Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Prop 8: Taking Rights Away?

This is ridiculous. Folks, nobody is infringing on anyone’s rights. The law is not being applied unfairly here. If you are a man in California, gay or straight, you have the right to marry any woman you want to. If you are a man in California, gay or straight, you are not allowed to marry any man in California. Marriage is a religious institution between a man and a woman and by definition can only exist between a man and a woman. That is the definition of marriage. According to this definition, it is impossible for a man to be married to a man.

By pushing the “gay marriage” issue, I understand what the gay community is trying to do. They have been abused for years, and now they are trying the “Miracle on 34th Street” solution.

If you recall in the Miracle on 34th Street a man claiming to be Santa Clause was on trial. The case against him was based on Santa Clause not being real. When the defense attorney presented thousands of pieces of mail addressed to Santa Clause, the case was won. If the U.S. Post Office acknowledges and accepts Santa Clause, then he must be real. the gay community is attempting something very similar.

The difference here? You cannot legislate people or ideas into acceptance! California can legally have Prop 8. It is a state issue according to the 10th Amendment and it is not in conflict with the U.S. Constitution.

All that being said, I voted against Prop 8.

I voted against it because it gives the government in California even more power. Power it does not deserve and power I am not comfortable letting government wield. The government should keep its nose out of straight or gay marriage, frankly. Marriage is a religious institution and the government has no business involved in it aside from the last name change. Hospital visitation issues, property ownership, and estate issues can be determined with contracts, directives, trusts, powers of attorney, etc. Let churches decide what religious institution they will allow and for whom.

Liberals, you started this “war-in-the-courts” tactic years ago with ridiculous rulings like “Roe vs. Wade” and “Reynolds vs. Sims.” Those decisions pulled law out of thin air and started the “living document” idea about the constitution. A document that can mean anything is a meaningless document. Now conservatives are taking the liberals’ idea, running with it, and winning. I am here to say it is a bad idea for both sides. You destroy your own rights by forcing your opinion on others. Nobody even cares if it is good law anymore, just as long as they win the battle. It has become “Mutually Assured Destruction”, but with the law. Even if you win, you lose.

The precedent set by the approval of Prop 8 is that the government of California can now define marriage, and they can do it at the whim of the voters. What if 51% of the voters want to define marriage as between one man and another man or between one women and another woman? What would conservatives, Republicans, and straight couples use as an argument against that? It is a violation of the Constitution? The law gives the government too much intrusive power over individual rights? Not anymore.

“Oh no, Mike, that is a ridiculous scenario”, right? Well 10 years ago the thought of gay-marriage was considered a ridiculous scenario too. Nice forward thinking with this Prop 8 idea, folks. The worst part is that people fought tooth and nail to get to the polls and vote to set this precedent. Seems a little on the hypocritical side.

I know I just made everyone on my left as mad as I made everyone on my right, but geeze. This thing is chalk full of unintended consequences. It is narrow-minded thinking from both sides, and nobody seems to care if this is quality legislation. They only care if they win or lose. Republicans, this hypocrisy on government power led to your losses in recent elections. Democrats, this whiney attitude — we deserve everything, and everything is a civil right— is why it took you so long to win a meaningful election.

Gays, stop looking for the approval of the straights, and straights, leave the gays alone. Can we possibly be that involved with such a small percentage of our population? The only reason to be for Prop 8 would be your religious views. If you are religious, then let God (whichever one you believe in) figure it out. If you aren’t religious, and are still highly involved in this subject, then maybe it is time to find a church, mosque, temple, cathedral, or counselors couch. Your preoccupation would lead me to believe you might have some issues to work out.

It is not totally the fault of the people who voted for this law. By the time the law got on the ballot, there was little choice left. A line was drawn in the sand and you were forced to pick sides. It is almost entirely the fault of the people behind this proposition for drawing that line. They share that blame with the gay community in California for making Prop 8 backers feel their only option was to draw that line in the sand. If you voted for this law or supported it in the early stages, what was your reasoning? Thinking back on it, was that reasoning sound with your core beliefs about politics? If you voted for it, what were you thinking? Did you think a step or two down the road about any unintended consequences?

