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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 11/05/2008 :  21:51:49  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message  Reply with Quote
When talking about this past election, especially in relation to prop 8 in California, a friend of mind shared his opinion that propositions should not be allowed on ballots, that legislators and not the American public should be the only one allowed to pass laws. When I pressed him for reasons behind this, I was unconvinced.

So I'm looking to see if anyone here supports this view, and if so, why?

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov

DtheB
New Member

USA
22 Posts

Posted - 11/05/2008 :  23:02:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send DtheB a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well we elect people into congress to make and pass laws. So if WE do the same thing with props, why do we need the damn legislators? We are doing their jobs for them, which makes their salaries essentially a waste of money. It's like hiring a cook when you already do all your cooking.

The misuse of a tool does not negate its existence.
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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 11/05/2008 :  23:20:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This is actually one of the things my friend argued, and I find it to be rather poor. Do you really think that voting on several different propositions is all a legislator does? First off, they have to come up with the propositions in the first place. But there are a great deal of things that the legislators votes on, and it is only the larger and more hotly contested issues which make it to propositions on the ballot.

Having propositions on the ballot does not make the legislators useless by no means.

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 11/05/2008 :  23:31:24   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
We are a representative, not direct, democracy. We basically pick people to represent our interests in the legislatures. Our elected reps are supposed to be the ones writing the laws and enacting them on our behalf.

Ballot measures/initiatives/propositions should, imo, be illegal. You can't find a voter who actually understands what they are. In FL there were five or six actually on the ballot, and it took me the better part of an afternoon to discover the full text, the "plain" English explanations, and something to explain the consequences of a yes/no vote on them. Most people go to the poll with a list given them by some third party telling them how to vote on ballot propositions because the damn things are difficult to understand (which is why we hire/elect people to make and enact laws in the first place).

The damn things were created so special interest groups could bypass state legislatures.

In FL in 2000 there was a prop that banned a specific kind of livestock confinement. It effected THREE farms in the whole damn state. So millions of dollars were spent so some miniscule fraction of my fucking bacon gets to see daylight before it takes a bolt-gun to the head. There was one that banned a certain kind of net from being used in coastal waters by commercial fishermen. I couldn't ever find any data to back up the claims made by the sponsors of that one (that this net was bad for coastal marine wildlife populations), and I looked for days...you'd think there would have been a few legit studies cited, but no... and that one passed in 2000 also.

Then, the dumbest thing about them, you can come along next election with a prop to counter a prop from the last ballot! FL did that shit... we passed a prop to build a high speed rail system. Jeb Bush stalled it out, then got a prop on the next ballot to cancel it. Add in a well funded media campaign and it passed! Seriously, the first one, to build the rail, passed with something like 70%, so it wasn't some near thing. The repeal of it passed with similar numbers.

What I'm saying, I guess, is that ballot props are redundant, stupid, and a waste of taxpayer money.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 11/05/2008 :  23:47:55   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I find myself agreeing with Dude. I didn't know about the "special interest group" angle, which was interesting, but it always seemed to me like the topics that were "too hot to touch" by sleezy politicians got turned into props.

Average politician: "Gay marriage? Too polarizing. I won't support it, but don't ask me to oppose it on record, either. Tell you what. We'll make it a prop so the public can decide. We don't need to do our jobs as accountable elected individuals on this one, we'll leave it right for the unwashed masses to brawl over."

Bullshit. It's their job to stop the average idiot from making bad decisions. I know that might make me a bit of a classist, but I agree with our founding fathers--some things really are too important for the general public to decide. At least with politicians you can put them on TV and make them explain themselves. The majority was never meant to be able to tyrannize the minority by sheer numbers alone. Rights are easier to take away when no one's accountable.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 11/05/2008 23:50:30
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DtheB
New Member

USA
22 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2008 :  03:38:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send DtheB a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Screw you Dude and H. Humbert, I hate it when people are more articulate then I am ;P

The misuse of a tool does not negate its existence.
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Siberia
SFN Addict

Brazil
2322 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2008 :  04:15:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Siberia's Homepage  Send Siberia an AOL message  Send Siberia a Yahoo! Message Send Siberia a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Mm, I wouldn't know, as here in Brazil such a thing does not exist. How do propositions work, exactly, and what are they for?

Here, we only have referenda & plebiscites when it is a matter of great public interest. Those are the only possibilities outside of the judiciary that can be used to "stop" a law or constitution amendment from existing or becoming effective. Afaik, it happened only once or twice in the country's history (then again, we've only been a republic for about a century and a democracy even less). The first was to decide whether or not we wanted to return to a monarchy (yeah, yeah, wtf, I know). The second was about the selling of firearms (which is not guaranteed or even mentioned in our constitution); there was a project to disarm the population. Both were a 'no'. Might've happened locally in each state, for all I know, but I'm too lazy to seek this out now

"Why are you afraid of something you're not even sure exists?"
- The Kovenant, Via Negativa

"People who don't like their beliefs being laughed at shouldn't have such funny beliefs."
-- unknown
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chaloobi
SFN Regular

1620 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2008 :  05:51:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send chaloobi a Yahoo! Message Send chaloobi a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Ricky

When talking about this past election, especially in relation to prop 8 in California, a friend of mind shared his opinion that propositions should not be allowed on ballots, that legislators and not the American public should be the only one allowed to pass laws. When I pressed him for reasons behind this, I was unconvinced.

