Politics

Yet Another Voter Guide for Election 2010

I spent some time — several hours, actually — today filling out my ballot and I thought I’d share how I voted on some of the races with quick sentence or three on why you should vote that way too.

I-10531: Yes
“Since 1993, Washington’s had the two-thirds requirement. In those 17 years, during legislative sessions when it’s been in effect, tax hikes were a last resort resulting in more reform and fewer taxes.” Making it hard to raise taxes is good.

I-10822: Yes
I believe there are enough safe guards in place to protect the public good and make this a good choice for opening up this market to competition.

I-10983: No
The is one of the hot ones. Here’s what it boils down to: In general, I don’t believe in legislating morals. I also don’t believe in taxing just the rich (why tax someone because they were, you know, successful?). The fact that these taxes could be very easily extended to the rest of us also concerns me. Washington hasn’t had an income tax and I don’t see why we should start now.

I-11004: Yes
Two words: free market. Two more words: cheaper alcohol. It also keeps the necessary taxes to regulate and enforce the industry.

I-11055: No
This initiate is very similar to the first, expect it transfers the monopoly from the state to private distributors (instead of anyone willing to cough up the money for a license). It also gets rid of the tax used to help regulate the industry, which actually is important.

I-11076: No
This is my soft spot for taxes: using them as a method for encouraging better behavior (not to be confused with legislating morality).

R-527: Rejected
To quote the Seattle Times, “The schools and colleges spend the state’s money and do not have to pay it back. They will have to say their projects will save energy, but no one will hold them to it.” Bad all around.

Senate Joint Resolution 82258: Approved
This one was a bit confusing at first, but I looked into it a bit:
From seattletimes.nwsource.com:

Here is the story. Under a new program, Build America Bonds, the federal government pays 35 percent of the interest on taxable state bonds. It is an alternative to making the bonds federally tax-free, and for the state it is a better alternative for short- and medium-term bonds. The direct subsidy allows states to borrow more money to build roads, ferries, buildings, etc., with no extra cost to state taxpayers – not now, and not ever. From a state’s point of view, it is free money.

Washington state, however, has a limit on how much interest, as a total dollar sum, it can agree to pay on its total debt. That is the constitutional debt limit, and it is a necessary thing. The formula for setting the limit, however, was written assuming that all the interest on Washington bonds would be paid by Washington state. No one imagined the federal government would volunteer to pay some of the states’ interest bills.

The Stranger put it pretty succinctly, “This constitutional amendment would change the way the state calculates its total debt interest (moving to “net” interest rather than “full” interest as the basis for the calculation). This does not change the total debt limit, but allows us to borrow more federal money for important infrastructure projects.”

Okay, so maybe that one was more than three sentences.

Engrossed Substitute House Joint Resolution 42209: Rejected
I feel like this was hastily put together and doesn’t have the foresight to anticipate abuse by the government. In short, the idea that someone could essentially be held indefinitely without trial is of severe concern to me.

King County Charter Amendment No. 110: Yes
Just clarifying language, which I like.

King County Charter Amendment No. 211: Yes
Essentially eliminates a reporting redundancy and reduces the burden on campaigns by allowing them to register with just the Washington State PDC.

King County Charter Amendment No. 312: Yes
I actually had to take a look at the language of this and it was a bit of a toss up, but in the end, I agreed with The Stranger assessment that it “transfers some public-safety employees’ bargaining responsibility from the King County executive to the King County sheriff. That would deliver a more independent and accountable sheriff’s office.”

King County Proposition No. 113: Rejected
Why do we need additional funding? I’m not confident that we’re getting the most value for our money and I don’t believe raises taxes should be the first (or even second or third) thing done to close the budget gap.

United States Senator: Rossi
This is an important one and it’s going to be a close race, so listen carefully. I’m not a huge fan of Rossi, but I’m even less a fan of Murray (the incumbent). I’m in favor of cutting federal spending to reduce our debt, fixing the tax code, passing a balanced budged (although I have doubts if that will be possible…we’ll see), and repealing the heath care reform; as it turns out, Rossi is in favor of these things too.

State Representative, 46th District, Position No. 2: Gunderson
He’s young and I like voting against incumbents.

State Supreme Court Position No. 6: Wiggins
Rated “Exceptionally Well Qualified” by King County Bar Association. I also like voting against incumbents.

Seattle Municipal Court No. 1: McKenna
KcKenna was ranked as “exceptionally well qualified” by the King County Bar Association; the inncumbent was rated “qualified.” That’s enough for me.

Seattle Municipal Court No. 6: Donohue
Three words: electronic record keeping. The incumbent has done some good stuff, but it’s time he takes a break.

Seattle School District No. 1 Proposition No. 114: No
We spend some of the most money on schooling and get some of the worst results. I do not support funding school systems without comprehensive reform of the system.

