair (risk-based) insurance and mandate purchase of what are essentially privately-run socialized medicine schemes. (Up to small details such as the sneaky new taxes and $600 transaction reporting mandate, that seems like a fair summary of what they gave us.)

    The fight against "Obamacare" in the courts is not over (see Coons v. Geithner, and that "Coons" is none other than Nick Coons) and the passage of Proposition 106 will open up yet another front. It will also protect Arizonans from further destructive government tampering with health insurance and health care.

    Moreover, it does not forbid constructive health care reform. As was the case for 2008's Proposition 101, Prop. 106 protects against two specific governmental actions. One is the compulsory purchase of health insurance or health-insurance-like schemes, mandated by the Democrats' bill, and the other is governmental interference in the ability to directly purchase medical services, the "next step" in socialization of medicine and something that, far from an imaginary evil, has been done to Canadians and others. Decoupling of insurance from employment, changing the tax structure to disfavor "comprehensive care" price insulation packages and favor actuarially fair insurance, allowing purchase of insurance across state lines, and other real health care reform measures are not forbid by the text of this ballot measure. All it forbids is the advance, under the disguise of reform, of socialist restrictions on what products and services you can purchase or choose not to purchase to take care of yourself and your family.

    2008's similar but less well-worded measure lost by under 10,000 votes. Dishonest, bizarre, and potentially illegal electioneering communications by AHCCS head Anthony Rodgers (not prosecuted or so much as investigated by partisan Attorney General Terry Goddard), reported "straight" in the press in a classic case of false balance, may have made the difference. The events of 2010 show 2008's "no" to have been a grave mistake; let's correct it this year, score a propaganda coup for, and open a legal front for health care freedom. Vote "yes" on Prop. 106.

  • Proposition 107: an end to racial preferences in state hiring, education, and contracting.

    Recommendation: Yes

    "Affirmative Action" programs served a necessary purpose, but shall they be now-and-forever set-asides, a sort of pillarization, three generations and almost five decades following their passage? They corrected an injustice at one point but now, carried on too long, they are an injustice themselves--and their supporters are blind or senile enough to think we have made no social progress since the 1960s and there will be an instant reversion to bigotry if Prop. 107 passes. Nonsense. Support racial and ethnic equality by voting "yes" on Prop. 107.

    Read more: I dedicated a full post to this one.

  • Proposition 109: Ensuring conservation remains compatible with hunting and fishing.

    Recommendation: Yes, with reservations.

    This measure's opponents make it out to be the sportsman's SB 1070, a means to filing on lawsuit after lawsuit to harass state government into abandoning all regulations on hunting. And that's the intelligent ones. The stupid ones, for example this year's Daily Wildcat editorial board, make arguments like "First of all, hunting and fishing are not constitutional rights. In no way can it be inferred that human beings have a right to kill animals without severely twisting the intent of the Constitution." How stupid can you get: the measure adds rights to the Constitution, it does not change the way such rights are "inferred"--and what is this "intent" thing?

    What Prop. 109 does is make what is good about the status quo part of the highest law of the State. Authority to regulate hunting and fishing rests in the legislature which may delegate it (as it does) to a Game and Fish Commission. Restrictions on hunting must be "reasonable", which a reasonable person would take to mean that bag limits, seasons, and restrictions on means must be set with regard to scientific and not political concerns.

    I plan on voting "yes" and I recommend that others do so. Despite this I have two reservations about the "yes" vote. First, the bill is a response to a non-existent problem. There's no reason for Constitutional amendments to be reactionary instead of forward-looking, but still, the reason this was introduced (beyond "get out the vote") is not evident. Besides extremist groups like PETA, is there anyone who politically opposes what this bill protects? The second and more serious reservation is my lack of faith in judges to determine what is reasonable. I've met dozens of scientifically illiterate lawyers in my life--I have to say that a supermajority of the lawyers I've known are both undereducated about scientific fact and inept at thinking in a scientist's fashion--and there is no special qualification, requiring scientific literacy, for a lawyer to become a judge. If a lawsuit is filed defending the "traditional means" of hunting birds with lead shot, will a judge really understand arguments made in favor of tungsten-only policies, especially if a shill "scientist" is found to defend lead? Non-scientists are poor judges of science and when science determines what is reasonable non-scientists will more often than is desirable favor the unreasonable. Passage of Prop. 109 will make non-scientists the "judges" of science more often, but I cannot say to what degree.

  • Proposition 110: land swaps to "protect" military bases

    Recommendation: No!

