Monday, November 7, 2016

The League of Zegnatronic Voters Guide 2016

The League of Zegnatronic Voters Guide 2016

2 Local (San Francisco)

2.1 US Congress, District 12

2.1.1 Recommendation

Preston Picus

2.1.2 Reasons

  1. Preston Picus is the more progressive candidate.
  2. He is closely aligned with Bernie Sanders.
  3. We have an opportunity to move this seat left, since Nancy Pelosi doesn't have a Republican challenger this year.

2.2 US Congress, District 14

2.2.1 Recommendation

Jackie Speier

2.2.2 Reasons

  1. Jackie Speier is a progressive.
  2. Evidently, she's running unopposed this year, anyway.
  3. She was shot 5 times and left for dead by followers of cult leader Jim Jones, on a remote airstrip in Guyana in 1978. It's not a reason to vote for her, but Jesus, that's trippy.

3 State (California)

3.1 US Senate

3.1.1 Recommendation

Kamala Harris

3.1.2 Reasons

  1. Kamala Harris is probably the more progressive candidate, which I favor.

3.2 Proposition 51

3.2.1 Name

School Bonds. Funding for K-12 School and Community College Facilities

3.2.2 Description

Authorizes $9 billion in bonds for new construction and modernization of K-12 public schools, for charter and vocational schools, and for community colleges.

3.2.3 Recommendation


3.2.4 Reasons

  1. I generally favor school funding.
  2. I generally favor infrastructure spending.
  3. I generally favor bond measures.
  4. The debt service likely less than 1/2% state's current budget
  5. The argument against the proposition in the voter guide is provided by California Taxpayers Action Network. I generally distrust lower-tax advocacy organizations.
  6. The argument against the proposition uses loaded language like "bureaucrats" and "cronies" which increases my distrust.

3.3 Proposition 52

3.3.1 Name

Medi-Cal Hospital Fee Program. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute

3.3.2 Description

Makes permanent a hospital fee that expires in 2018, whose primary effect is to trigger Federal matching funds. It's essentially a gimmick–but maybe a good one–to force additional federal spending on low-income health care.

3.3.3 Recommendation


3.3.4 Reasons

  1. I generally favor low-income health care funding.
  2. It doesn't exactly make the fee "permanent." It just makes it more difficult to undo, which seems defensible to me.
  3. The fee is a net win for the state.
  4. The argument against uses loaded language like "lavish perks for millionaire CEOs," which I distrust.

3.4 Proposition 53

3.4.1 Name

Revenue Bonds. Statewide Voter Approval. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

3.4.2 Description

Requires statewide voter approval before the state can sell revenue bonds for state projects over $2 billion. Essentially, it tries to make it more difficult–or increase voter oversight–for large state projects to be funded.

3.4.3 Recommendation


3.4.4 Reasons

  1. I generally favor infrastructure spending.
  2. I've been persuaded that this proposition is the pet project of one rich guy, Dean Cortopassi. That doesn't necessarily mean he's wrong or that it's a bad idea, but it does raise suspicion in me.
  3. My suspicion is increased by Cortopassi's profile. He generally seems like a decent guy, but he also seems to have the anti-public spending fervor that afflicts his class.

3.5 Proposition 54

3.5.1 Name

Legislature. Legislation and Proceedings. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

3.5.2 Description

This proposition requires the legislature to post any bill on the internet for at least 72 hours before voting on it, to make audiovisual recordings of most proceedings publicly available, to authorize anyone else to record most proceedings, and to authorize recordings for any legitimate purpose.

3.5.3 Recommendation


3.5.4 Reasons

  1. Most proceedings already have publicly-available recordings.
  2. Most bills are already publicly-available on the internet.
  3. I'm not in favor of lifting the current prohibition on using legislative recordings in political ads.
  4. I've been persuaded that this proposition is intended to provide additional stalling tactics to legislators.

3.6 Proposition 55

3.6.1 Name

Tax Extension to Fund Education and Health-care Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

3.6.2 Description

Extends by 12 years the 2012 personal income tax increase on earnings over $250k/$500k (single/joint) and allocates the revenue to community colleges, K-12 schools, and low-income health-care.

