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There are 202 initiatives on the ballot
October 23, 2002 12:39 PM   Subscribe

There are 202 initiatives on the ballot in 40 states this election cycle. "53 of the measures represent direct democracy at work: ideas placed on the ballot by citizen initiative, often designed specifically to reverse legislative action." Some of the initiatives make sense, some of them do not. I've got a list of awards for various categories of initiatives. Some of these awards are given with tongue planted firmly in cheek.
  • Most Wasteful: This award goes to the initiative that will waste the most tax-payer dollars. And the winner is North Dakota's Youth Investment Initiative.
  • Do-it-for-the-kids Award: Arnold Schwarzenegger may be rehearsing for a political role as he leads the campaign for Proposition 49, which would require state funding for after-school programs. Shouldn't parents be taking care of their kids after school? Why is the state of California becoming a nanny?
  • Highest Ballot Measure: Nevada's initiative to legalize marijuana. 'Nuff said.
  • Up-in-smoke Award: It's a tie between the Missouri and Arizona initiatives increasing the tax on a pack of cigarettes.
  • Dumbest Initiative: Animal rights activists have place an initiative on the ballot in Florida to protect pregnant pigs. This initiative is dumb because it takes the extreme measure of making an amendment to the Florida constitution.
  • Smartest Initiative: "Politicians are like diapers, they both must be changed frequently—and for the same reason." Idaho's term-limits proposal takes this award. Runner up goes to Oregon voters who will decide whether to list a choice of "none of the above" on all state ballots.
Anybody else have any more nominations?
posted by jasontromm (56 comments total)

 
Shouldn't parents be taking care of their kids after school? Why is the state of California becoming a nanny?

Umm, because parents are working? And work generally lasts longer everyday than school? Remember all those "lazy, single mothers" we got off welfare by making them go to work?
posted by Red58 at 12:46 PM on October 23, 2002


"Shouldn't parents be taking care of their kids after school? Why is the state of California becoming a nanny?"

Parents would take care of their kids after they leave school, but they work. While most would love to be able to pick their kids up from school, most depend on after school programs to keep them out of trouble. The problem is, a lot of parents can't afford the programs, so that's why the state should finance the programs.

There are a couple of studies out, about juvenile crime and how it peaks during the time from 3pm until 5pm....the times when parents would be returning home. Latchkey kids aren't all bad, but this might help some from walking that dangerous line.

I worked with in programs as a director for years and I know for a fact that some of my kids would be in trouble if they just went home. The can go to a YMCA program and get a snack, help with homework, and just keep them off of the streets.

The state was paying for most of my program anyway, since I had a lot of low income students...with the Y taking a huge loss each month. So the state's money would be welcomed.
posted by mkelley at 12:50 PM on October 23, 2002


This is more partisan tripe from The Trommeister. I love it! North Dakota most wasteful? Why, that's near where Tom Daschle is from! And Nevada, boy, those idiots and their lunatic sinful marijuana. Better send them to Texas, get the chair ready.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 12:50 PM on October 23, 2002


So, pot = bad, cigarettes = good, and kids who's parents have to work past 3PM should just roam the streets. Lovely.

It is awfully odd to amend a state constitution for such a narrow issue though.
posted by JoanArkham at 12:50 PM on October 23, 2002


actually, i'd vote yes on the Nevada pot initiative and no raising the cigarette taxes.
posted by jasontromm at 12:54 PM on October 23, 2002


What wrong with the Nevada measure? It seems obvious to me that marijuana should be a legal drug, like alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco. Is there any good reason for keeping it illegal? Legalized marijuana will be safer, it will cut off the marijuana market from organized crime, it will generate tax revenue, and it will make it easier for the state to regulate sales, limiting the access to children (who typically report that marijuana is currently easier to obtain than alcohol). Legalize it!
posted by mr_roboto at 12:54 PM on October 23, 2002


One woman's waste is another's Smartest Initiative, what are your criteria? I'm all for some subjective reasoning, but this is just subjective "Nomination" of pet issues without any substance. Facts please, or this thread will degenerate into:

"I Like the Yankees"
"I like the Mets, I hate you"
"Eat Me"
posted by plemeljr at 12:55 PM on October 23, 2002


Politicians are like diapers, they both must be changed frequently—and for the same reason.

Same reason? Because babies poop in them? Huh?
posted by mr_roboto at 1:02 PM on October 23, 2002


I've got a list of awards for various categories of initiatives.

