2008/10/03

Key California ballot propositions

People from California don't read this blog very often, but I think we all have a few friends living there. So pass on this link or copy this post and email it to people you know.

This November, California voters have a great opportunity to pass three ballot propositions that would be good for the state and, just as important, would make California a leading example for the rest of the country. Failing to pass them would mark a major setback for a number of urgent priorities, so talk to everyone you know who votes in California and let's get some momentum behind these important issues.

Prop 1A - High-speed rail
If passed, Prop 1A would authorize the state to raise almost $10 billion to begin construction on the country's first bullet train, between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Once completed, travelers could make the trip in only 2 1/2 hours on trains traveling as fast as 220 mph, for a one-way cost of $55. There would be stops on the Peninsula and in the South Bay, and the system would eventually be extended to San Diego, Sacramento, and Riverside County.

The United States is far behind Europe, Japan, and even China in its rail network, and we're paying the price in terms of high gas costs, highway congestion, air pollution, and an outsize contribution to global warming. Rail addresses all these problems because it gets cars off the road and moves people with far greater energy efficiency than either cars or planes. With rising population densities and clogged roads, California will have no choice but to invest large amounts of money in its transportation infrastructure in the coming years. The only choice is whether to waste money on the failed model of ever-widening highways, or chart a new path for the state and the country by supporting high-speed rail.

(Los Angeles County voters will also have the chance to pass Measure R, a half-cent sales tax increase that would fund road and public transit projects. About 2/3 of the revenue would be devoted to transit, paying for a major expansion of the rail system (extensions of the Expo Line and both ends of the Gold Line, extension of the Green Line to LAX, and building of the Subway to the Sea under Wilshire Blvd among other projects) and significant improvements to the bus system. Measure R requires a 2/3 majority to pass, but it is essential to the future viability of LA's transportation system. See http://metro.net/measurer )

Prop 2 - Humane animal agriculture
Prop 2 would require factory farms to provide their animals adequate room to tum around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. Currently, veal calves, laying hens, and female pigs kept for breeding are usually confined for most - or all - of their lives in cages or pens so small that they cannot turn around or sleep comfortably. In pursuit of higher profits, factory farms have crammed as many animals together in as small a space as possible, but this unnatural crowding leads to aggression among the animals. To prevent them from killing each other, they are separated into tiny cages that deprive them of basic needs; chickens have their beaks cut off so they cannot peck each other, cows and pigs are unable to lie down or move.

Prop 2 would give factory farms six years to convert their operations to more humane methods. Such alternatives are already common in Europe and measures outlawing veal crates and sow gestation crates have been passed in several other states. Prop 2 gives Californians the chance to set an example for the whole country by eliminating the most extreme types of inhumane confinement and providing for the minimal needs of the animals we use for our food.

Prop 5 - Rehabilitation for nonviolent offenders
American prisons now confine more than 1 of every 100 adults, by far the highest percentage in the world. This unprecedented punitive approach to criminal justice has come about largely because of harsh sentences handed out to nonviolent offenders, especially those who violate the drug laws. Our laws not only expose these offenders to overcrowded and violent prisons while severely constraining their life opportunities upon release, they also impose massive - and rising - expenses on taxpayers.

Prop 5 would expand rehabilitation programs for nonviolent offenders in California with special attention to the needs of those addicted to drugs, it would relax rigid parole requirements, and would reduce marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction (similar to a traffic ticket). The state estimates that increased spending on rehabilitation programs would be offset be reduced spending on imprisoning nonviolent offenders, and once you factor in the need for fewer new prisons, Prop 5 would save California taxpayers a total of $2.5 billion or more. By passing it, Californians can do the right thing for nonviolent offenders and save money at the same time. (And remember to vote NO on Prop 6, which would make the criminal laws even more punitive and divert money from education and health to lock up more people in prison.)

Prop 8 - Outlaw same-sex marriage
Finally, don't forget to vote NO on Prop 8, which would deny some people the right to marry for no good reason but old-fashioned prejudice.

3 comments:

Liberty said...

Jake, thank you for this, however I would have like to see you include a No on Prop. 4 and Prop. 10. Prop. 4 attempts to amend the state constitution to mandate parental consent for teenage abortion. Obviously bad (however standard right wing bad.)

Really important though is a NO vote on Prop. 10, which seems forward thinking about new energy initiatives, but is just a giant giveback to T. Boone Pickins, the gas billionaire who is looking for new markets to exploit.

Jake said...

Yeah, I figured everyone could figure out the abortion thing for themselves, and wanted to keep it short enough that people would actually read it. But feel free to add your own comments if you forward it to people. Also check out the paragraph I just added on Measure R for LA County.

Prop 10 is obviously problematic because Pickens was able to put it there simply because he's rich. And draining the budget to subsidize people who buy energy efficient cars is a stupid idea - far better to impose taxes on regular cars to achieve the same effect without giving away even more public money to drivers than we already do.

The wind stuff I find less black and white. Sure it's corporate welfare for Pickens, but since Americans still haven't rebelled against the economic system and global warming is such a pressing problem, that might be the only way to accomplish anything. But it's better to let corruption in the legislature do the trick, and vote no on Prop 10.

Liberty said...

I know, we do need projects like this, but not at the expense of the state general fund, and not at the cost of 5 billion extra in interest. And I think that your corruption in the legislature comment is the way this will all play out anyhow.

I know people can figure out the abortion thing, but I thought it was important to mention as California has abortion allowed through the state constitution, therefore it is not reliant on Roe V. Wade. The fact that anti-choicers have recognized this, and are turning to constitutional amendment tactics unnerves me. Thin edge of the wedge and all that ...