3.6.3 Recommendation


3.6.4 Reasons

  1. I generally favor higher taxes, especially progressive ones.
  2. The argument against the proposition in the voter guide contains especially bad reasoning.
    1. "Temporary should mean temporary." Voters are free to change our minds on this.
    2. "Prop. 55 will hurt small businesses and kill jobs." Small businesses on-net are no better at providing jobs than larger businesses are.
    3. "We can't trust the politicians and special interests." Perhaps, but then this would apply to both sides of practically every issue, and is practically a tautology.

3.7 Proposition 56

3.7.1 Name

Cigarette Tax to Fund Health-care, Tobacco Use Prevention, Research, and Law Enforcement. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

3.7.2 Description

Increases cigarette tax from $0.87 to $2.87 per pack, increases taxes on other tobacco products, and taxes currently untaxed e-cigarettes.

3.7.3 Recommendation


3.7.4 Reasons

  1. I generally favor incentives to reduce the use of nicotine-containing products.
  2. I consider the current no-tax policy on e-cigarettes to be silly.
  3. While the tax is probably regressive, I'm mollified by the fact that California's tobacco taxes are below the median for the country.

3.8 Proposition 57

3.8.1 Name

Criminal Sentences. Parole. Juvenile Criminal Proceedings and Sentencing. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

3.8.2 Description

This proposition contains an assortment of changes that generally increases clemency for non-violent felons, prisoners exhibiting good behavior, and juvenile defendants.

3.8.3 Recommendation


3.8.4 Reasons

  1. I generally favor greater clemency in the criminal justice system.
  2. The arguments against the proposition in the voter guide is deceptive in my view. For instance, evidently the proposition doesn't enumerate which crimes are to be considered "non-violent," and the authors of the argument against the proposition use that to claim the proposition would deem things like rape, human trafficking, and bombing a hospital as non-violent. The arguments for the proposition seem to say that this is only because other California law, California Supreme Court decisions, and federal law already specify what it means to be violent and non-violent. That's plausible to me, and the argument against has the pungent aroma of ludicrousness because of it.

3.9 Proposition 58

3.9.1 Name

English Proficiency. Multilingual Education. Initiative Statute.

3.9.2 Description

The primary effect of this proposition seems to be to relax the 1998 prohibition on multilingual education in public schools. It does so partly by reaffirming the state's commitment English proficiency.

3.9.3 Recommendation


3.9.4 Reasons

  1. It repeals a proposition that was put in place in 1998, in the last among many decades when the "English-only" brand of xenophobia ran higher than has in the last 2 decades.
  2. It's plausible to me that state-of-the art English proficiency education would incorporate multilingual methods.
  3. The arguments for the proposition in the voter guide deploy dubious evidence in its favor.

3.10 Proposition 59

3.10.1 Name

Corporations Political Spending. Federal Constitutional Protections. Legislative Advisory Question

3.10.2 Description

Basically, this proposition asks California legislators to "do something" about the controversial U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Citizens United, which revoked important limits on political spending by corporations and unions.

3.10.3 Recommendation


3.10.4 Reasons

  1. It's an opportunity for California voters to express our opinion on the role of "big money" in politics, which seems worthwhile.
  2. At the same time, it literally costs us nothing.
  3. At worst, it's a toothless symbolic gesture that besides costing us nothing, will do nothing. As "worst cases" go, that's really mild.

3.11 Proposition 60

3.11.1 Name

Adult Films Condoms. Health Requirements. Initiative Statute.

3.11.2 Description

Requires adult film performers to use condoms, requires adult film producers to pay for exams, testing, and vaccinations and to be licensed, and imposes liability for violations on both.

3.11.3 Recommendation


3.11.4 Reasons

  1. Adult film performers already participate in a pretty rigorous testing regime and infection rates are now incredibly low.
  2. Conversely, sex workers in prostitution and in very low-profile adult film production already skirt or outright violate various other regulations.
  3. Therefore, it's likely this would do little if anything to promote health and safety in the various sex worker "industries."
  4. It's plausible that this is just a moralizing crusade whose real purpose is to punish adult film workers and to push their industry out of the state.

3.12 Proposition 61

3.12.1 Name

State Prescription Drug Purchases Pricing Standards. Initiative Statute.

3.12.2 Description

Prohibits state agencies from paying more for prescription drugs than The Department of Veterans Affairs does, with some exemptions.