So I'm looking to see if anyone here supports this view, and if so, why?
Prop 8 wasn't legislation, it was an ammendment to the state Constitution. They banned gay marriage with ballot measure legislation last time around and the California Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional. This time it was a Constitutional Ammendment so there can be no legal challenge (theoretically - I heard there's already been 3 lawsuits filed). That's a pretty big deal. Ballot proposals to pass laws are fine, IMHO, but it should be more difficult to ammend a Constitution than that. Too much tyranny of the majority potential.

-Chaloobi

Edited by - chaloobi on 11/06/2008 05:53:08
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WarfRat
New Member

49 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2008 :  07:00:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send WarfRat a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't support that view. We hope that the legislature would follow or temper the will of the people in accordance with the Constitution. However they do what they want to do keep themselves in power.

Here in MA we have an interesting issue. Our legislature does what it wants to do. Irregardless of the vote of the people. In 1998, the people of the commonwealth voted to reduce the income tax from 5.65 to 5%. The legislature has refused to change it.
Now with the prospect of Sen. Kerry joining an Obama cabinet, we have another oddity. Our state is like others when dealing with replacing Senators who die in or leave office before the term is up. The Governor appoints a new one. In Kerry's run to the White House, we had a Republican Governor. So it goes without saying if Kerry had won, Romney would have appointed a Republican or Republican leaning candidate. The Legislature changed the rules for a special election to replace the candidate. The Governor was cut out of the process to ensure a Democrat would be elected.
Now with a Democratic Governor, the legislature is changing the rule...again...to let the governor appoint the replacement. I have to wonder who is being served here, the people of MA or the DNC.

The legislature doesn't trust the people to make the right decision but trusts them to make the correct decisions that are politically sensitive - (my head just blew up on that one)


"I believe...that one benefits the workers...so much more by forcing through reforms which alleviate and strengthen their position, than by saying that only a revolution can help them."
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2008 :  09:53:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Most of my objections to ballot measures have been spelled out already in this thread. As has been stated, we already elect people to sort through the garbage and are expert (hopefully) in law making. It's our responsibility to vote the bums out if they are not serving us.

Ballot measures that are not proposed by city governments or state legislatures are usually the work of special interest groups, as Dude pointed out. They are thrown at a public that is more often than not unable to understand the legal wording of these measures. They show up with deceptive titles and deceptive ads often paid for by very deep pockets that a grassroots opposition can't come close to matching. Usually the ads aim is for an emotional appeal rather than common sense or logic. People are put in the position of voting for the best run ad campaign because, again, the issues are often very complicated and the people who get those measures on the ballot know they will not fly if they try to push them through a more educated legislative body.

Basically, as DtheB pointed out, they a legal end run around the people who we elected to serve us. Ballot measures have been the source of so many bad laws leading to lawsuits that they almost certainly cost us more than the more traditional approach to law making.

In this latest voting cycle, there were many propositions that sounded great until I did the research on them. I spent hours looking for and regarding the arguments on both side, studiously avoiding the actual proponents of the measures. Does the average voter take the time to do that? I doubt it. If they did, we wouldn't see so many of these measures thrown out in court as unconstitutional or as winding up benefiting only Oil companies, for example.

Some ballot measures are well intended and good. But more often they are a legal scam that is served up to a populous lacking the skills to properly evaluate what they are voting for.


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2008 :  10:14:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Dude:

We are a representative, not direct, democracy. We basically pick people to represent our interests in the legislatures. Our elected reps are supposed to be the ones writing the laws and enacting them on our behalf.


Just because we aren't a direct democracy does not (alone) mean that having a small amount of direct democracy is bad. This is especially true when it goes through a filter that is the legislature.

You can't find a voter who actually understands what they are.


I don't know about that statement, but if what you meant was that voters probably aren't making entirely informed decisions, then this is a great argument that I can get behind.

The damn things were created so special interest groups could bypass state legislatures.


Is it not the legislature who decides what props go on the ballot? If that's the case, how is it bypassing them when they have to go through them?

WarfRat:


The legislature doesn't trust the people to make the right decision but trusts them to make the correct decisions that are politically sensitive - (my head just blew up on that one)


Do you expect the average voter to have information on each prop, to know what it means and what the probable effects will be? I certainly don't. On the other hand, choosing someone who agrees with you is a much easier task. The end hope is that whoever gets elected will be more informed and able to make decisions better than the average American.

Kil:

Basically, as DtheB pointed out, they a legal end run around the people who we elected to serve us.


