Thereís an election just over two weeks away, and as usual Californiaís ballot is so crammed with propositions that itís dizzying just to contemplate them, much less try to study them thoroughly enough to make an informed decision. We are the vanguard, but oh my. We take that role way too seriously. Itís incredibly easy to get every idea, crackpot and otherwise, on the ballot so that the masses make the decisions weíre paying our legislators to make.
And then there are the changes our legislators want to make but canít without our approval. Some are good and some are not so wonderful. Often itís hard to get a handle on the difference. For example, I spent way too much time today wading through Proposition 1A. And thatís only the first of thirteen state measures Iím trying to figure out.
The argument for Proposition 1A makes a lot of sense, I suppose. If passed, it would ensure that gasoline taxes are spent only on transportation projects, and why shouldnít the drivers who pay the tax get the benefit?
It makes perfect sense, but Iím voting no, because it takes too much flexibility out of the hands of the legislators to react in case of a fiscal emergency. There are already safeguards in place to keep them from spending gas tax money willy nilly, and this measure just locks them into an overly rigid position. Itís not a matter of not building more highways, which we need, but of keeping our tax money from solving more pressing problems when they arise.
Donít worry. Nobody is going to take gas tax revenue and spend it on saving spotted owls. Well, not unless two-thirds of our elected representatives decide the existence of spotted owls has become a crisis. Even then, the governor has to sign it. I have faith that thatís not going to happen (although I do believe in saving spotted owls).
The logic Iím using here is similar to the logic that applies in my opposition to mandated sentencing and term limit laws. Judges should apply their judgment when sentencing convicts; thatís why we call them judges. And a law that takes out of my hands my ability to vote for the person I want to represent me is patently anti-democratic. Some may see good reason for these laws; I see red.