Democracy is a great thing when they are in the majority. Let’s try coming to a consensus on legislation more often. Let’s try enacting laws that limit government and protect people. Let’s try working on laws that enhance life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness rather than just trying to beat the other team. Heck, let’s try minding our own business and living under the laws of the Constitution for a while. That sounds like it might even work out.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A True Bicameral System for California

The United States is a republic with democratically elected representatives. Having two senators from each state prevents large states from running over small states. Having representatives elected by population ensures that the large states are proportionately represented. This forces a consensus rather than a majority rules.

California has an assembly as well as a senate with districts determined by population. The only difference between a state senator and an assembly member is the length of the term. In 1968 a Supreme Court decision (Reynolds v. Sims ) stated “one person-one vote.” California changed the system because of this decision, but this was unnecessary if you compare the result to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Despite being a predominantly liberal state, California does not poll much different than the rest of the country if you take away LA and San Francisco. You just have to drive 15 minutes outside of any major city in California and you see leftover McCain/Palin lawn signs and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags. The rural areas and some suburban areas in California are underrepresented in government and the “majority rule” result is preventing consensus. This is the root of a lot of our problems.

We live in a state where 51% will always be able to dictate to the other 49%. This system polarizes the populous and prevents compromise and debate. There is no need or incentive to hear opposing views or consider the needs of everyone. Every issue turns into a bloodbath and it is an all-or-nothing fight at the polls that will inevitably end up in the courts.

Solution? Amend the state constitution so there is one state senator per county. This would expand the senate to 58 state senators from 40 because there are 58 counties in California. Expand the assembly proportionally to 110 assembly members from the current 80 and have them drawn up by population (as is already done). The additional 30 assembly members will keep the assembly and senate proportionately the same and improve the ratio of constituent to representative. Despite the fact that California’s population has grown exponentially, we have kept the same amount of legislators. Every year your voice is further diluted.

This change back to the original design will force a consensus rather than a majority rule. For example, imagine a bill introduced that requires all water go to incorporated cities with a population of 50,000 or more first and then the rest get their water. In our current “majority rules” situation that bill would pass because most representatives are from or near large towns. If the state had 1 state senator per county, then this bill would make it through the assembly and stop in the senate because the amount of senators from rural counties would outnumber the senators from urban counties. The rural senators would raise concerns about farming and a compromise would be reached that fit everybody’s needs. Consensus.

Push Back:

1) What about the additional cost of government? Each member of the legislature is given $290,000 as a budget plus their pay is around $120,000 for a total of around $410,000 a year. An additional 30 in the assembly and 16 in the senate would be a total of 46 additional legislators. Because we are diluting them by 20 percent, it would make sense that their budget could drop by 20 percent. So the math would be: $410,000 x 46 – 20% = $15,088,000
California’s total amount of inlays to the government is between $85 and $100 BILLION. The additional cost is insignificant.

I realize our state is in and has been in a financial crisis for a while. Spending money is not the problem. The problem is spending money unwisely. Getting back to a true bicameral system and increasing representation to the people as the population grows is wise. It is a lack of consensus that helped bring us to this financial mess and positively changing our government’s fundamentals is a long over due first step.
If you break this down to dollars per person in California it would be an additional $2 per year per person. I would pay an extra $2 a year to set California back on a successful path.

2) Wouldn’t this increase the size of government? Increasing the amount of legislators is not increasing the size of government. The scope of government and the areas in which government is involved will not change. Increasing the amount of legislators technically decreases the size of government because it increases the voice of each citizen.

3) Wouldn’t this result in the over representation of rural areas? Again, the assembly will represent citizens according to population and the senate will represent each county. California’s counties are vastly different in population and culture making representation according to county a must.


Blog Archive