My Shadow Ballot 2022

It’s that time again! Needless to say, this will be a long post… but with the elections coming up (And please do what you can to be able to vote!) it’s well worth it. (And if you’re concerned it makes no difference, please read this post about it.)  With the recent spurious rulings by the SCOTUS and the cruelty by conservative governors/state legislators as well as many corporations, it’s increasingly more apparent that elections do indeed have consequences for us all (and that they’re not all the same).

I’m going to switch it up this time and talk about the California-specific propositions last.

State and Federal Elections

My aim is always to stride for a world that works for everyone, with no one left out. I seek a society where an honest day’s work earns an honest day’s pay. I believe in compassion, dignity, and respect. I stand for a society that is just, equitable, peaceful, and verdant. I reject discrimination and degrading.

For all of the above, the Democratic party is the one that more closely aligns with those values, and I would totally vote for them ALL the way downticket.

Local Elections

This one I can’t share much about, for it’s very specific to where you are. But please do research (I would use my aims noted above as a guideline) and vote carefully. 75% of what affects our everyday lives is affected by what happens locally. We can’t just focus on the sexy national races and skip over these. Our vote is our power. Exercise it.

California Propositions

Prop 1 – “Right to Reproductive Freedom”

When the US Supreme Court bent itself into egregious knots (plus ignored the 9th amendment) to strike down a previous constitutional right and allow for forced pregnancy laws to be legal in the country (not to mention giving the nod to absolute batshit crazy extralegal and ex-judiciary bounties such as the shenanigans in Texas), this amendment to the California Constitution seems like a good idea, protecting both against forced pregnancy laws but also ensuring access to contraception (because even that is in the far-right’s crosshairs). There are some concerns that the wording is a bit expansive (current California law places restrictions on abortion after the 24th week) but this is a case where enshrinement is important and statistically the chance of an expansion challenge is low and could be rectified at that time. I heartily would vote YES.

Prop 26 – “Sports Betting at Tribal Casinos”

It’s a bit odd, but there’s two ballot initiatives regarding sports betting this year. See below for the online version (and all of its hogwash), but this one’s more straightforward. Sports betting… well, it happens. And not in insignificant amounts. This proposition would allow sports betting to happen, in person, for adults, at tribal casinos and at the existing horse racing tracks. It also allows for roulette, dice games, and other “typical” casino games to be added to tribal casinos (to which I hadn’t realized those were not already permitted). On the whole, this proposition seems to simply expand what tribal casinos can do, with sports betting being added to the horse racing tracks. (I’m not a fan of the idea of horse racing in general, but this prop does nothing to change that, so it’s irrelevant.)

There’s one potentially sneaky bit to this proposition, which is that there’s a provision to allow a private individual to sue a gambling establishment if they feel it’s not operating in compliance with all of the relevant laws. That this seems unnecessary and unrelated does give some pause; will it be used to hound non-tribal places of gambling?

On the whole though this proposition seems to create a regulated and taxed avenue to do something that is already happening under the table (not that those kinds of local pools won’t keep happening, of course), and adds to the existing casino landscape. I’d give this a mild Yes.

Prop 27 – “Online Sports Betting”

Oh boy, here we go. This one’s… ugh. For starters, I’ve never received so much advertising bombardment on a proposition before. I’ve even gotten spam texts (calling me by the wrong name to boot). In those ads they first were breathlessly stating how it would right the wrongs against non-tribal land Indians. Next, they pivoted to how it would solve homelessness. That’s verbatim, by the way – it wasn’t that it would help alleviate homelessness, or provide homes, or help, but SOLVE IT (emphasis theirs). I guess by magic. Well, no, OK, I guess by supposedly oodles of money that would be generated by this prop.

But here’s the skinny as I know it:

The measure allocates 15% of the moneys raised to non-reservation tribes, and the rest of the money is to be allocated to homeless programs.