As a note, I did not cast a vote for United States Representative congressional District No. 7 because I do not agree with either candidate. I also did not cast a vote for any position running unopposed.

Anyway, I’m going to go drop my ballot in the mail now.

Sources:

0
  1. This measure would restate existing statutory requirements that legislative actions raising taxes must be approved by two-thirds legislative majorities or receive voter approval, and that new or increased fees require majority legislative approval. 

  2. Authorize employers to purchase private industrial insurance beginning July 1, 2012; direct the legislature to enact conforming legislation by March 1, 2012; and eliminate the worker-paid share of medical-benefit premiums. 

  3. Tax “adjusted gross income” above $200,000 (individuals) and $400,000 (joint-filers), reduce state property tax levies, reduce certain business and occupation taxes, and direct any increased revenues to education and health. 

  4. Close state liquor stores; authorize sale, distribution, and importation of spirits by private parties; and repeal certain requirements that govern the business operations of beer and wine distributers and producers. 

  5. Close all state liquor stores and license private parties to sell or distribute spirits. It would revise laws concerning regulation, taxation and government revenues from distribution and sale of spirits. 

  6. End sales tax on candy; end temporary sales tax on some bottled water; end temporary excise taxes on carbonated beverages; and reduce tax rates for certain food processors. 

  7. Authorize bonds to finance construction and repair projects increasing energy efficiency in public schools and higher education buildings, and continue the sales tax on bottled water otherwise expiring in 2013. 

  8. Require the state to reduce the interest accounted for in calculating the constitutional debt limit, by the amount of federal payments scheduled to be received to offset that interest. 

  9. Authorize courts to deny bail for offenses punishable by the possibility of life in prison, on clear and convincing evidence of a propensity for violence that would likely endanger persons. 

  10. Add language to the Preamble specifying that insuring responsibility and accountability applies to “local and regional governance and services.” It would also amend the current statement of purpose to “preserve a healthy environment” to read “preserve a healthy rural and urban environment and economy.” 

  11. Section 690 of the King County Charter to be amended to specify that timely filing of a statement of campaign receipts and expenditures with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission in accordance with chapter 42.17 RCW satisfies the filing obligations of Section 690 of the King County Charter, as provided in Ordinance No. 16885 

  12. Designate the King County sheriff as the county’s agent for collective bargaining with department of public safety employees on all issues for these employees except compensation and benefits, which would continue to be bargained by the executive. Currently, the sheriff can provide input, but has no authority over collective bargaining for these employees. 

  13. This proposition would authorize King County to fix and impose an additional sales and use tax of 0.2%, spilt between the county (60%) and cities (40%). At least one-third of all proceeds shall be used for criminal justice or fire protection purposes. 

  14. Partially replace reduced State funding and to improve education throughout Seattle Public Schools this proposition authorizes the District to levy supplemental taxes on all taxable property within the District, to help the District meet the educational needs of its approximately 45,507 students 

Reasonable Objections to Public Health care insurance

  • Politics

Note: Updated to clarify that I mean health insurance, not health care.

I’ve been chatting with a friend, Caitlin, I met on my Europe about all things political. I’m not really into politics, but I do enjoy informative arguments. Caitlin’s a PoliSci/Environmental Studies major in Canada. So, of course, questions turned to health care. In light of Sarah Palin’s rather ridiculous remark1, Caitlin was hoping I could provide “some more reasonable objections to public healthcare.” Here goes.

So, let’s get the ball rolling on this.

A) Sarah Palin is nuts. All you need to do is watch/read her resignation from a couple months ago.

As for more reasonable objections, here’s what I don’t like about the idea of public health care:

1) How do you provide health care insurance for 300+ millions people? The idea is that by putting everyone under a single health care insurance system, the people as a whole save money. Now, it is a known fact that there are definitive cost advantages to expanding a business; this is called “Economy of Scale.” However, what a lot of people don’t realize (I think) is that Economy of Scales can’t (and don’t) continue to reduce costs. When it starts to cost *more* to provide something (either a service or a good), it’s called Diseconomy of Scale. There are a variety of reasons it starts to cost more, including cost of communication, cost of optimization, slow response times, etc. The point is, there is a magic number where it starts to be detrimental to expand the business. My belief is that having 300+ million people on single health care insurance system would be an administrative nightmare that would cost too much money to manage and would be ineffective.

2) In order for health insurance to work, it has to be positive sum…or at the very least, zero sum. Positive sum means that the aggregate (i.e. everyone covered) gains (money paid into the plan, most likely via taxes) and losses (money paid to the health providers) must be a number greater than zero. Zero sum simply means that gains are exactly equal to the losses. This should probably come as a “no-duh,” but it essentially means that the public health care system needs to be “profitable” (the government would not actually pocket the money, so the profits would most likely be rolled over to the next year or returned to the people in the form of a tax break) or at least break even.