I thought I missed the ceremony for a second.......what award can I hand out?
posted by thomcatspike at 1:08 PM on October 23, 2002


I think it's because they're full of the same thing, mr_roboto...
posted by ook at 1:10 PM on October 23, 2002


I'm not a fan of the "term-limits" strategy. It limits choice and democracy, without addressing the root problems. What they are really trying to do is get rid of the career politician, because with the more tenure in office, the more power she/he has. Yet the root problem is not the length of service, but the amount of money coming into the candidate, creating an imbalance of funds when comparing the incumbent and the challenger. Get rid of the huge amount of incoming money, or make tv, radio, etc. give equal time to the candidates of the region. The airwaves are ours, remember. But TV especially does not want to do this because this would remove a huge amount of funding.
posted by plemeljr at 1:12 PM on October 23, 2002


i apologize for my lack of "style" if I could fix it I would.

plemeljr, I listed the North Dakota Youth Investment Initiative as "most wasteful" because the Washington Post article talks about how the initiative may not produce the economic growth they're hoping for. If they don't know it'll work it sounds like a waste of money.
posted by jasontromm at 1:15 PM on October 23, 2002


Thom Cat, make up an award. Are there any ballot initiatives in your state that deserve an "award" (positive or negative)
posted by jasontromm at 1:17 PM on October 23, 2002


There's been a lot of FUD regarding the ND Youth Initiative (Meas. 3), most of it missing a crucial point: The graduates have their residency bound to ND if they wish to receive the benefit, making it likely that a good portion of that benefit is going to go back into the state's economy in some form.

The opponents of the measure are right on one thing: It's not going to keep most graduates in North Dakota, working for an insanely low wage relative to the remainder of the nation and region. (e.g., A friend recently graduated a state university with a degree in social work. The starting salary for a social worker is nearly twice as high in Moorhead, MN as it is in Fargo, ND --- cities with only a river between them.) I honestly doubt that 60% of college graduates from ND schools stay in North Dakota --- they're probably factoring-in graduates of the state run 2-year technical/trade schools who have more employment options in the state than graduates of a 4-year "less practical" program.
posted by nathan_teske at 1:19 PM on October 23, 2002


Ach --- didn't see this on preview:

jasontromm: There are probably at least 20-30 small communities in North Dakota whose fate would turn on the addition of no more than five, 4-person families. It may not seem like a lot, but it is when your town has a population of 200 and the next town over --- over there, 15 miles away, nothing but fields and pasture between --- is in about the same position.

Defining failure in this instance can be rather difficult.
posted by nathan_teske at 1:29 PM on October 23, 2002


If you can't be there to watch your kid when s/he gets out of school or afford day care, then you shouldn't be having children. Taxpayers w/o children should not have to pay for the choices of others.
posted by archimago at 1:30 PM on October 23, 2002


If you can't be there to watch your kid when s/he gets out of school or afford day care, then you shouldn't be having children.

It's nice to see that human biology is dictated by an imposed cultural morality.
posted by the fire you left me at 1:36 PM on October 23, 2002


The Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a group founded to combat what it sees as conservative domination of U.S. ballot initiatives, has a great overview page, including news and likely outcomes and a pdf map of key measures. 202 total, 53 sponsored by citizens rather than government officials.

This was a great idea for a post, jasontromm.
posted by mediareport at 1:37 PM on October 23, 2002


I half agree with archimago. I believe it's in everybody's best interest to have publicly funded education. It's the after school part that should be paid for by the parents. I don't have the numbers, but I'd imagine that the majority of the benefit would go to the parents that could afford to provide for their own after-school care.
posted by SteveInMaine at 1:38 PM on October 23, 2002


If you can't be there to watch your kid when s/he gets out of school or afford day care, then you shouldn't be having children. Taxpayers w/o children should not have to pay for the choices of others.

Only the rich shall reproduce? Meanwhile, the kids in poorer families exist and something needs to be done. What shall we do? Force the moms to stay home on welfare?

And part of being in a society is the individual's responsibility for the costs of maintaining that society: Paying for schools so we have a trained workforce for the next generation, after school care to keep kids out of trouble and safe, maintaining infrastructure (roads, etc), health standards (air and water).
posted by Red58 at 1:43 PM on October 23, 2002


mediareport --- excellent links. Thanks!
posted by nathan_teske at 1:46 PM on October 23, 2002


Taxpayers w/o children should not have to pay for the choices of others.

