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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I really want to get to the end of this California ballot, so that I can mail off my vote and not have to think about it any more. Iím getting spam from the anti-79 people several times a day, and Iím seeing TV commercials for and against just about all of the propositions, but they all boil down to the same thing: the election is a referendum on Arnold Schwarzenegger. If you like him you vote one way; if you think heís a schmuck, you vote the other way.

When I looked at Proposition 77, I realized that not only had I already made up my mind about it, but Iíd also written about it. And I havenít changed my mind about this measure, which has the title ďRedistricting.Ē Every two years we elect a new state legislature to conduct our business. They are accountable to us. If we donít like what they do, we replace them. One of their responsibilities is drawing legislative districts.

Proposition 77 would take this responsibility out of the hands of elected officials and hand it over to a panel of retired judges who are accountable to no one. Even if you think that the redistricting process needs an overhaul, this is not the way to do it. Itís not even fair, because the pool of judges comes nowhere near representing the diversity of the people in the state. By the time you boil it down to three of them, what you have is a pretty shallow pool. I canít see that itís in anyoneís best interest to vote for this one, unless youíre a rich old white man. (Even three out of four isnít enough to induce me to vote for it.)

Proposition 78 and Proposition 79 both deal with reducing drug prices. One of them, Proposition 78, is deceptively titled, ďDiscounts on Prescription Drugs.Ē Itís supported by the drug companies and puts pricing in their hands only, in the form of ďvoluntaryĒ discounts. Seriously. Voluntary discounts, no enforcement. And they want us to vote for it!

Proposition 79, ďPrescription Drug Discounts. State-Negotiated Rebates,Ē is strongly and loudly opposed by the drug cartel. It penalizes companies that refuse to provide discounts to seniors, the chronically ill (who spend a large percentage of their income on drugs), and others who are outside the health care system. How does it penalize them? By refusing to give them state business. Pretty simple, and pretty good incentive to keep prices down. The state negotiates the best price, and the company that provides it gets the business.

So, just to be clear, Iím voting No on 78 and Yes on 79.

I think thatís clear. Isnít it?

Californians have been on a roller coaster of electrical prices and availability ever since those industries were deregulated. Thatís what let Enron rob the state blind while plunging us into darkness a few years back. Maybe they thought being blind wouldnít be as bad if we were left in the dark. Or that we wouldnít notice.

Now comes Proposition 80, ďElectric Service Providers Regulation,Ē which would restore state regulation of private energy companies, preventing them from the kind of market manipulation that Enron got away with here. It will make it easier for small businesses to compete, by keeping prices down and availability up (not just for big corporations), and it will help consumers for the same reasons.

There are other good things in Proposition 80, dealing with conservation and renewable sources. Itís the kind of forward thinking that would never happen if we left things up to the energy companies. Thatís why we need this one to pass.

26 September 2005

Distant clouds.

Thatís it! Thatís the whole state ballot. Eight propositions, no on the first six and yes on the last two. There is one local measure on my ballot, one that would ban genetically engineered crops in the county for the next ten years. This is to allow time for testing, to see what effect mutant organisms have on us before we turn them loose. It doesnít seem like a bad idea to me, although the scare tactics used by both sides are a bit of a turn-off.

Iíll vote yes, because I have three small nephews and one tiny niece, and I donít like the idea that they can be used as the subjects of scientific experiments without their knowledge or consent (or their parentís knowledge or consent). They didnít volunteer to be experimented on, and Iím not going to volunteer them.

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Maybe the hitters were just tired from playing for almost six hours last night, but both starting pitchers were brilliant tonight. Brandon Bakke shut out the White Sox for seven innings, and Freddy Garcia did the same to the Astros. Jermaine Dye ended the scoreless streak with a two-out RBI single off Brad Lidge in the top of the eighth. The Astros havenít scored in the last 15 innings, and now will have to wait until spring. The 1-0 win gives the White Sox their first World Series since 1917. They did it with great pitching, sparkling defense, and just enough clutch hitting. They didnít need many runs, because they werenít giving up many. If anyone doubts that pitching and defense win championships, they need only look at the 2005 White Sox.

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