So, under the public health care insurance system, everyone pays a flat rate of X dollars and gets health care insurance. Great. Except for one thing: that’s not the way health care insurance works. Remember, we need at the very least a zero sum system. And if everyone pays in X, they must take out (on average) X (well, actually less than X, but of administrative fees and whatnot). But if that were the case, then why would I bother with health insurance? And that’s the genius of it. Not everyone should pay X. Myself, be a fit young male who doesn’t smoke, eats reasonably well, and works out (on occasion) should probably pay a little bit less than X, perhaps X-1. You, being a fit young female who does smoke should probably pay a little bit more than X, perhaps X+1.

We do this because, on average, you’re statistically more likely to need more medical care than me (due to the smoking). We both get the same access to care, you just have to pay a bit more. And I like this, because I get to pay less.

And this brings me to my third point…

3) Aligning interests. If everyone pays X, no matter what, there is no incentive for people to be healthy! Why would you stop smoking if you know that you can get the same access to care insurance as someone who doesn’t smoke for the same price? Unless you’re super altruistic (which you may be), you probably wouldn’t. Let’s extend this to the rather unfortunate issue of obesity. If I can eat all the junk food I want and in general not take care of my body, but still get the same access to health care insurance and pay the same amount as someone who eats well and exercises often, what incentive is there for me to be healthy (other than my own self interest to be healthy)? There is none.

So what happens? Well, since all the fat people are getting sick and everyone has to pay the same amount, everyone has to put more money into public heath care insurance. In a worse case scenario, this would lead to a positive feedback loop where the healthy people want to “get more for their money” and start using the medical facilities more often. This, of course, throws the system even more out of whack and prices go up even more and the entire universe collapses in on it self….in theory. Not really, but you get the idea.

-30-

So, do you think those are reasonable objections to public health care insurance?

0
  1. “The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.” 

The Molehills are Still Real

The other day we were discussing a talk given by Naomi Wolf about her book The End of America: Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot where she lays out what she sees happening in America and a fascist America in 10 steps.

The question at hand was, more or less: are the arguments that Naomi Wolf presenting accurate?

Without going into too much detail about our discussion, I want to reiterate a great point that Mark made. To paraphrase Mark, “She’s definitely making mountains out of molehills. But the molehills are still real.”

So often we, the people, are so caught up in disproving the mountain that we forget the molehill still exists. People, for whatever reason, tend to blow things way out of proportion and instead of saying, “You may be right, but you’re blowing it out of proportion,” we say, “No, you’re wrong,” without ever stopping to question if there may be truth to their fundamental argument.

And this isn’t limited to one particular party or ideology either. Conservatives, Liberals, Libertarians, and even those without a side…everyone is doing it. So please stop. Your real message was lost long ago.

0

Fitting

I think it’s somewhat fitting that the day after we celebrate a great black man with a dream, we celebrate the day that his dream takes another great step forward.

Source: http://www.africawithin.com/mlking/mlking.htm

Source: http://www.africawithin.com/mlking/mlking.htm

Source: http://www.getreligion.org/?p=2502

Source: http://www.getreligion.org/?p=2502

0

Ignorance

I recently received an email from someone. I’m not going to say whom; and if this person happens to read my blog: I’m not trying to point you out or pick on you. Promise.

The email essential asked me to sign an online petition to make Obama prove that he’s an American.

The above mentioned website states, in part, that:

There are numerous questions as to Obama’s citizen status raising suspicion and doubt about Obama constitutional qualification to be president. To settle these questions Mr. Obama must produce proof of citizenship!

It is reasonable that these documents should be produced considering that his father is Kenyan, his adoptive father is Indonesian, and his grandmother claims to have been present at his birth in Kenya. If he is a natural born citizen then producing these documents should not be any problem.

I’m not quite where to start on this one. I don’t know if this petition is being passed around because Obama is black or because people were upset John McCain didn’t get elected. Either way, it should not matter. Low-blow tactics like this are lame, ineffective, and divisive.

Just before the election, I heard of cases (and even received a text message) that said that due to the amount of people wanting to vote in this election, people wanting to vote for Barack Obama should vote on Wednesday, November 5th. I also saw a similar tactic used to ask McCain supporters vote the day after the election as well.

Now, I’m not a lawyer (IANAL), but I would suspect that making statements to that effect are illegal. If they’re not illegal now, I bet they soon will be. And in any case, I have incredible disdain for anyone who would post, publish, transmit, etc such a message. Like I said before, low-blow tactics like this are lame, ineffective, and divisive.

So, in my ongoing mission to quash ignorance and I typed up a rather lengthy email and sent it back to this person. I now present to you an edieted version of my response:

I’m concerned by your potential motives and you lack of research. I suspect that you are not in favor of Barack Obama being elected President, which is fine. I’m not here to debate politics. What causes me concern is that you are willing to spread rumors or even lies because you do not favor Obama and without doing any research of the facts.

