California November 2016 Propositions

California November 2016 Propositions

Stopping Trump is the easy part. We have seventeen statewide propositions to decide this year (and 25 city and district measures in San Francisco). Here is my guide to the California propositions:

51 School Bonds. Funding for K-12 School and Community College Facilities. Initiative Statute.

Yes. This is around $1,125 per student to help fix up run down schools. Pretty modest impact on the state budget.

52 Medi-Cal Hospital Fee Program. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

Yes. Ensures that California continues to get four billion dollars in Federal matching funds for Medicaid.

53 Revenue Bonds. Statewide Voter Approval. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

No. I’d like to see fewer propositions on the ballot. This is asking for a referendum on every medium to large project. What a nightmare. I want to elect representatives to handle this for me and then vote them out if they seem to be making a mess of it.

54 Legislature. Legislation and Proceedings. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

Yes. Would require advance notice of legislation and also preserve video of proceedings for twenty years. Might stop some bad bills from getting through and will certainly provide many hours of footage to the Daily Show.

55 Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Yes. I grudgingly supported Prop 30 back in 2012. I actually preferred Prop 38 back then which seemed more balanced across income brackets and I hated the regressive sales tax component. This extension keeps the tax on the wealthy while allowing the sales tax to expire.

56 Cigarette Tax to Fund Healthcare, Tobacco Use Prevention, Research, and Law Enforcement. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

Yes. About time California taxed tobacco more. I’d rather see the funds raised be unrestricted but this is a good cause.

57 Criminal Sentences. Parole. Juvenile Criminal Proceedings and Sentencing. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute

Yes. Stops throwing away the key on some prisoners who could be rehabilitated. Our prison population is ridiculous. Also makes it harder to send kids to adult court.

58 English Proficiency. Multilingual Education. Initiative Statute.

Yes. Makes it easier for schools to establish bilingual education programs.

59 Corporations. Political Spending. Federal Constitutional Protections. Legislative Advisory Question.

Yes. Corporations are not people. This proposition will do close to nothing to reverse that Supreme Court decision but it doesn’t hurt to complain about it.

60 Adult Films. Condoms. Health Requirements. Initiative Statute.

Abstain. Don’t really know or care.

61 State Prescription Drug Purchases. Pricing Standards. Initiative Statute.

Yes. It’s a tough one because there is risk that VA pricing would increase and some drugs may not be available at the discounted rate. But if that happens the answer is going to be more draconian action against the drug makers not less. The current system where Medicare is banned from negotiating prices while bad actors send costs into the stratosphere has to end. Also, they’re spending $100M to defeat this which makes me inclined to see it as a great idea.

62 Death Penalty. Initiative Statute.

Yes. I disagree with the death penalty for a bunch of reasons. Primarily that the state should only use violence in life or death situations and should not have the power to kill in cold blood. The risk that we execute the wrong person is too high. Practically the cost and complexity is a waste of time. Life without the possibility of parole should be the ultimate sanction (and can be reversed in the event of a miscarriage of justice.

63 Firearms. Ammunition Sales. Initiative Statute.

Yes. The only thing that can stop a bad toddler with a gun is a good parent with no ammunition. More seriously this solidifies a ban on large capacity magazines and remove more guns from more bad guys. All for it.

64 Marijuana Legalization. Initiative Statute.

Yes. Make it legal and tax it already. I’d do the same for all drugs. See also #57. We could have more tax revenue and fewer people in jail.

65 Carry-Out Bags. Charges. Initiative Statute.

No, see #67.

66 Death Penalty. Procedures. Initiative Statute.

No, see #62.

67 Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags. Referendum.

Yes. Banning plastic bags has been a big success in San Francisco. Reusable bags are way more popular. This is an attempt by the disposable bag industry to fight back. Brace yourselves - other wasteful disposables must be next. Yes on 67 and no on 65.

News: New York Times responds to Donald Trump's lawsuit threat: bring it on

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Sealion

Updated on Sunday, May 3, 2020

Sealion!

Book reviews for September 2016

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017
Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms by David S. Evans

Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms by David S. Evans

2/5

Given that matchmaker businesses include stock exchanges, newspapers and shopping malls the claim that the field of economics only 'discovered' them in 2000 is the most interesting fact in this book. It doesn't sound like it can possibly true and either casts serious doubt on the credibility of the authors or on the entire field (including the authors).

