It’s that time of the year again. General elections are in five weeks, and although I’ve done a pretty good job of shutting up about them until now, those of you who know me know that I couldn’t stay silent for much longer.
I spent most of my adult life in Virginia, a state where ballot initiatives don’t exist. There, ballot questions are used only for amending the constitution or approving bond issues, which constitutionally must be approved by the people. The idea of having a ballot full of stupid questions is still somewhat new to me.
If I had to guess, Arizona’s founding fathers probably gave voters this power in order to curb potential abuses of elected officials. Of course, such abuses are usually remedied by not re-electing those who committed them. Instead, in contemporary elections, most ballot questions are written by small-minded people seeking to replace the legislative process with their own self-serving agendas. All public policy is a matter of weighing benefit and cost, whether the cost be life, liberty, or property. It’s easy to become enamored of change when you’re asked to consider the benefit and not the cost. Our elected leaders are expected to address the needs of their constituents by reaching compromises in the best interest of all. Establishing policy by ballot subverts the ideals of representative democracy, replacing it instead with tyranny of the majority.
Of course, we play the hand we’re dealt, and ballot questions are a fact of life here. So I’ve formed my own policy for dealing with them: Vote no on everything.
I can hear someone out there right now asking, “Curt, aren’t you oversimplifying?” No. To support my policy and show that I take it somewhat seriously, I’ve prepared a detailed guide to my position on each of this year’s Arizona ballot questions.
Proposition 100: Makes an exception to bail in the case of serious felony offenses committed by an illegal alien.
Curt’s position: Vote no. This is stupid anti-immigrant politics. The most serious offenses are already permissable exceptions to bail. For the less serious offenses, let’s face it, the illegal alien won’t have the money for bail anyway.
Proposition 101: Annually resets the base of local property tax levies.
Curt’s position: Vote no. This is stupid pro-developer politics. It has no effect on spending. Revenues not raised with property tax levies will simply be raised through another local tax, like the sales tax.
Proposition 102: Prohibits illegal aliens from receiving punitive damages in a state court.
Curt’s position: Vote no. This is more stupid anti-immigrant politics. An illegal alien is still a human being, entitled to equal protection under the law. If you think I’m just being a pussy about immigration, look at this from the other side: If I drive drunk and hit a pedestrian, should my punishment be a function of the immigration status of the man I just hospitalized? That’s what we’re talking about.
Proposition 103: Makes English the official language of Arizona.
Curt’s position: Vote no. This is still more stupid anti-immigrant politics. I lived in Europe for a year, and one of the things that makes the US better than Europe is the fact that we don’t feel the need to impose our culture on those who otherwise want to embrace our way of life. If you love liberty, a real American doesn’t give a damn what language you speak.
Proposition 104: Increases the debt limits for certain types of public development.
Curt’s position: Vote no. This is stupid pro-wonk politics. Localities have a zillion ways to fund public development projects, but they want more. Screw ’em.
Propositions 105 and 106: Allow conveyance of public lands without auction.
Curt’s position: Vote no. This is stupid anti-democracy politics. The last thing a democracy needs is less transparency. State land belongs to the people. If localities need land, let them buy it at auction. If they’re not willing to pay what it’s worth, then this is simply a tax in disguise.
Proposition 107: Protects marriage.
Curt’s position: Vote no. This is stupid pro-religious-nutjob politics. Same-sex marriage is illegal in Arizona, and same-sex marriages sanctified in other states are considered invalid here, just like polygamous or incestuous marriages. Are we supposed to believe we can somehow make such marriages more illegal?
On a personal note, I don’t think marriage needs to be protected from homosexuals so much as it needs to be protected from wives who run off to fuck other men who are as old as their fathers, but that’s just me talking.
Proposition 200: Creates a million-dollar lottery prize for one lucky voter.
Curt’s position: Vote no. This is stupid pro-uninformed-voter politics. If your only motivation for showing up at the polls is the possibility of becoming independently wealthy, do the rest of us a favor and stay home. Your reward for voting is being American. If you’re too fat-ass lazy to vote without prize money, move to a country that isn’t so demanding, like North Korea. This proposal is so idiotic that I’d like to offer a counter-proposal: If you don’t vote, Janet Napolitano will personally come to your home and bitch-slap you. How’s that for motivation?
