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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...

Uploaded: Sep 19, 2012
Anything I could write about the current state of the Presidential campaign would feel like piling-on, and the major issue in the US Senate derby seems to be whether the Republican (10 points if you can name her, answers below) will out-duel the Libertarian (fifteen points) for 'Place' and 'Show.' The Proposition commercials are just now beginning their routinely deceptive runs, so this is a good time to review the guts of a few of the more prominent among them on the statewide ballot.

Prop 30 is Gov. Brown's tax increase plan, proposed after 4-year cuts of some $__ (20 points) from the annual state budget. Recession-era collections are not keeping pace with expenditures; this referendum is made necessary by an earlier statute that requires a 2/3 legislative majority to raise taxes, which the Dems have been unable to muster in the face of unified GOP opposition. It calls for a seven-year marginal rate increase on incomes over $250K, a four-year 1/4% hike in sales tax rates -- and it earmarks those new funds (about $7B/year, give-or-take) for education and public safety.

Thus, its generally progressive nature is structured to appeal to his base, and it will undoubtedly raise the spectre Silicon Valley and Hollywood packing-up, and moving to Texas. Predictably, it is supported by public sector unions and opposed by the Howard Jarvis taxpayers organization.

Raising taxes is never easy; the task has been made harder by the State Parks Department having squirreled-away some $50 million in the face of facility closures (25 points if you know why they did it -- I have never seen an explanation). As someone who Has seen the toll taken by prior cuts on a profoundly disabled relative, I'm aware of the human costs of some other, non-tax alternatives.

Prop 31 sets-up a two-year budget cycle, requires performance goals for all state programs and provides a mechanism for local governments to opt-out of state mandated services. It is supported by the state GOP, but opposed by Dems, the Tea Party and something out of the OC called The latter claims that the 2-year cycle is irrelevant, the goals do not require voter approval, and the opt-out tends to favor cities over 'burbs. Stay tuned.

Prop 32 would forbid both companies and unions from payroll deductions for political purposes. While I am generally in-favor of Anything that weans money away from the political process, I just have to note that the apparent balance here is somewhat attenuated by the fact that member monies are the sole source of union income, while corporations have customers to supply revenue -- perhaps that difference is what the philosopher ___ (fifteen points) had in mind when he wrote about The Law's "majestic equality?"

Finally this week, there's Prop 34, which would eliminate Capital Punishment, commute current such sentences to Life-without-Parole, and establish a $100 million fund to assist law enforcement in solving rapes and murders. That one-time amount comes close to offsetting the annual costs of maintaining the current system, according to a prominent recent study be a supporter and an opponent of the law.

The death penalty has always been popular with voters hereabouts, so sponsors as disparate as a former San Quentin Warden, the author of CA's current capital statute and the CA State Bar President have their work cut-out for them. I started these columns with a personal analysis of the issue, which I think fails both public policy and economic tests. So far ___ (twenty points) death-row convicts have been later exonerated. It will be interesting to watch the tacks taken by both supporters and opponents, this time around.

There are other significant Props this time, on other issues like human trafficking, Three-strikes, food labeling on genetically modified food-like substances, and State Senate redistricting. Those will be future RC subjects, as time and circumstance allow.

Answers: Elizabeth Emken, Republican, and Gail Lightfoot, Libertarian; $56 billion in claimed cuts; no earthly idea what they had in mind for that $50 million secret fund; Anatole France: "The law in its majestic equality forbids both rich and poor men from sleeping under bridges, begging in the street and stealing bread"; 138 exonerations, at least as of last year. How'd you do?

Note to Madame Editor: I created this column in the website blank, itself -- and only deleted the draft by accident once. Let's see if this tactic avoids the weird punctuation problem...
What is it worth to you?


Posted by A's Fan, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 19, 2012 at 11:27 am

Your column is boring...Lets talk about the A's.

Posted by Voter, a resident of San Ramon,
on Sep 20, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Must union members will allow the political deductions from their paychecks (mainly because of intimidation), but there will be plenty of union money. I'm yes on 32 political paychecks, but no on 30...the new money will go to the general fund, so unions will get most, and maybe or not will trickle down to schools, and maybe down to students...but that's lot of maybes.

What I'm trying to figure out is the motive for the Obama Administration, Obama, Hillary, J. Carney, et al denying or trying to hide that the terrorists attacks in Libya, killing our Ambassador and 3 others, were PRE-planned 9-11 Anniversary terrorist attacks. Nobody believes they were because of an insensitive video. That just won't fly.
This is a huge denial or cover-up...but, why ??? Because it's inconvenient in the middle of a campaign??
On CNN tonight, a former agency offical, said 'it illustrates the administration has a LIMP mid-east policy.'.
I just don't get the denial of the obvious. There was nothing 'spontaneous' about it, as the Administration claimed. There was an assortment of military artillery! The President of Libya, CNN, and Sen. McCain all spoke of artillery within about 12 hours. Yet, a week later, Obama and Hillary are both
still saying it's because of a 15 min video...sorta like 'the devil made me do it" justification for murders.
Hope we learn the explaination before the election. It should come up in a debate. I hope they're not silenced.

Posted by Roger, a resident of San Ramon,
on Sep 22, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Maybe Voter would like the Administration to ERECT a new Mid-East policy?

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Sep 23, 2012 at 11:04 am

I'd like to inquire about the thrust of Voter's statements by requesting that he:

1 -- provide actual evidence that union payroll deductions are "mostly because of intimidation," and

2 -- tell us where that "plenty of union money" will come from, if not from the union's membership?

Posted by Kenji K, a resident of Alamo,
on Sep 25, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Blah, blah, blah. The broken record plays again.

Posted by Ann, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Roger - A "new" Mid-East policy? What is Obama's policy?? Duck and cover? The world would really like to know what our US policy is at this time; not just the United States citizens.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 28, 2012 at 10:28 am

Well, Bush's mid-east policy was pretty clear, at least at first: empire-building. And look where that got us.

Posted by Voter, a resident of San Ramon,
on Oct 1, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Deductions will continue for the majority of union members (dems)...with their permission. If and when there are some who do not want to have money taken from their paychecks for maybe their children need it more than some issue or candidate, it could not be taken without their permission. (of course there would be peer pressure to play along for the cause).
YES on 32 would grant freedom for a worker to keep earnings. No on 32 means no change...keep steeling from worker's paychecks, against their will.

Posted by Mike, a resident of Alamo,
on Oct 1, 2012 at 11:49 pm

When I get the right to tell companies in which I own stock to pass through to me my share of the money they spend on political purposes, I'll vote yes on Prop 32.

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