Thursday, November 1, 2012

Election time is coming soon.  In a few more weeks, I'll be able to turn on my radio without hearing election ads.  Sweet bliss...

For the most part, I think everyone knows which candidates they will vote for.  You like Obama, you like Romney, or you like neither and have to hold your nose when you vote.  Either way, you probably were decided on your choice months ago.  I know that I was.

The California propositions are a different story.  They are generally confusing, and often deliberately so.  Personally, I am not a fan of the proposition system in general -- a lot of bad laws seem to come from good intentions.  But that is another rant.

When the propositions come up, I like to look at the endorsements coming from different newspapers.  Each newspaper is at least a somewhat disinterested party, and it is the paper's business to understand the issues for each proposition.  This time, I thought that it would be fun to go about it a little more formally.

I went to Wikipedia and took the list of California's largest papers by circulation.  I then visited each paper's website and searched for their endorsements.  (I was not able to find the endorsements for the Orange County Register, Investor's Business Daily, or La Opinión).  The results are summarized below:
Proposition: 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
Los Angeles Times YES no no no YES no YES no no YES YES
San Jose Mercury News YES YES no no YES YES YES no no YES YES
San Francisco Chronicle YES YES no no YES YES YES no no no YES
San Diego Union-Tribune no YES YES no - YES YES no no no YES
Sacramento Bee YES no no no YES no YES no no YES YES
The Press-Enterprise no no YES no no no YES no no YES YES
Fresno Bee YES YES no no no no YES no no YES YES
Los Angeles Daily News YES YES YES no YES YES YES no no no YES
Long Beach Press-Telegram YES YES YES no YES YES YES no no no YES

There is a surprising amount of consensus between the papers.  For almost half of the propositions, the choice was unanimous.  Here is the breakdown for different issues.

Unanimous for:
  • Prop 36: Revise 3 strikes law.
  • Prop 40: State senate redistricting.
Strong support:
  • Prop 30: Governor's tax increase.
  • Prop 31: Legislative reforms.
  • Prop 34: End death penalty.
  • Prop 32: Paycheck protection.
  • Prop 35: Human trafficking.
  • Prop 39: Out-of-state corporate tax.
Unanimous against:
  • Prop 33: Auto insurance.
  • Prop 37: GMO labeling.
  • Prop 38: Munger tax plan.

Prop 37 is particularly interesting.  Judging by the number of signs I see around town, it would seem to enjoy strong support among voters.  While there have been a number of seemingly disingenuous ads attacking it, the papers raise some fairly cogent arguments against the proposition.  Even the Santa Cruz Sentinel (not on the list) opposes it:
Citizens would be empowered to sue grocers they believe to be selling unlabeled GE foods, without needing to prove any damages. Clearly, this provision would create even more lawsuits. And who would this benefit? Lawyers. That's what happened after voters in 1986 approved Prop. 65, requiring disclosure of toxic chemicals. The result has been more than 16,000 legal actions. Some were warranted, others were aimed at forcing businesses to settle quickly rather than pay for court costs.
The initiative may be well intentioned, but it creates more problems than it solves. Vote no on Proposition 37.

The comments on the article are perhaps predictable:
  • "It just goes to show you the hands of the biggest corporations (Monsanto, Dupont, etc) reach far and wide."
  • "Who paid for this article to be published? Could it be the no on prop 37 group??"
  • "I guess when you don't have the truth on your side, your only option is to confuse people."
  • "Absolutely Irresponsible journalism."

Politics as usual. :-)

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