3.12.3 Recommendation


3.12.4 Reasons

  1. While there is some hand-wringing about how this won't be effective, I think a good way to think about it is this. It sends a strong signal to government officials to drive a harder bargain in negotiating drug prices.
  2. The legislative analyst for the state says that one possible outcome is that drug manufacturers might just raise VA prices instead. Frankly, that seems like an economically illiterate point-of-view, because in principle, in a free market drug companies will charge what the market will bear. If they could "just raise VA prices" then they already would.

3.13 Proposition 62

3.13.1 Name

Death Penalty. Initiative Statute

3.13.2 Description

This proposition repeals the death penalty in California.

3.13.3 Recommendation


3.13.4 Reasons

  1. I favor repealing the death penalty in all cases, since I consider it immoral.
  2. Morality aside, evidence supports the position that the death penalty is inherently costly and yet is not effective at deterring crime.
  3. Even if those inherent deficiencies weren't present in theory, in practice evidence supports the position that the death penalty in California in other states is deeply flawed and unjust in its application.

3.14 Proposition 63

3.14.1 Name

Firearms. Ammunition Sales. Initiative Statute.

3.14.2 Description

This proposition has an assortment of gun-control measures.

3.14.3 Recommendation


3.14.4 Reasons

  1. In general, I am not in favor of most of the gun control legislation that's proposed in the U.S. I'm not a gun enthusiast at all, and wish that nobody had guns, but I don't see any plausible way to get to such an arrangement.
  2. The truth is, the crime (and violent crime) rate is down–way down–from where it was 2 decades ago (although there's been a worrying uptick lately in certain cities, like Chicago). I don't believe gun control had–or ever would have–the desired effect on crime, and other policies are much more important.
  3. While I'm sympathetic to "do nothing" legislation that "sends a message" (see above recommendation on Proposition 59), I've been persuaded that this particular proposition really is a "vanity piece" for Gavin Newsom, a Centrist Democrat former SF mayor who I strongly distrust.

3.15 Proposition 64

3.15.1 Name

Marijuana Legalization. Initiative Statute.

3.15.2 Description

Legalizes marijuana for adults 21 and older.

3.15.3 Recommendation


3.15.4 Reasons

I don't really need to dwell on this, do I?

3.16 Proposition 65

3.16.1 Name

Carryout Bags. Charges. Initiative Statute.

3.16.2 Description

Redirects money collected by grocery and certain other retail stores through the sale of carryout bags, ostensibly toward environmental causes.

3.16.3 Recommendation


3.16.4 Reasons

  1. This is a companion piece to Proposition 67, which aims to ban plastic bags. The relationship is somewhat complicated, but the upshot seems to be that if proposition 65 passes, the likelihood is fairly high that grocers will lose money on every bag they provide.
  2. Hence, the likelihood is fairly high grocers will lose their incentives for providing or selling any bags whatsoever, including truly reusable/recyclable bags.

3.17 Proposition 66

3.17.1 Name

Death Penalty. Procedures. Initiative Statute.

3.17.2 Description

Basically, this proposition aims to expedite the death penalty process by imposing time limits on the appeals process. It also aims to increase the pool of representation by relaxing constraints on appointing defense attorneys. Finally, it nullifies the outcome of Proposition 65 if this proposition wins.

3.17.3 Recommendation


3.17.4 Reasons

  1. In addition to the reasons given above for my support of Proposition 65, it's likely the passage of proposition 66 would only exacerbate the problems inherent in the death penalty.

3.18 Proposition 67

3.18.1 Name

Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags. Referendum.

3.18.2 Description

Prohibits grocery and certain other retail stores from providing single-use bags.

3.18.3 Recommendation


3.18.4 Reasons

  1. California currently already has a legislative ban on single-use plastic bags, so we already have the opportunity to evaluate how we feel about the policy. Essentially, this proposition is a challenge to already-existing circumstances which, I suspect, most Californians are fine with.
  2. The evidence strongly supports the position that plastic bags are a serious threat to wildlife and that banning them is an important component of modern conservation efforts.

4 Federal (United States)

4.1 President

4.1.1 Recommendation

Hillary Clinton

4.1.2 Reasons

  1. Donald Trump is a shambling mound of garbage.

4.2 Vice President

4.2.1 Recommendation

Tim Kaine

4.2.2 Reasons

  1. Tim Kaine seems like a decent fellow.
  2. He speaks fluent Spanish.
  3. I loved him as Teb in "Galaxy Quest."

Author: David A. Ventimiglia (

Date: <2016-11-07 Mon>

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