Sunday, November 2, 2014

California Propositions


Election time, so time to make my choices on ballot measures.

Proposition 1

The arguments against this bill are compelling. First, a focus on surface water storage via the construction of dams doesn't create any more water: it allows more water to be drained from our otherwise overtaxed rivers. Second, the cost of the bond come from the general fund. Costs of water storage should be paid through water use fees. The real issue is water consumption needs to be reduced, and it's simple economics that be incentivized via increased costs. Subsidizing water use doesn't accomplish this at all. So I am a skeptic about this bond justifying it's in excess of $7 billion cost. California needs to reduce it's excessive rate of water use, and this doesn't address that.


Proposition 2

This is supposed to be a "rainy day fund" for the state. Unfortunately, when there's "rainy day funds" there's the incentive to conclude a lot more days are rainy than sunny. A similar "rainy day fund" was passed in 2004, and it resulted in a general defunding of public schools. I don't trust that this one will be any more successful at keeping the state education system sufficiently funded. I'll vote no.


Proposition 45

This would require the state insurance commissioner to approve changes in insurance rates. It would also forbid credit history or history of insurance coverage from being used to determine eligibility or rates. I certainly agree with that, and I think the argument that this creates "costly new bureaucracy" is likely over-stated, but I fail to see an adequate case presented to the voters that this measure is effective in reducing health care costs. It's really too complex for the amount of time most voters can deliver to it. I vote no by default: the burden of proof is on the initiative to prove its worth. In this case, health care is already highly regulated, with existing programs and reviews, and the implications of voting for this are insufficiently clear.


Proposition 46

This is labeled as a requirement on drug-testing doctors. It seems like a good idea: surgeons operate on your brain, you don't want them dosed out on painkillers or whatever. But this is just a front. Nobody really cares about drug-testing doctors. It's really about raising the pain and suffering cap from $250k to over $1M. That's where the money is. I'm all for reimbursements in the case of negligence but excessive pain and suffering awards have a distortionary and negative effect on the health care system and on health care costs. I vote no.


Proposition 47

This reduces certain crimes like drug possession on "petty theft" (theft of something which has a value of no more than $950) from felonies to misdemeanors. Obviously we put too many people in prison for too long for the wrong reasons. We need to retreat from the "throw away the key" mentality which led to the fiasco of "3 strikes". I vote for this one. Note my Trek 1500 was purchased for $800 but all of my other bikes are beyond the "petty theft" threshold, but this would include phones which are very commonly stolen unless the content of the phone is assigned a monetary value, which seems unlikely.


Proposition 48

This would allow an Indian casino near Mono Lake. I vote no.



I vote no on all state propositions except 47.

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