Study their behaviors. Observe their territorial boundaries. Leave their habitat as you found it. Report any signs of intelligence.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Guide to 2006 California Ballot Measures

Here are the LP-CA's recommendations for November's ballot measures. The most important ones are 89 (campaign finance) and 90 (eminent domain and takings). 86 (cigarette taxes) and 87 (oil taxes) will have a big impact if they pass. 85 (parental abortion notification) will be closely watched for symbolic reasons. My predictions: 84, 85 and 89 will fail. 88 will pass narrowly, while 86 and 87 will fail narrowly. The rest will pass.
[Update: I was very sad to be wrong on 90, which failed narrowly. I was also wrong about 84 and 88, but right about the rest.]

Yes on 1A - Transportation fund protection. Protects transportation-designated gas tax revenues from further raids by Sacramento.

No on 1B - Bonds for roads, highways, and transit. More than half the revenue would go to agency budgets and local projects rather than state-wide long-term transportation projects.

No on 1C - Bonds for housing. Subsidizes "infill" urban social engineering. Subsidizes moderate-income homebuyers. Ongoing shelter assistance for the indigent should not be funded as a capital expense.

No on 1D - Bonds for education facilities. The government provides food assistance without building supermarkets, and it can provide education assistance without building schools. Any government assistance for education should take the form of vouchers or tax credits, not capital expenditures.

No on 1E - Bonds for Central Valley flood control. Flood control is the responsibility of the districts containing the flood zone(s).

No on 83 - "Jessica's Law" against former sex offenders. 83 seems to impose an ex post facto new punishment of lifetime GPS tracking on people already convicted of a sex crime.

No on 84 - Bonds for water quality, environmental protection, and flood control. $11B in water and resource-related bonds have been approved since 1996. This measure is a Christmas tree of funding for local and regional projects that should be funded by the affected users or districts.

Silent on 85 - Parental notification for minor's abortion. Libertarians are conflicted on this measure. While parents normally must consent to any surgical procedure on their children, children should be protected from parents' efforts to bind them with a multi-decade child-rearing obligation. I wonder if parents would be willing to opt in to the notification rule on condition of an agreement to permanently adopt any resulting grandchild.

No on 86 - Cigarette tax for healthcare spending. Tripling the cigarette tax to $3.50 per pack would demonstrate how black markets put limits on consumption tax revenues. If a hospital accepts cigarette funds to defray state mandates for ER care regardless of ability to pay, 86 imposes price controls for services to patients with income up to 3.5 times the poverty line. 86 thus increases the cross-subsidizing and single-payer problems that make our healthcare system inferior to one in which healthcare consumers control their own healthcare dollars.

No on 87 - Oil extraction tax for alternative energy. 87 naively dictates that the tax "shall not be passed on to consumers through higher prices", and will have the government investigate all price increases. Thus one cannot trust 87's vague hand-waving that a new bureaucracy will apply 57% of the revenues to "market-based incentives" for alternative fuel production, distribution, and vehicles. 37% of revenues are for commercialization of renewable energy technologies, an activity at which government bureaucracy is even less competent. Even proponents of applying resource extraction taxes to incentives for reduced petroleum use find this measure unsupportable.

No on 88 - $50 parcel tax for public K-12 schools. 88 bypasses the Prop 13 2/3 threshold for local property tax increases by making this tax statewide and thus less locally accountable. K-12 education is too important to be a government monopoly. K-12 education just needs one reform: let tuition dollars be controlled by parents. Government support for nutrition doesn't require owning supermarkets, so any government support for education doesn't require it owning schools.

No on 89 - Public campaign financing and limits on campaign contributions/spending. If you restrict the use of monetary resources for political speech, you merely amplify the power of other resources, e.g. celebrity, incumbency, media access and control, membership power magnified by special legal privileges (e.g. unions, churches), etc. Indeed, Prop 89 was put on the ballot by the California Nurses Union, which is trying to use its political muscle to unfairly limit corporate contributions for ballot measures and to make corporations foot the bill for public campaign financing. This 56-page law treats as second-class any candidate from a party that didn't get 10% of the previous gubernatorial vote, so third parties essentially need to have a break-out year before they can have a break-out year. The government would manage the campaign finances of all participating candidates, and would subsidize dollar-for-dollar the major-party opponent of any candidate who dared reject public campaign financing and the strings attached to it. The law even restricts contributions to independent groups advocating for or against particular candidates.

Yes on 90 - Constitutional protection against eminent domain and regulatory takings. A wonderful constitutional amendment that not only would stop abuse of eminent domain, but would also require government compensation when new laws and regulations reduce the economic value of one's property.

Libertarian-oriented guides to the 2006 ballot measures are available at:

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