Monday, November 3, 2008

Voting Day (Tomorrow)

I’ll get to football tomorrow. Today I want to run down some electoral issues going on in the fine state of Massachusetts.

If you haven’t figured out who you want as our 44th President, try reading dueling articles it today’s Wall Street Journal. Both wrote for the newspaper summing up why we should cast our vote for them.

Here’s McCain’s

Here’s Obama’s

Something’s gone very wrong with McCain. I used to like the guy when he was the rational and reasonable voice of his Christian catering party. There was a moment during the 2000 Republican Primaries in New Hampshire when a reporter asked him what he would do if his daughter wanted to get an abortion. McCain simply stated that it would be a matter between him and his family and they would deal with it in private. In a polite manner, he told the reporter ‘That would be none of your goddamn business!’

Well, born again coke head, George Bush pounced all over that; claiming McCain to be pro-abortion and not a well bred Christian man and all sorts of other bad things. Bush got the backing of the right wing, religious nut bags and rode that wave all the way to the White House. Fuckin’ A!

I wonder what the last eight years would have been like had McCain and not Bush been elected President. Couldn’t have been any worse, that’s for sure.

Now, however, McCain is coming off like the grumpy old man in the neighborhood who never gives back baseballs that land in his yard. He’s angry. Did he really want to be President that badly? Was he convinced this was his time? Is he upset because he’s losing to a black man? Is running with Palin sexually frustrating him? Whatever the reason, he’s seemingly becoming unhinged and a bit volatile. Just the personality we need in the White House.

Anyway, vote for whom you please. Either one should be quite excited to take over the mess President #43 has left behind. Good luck!

Here in Massachusetts we have other things to vote on. Allow me some local flavor with a minimal three question ballot.

Question 1: Talk about diving right in. This question is polarizing the entire state. Why? Because it’s a ballot on eliminating the state income tax. A ‘Yes’ vote means it will decline to 2.65% for 2009, then disappear altogether in 2010. For the record, the State House of Reps shot this down already, but here we are.

Advocates Say: ‘Your "Yes" vote will create hundreds of thousands of new Massachusetts jobs. Your "Yes" vote will NOT raise your property taxes NOR any other taxes. Your "Yes" vote will NOT cut, NOR require cuts, of any essential government services.Your "Yes" vote rolls back state government spending 27% - $47.3 billion to $34.7 billion - more than state government spending in 1999.’

Opponents Say: ‘This legally binding initiative would slash state revenues by more than $12 billion a year - nearly 40 percent of the state budget.It would force dramatic cuts in state aid to cities and towns, driving up property taxes and reducing funding for vital local services.It would mean a drastic reduction in state funding for local public schools - leading to teacher layoffs, school closings and other cutbacks that would harm our children's education.It would threaten public safety by cutting funds for police, fire protection and emergency medical services.It would prevent us from making badly needed repairs to the state's aging roads and bridges, or making other investments needed to attract businesses and create jobs.’

BeachBum Says: No fucking way. Look, there is a reason we have income tax. It’s used for frills in our society like clean schools, qualified teachers, a State Police force. You know all that shit we take for granted? That stuff wouldn’t be taken for granted when you first call 911 and reach an automated phone system telling you ‘Your expected wait time is….35 minutes. Please stay on the line….’

Besides, the advocate argument that ‘Your "Yes" vote will NOT cut, NOR require cuts, of any essential government services’ is dubious at best and most likely an out and out lie. You’re really trying to convince me that cutting off a major source of state revenue will not have any effect on essential government services? What is your definition of ‘essential’? Because I’m betting it’s different than mine.

There is another aspect both sides are also over looking – if you get rid of the income tax the state will make up for this cash flow one way or another. The most familiar method is to start adding ‘fees’ to every single thing we ask them to do for us. You want your license renewed? Sure, that will be $200, please. You want your kid to go to school? Tuition payments can now be made to Department of Education. Police calls will be billed directly to your checking account. Going to fill up your tank? Well, start saving, because the local tax on that is now a dollar a gallon.

In the long run we will be paying more than if we just leave the income tax in place.

The city right next to my own just implemented a new trash collection policy. Since the voters there approved a limit on property taxes, every resident must go and buy a blue trash bag from the town. They place their trash in the blue bag and it’s collected. If there is no blue bag, the trash stays where it is. These bags are about the size of a hefty, contractor bag. Only lightweight and biodegradable. I’ve seen them and there is no way you can fit as much in these as you can in a trash barrel.

Care to guess the cost of these bags? Would you say $5? That would seem reasonable. $10?? Steep, but I can still see that as covering the cost. Ok, now double it. Each one of those flimsy, transparent bags is costing renters, home owners and business owners $20 a pop. Add to that the pain in the ass of having to get down to the DPW to buy the fucking things and wouldn’t have been easier for everyone to just keep the property taxes in place?

Thought so.

People never see it that way, though. They see the ‘hey, I’ll have more money in my paycheck’ bottom line and never filter it through the long term lens of life. You take money away from a city, town or state and they will find a way to not only make up that difference, but use the opportunity to take more.

Let’s not give them that opportunity.

If you still aren't convinced, then just take a peak just north of us. Remember New Hampshire and their current fiscal quagmire? Remember how they couldn't pay police officers for a while or how their schools are an absolute travesty? You really want Massachusetts to take one step closer to being like New Hampshire?