Should we therefore do away with public schools, archimago? The trouble with your proposal (ban reproduction among the lower classes) is that we do not live in a totalitarian state, under the guidance of a willful, iron-fisted government. Here, in the real world, the government cannot control which people reproduce. It can, however, choose to address the implications of people's choices so as to eliminate the causes of youth crime and assist in the education of children. I know it can be a tricky motherfucker, that real world, but there you go.

...but I'd imagine that the majority of the benefit would go to the parents that could afford to provide for their own after-school care.

Why would you imagine that?
posted by mr_roboto at 1:47 PM on October 23, 2002


Highest Ballot Measure: Nevada's initiative to legalize marijuana. 'Nuff said.

Hey, the dimwits here in Arizona are trying to legalize it too. Give credit where credit's due.
posted by oissubke at 1:53 PM on October 23, 2002


Red...the rich are the only ones who can afford daycare? I think it's within the realm of cost for the middle-class - after all, a huge amount of the population can live well with only one parent working. But then I'm the kind of guy who doesn't consider people who own TV's (as 98% of US Households do) to be poor. Ah well.

In any case, the "stupidest initiative" is any initiative chosen by direct ballot. There's a reason we elect representatives - because they can spend the time to analyze the impact of bills, while most voters can't or don't want to. Anyone who lives in states like Washington or Oregon can attest to the ridiculous situations, especially budget-wise, that direct ballot causes.
posted by Kevs at 1:54 PM on October 23, 2002


virginia's lieutenant governor was saying the other day how australia mandated voting, so like if you didn't you get charged $250 or something. and then mark warner chimed in "that would save the budget!" he also talked about prospects for online voting :D
posted by kliuless at 1:55 PM on October 23, 2002


Florida's constitution is already an enormous mess. It's not a succinct document trading in generalities the way the United States Constitution is.
posted by grimmelm at 1:56 PM on October 23, 2002


Hey, the dimwits here in Arizona are trying to legalize it too.

Again, what in the world is wrong with legalizing it? I have yet to hear a cogent argument against legal marijuana: the entire pro-drug war faction seems to be trading these days in vague scare tactics and meaningless insults ("dimwits"). It stinks of desperation; which makes sense, as the drug warriors must see the tide of public opinion turning against them. The war on drugs must end, and the logical place for the end to start is with the legalization of marijuana.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:08 PM on October 23, 2002


- a huge amount of the population can live well with only one parent working -

Huh? Please provide some kind of support for this statement. I don't see how if you can pay $50 for a tv, you can then live without one working parent's salary.

Personally, I would rejoice if this were true - but I don't see the evidence in ANY city in the US I have ever lived in. (Assuming you are talking about the US - I would gather this is true in other countries who offer more support to working families.)
posted by birgitte at 2:11 PM on October 23, 2002


Prop 49 is not for the kids. It does not create new funding for children - the funding for the after school programs would come out of existing public education funding. Prop 49 is just the Terminator for Governor proposal.
posted by badstone at 2:11 PM on October 23, 2002


The "right to hunt, fish, and harvest game" in virginia (2000) seemed an unnecessary amendment to the state constitution; 2002 issues here. California ballot initiatives here. Anybody know of a single clearinghouse for state election information?

I love seeing "PTA" and "Arnold Schwarzenegger" in the same list. I vant to be yor gubbenor.
posted by eddydamascene at 2:38 PM on October 23, 2002


birgitte...you know all the families that exist where one parent is stay-at-home? Those are the families with one working parent. There are a lot of them. It's not a requirement in a nation with avg. income of 30k to have two workers.
posted by Kevs at 2:48 PM on October 23, 2002


JasonTroll (oops! I mean JasonTromm) - let me sum up a few of your positions (with less words):

1) Spending on children - BAD
2) Legalizing a drug which has minimal side effects and positive medical benefits for many - BAD
3) Discourageing the consumption of cigarettes (linked to numbers 1,2,3,4,6,7,9 and 13 of the 15 leading mortality factors, according to the US Center for Disease Control) - BAD

The pig amendment seems a bit silly to me.

Your positions seem very spendthrift (liberal?) to me:

With regards to #3: why should MY TAX DOLLARS support someone else's deadly habit? (in terms of the higher health care bills I pay for smoking related illness)

Why should MY TAX DOLLARS go to pay for imprisoning people for consumption of a drug (Marijuana) which certainly has fewer health risks than cigarettes and alcohol?

By the same token, I am happy when MY TAX DOLLARS are spent on children, for I know that this will benefit the US economy in the long run and, in turn, make it a bit more likely that I will have social security benefits when I retire.

I think my positions are truly conservative.
posted by troutfishing at 2:53 PM on October 23, 2002


"I think it's within the realm of cost for the middle-class - after all, a huge amount of the population can live well with only one parent working."