BUT the campaign is being funded by and campaigned for by the big, existing, online sports betting companies, including FanDuel, DraftKings, and some of the huge casino companies. AND, and this is key, the measure has a 100 million dollar buy-in for a company to enter the market (10m for a gaming tribe). This effectively limits who will be able to get into game (pun intended) because only those existing big players will be able to pony up the cash to get into the market. So basically these very same companies and casinos are proposing a law that opens up a huge market to them in a way that all but guarantees their own monopolies. (By companies who are, by the way, mostly out of state and perhaps even international companies.)

Plus, while the buy in is 100m per company (10m for gaming tribes) and thus likely generating several hundreds of millions of dollars during its first year, the text seems to list the renewal fees at only a paltry 10m (1m for gaming tribes). AND it prohibits any special taxation on the industry. Now while it does note that any ‘regular’ taxes that are applied ‘across the board and not specific to gambling’ can be assessed, I’ve got concerns that it nonetheless means that majority of the money in subsequent years will come from those rather reduced renewal fees, fees that will run much, much lower than something taxed based on a percentage. From my back of the envelope calculations, California would receive less of a share than does NY (which allows online gambling) despite California having a higher population than NY.

This really strikes me as a corporate proposition trying to be snuck in under the guise of a community and charitable proposition. In other words, it’s a hoodwink. And while it may provide some benefit it’s likely written to provide less benefit to everyone than one that comes through a more cohesive and collaborative channel. Plus the greater ease of access to gambling and lack of age controls offer their own deleterious pitfalls. This is not a good proposition.

I would vote a big NO.

Prop 28 – “Arts and Music!”

The exclamation point is mine… but the prop is a relatively straightforward one that allocates (I think an additional) 1% of the money guaranteed to schools as dictated from Prop 98 to music and arts education. The idea is to ensure that schools have funding to hire and keep arts and music teachers and their art programs. Something that on the principal I support, as arts exploration is vital to developing our whole being (STEAM, not just STEM, I say). However, I’m not crazy of it not only being a proposition but a proposition that is in conjunction with another proposition. I just think propositions are terrible ways to work the budget as they are rigid and hamstring legislators from, you know, legislating. But, we are where we are, and this kind of proposition is the norm. Call me neutral on this prop, inclined to say Yes, but not excited to have to be doing it in this way.

Prop 29 – “Dialysis (Redux)”

I can pretty much sum up by copying what I had in the previous two goes at this: Kidney dialysis is a nightmare here, and the USA’s ranking worldwide for dialysis care is abysmal. It sucks for patients. And it’s a perfect representation of the profit driven healthcare system in the USA that the GOP loves so much.

Will this proposition make a difference? On first blush, not likely! It’s a way to try to get back at an industry that is actively union busting (again, the industry is terrible). But the unintended consequences will likely be broad.

It’s a cluster all around. Let’s get legislation that reins in shitty healthcare instead. I would vote NO.

Prop 30 – “Millionaire Tax for EVs”

A small tax on incomes over $2M to fund both wildfire control as well as EV cars and charging stations. It also forces rideshare companies to switch to 90% EVs over time… while also giving them money from this very Proposition. That’s right, Lyft, the rideshare company, is a major driver (pun semi-intended) of this proposition. Let’s not forget the absolutely disastrous Prop 22 that passed last time, that has absolutely SCREWED OVER people in the gig economy. So that this seems like a cynical ploy by Lyft to help themselves is a worthy concern.

EVs are great, and I love mine. Better public transportation is more effective still. And California is already investing a tonne in renewables and EV infrastructure. And this could all be handled through regular channels.

As much as I’d like more $$ going towards our ambitious climate and pollution goals, this one is not transparent enough. I would vote NO.

Prop 31 – “Uphold No Fun Flavor Tobacco”

Flavored tobacco and similar products are a great way to get more people to smoke and get hooked on nicotine. To combat this, a recentish law banned these products (with some carve-outs). Needless to say, the tobacco industry is all-in to get that scrapped. Voting yes on this proposition keeps the ban in place, and so I would vote YES.

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