No. 118 (essentialsaltes) wrote,
No. 118

California Props 2020

There’s a whole mess of propositions on the ballot this year, and it certainly is a mess. As a reasonably smart and politically informed dude, I am at a loss on a lot of these. Having blogged my opinions on props many times, I have never been this at sea. In some ways this suggests a strategy. If you don’t understand it, don’t vote for it, regardless of what the supporters are trying to tell you. 

I reserve the right to change my opinions, especially if one of you other smart informed people can sway me in a no-holds-barred intellectual cagematch. Polite emails also acceptable.

Prop 14 – Continues the funding for stem cell research. When Prop 71 passed in 2004, it was a necessary poke in the eye at federal bans on stem cell research funding. As we often do, California led the way with a promising form of research, and the country has followed. It’s no longer quite so necessary to be the only voice in the wilderness, as the Obama era relaxed various bans and limitations. Also, as a bond measure, we have to consider costs. True, it’s not a big one. If you look at the bond debt graph near the end of the election phone book, this would only add a tiny sliver to the state debt mountain. On the other hand, COVID-19 is messing up budgets all over the place. We don’t need more debt. So in the end a No from me.

Prop 15 – This is probably the most contentious item. I think removing prop 13 protections from commercial properties is a great idea. I am concerned that it all seems to happen ‘at once’. A $10 million property owned since 1978 (or 1878 for that matter) will, when it gets reassessed, jump from a relatively small amount to $100,000. I guess I would prefer it to ramp up over a few years for an easier adjustment. And the detractors are right that some/all of this will get passed along to renters and consumers. Nevertheless, I am a YES.

Prop 16 – Undoes Prop 209 (1996), which banned the state from using race-based criteria in certain circumstances, notably college admissions. While I get itchy about the idea that some races are more equal than others, it’s certainly true that racial discrimination is illegal under lots of other state and federal laws, so the effects of any thumb-on-the-scale activity is already limited by these laws and the Bakke decision. Viscerally, I can remember what happened after 209 passed. Applications from black students to the UCs dropped by a huge amount. Right or wrong, they thought the state schools were no longer for them, and didn’t even apply. That discouragement may have had a greater effect on the lack of diversity at the UCs in subsequent years than the proposition itself actually did. Anyway. Yes.

Prop 17 – Serve your time, get your vote back. Yes.

Prop 18 – 17-year-olds to vote in certain elections. Look, it’s an arbitrary limit. Used to be 21 nationally. Now it’s 18 after the 26th Amendment. Could be 11, could be 19 and three months. This looks like a solution in search of a problem. Let’s just keep it simple and 18. No.

Prop 19 – A boon to old rich people with only one house who want to buy a bigger house – this was something like Prop 5 in 2018 that I voted NO on. This sweetens the deal with a disadvantage to rich families with multiple properties when they inherit. While it’s a bit of a shell game, I think overall it closes a loophole for the ultrarich, and will raise tax revenues, so YES. 

Prop 20 – This mofo does 4 different complicated things. No.

Prop 21 – Expands ability of local government to implement rent control. This is very similar to prop 10 from 2018, which I opposed. I think the main difference is this only applies to buildings at least 15 years old. So this would dilute my objection that this would dissuade new construction of housing (which we need). Also, since this doesn’t mandate rent control, but merely allows localities to consider it, this might allow for more experimentation with different types of rent control, and we’ll find out what works and what doesn’t. Yes?

Prop 22 – These apps want to exploit their workers, and their workers want to be exploited. Who are we to stand in their way? Well, maybe we’re the kind of people who don’t think exploitation is good, even if it’s desired by both sides. No.

Prop 23 – Kidney dialysis. Having medical professionals present at dialysis clinics seems like a good idea, but the same is true about abortion clinics. The question is, are they really necessary? How many people are dropping dead due to substandard care at these places? Beats me. That would be something the supporters should have provided. I had thought this was some play by the big dialysis companies (Davita, Fresenius) to squeeze out the smaller players who might be less able to afford a doctor on staff. But it turns out the truth is even weirder and more twisted. It’s a play by a medical union to get their members employed, and then unionize these facilities. No.

Prop 24 – Internet Privacy changes. I’m a pretty savvy netizen, but no expert in internet privacy. I have no idea what this does, or what will result. No.

Prop 25 – Cash bail thing. I’m torn. For once, our legislature has actually passed a law. This prop is (I assume) an attempt by the bail industry to have a do-over. But looking at the proposition (and SB 10), I don’t know that I like it. At the bottom line, we are creating a new bureaucracy that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars (to assess flight risk) in order to save tens of millions of dollars in jail costs. That doesn’t make a lot of sense. If we took half of the proposition – that most misdemeanors require no bail – that would cost us nothing to implement, and save us some money. But the other half – an untested bureaucracy that will declare some people free and some people not... Alleged murderers would have to stay in jail, no matter what. Arg! I vote No.


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