I already replied to Dude on this view above, but to get the props on the ballot you have to go through the legislature. If that is the case, then how is it going around?


Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2008 :  10:43:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ricky:
I already replied to Dude on this view above, but to get the props on the ballot you have to go through the legislature. If that is the case, then how is it going around?


Wrong.

In California, and in most states, I suspect, all it takes is enough signatures by voters to qualify. The legislature cannot stop a ballot measure if there are enough qualifying signatures.

Types of initiatives and referendums
Initiatives and referendums -- collectively known as "ballot measures," "propositions," or simply "questions" -- differ from most legislation passed by representative democracies; ordinarily, an elected legislative body develops and passes laws. Initiatives and referendums, by contrast, allow citizens to vote directly on legislation.

In many U.S. states, ballot measures may originate by several different processes:[2]

* Initiative, in which any citizen or organization may gather a predetermined number of signatures to qualify a measure for the ballot. (These may be further divided into constitutional amendments and statutory initiatives. Statutory initiatives typically require fewer signatures to qualify for the ballot.)

* Popular Referendum, in which a predetermined number of signatures (typically lower than the number required for an initiative) qualifies a ballot measure repealing a specific act of the legislature.

* Legislative referral (aka "legislative referendum"), in which the legislature puts proposed legislation up for popular vote (either voluntarily or, in the case of a constitutional amendment, as a necessary part of the procedure.)




Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2008 :  10:55:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ricky:
Just because we aren't a direct democracy does not (alone) mean that having a small amount of direct democracy is bad.

Of course. That is why you get to vote directly for your representatives.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2008 :  11:35:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Props get on the ballot by petition, not from the legislature.



Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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chaloobi
SFN Regular

1620 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2008 :  11:42:31   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send chaloobi a Yahoo! Message Send chaloobi a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

Most of my objections to ballot measures have been spelled out already in this thread. As has been stated, we already elect people to sort through the garbage and are expert (hopefully) in law making. It's our responsibility to vote the bums out if they are not serving us.

Ballot measures that are not proposed by city governments or state legislatures are usually the work of special interest groups, as Dude pointed out. They are thrown at a public that is more often than not unable to understand the legal wording of these measures. They show up with deceptive titles and deceptive ads often paid for by very deep pockets that a grassroots opposition can't come close to matching. Usually the ads aim is for an emotional appeal rather than common sense or logic. People are put in the position of voting for the best run ad campaign because, again, the issues are often very complicated and the people who get those measures on the ballot know they will not fly if they try to push them through a more educated legislative body.

Basically, as DtheB pointed out, they a legal end run around the people who we elected to serve us. Ballot measures have been the source of so many bad laws leading to lawsuits that they almost certainly cost us more than the more traditional approach to law making.

In this latest voting cycle, there were many propositions that sounded great until I did the research on them. I spent hours looking for and regarding the arguments on both side, studiously avoiding the actual proponents of the measures. Does the average voter take the time to do that? I doubt it. If they did, we wouldn't see so many of these measures thrown out in court as unconstitutional or as winding up benefiting only Oil companies, for example.

Some ballot measures are well intended and good. But more often they are a legal scam that is served up to a populous lacking the skills to properly evaluate what they are voting for.


In Michigan we voted on two ballot measures this year: to repeal part of the legislature's total ban on stem cell research and to legalize pot for medical use. They both passed and it felt great to vote on these issues which I don't beleive for a moment our legislature would have ever taken them up. (In fact, I'm extremely upset with my state legislature for refusing to enact a public smoking ban, which I support heart and soul).

On the other hand in the last election a ballot measure passed to ammend the constitution to ban same sex marriage, which I did not agree with. To reiterate, I think ammending the constitution with ballot proposals goes too far. But I'm not so sure I don't like legislative proposals.

-Chaloobi

Edited by - chaloobi on 11/06/2008 11:43:39
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2008 :  11:55:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
chaloobi:
In Michigan we voted on two ballot measures this year: to repeal part of the legislature's total ban on stem cell research and to legalize pot for medical use. They both passed and it felt great to vote on these issues which I don't beleive for a moment our legislature would have ever taken them up. (In fact, I'm extremely upset with my state legislature for refusing to enact a public smoking ban, which I support heart and soul).

On the other hand in the last election a ballot measure passed to ammend the constitution to ban same sex marriage, which I did not agree with. To reiterate, I think ammending the constitution with ballot proposals goes too far. But I'm not so sure I don't like legislative proposals.

As I said, some are good measures. But how do we get to them without allowing for the bad ones?

Perhaps if we started pressuring our representatives by making them understand that we will vote them out if they ignore us might do the trick. But most people vote and go home. They don't get involved.

I don't know what the answer is. Perhaps full discloser about who is sponsoring the proposed law and paying for getting it on the ballot and advertising for it would be a good thing. And I don't mean small print at the bottom of the ads.

You know: The large print giveth and the small print taketh away. Tom Waits

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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