Question 2: There is a misunderstanding that voting Yes on this would legalize marijuana, but that is not the case. This law (if it wins) would minimize the penalty on someone carrying a small amount of weed. They would have the sweet, lovely, drug confiscated and they would be fined $100 and sent on their way. No court time, no conviction on record, no fuss, no muss.

Advocates Say: ‘A YES vote removes the threat of arrest, jail, loss of student loans, loss of driver's licenses, and other sanctions for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. Instead, a $100 fine, similar to a speeding ticket, would be imposed. Question 2 would end the creation of a permanent record (CORI) and barriers to housing and employment. Police would be freed up to focus on serious crimes, rather than arresting 7,500 people annually for marijuana possession. Taxpayers would save $30 million a year in arrest costs.’

Opponents Say: ‘Marijuana decriminalization is an endorsement of substance abuse and dangerous criminal activity, and sends the wrong message to young people. Massachusetts law already requires our judges to dismiss charges and seal records of first-time offenders. Decriminalization emboldens and enables drug dealers and poses a threat to public health and safety. One ounce of marijuana - street value $600 - equates to approximately 56 individual sales. Marijuana contains nine times the mind-altering THC as 30 years ago, is twice as carcinogenic as tobacco, is a primary factor in juvenile hospital admissions, and its users are 10 times more likely to be involved in automobile crashes. It is more strongly associated with juvenile crime than alcohol.’

BeachBum Says: The opponents have it wrong. This bill isn’t trying to decriminalize marijuana (it would still be illegal to have it on you and attempts to sell and distribute still carry the same penalty of jail time). It’s simply trying to minimize the damage having an ounce or less of the stuff on you would do to your future. It’s not like the cops are going to find it then pat you on your back and send you on your way. You’ll have it taken away, you’ll be fined, then the cops will pat you on the back and send you on your way.

By the way, opponents, arguing about the effects of weed isn’t exactly helping your cause. And noting the marijuana is ‘more strongly associated with juvenile crime than alcohol’ doesn’t make sense because alcohol is LEGAL!

Honestly, are you guys high?

Question 3: This one would prohibit dog racing in Massachusetts and is probably the most straightforward question on the ballot. You want dog racing in our state or not? Simple enough.

Advocates Say: ‘Dog racing is cruel and inhumane. Would you treat your dog this way?

Thousands of Massachusetts greyhounds endure lives of confinement, kept for 20 or more hours each day in cages barely large enough to stand up or turn around in.

According to state records more than 800 Massachusetts racing greyhounds have been injured since 2002, including dogs who suffered broken legs, paralysis and even death from cardiac arrest.

According to the Massachusetts State Racing Commission greyhounds have recently died from a mysterious illness and tested positive for cocaine, an illegal stimulant.’

Opponents Say: ‘Parimutuel dog racing has taken place in Massachusetts for over 70 years, now only at Wonderland dog track in Revere, and Raynham/Taunton in Raynham. The greyhounds are owned by caring dog owners, not tracks. There is no mistreatment of the dogs as claimed by animal activists. The State Racing Commission fully regulates the industry, has veterinarians on duty at each track, and maintains numerous programs for the welfare of the dogs during their racing careers, and for adoption when their careers are over. About 1,000 people will lose badly needed jobs if the proposal is enacted. The Commonwealth, Revere and Raynham will lose badly needed revenue. From 2000 to 2007, these tracks paid over $40 million to the Commonwealth in commissions and fees, as well as other taxes related to their racing activities. Finally enactment will likely subject the Commonwealth to suits by the tracks for taking their property.’

BeachBum Says: To be honest I could care less. Questions like this tend to evoke some sort of emotional reaction from people. If you love dogs and think racing them is cruel, the vote Yes. If not, vote No.

For the record, I’ve been to the local dog track exactly twice. I’ve seen the dogs behind the scenes and they don’t look malnourished or abused. In fact, they look like they’re treated better than most dogs. I can’t swear that is always the case, but that the advocates have been airing commercials about this and can only show a dog wiping out during a race as evidence of abuse should be a red flag. Don’t think for a minute these animal right nuts would be airing real abuse video footage 24 hours a day if they could have found any. A dog wiping out during a race is not abuse. It’s a clumsy dog.

Want some predictions? What the hell. I’ve been wrong 100% of the time during the MLB playoffs, maybe I can turn things around in politics.

1: Obama wins Massachusetts by 70% or more. This is the one state that McGovern and Mondale won, for crying out loud.

2: Question One wins, gets defeated again in the House and our Governor vetoes it with extreme prejudice, gasoline and a big, fat match.

3: Question Two wins handily.

4: Question Three loses badly. We’re a cynical, cold hearted population that loves gambling. Sorry, doggies, you’ll be running for another 70 years.

Today’s distraction: How many Presidents can you name in ten minutes? All you need is their last name. I only got 23 out of 43, but had 3:23 left when I had to give it up. Will try again when I have more time.


Chuckwagon said...

BB: You should be doing the pamphlets the Secretary of State's office sends out before every election. There's more of substance and it's easier to understand than the stuff his office puts out. I truly enjoyed your coments, because they make things so much easier to understand. I already voted, via absentee ballot, which I had sent to French's LA address. I/we had time to read over the questions and discuss them, which would not happen at the polls, had we stayed home to vote.

Keep up the good work (but save time to read my blog every day!).

BeachBum said...

I was wondering how you were going to vote while wandering the country. Should have known you'd keep up with your civic responsibilities. Nice work.

I've been trying to keep up with ChuckWagon and managed to get mostly up to speed yesterday. Still have a few days to read. Enjoy the rest of your trip.