Looking past the amazing recent discovery of multi-sided platforms the book is very light on any actual theory beyond the trivial - for example pricing may include a subsidy to one side and platform ignition is hard. Really. There are some good anecdotal accounts of specific businesses and there is a small amount of insight to be gained here. Overall I'd say avoid though.

 

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

4/5

 

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

3/5

 

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

3/5

Solid thriller based on the multiple universe interpretation of quantum physics.

 

Scott Adams

Updated on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Scott Adams

Dilbert creator Scott Adams recently endorsed Donald Trump. I could take it if this was just our daisyworld politics in action. But it's a horrible post that boils down to money and rationalization.

"I don’t know the best way to defeat ISIS. Neither do you. I don’t know the best way to negotiate trade policies. Neither do you."

The first plank of the argument is that he can't make a call on most issues and so he's not qualified to weigh in. Welcome to democracy. The job is to make the best choice that you can with imperfect information. If you can't do that then do the rest of us a favor and abstain.

"You can argue whether an estate tax is fair or unfair, but fairness is an argument for idiots and children."

The second plank is that he might be less well off if the estate law changes.

So now the lack of an opinion on any other issue makes sense. If you had to think about ISIS or trade (or walls or Muslims or women) then maybe a dent in your income would have to move down a position or two or fifty. But if, aw shucks, you're just not smart enough to make those calls then it's a conveniently self-serving single issue election.

All of this is true even if raising the estate tax is a bad policy. But at the risk of coming across as a child or idiot maybe there's something in it:

"Between 1979 and 2007, paycheck income of the top 1 percent of U.S. earners exploded by over 256 percent. Meanwhile, the bottom 90 percent of earners have seen little change in their average income, with just a 16.7 percent increase from 1979 to 2014."

I don't know the best estate tax policy. But Scott, neither do you.

Updated 2016-10-12 20:28:

So over the weekend he switched his endorsement to Gary Johnson. Maybe:

"You might enjoy my book because you’re not sure if I’m really endorsing Gary Johnson or just saying so to protect my brand."

Autumnal Equinox 2016

Autumnal Equinox 2016

It's Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, Spring down south. Rendered in Catfood Earth (Windows, Android).

(Previously, Previously, Previously)

Butterfly at California Academy of Sciences

Butterfly at California Academy of Sciences

Save Mount Davidson

Updated on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Save Mount Davidson

I just learned that San Francisco's Recreation and Parks department plans to cut down thousands of healthy trees because they are non-native. I really don't understand this nativist movement. At one point San Francisco was part of Gondwanaland. A while before that it was a sea of super-heated plasma. We need more trees even if they were originally Australian. It's a city of transplants anyway.

San Francisco Forrest Alliance seems to be the main hub to try and shut this down. If you live here and like trees please do something. 

Here's a letter I just sent to my Supervisor:

Dear Supervisor Yee,

I am writing to voice my opposition to the plan by the Recreation and Parks Department’s Natural Areas Program to cut down 1,600 trees on Mount Davidson. I have lived in San Francisco for over sixteen years and in your district for a little over two. I regularly walk my dog and take my children to Mount Davidson. We greatly value this park for its views and forest.

Beyond Mount Davidson specifically I am horrified by the thought of felling thousands of healthy trees because they are considered to be non-native. The mission of Recreation and Parks should not be to return San Francisco to its original state. As a taxpayer and homeowner I expect to see a focus on the needs of residents and a management plan that preserves our forested areas rather than denuding them.

Maybe some of the NAP budget could be diverted to fixing up the dilapidated West Portal playground or to pay for maintenance of neighborhood trees rather than their current plan?

Yours faithfully,

Robert Ellison

Book reviews for August 2016

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017
Company Town by Madeline Ashby

Company Town by Madeline Ashby

4/5

I've been occasionally checking in for the third part of Ashby's Machine Dynasty series and discovered that instead of finishing that off she wrote Company Town instead. Which is a good thing. This is fast paced and feels effortless. It's the story of a future town bought by a family dynasty and the bodyguard to the heir apparent. Hard to say too much more but I loved it.

 

Patriot (Alexander Hawke, #9) by Ted Bell

Patriot (Alexander Hawke, #9) by Ted Bell

2/5

 

Warriors (Alexander Hawke, #8) by Ted Bell

Warriors (Alexander Hawke, #8) by Ted Bell

1/5

Bell has a remarkable ability to fatally self-contradict himself in the space of a single sentence.