    Every so often we hear from people willing to bend over backwards to ensure that the military presence in this state is pampered like a baby. Rick Renzi, for example, tacked a rider onto a 2007 Congressional bill to sabotage San Pedro River conservation, ostensibly to "protect" Fort Huachuca. (To be fair, consistent with the man's history of sleaze, this was also to "protect" his father's Fort Huachuca concession business. And to be fair, he is now under indictment as a result of the ensuing investigation.) Many approved, because the military is Such A Benefit To The Community--forget that there are costs associated with the influx of federal $$$ and forget that the Army wasn't exactly straining under the San Pedro water table commitments to which it voluntarily agreed.

    At issue in Prop. 110 is not riparian conservation but rather "encroachment" by development. They make it sound so sneaky: "encroachment." "Encroachment" is what happens when developers build on land near military bases not owned by the military; the gripe is that residents may later complain if the military changes use in a way that diminishes their use of their property. Proposition 110 would allow the exchange of state trust land for developers' land near military bases to prevent "encroachment" without advertisement or auction.

    This is a giveaway to the military, which should act in a manner appropriate to its surroundings or plan ahead and buy more land (this is part of what Federal "eminent domain takings" are for--has the Legislature heard of those?) if it intends to change base operations to be incompatible with surroundings. And it is at the expense of Arizona taxpayers and schoolchildren and the Arizona natural environment. Sale and lease of state trust land helps to fund the public schools; every parcel just given away to developers in an exchange shortchanges education in the future. The amendment does require that the parcel exchanged be appraised so that the State receives equal or greater value, but this is a mirage: the value of the parcels that cause "encroachment" to be a concern stems from their suitability for development. With use restricted to open-space preservation or ranching and development out of question for what amounts to "forever", the State trust receives little value in return.

    Furthermore, such compulsory giveaways may rush matters to the point where the State gives away from sensitive parcels key to long-term conservation--parcels better suited, taking a long-term view of things, to ranching than to blading and building--either out of right-wing anti-scientific spite or as a favor to a George Johnson type or both.

    Passage of Proposition 110 is a giveaway to developers, the military, and those who make money off the military's presence at the expense of everyone else. Vote No!

  • Proposition 111: The Lieutenant Governor Amendment

    Recommendation: No.

    Passage of Proposition 111 changes the Secretary of State's title to that of "Lieutenant Governor" while maintaining most of the duties of that position, and changes the manner of election such that candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run and are elected together as two-person tickets.

    The measure's best proponents argue that this will prevent Jan Brewer's situation--a governor without mandate from either the electorate or a party--from recurring. Fair enough, but this is more than offset by the harm done to potential independent candidacies and by increasing the amount of package-dealing in politics and government. Preferring more independent voices at the Capitol even if it does from time to time make the governor's social legitimacy "interesting", I recommend a weak "no".

    Moreover, candidates for these positions will still run separately before party primaries, which will likely result in incompatible candidates' elections being tied to each other.

    Curiously enough, Jan Brewer supports this measure, favoring a "smooth transition" in the event that the governor's office is vacated. Again, fair enough, but that concern should be left to the voters.

  • Proposition 112: pushing back the initiative petition deadline.

    Recommendation: Yes.

    This measure does two things. It bizarrely changes "centum" to "cent" in a portion of the State constitution (the former is sensible usage, the latter is not), and, more substantially, requires that signatures in support of initiatives or referenda be submitted to the Secretary of State at least six months before the general election.

    At first glance this seems like a mere restriction on the citizens' initiative power. However, the four-month deadline has proved to be unworkable, not allowing time for court hearings if signature counts are in question. I am not confident that the State will not use the extra time frivolously and still bungle the process, but given what took place in 2008--with some initiatives (e.g. the home warranties measure) making the ballot despite questionable signatures because there was no time for a count, while others missed it because the count was done with no time for hearings--it is clear that improvements are needed.

  • Proposition 113: Secret ballots for union representation elections

    Recommendation: Yes

    This amendment establishes a constitutional right to a secret ballot when union representation elections are mandated by law, forbidding the "card check" procedures that would be established by the Federal "Employee Free Choice Act".

    What an Orwellian name for a bill! The "free choice" available without secret ballots is to sign the card to be free of harassment or intimidation by union "organizers". We haven't had much problem with union thuggery in Arizona, but coming from back east I can tell you that stories of assaults, threats, and battery are no tall tales, nor do is retribution by the union, following an election, against workers who opposed unionization something made-up by free marketeers. Union abuse of workers is very real, and the page that link points to is but a small sampling of incidents.

    Employees receive much statutory protection from employer harassment concerning unions and retribution against stances taken in union elections--employers are even forbid from making promises to workers of increased benefits if unionization fails! But unions are exempt from RICO laws and getting union harassment (or worse) prosecuted is very difficult. Eliminating secrecy in voting extends the group exposed to union coercion from those who raise their voices to all workers who aren't explicitly pro-union card-signers.

    Employees and Arizona businesspeople alike will be protected by Prop. 113's passage. It is only union management and leftist ideologues who stand to lose. Vote "yes".

No comments: