Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Why I didn't Vote on May 19, 2009

Last Tuesday, for the first time since I was old enough to vote -- 1972 -- I didn't. Why? Because I'm sick and tired. Of a lot of things. Of doing the state legislature's work for them, for one. 

I'm sick of having to become a legislative analyst every six months and of trying to anticipate the blow-back lurking in the current ill-conceived proposal. State ballot initiatives almost invariably (except when they endorse discrimination against People Who Are Not Like Us) address transient problems with cast-in-concrete budget micromanagement -- for example, the hallowed Proposition 13 that keeps business real estate taxes at 1979 amounts in 2009. 

But the fundamental target of my disgust is California's tyranny-of-the-minority budgeting, its designed-to-run-amok  ballot initiative system, and its elected officials' knee-jerk refusal to raise taxes progressively, by increasing income tax, instead of regressively, through fees and sales taxes. 

Electing a new governor next year won't solve anything -- that's just another exercise in Titanic deck chair arrangement. As Jerry Brown observed recently, being governor of California is a "career terminator." 

It's time to grow up, California. We need to stop indulging our fairy tale of direct democracy and start living in the reality-based world, like responsible adults.  It's time to amend the state constitution to rein in ballot initiatives, let the state pass a budget and levy taxes with a simple majority, and -- dare I say it? -- repeal Proposition 13. That's one ballot initiative I'd vote for.