Kevs - Oh you do, do you? Do you have children? How old are they? What are your after school options? Do you know how late the average after school care is open? How much do you think after school care costs?

I am very much interested in talking about this, but first I want to know what your experience is because you must have some experience to make a statement like this.
posted by Woolcott'sKindredGal at 2:56 PM on October 23, 2002


In Canada, taxing cigarettes makes sense. Smoke? Get sick and use gov $$$ from free health care. So tax the smokes to compensate. Even as a smoker, I was all for raising taxes, gave me extra incentive to quit.

No free health care in US, so where does the cigarette tax go?

I agree for the legalization of marijuana as a TAXPAYER. I am sick of my hard earned tax dollars being used to arrest, prosecute and jail pot smokers. Use that money to fix my streets and keep the murderers, child molesters, rapists and corporate CEO's in jail.
posted by CrazyJub at 2:57 PM on October 23, 2002


i like the recursive trackback. it makes my head spin.
posted by ejoey at 3:17 PM on October 23, 2002


No free health care in US...

There's no universal free heath care in the US, but medicare and medicaid take care of an awful lot of people. State and Federal governments (and therefore TAXPAYERS) fund these programs.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:26 PM on October 23, 2002


Speaking of health care and initiatives . . .
posted by raysmj at 3:34 PM on October 23, 2002


Why does school traditionally end at 3:00 anyway? Was it originally so kids could work on the farm after school? Seems like an anacrhonism. School should run until 5:00. Have elective programs like athletics and clubs, perhaps art and music at the end of the day. Makes sense to me.
posted by TimeFactor at 3:37 PM on October 23, 2002


in oklahoma, you can vote to prohibit cockfighting thanks to the initiative petition.
posted by lescour at 3:44 PM on October 23, 2002


ejoey - I noticed that also.

I live in Nevada and I plan to vote yes on Question 9. I think decriminalizing marijuana is one way of saving some of our tax dollars that are being spent in the "war on drugs".
posted by monique at 3:46 PM on October 23, 2002


Kevs - and you do? You brought up this argument, provide some support for your position.
posted by birgitte at 4:05 PM on October 23, 2002


Prop 49 is just the Terminator for Governor proposal.

I found his support out of whack for a republican. As I grew up there and don't see how a republican would support this when they support less taxes. Not that one label has to support while the other label opposes. But I take this prop 49 would not tax the folks for the program but take money from one program to give to another program instead.

And the lotto in Ca. was for education, no winner there for the kids.

Now which program will suffer; better education or more supervised play time?

PS, I wish Texas allowed the folks to vote more on an issue, which I miss. It seems mostly were only able to cast our vote for who we want in office. To me this is a loss as your have no vote on an issue when you voted for the losing candidate. I vote for men not labels, when can we vote them away the labels?
posted by thomcatspike at 4:10 PM on October 23, 2002


After paying for two stadiums, Cincinnati is being asked to pay for a light rail system. Most wasteful? Right here.
posted by benjh at 4:38 PM on October 23, 2002


In Washington state, almost any nut with a pen can circulate a petition and get signatures to put an initiative on the ballot. During the time I lived there, I never saw an initiative passed that didn't have unexpected/bad consequences. Outlaw animal traps! Oops, there's wild animals knocking over trash cans in the suburbs. Lower the price of license plates! Oops, no highway funds. Somebody please tell me the initiative to change the state name to Cascadia didn't make it on the ballot.

The bottom line is that I got to the point where I just voted NO on all initiatives.
posted by ilsa at 4:52 PM on October 23, 2002


Oregon's Measure 24 is an example of why the initiative system is a good thing. It essentially proposes that denturists be allowed to form, fit and install partial dentures and replacement teeth. For years, only dentists have been able to do so, which basically means less choice and much higher prices on such work. This initiative has been a long time in the works -- dental folks have blocked four or five attempts to bring it to an election in the last decade.

It's a good proposal, and (at least in my opinion) should pass; and there is essentially no chance that it would have been proposed by any city, county or state agency, ever.

And there are plenty of ill-concieved, questionable measures that didn't come from the nuts-with-petitions circuit.
posted by cortex at 5:58 PM on October 23, 2002


The libertarians are trying to kill the income tax here in Massachusetts. Normally, I'd probably be okay - if not in favor - with that. But considering the state's running out of cashola - it's pie in the sky type silliness.

Of course, if you want a symptom of a real disconnect, the green party candidate recently told the Globe that she didn't think she was being taxed enough.

