Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How I voted

The past month hasn't been very productive. After hurting my back in a silly accident, I couldn't ride or run without discomfort. Topping it off, I was either ill or suffering from allergies, because I was congested and tired. I was able to take the train to the day job and do that, but otherwise, I generally avoided "productive" pursuits. Coding projects were put on hold, my blog experienced further neglect. On the positive side, I started reading books again, something which I'd not had much time to do for awhile.

Today marked my return to normal activity as I completed my first SF2G in over a month. This was a big relief. I've lost enormous fitness during this time, and summer goals are suspended. I just need to get back into regular riding and think about late summer. Long term is my first road marathon, CIM in December.

But today is about election day in California. I'm a registered Democrat, so I wasn't able to vote in the Presidential race. But this is just a small part of what voters must decide. I never understood why so many vote just for Presidential races, when our vote in the Presidential election is the most diluted of any we do.

For Senator and Representative, I voted for third-party candidates in both races (California has an open primary for the federal legislature). I realize our incumbents, Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi, are total locks. However, I am disgusted with the continued party politics at the federal level, and am convinced that as long as the dominance of two parties remains in place, no substantial change can occur. So I voted third party more to vote against the Republicans and Democrats than to vote for particular candidates.

For the state legislature, I voted Mark Leno and Tom Ammiano. Each of these candidates is strong and I generally support their positions.

The most interesting vote, though, was the propositions. There were two state propositions. Prop 28 was a revision of term limit rules. It wasn't obvious what benefit this would provide, so I voted no.

Prop 29 was a tax on cigarettes to fund cancer research. Now I'm a big fan of cigarette taxes, since they discourage smoking, which is a highly antisocial activity. I'm tempted to compare it to public farting or body odor, but these latter behaviors aren't documented to kill those in close proximity to the perpetrator. I would vote for this in an instant if the money went to the general fund. But I don't trust the government to wisely administer a fund for cancer research, nor am I convinced this should be a priority for the state. There was a successful state proposition for the funding of stem cell research during the Bush administration, a reaction to federal restrictions against funding such work due to quasi-religious zealotry. There at least there was a reasonable case to be made that the state had an opportunity. But with cancer research, not only is there a substantial private interest in cancer treatments, but there is additionally a huge charity base supporting research. Assessing the merits of grants for work is highly complex and requires a focus and direction that the state government is not going to be able to provide. So I voted no.

Next, San Francisco city & county propositions. Proposition A was to open the garbage collection to public bidding. While Recology, who currently provides the service, seems to do an excellent job, it is relatively standard practice to expose public contracts to a bidding process. Proponents, including Tony Kelly whom I admire, made a good case that bidding is important for keeping costs down, and for keeping the process honest. So I voted yes.

Proposition B was to allow more of the funds raised by Coit Tower to be used for the maintenance of the tower itself, rather than having those funds distributed across all San Francisco parks. Since the attention a park receives should not be proportional to the revenue it generates, most parks indeed generating no revenue, I voted no.

So that was it... fairly straightforward decisions this time. I'm sure November will be more challenging.

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