Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

MA Ballot Questions

Having looked through the MA Information for Voters, I find that I have surprisingly strong opinions on the questions this year.

First off, there's Question 3, which would eliminate commercial dog-racing. This is the one I'm most neutral on, and I'd be interested in arguments pro and con. The arguments in the handout are largely tangential to each other, with the "Yes" side arguing that the practice is cruel and inhumane, and the "No" side arguing that it's economically important. OTOH, they also admit that it only happens at a couple of places, so it's hard to believe that it's all *that* crucial. I'm mildly concerned about precise wording here, so that it doesn't catch, eg, SCA hound coursing in its wake, but the wording *seems* okay at first glance. So I'm mildly and tentatively "Yes" on this one, although I'd be happier if I saw a plan in it for what happens to the large number of dogs that are suddenly out of "work".

OTOH, I'm passionately "No" on Question 1, the tax rollback. This is simply a case of stupid over-reach by the anti-tax extremists. If they had proposed, eg, rolling the state income tax back to the 5% it used to be, I'd seriously consider it -- very slow and gradual tax reductions can whittle down spending in a manageable way, and dropping it by .25% every year or so could have good long-term effects. There would be steady pain, but it would allow due consideration of priorities and evolution of our spending plans. But they're demanding that the income tax be essentially halved in one year and eliminated the next, which would *devastate* the state budget. Yes, they make the usual claims that you just have to cut "waste" -- but the reality is that useful programs get cut more quickly and easily than "waste" does. And frankly, I think their explicit claim that this would not cause rises in any other taxes is simply a lie: it's hard to imagine that not happening in response. In practice, this would cause all sorts of chaos all over the state, and I have little desire to live through that. So I think this one needs to get slapped down, and hard.

(Tangent: one of the most interesting points I've heard made recently is that the Great Bailout the other day may well mark a sea change in American economic policy. The Reagan Revolution may be well and truly dead, and Friday may have been the first nail in its coffin. Unsurprisingly, this is not because the underlying ideas were dumb, just that they were turned into religion and carried Much Too Far. The backlash is starting, and is likely to continue for a number of years. In that light, this classically anti-government proposal looks anachronistic, in ways that it might not have just a few weeks ago.)

And I'm quite strongly in favor of Question 2, the partial decriminalization of marijuana. American drug policy is, to put it bluntly, stupid, and this is the clearest instance of that: treating casual personal use of pot much the same as dealing heroin on streetcorners to children is pretty insane. Frankly, I don't think this change goes nearly far enough -- pot *should* be treated much like alcohol and tobacco: legal, heavily regulated, and taxed. That's a much more sensible way to address substance abuse than draconian criminalization. But I'll support a sensible step in the right direction, and I strongly recommend that you do as well -- pot may not be my personal cup of tea, but I think it's insane to be locking people up for using it...
Tags: politics

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