Ho-kay, Charlie.
posted by owillis at 6:07 PM on October 23, 2002


Kevs: ... the "stupidest initiative" is any initiative chosen by direct ballot. There's a reason we elect representatives - because they can spend the time to analyze the impact of bills, while most voters can't or don't want to.

In general I agree that direct democracy is a mess and that representative is preferable... However, now and then an initiative has injected new ideas and energy that would never have made it otherwise. Example: CA Proposition 13 in 1978. (1, 2)

Good post, JasonTromm, but I'm surprised no one has mentioned MA Ballot Initiative 1, "The Small Government Act," which would end the state income tax. All the politicos oppose it, but it's currently polling at 40%! (via InstaPundit)
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 6:10 PM on October 23, 2002


... Uh, no one except owillis at the same moment I was typing my comment, that is. ;-)
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 6:12 PM on October 23, 2002


During the time I lived there, I never saw an initiative passed that didn't have unexpected/bad consequences.

that is a valid point. the initiative petition can be prone to passing laws that are populist, but bad ideas. then again, state legislatures (and national too) tend to pass stupid laws with unexpected consequences all the time.

on balance, i think the petition is a positive force for the citizens. it allows a chance to correct wrongs that our elected officials simply cannot.
posted by lescour at 7:28 PM on October 23, 2002


trout: I think my positions are truly conservative.

Good points. I might as well add: Why isn't a smaller military ever part of the conservative "smaller government" rhetoric? The military is part of the government and use up many of my TAX DOLLARS too.
posted by skallas at 7:43 PM on October 23, 2002


eddydamascene: right to hunt, fish, and harvest game

Don't feel all high-and-mighty --- the same went into the North Daktoa constitution in 2000, an obnoxious example of the power of the gun lobby to create a crisis to distract the masses when it's really a non-issue. It passed by something like 80%.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:21 PM on October 23, 2002


Look, when I was a child in upstate New York we had afterschool programs, and I can certainly vouch for their benefit to the community. Where do yall live, and how did you grow up, that you can be so contemptuous of the people who need such programs?

Although I am from middle class, the program certainly alleviated boredom, restricted TV watching time, and provided extra social and learning activities apart from school.

What about people living in trailer parks and such? When I lived in Texas, the bus I rode home everyday also served those neighborhoods. It has been a long time since then, and I only spent a short year at that school.. but I saw how the kids would roam the streets, I heard the idle talk of sex and fights, knew of 15 year old 8th graders.

I am tired and not the most eloquent.. but surely this afterschool measure would benefit the children from all backgrounds enormously, assuming the program is run well.

As for marijuana, the main danger is for it to be like opium, disabling the population. Marijuana feminizes men and kills ambition.
posted by firestorm at 9:29 PM on October 23, 2002


Why does school traditionally end at 3:00 anyway? Was it originally so kids could work on the farm after school? Seems like an anacrhonism. School should run until 5:00. Have elective programs like athletics and clubs, perhaps art and music at the end of the day. Makes sense to me.

Very true. Those kinds of activities are extremely enjoyable, whether in an afterschool program as in New York in those days or as merely activities that you could go to, in Texas.

In later days spent in New York, school ended at 2pm.. for whatever odd reason. Ostensibly it *was* to work the farm, but I have seen in 197- yearbooks that the schoolday actually started *later* then. It must be, then, for other reasons; I lived in a backwater in upstate New York, and the early ending time was to accomodate the many students who needed to work.

I did not enjoy that extra afternoon time.. mayhaps I would've if there'd been more afterschool activities, but the primary reason is that in order for school to end that early it had to *start* early.. with all the terrifying consequences ;)

Much better spent was the time in Texas, where I'd get home at 4pm.. I believe this intermediate time would be better than 5 as I enjoyed some time to myself in the afternoon to waste ;) although I am biased simply because I enjoyed Texas more. And this "free" time is prime time for undesirable, unspeakable activities >:)
posted by firestorm at 9:36 PM on October 23, 2002


mr_roboto, troutfishing, monique: Perhaps you'll be happy to read this: US military scales back war on drugs (The Guardian, UK).
posted by infravires at 4:57 AM on October 24, 2002


Well, it's not for 2002. But Kentucky's request for a
USS Louisville 688 VLS Class submarine to seek and destroy gambling riverboats is a classic. (see .doc for full details)
posted by samsara at 7:58 AM on October 24, 2002


Oh wait, it was 2002 :)
posted by samsara at 8:18 AM on October 24, 2002


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