California has been a state infamously known to tread on liberty and freedom, especially lately — the worst being the raising of the smoking age to 21 this past June. There are some very liberty-minded propositions on the November general election ballot, like legalization (but sadly also taxation of) marijuana, and the repeal of the death penalty, but for the most part the propositions are absolutely atrocious.
Here’s a full rundown of just a few of the worst:
Proposition 51 is an authorization for $9 billion in bonds for education and schools. Taking billions in debt to add more funding for a public school system that already allocates funds inefficiently is the last thing California needs to do.
Even the richer districts in the state have had problems with funding — having the ability to allocate funds wherever they desire, generally doing so towards unnecessary luxuries but failing to have money to keep certain programs or even teachers. Until California can get its act together and learn how to adequately distribute resources, going into debt even one more dollar is the last thing they should do.
This proposition looks to be in a great position to pass: over $8 million dollars in support spending, and not a single dollar spent on opposition, and a lackluster opposition campaign in general. California residents: be ready for more debt!
Proposition 55 extends the tax increases on income above $250,000. The extended increases go up to as much as 3% for the “over $526,000” bracket.
As a libertarian, there’s really no room to question why this is such a bad thing, but let’s look at this from a utilization point of view. What does the government use this tax revenue for, exactly?
The ballot summary states that the proposition “allocates these tax revenues 89% to K-12 schools and 11% to California Community Colleges. Allocates up to $2 billion per year in certain years for health care programs, [and] bars use of education revenues for administrative costs, but provides local school boards discretion to decide, in open meetings and subject to annual audit, how revenues are to be spent.”
This means that this forced philanthropy goes into education, barring the possible reallocation of some funds for health care. Let’s approach this with the assumption that barring one or two uses of reallocation, all of this money goes to schools and county boards of education across the states.
I’d like to refer you back to the problems I mentioned in Prop 51. School districts and school boards across the state mismanage funds allocated by the state, I believe, because they just assume more are coming. Regardless, public schools don’t seem to know how to manage funds. My old high school in Windsor almost had to cut its entire music program, along with the consideration of big cuts within others, and also laid off a lot of teachers, while having recently funded a $1+ million football stadium and an expensive new, and unnecessary, tech building. This is one of many issues around the state, and a lesser problem compared to many.
Also, I’d like to remind you that taxation is theft.
Proposition 60 requires the use of condoms in the pornographic film industry.
The ballot summary states that the proposition “requires adult film performers to use condoms during filming of sexual intercourse. Requires producers to pay for performer vaccinations, testing, and medical examinations. Requires producers to post condom requirement at film sites. Fiscal Impact: Likely reduction of state and local tax revenues of several million dollars annually. Increased state spending that could exceed $1 million annually on regulation, partially offset by new fees.”
First of all, the last thing we need is an increase in state spending of $1 million for an industry that obviously is having no problems in marketing, and also is fully consensual and in many ways makes it one of the most voluntary jobs in existence.
Second, you lose a lot of liberty with regulation. Voluntary actions and choices go out the window. Forcing an entire industry to do something that they otherwise wouldn’t do sacrifices liberty. It is tyrannical to force someone to do something they don’t want to do if they find it immoral, or if there is no value in performing that action. It’s like the “bake the cake” issue. It’s a different idea, since that’s a moral or religious issue (and as far as I’m aware, the use or non-use of condoms doesn’t seem to be so), but other principles apply.
Forcing an industry to do anything via regulation is detrimental, regardless of the motivation.
Proposition 61 regulates “drug prices by requiring state agencies to pay the same prices that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA) pays for prescription drugs.”
Regulating drugs and drug prices is the best way to raise prices, and to kill an industry. Government monopolies and regulations on drug imports is the key influential factor in the rise of drug prices in this country.
Let’s look at Martin Shkreli. He’s not evil, he just took advantage of the problem of government monopolies on drugs. Shkreli bought the rights from the FDA to sell Daraprim, a drug that treats protozoal infections, for $55 million. He saw that there are no generic versions of this drug on the market, so he purchased the rights to sell them, creating a full monopoly on the drug. He then subsequently raised the price of the drug to $750.
The reason that he can do this is because federal law stipulates that it is illegal to import generic versions of drugs that aren’t independently approved by the FDA, and getting a drug approved — especially a generic version of a drug — is a long, tedious, and generally expensive process.
These are all government regulations that led to a drug that costs 5 cents in India costing $750 here. The Left believes that this is capitalism’s fault but it is actually the fault of government.
Any proposal that would enable government to increase its power in an industry it has already irreparably damaged is a horrible idea. A cap on the amount state agencies will pay for certain drugs would be hard to implement; if the regulation works, it will dis-incentivize people and companies from obtaining the ability to sell a drug, since the process to do so is long and expensive. Proposition 61 would cap their ability to rake in revenue to offset the already-in-place government regulations that they have to deal with, and that would mean that many people and companies won’t attempt to gain the ability from the FDA to sell these drugs, so the availability of many drugs will shrink tremendously.
Finally, Proposition 63 prohibits the owning of high-capacity ammunition magazines, and requires background checks on individuals to purchase ammo. This proposition also, in most cases, doesn’t allow people to buy ammunition out of state and bring it in, and also establishes a misdemeanor penalty for people who fail to get a one-year license to sell ammunition and maintain that license while they continue to sell it.
California has already banned the sale of high-capacity magazines, but put in an exemption allowing for those who owned high-capacity magazines before 2000 to continue to own them. This proposition removes that exemption, thereby making it illegal to own any high-capacity magazines.
This proposition is a clear infringement on the right of people to bear arms under the Second Amendment, and also inhibits interstate free trade.
For those of you who can’t get enough, here’s some more of the propositions that are bad, in lesser detail.
Proposition 56 adds a $2 tax to cigarettes in a state that just raised the minimum smoking age to 21. The state of California is already killing the industry slowly, and raising its associated taxes will be the nail in the coffin.
Proposition 65 allows the state to redirect funds from the California bag tax to a special Wildlife conservation fund. This takes something already bad and allows California to use that money to have a hand in something that it shouldn’t: land.
Proposition 67 would uphold the plastic bag ban and bag tax imposed by Senate Bill 270.
Banning the ability to buy use certain bags is more government overreach and regulation, and taxation on bags is… you guessed it: theft.
This is going to be a pretty horrific November for California.
Nicholas Amato is an undergraduate at San Jose State University, majoring in political science and minoring in journalism.