Propositions 201 and 206: Ban smoking in most public places.
Curt’s position: Vote no. This is stupid pro-sanctimonious-asshole politics. I don’t smoke, but I’d kill myself before I let that define me. If other people want to smoke, hey, it’s their lungs on the line. Unless you arrived yesterday from another planet, you’re already well aware of the potential dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke, so this is a choice-of-lifestyle issue, not a health issue. In fact, I’d say people who want to ban smoking belong in the same group with people who want to ban same-sex marriage: self-righteous, arrogant pricks who believe they know better than everyone else.
Proposition 202: Raises the minimum wage.
Curt’s position: Vote no. This is stupid anti-intellectual politics. This is such a hot-button issue among such a large portion of the population that the conventional bounds of logic no longer apply. I say anti-intellectual because reason can’t support any of the conclusions of its supporters. The legislature can’t change the law of demand any more than it can change the law of gravity. For some asinine reason, many people think the law of demand doesn’t apply in the labor market. When the price of gasoline goes up, people drive less, find alternate forms of transportation, buy more fuel efficient cars, and so forth. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen, and everyone seems to understand why. When the price of labor goes up, the same thing happens. In the short term, employers suck up the new wage, but in the longer run, they start finding more labor-efficient production methods, buy more machinery, outsource or offshore jobs, and so forth. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen, and everyone seems clueless.
Proposition 203: Funds childhood development and health programs.
Curt’s position: Vote no. This is stupid pro-bureaucracy politics. The proposal creates a new 80-cent tax on tobacco and hands it over to a new state government board, which could use up to 10 percent of the revenue collected for its own administration and would distribute the rest to fund regional and local childhood development and health programs, which would then in turn have to pay administration and overhead and salaries to all those professionals who promote childhood. Does Arizona have a shortage of healthy children I was unaware of?
Proposition 204: Makes it a crime to inhumanely confine animals.
Curt’s position: Vote no. This is stupid pro-free-range-meat politics. First, let me say, I don’t care. Second … well, I guess I’m done with this one.
Proposition 205: Requires voting by mail in state and local elections.
Curt’s position: Vote no. This is stupid anti-citizen politics. Arizona has been relatively progressive in permitting voting by mail in most elections. Taking away the option of traditional voting seems like a step in the wrong direction. I like choices. I like going to the polls and giving my full name and having some old blue-haired raisin give me an I voted! sticker. I like feeling like part of the process, even if I don’t always like the choices on the ballot. I’m not against elderly or disabled people voting by mail, or voting by mail if you’ll be out of town on election day, but a real able-bodied American votes in person.
Proposition 207: Establishes rights when government takes property by eminent domain.
Curt’s position: Vote no. This is stupid pro-lawyer politics. This is another proposal that tries to make something illegal more illegal. One of the articles of this proposal requires the government to pay the legal fees of a property owner if he prevails in an eminent domain case. I always cringe when I see a gaping black hole like that.
On a personal note, I hate lawyers.
Referred by the legislature
Proposition 300: Restricts eligibility in state programs.
Curt’s position: Vote no. This is even more stupid anti-immigrant politics. Telling American children they can’t receive child care assistance because their parents are illegal aliens? Who’s responsible for that suck-ass call? Furthermore, I’m against any act that tries to make de facto immigration officials out of ordinary citizens. Is the teacher at the adult education class supposed to know the difference between zillions of types of visas and determine who’s in Arizona legally? Yeah, right …
Proposition 301: Denies mandatory probation to meth users.
Curt’s position: Vote no. This is stupid pro-tough-on-crime politics. The bottom line of this proposal is that a crack or heroin user has to be convicted three times to go to jail, but a meth user has to be convicted only once. Does that sound fair? Remember, we’re just talking about using, not manufacturing, distributing, and so forth.
No: It’s the smart way to vote in Arizona.