Now, let me stop for a second. Those are some serious charges that I’ve levied against you and I make them based on indirect evidence. It is easily within the realm of possibility that my allegations against you are false. If they are, it’s important that you let me know so that I can correct the record and apologize.

My request is that the next time you want to forward something, especially something as potentially divisive as claiming Obama may not be an American Citizen, I would strongly urge you to research the facts. Ignorance is a dangerous thing and I would encourage you to always seek the truth. Always.

Now, you would probably not be receiving this email if, in fact, the allegations held truth. However, they don’t. Here are a few links from reputable sources that I believe prove that President-Elect Obama is an American Citizen.

The first place I like to check is Wikipedia. And Wikipedia does confirm that that Obama was born in Hawaii: “Barack Obama was born at the Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women & Children in Honolulu, Hawaii,[1] to Barack Obama, Sr., a Luo from Nyang’oma Kogelo, Nyanza Province, Kenya, and Ann Dunham, a white American from Wichita, Kansas[2] of mainly English, Irish and smaller amounts of German descent.[3][4][5]” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama#Early_life_and_career)

However, Wikipedia, by itself, should not be considered an authoritative source. That is to say, just because Wikipedia says Obama is an American citizen doesn’t mean that he actually is. Fortunately, Wikipedia provides sources for their information. The [1] link refers to an article in the Washington Post, “Before crossing the overpass above the H1 freeway, where traffic zoomed east to body-surfing beaches or west to the airport and Pearl Harbor, he passed Kapiolani Medical Center, walking below the hospital room where he was born on Aug. 4, 1961.” (Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/23/AR2008082301620_pf.html)

More research leads to confirmation of these facts by the LA Times, “Well, the folks at FactCheck.org say they have seen the certificate, touched and vouched it — Obama is as American as baseball, apple pie and, these days, burritos, pasta and kung pao chicken.” (Source: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/08/mystery-solved.html) and provide an image of the actual birth certificate (Source: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/06/obama-birth.html)

The aforementioned FactCheck.org writes, “The director of Hawaii’s Department of Health confirmed Oct. 31 that Obama was born in Honolulu.” (Source: http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/born_in_the_usa.html)

The Associated Press confirms all of the above:
“State officials say there’s no doubt Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.
Health Department Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino said Friday she and the registrar of vital statistics, Alvin Onaka, have personally verified that the health department holds Obama’s original birth certificate.” (Source: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iw1At-4G1xuE50oXVFRlBPfR3dqgD945OLU00)

I could probably continue to find proof of Obama’s American citizenship until the cows come home. But I think you get the point.

And lest you think that this entire email is from an overzealous Obama supporter, I did not vote for Barack Obama….although I have no way of proving that to you 😉

–End email–

So, let’s recap. Hawaii became a state in 19591. Barack Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961. Barack Obama is, under Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, eligible for Presidency. If you have a problem with this, feel free to make “a formal renunciation of nationality before a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States in a foreign state, in such form as may be prescribed by the Secretary of State.”2))3.))

Please tell me I’m not alone in my thoughts.

0
  1. I didn’t actually state this fact in my argument since I assume it’s an easily confirmable fact that is not subject to interpretation. 

  2. (8 U.S.C. 1481(a)(5 

  3. My point is not that you should renounce your citizenship because you don’t want Barack Obama to be President. My point is that you might consider renouncing your citizenship if you don’t want to play by the rules ((Staples, I’m suspecting you’ll want to argue this point. 

I Voted

I actually dropped off my absentee ballot at the post office yesterday. I was kind of disappointed I didn’t get a “I voted” sticker like everyone who stood in line and voted. Then again, I didn’t have to stand in line.

0

Talk to Your Parents About McCain, The Make-Believe Maverick

Please note that I’m not advocating voting for Obama as much as I’m imploring you to not vote for McCain.

I also just finished reading a story in Rolling Stone called Make-Believe Maverick by Tim Dickinson. I thought it was an interesting piece and really left me with no plausible reason to vote for McCain. It’s a bit long, but, if true, provides a rather damning account of McCain’s life. Especially interesting to me was the section entitled “He is Hotheaded,” mostly because it shows how little McCain has changed and what a terrible President he would be:

At least three of McCain’s GOP colleagues have gone on record to say that they consider him temperamentally unsuited to be commander in chief. Smith, the former senator from New Hampshire, has said that McCain’s “temper would place this country at risk in international affairs, and the world perhaps in danger. In my mind, it should disqualify him.” Sen. Domenici of New Mexico has said he doesn’t “want this guy anywhere near a trigger.” And Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi weighed in that “the thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He is erratic. He is hotheaded.”

I’d be curious to hear any rebuttals to the piece if anyone has one.

0