Wednesday, November 7, 2012

California Moves Ahead

In my hometown of San Diego, CA, many things were on the ballot for California, and many of them extremely crucial for the health of the state. Almost everything I hoped would pass has, and the Mayor of San Diego will  now be Democrat Bob Filner, who's endorsement by Bill Clinton no doubt helped sway some minds, even with a pitiful voter turnout of around 250,000 people out of nearly 6 million.

First, prop 30, which raises taxes a very small 0.25% on people making $250,000 a year or more, will fund California schools using a special fund that will be audited regularly with a transparent system online so you can see exactly where all the money goes. Early indications were that it might have been defeated (which would be very bad news for my teacher girlfriend!), but after about 95% of precincts reported, the law seems destined to pass with nearly 54% support. This is a temporary four year tax to address budget shortfalls that have crippled many school districts in California. Hooray for this!

Prop 32 seems destined for failure. Prop 32 would have made it illegal for union members to donate to union political funds through their payroll, giving unprecedented power to CEO's and silencing organized labor voices. At this time, the law appears to be behind by double-digits. Californians know what's up!

Prop 38, like prop 30, would have funded schools, but only K-8 education, and  lost by a wide margin. This would have raised sales taxes (for everyone), and would be a very temporary measure. The thing is, either bill would have helped schools, but even if voters voted for both of them, only one would have been made into law. So the fact that sales taxes will not go up on everyone, and only the people making $250,000 or more per year will be very minimally affected, this is a great outcome for California.

Proposition 37, which was decried by food industries and lauded by environmentalists and foodies, appears also destined for failure, losing by around 9 points. This law would have required food makers to label whether or not their products were genetically modified. Why did this fail? Do people not want to know what's in their food? What of the "pink slime" fiasco, or the "Millions Against Monsanto" movement? Well, when you have a state like California, with lots and lots of farmland, and many many genetic labs across the state, you have a perfect storm for this to be defeated and heavily lobbied against. While I would love to know if my food has been modified to kill off bugs, I honestly don't think this will affect much in the grand scheme of things for now.

The food industry was crying and screaming about how this would doom them (as if people even read food labels out here except for serving/calorie info), and I suppose their shrill cries of imminent destruction were heard loud and clear by those who are fooled by such nonsense. Oh well. Maybe one day when we start having a dramatic rise in cancer that is tied to genetically modified meat or veggies, the Federal Government would take action. I can dream.

One very silly thing that did NOT pass was a law that would have granted discounts to drivers if they had insurance with ANY carrier prior to switching companies. The current law only requires a discount if you have been with the same company for a few years. I do not have any idea why voters would vote against their own discount for being good drivers. Sometimes, ads can be quite convincing even if they are against your own best interest. This one sort of shocked me. Can't win them all.

All in all though, California will be in much better shape as Gov. Jerry Brown tackles the budget mess left  by the last two governors (Davis and Schwarzenegger), and it seems that at least in my camp (liberal), people are quite happy. It also seems that nationally, the GOP have some soul searching to do. I watched an interview with former GOP Chair Michael Steele in which he stated "We got spanked", and he mentioned that there will likely be some intra-party soul searching as to who they need to be listening to, and how the demographics of America are changing away from a solid white majority (which right now, the GOP definitely represents White Evangelical Christians). It will be interesting to see if the GOP can re-invent themselves and dislodge themselves from the grip of religion and Caucasians to embrace a more socially tolerant stance (the idea that gays cannot marry is becoming less and less popular with Republican voters).

In any case, America, I salute you. We have re-elected President Barack Obama, shown Romney the door, and by and large I think EVERYONE can be relieved that this NASTY campaign is finally over, the ads can stop, and your email inbox will be a bit lighter. 

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