My Votes in 2008

Should I Vote?  Yes, probably.  Many libertarians refuse to vote.  They refuse to be party to a choice between Coke-brand statism and Pepsi-brand statism.  I sympathize, and respect their decision.  You won't hear rants form me about the beauty of the right to vote.  But I see two reasons for libertarians to vote.  One is to find ways to register our existence, to try to communicate that just because we don't riot at WTO meetings doesn't mean that a great well of dissatisfaction does not exist among us.  The second reason is ballot initiatives.  While candidate A and B may be equally bad on the freedom scale, there is often a right answer for protecting freedom in the ballot initiatives, and they need your vote.

President:  Libertarian Party Guy.  Yeah, I know his name is Bob Barr.  I don't even care.  I am casting the vote for the idea, not the guy, in hopes that the Republicans, as they rebuild themselves over the next 2 years, might notice there are some libertarians out there looking for a home.  It would be nice to be as excited about a politician as some folks are about Obama, but really, they are excited by their own vision, not his.  We really know little about him, but my sense is that his every instinct about government run counter to mine.  McCain is hardly better, perhaps going Obama one further by matching him on tax increases and economic nuttiness but also throwing in a dollop of conservative restrictions on non-economic civil liberties.  And I think many of us are exhausted by the prospect of another 4 years of foreign-policy-as-penis-extension that McCain promises.

US Congress:  John Shadegg
.  If it weren't for Jeff Flake and Ron Paul, I would say Shadegg is about the best we libertarians can hope for of a major party candidate.  Not perfect (he was one of the ones who knuckled under on the second bailout vote) but pretty good.

County Sheriff and City Attorney:  Whoever is running against Joe Arpaio and Andrew Thomas.  Seriously.  I don't even know their names and I am voting for them.  I am sick and tired of Arpaio's schtick (index of articles here).  Anyone who can go on a crime sweep into the 99% all-anglo tony suburb of Fountain Hills and come out with arrestees who are 75% Hispanic is not even trying to be fair.  Andrew Thomas has had Arpaio's back for years, fighting many (losing) civil rights cases for him and prosecuting his critics in the media.

PROP. 100 Protect Our Homes:  Yes.  I am not sure this is even that relevant.  Prevents the imposition of taxes or fees on the sale of real estate  (e.g. no real estate sales tax).  Not sure if this is even a threat,  but I will usually vote to limit the power of government.

PROP. 101 Medical Choice for Arizona:  Yes.  This proposition would effectively prevent state health care laws like that in Massachusetts that require medical coverage and mandate certain types of medical coverage.  In Massachusetts, my current insurance plan (which I pay for and did a lot of research to uncover) is illegal (because it has a higher deductible that politicians want to allow).

PROP. 102 Marriage:  Big No.  I don't expect to change anyone's mind on this, but I am not in the least threatened by civil marriages of gays, and in fact have a number of friends and family members who have taken advantage of the brief window of opportunity in California to get married to their partner.  I am not sure how this can be a threat to me -- last I checked, my marriage is as strong today as it was before gay marriage was allowed.  This issue is sort of the conservative equivalent of the left's obsession with income inequality.  Conservatives tell folks (rightly) that they should be concerned with their own quality of life and not feel somehow worse if there are people who are wealthier.  But, then they tell us all our marriages are going to be worse because somebody over there who we never will meet is going to marry someone of the same sex.

PROP. 105 Majority Rules "” Let the People Decide:  Haven't Decided.  This is a weird one.  This would require propositions raising taxes to be passed only if the "yes" votes they receive equate to 50+% of the total registered voting population, not just of the people who voted that day.  Basically, it makes it impossible to have tax increases in propositions, which I like.  But it is a terrible precedent -- this is simply not how we count elections.  In particular, the "registered voter" number is almost meaningless.  Requiring a super-majority of those voting would be much better law.  I may well vote yes, because I suspect the next 2 years are going to be a heyday of taxation, but I will sort of feel guilty about it.

PROP. 200 Payday Loan Reform Act.  Yes.  Would un-ban payday loan companies in Arizona.  I have always supported choice, even for the poor and unsophisticated.  Payday loans are expensive, but as we have learned from subprime loans, maybe credit to borrowers with no income or assets should be expensive.  More here.

PROP. 201 Homeowner's Bill of Rights.  No.  Created by a pissed off union in a fit of pique as an FU to homebuilders.  Mandates decade-long warranties on homes, and offers a myriad of opportunities for trial lawyer hijinx.  And what problem is it solving?

PROP. 202 Stop Illegal Hiring Act.  Yes, I think.  Again, this is one of those confusingly worded initiates that like to use triple negatives.  But I believe it is a softening of the Immigration / hiring law that I have long opposed.  (related:  E-Verify reviewed here

PROP. 300 State Legislators' Salaries.  No.  Changed my mind on this.  At first, I thought current salaries were unreasonably low.  But now I think that they should all go out and get real jobs, and make the legislature part-time.  Maybe they'll meet less often.

  • http://www.checkcity.com Payday Loans

    Thank you for the comments. Ultimately you hit the nail on the head. People should be free to choose how and where to borrow.

  • http://www.creativedestruction.com/ Sameer Parekh

    That last one is a joke right? The legislature is already part-time.

  • Doug

    Gay marriage: my main concern is that it is an attempt to REDEFINE the term. Look in any old dictionary, and "marriage" always meant the union between man and woman. My standard retort to this matter is that gays can already marry --- all a gay guy has to do is go find a woman, and he can get married. Which inevitably leads to the heart of the issue: some are trying to redefine the term, this time using the ballot box to do it.

    Once we casually redefine a union, then what's to prevent ANY union between any two people, or animals, from being defined as "marriage"? If I, a male, want to marry my sister, or my brother, what's to stop me now? Why can't I marry several women? Clearly, society DOES place limits on the concept, and for good reasons.

    This is indeed a very slippery slope, where standard, accepted definitions no longer mean anything, subject to the whims of a very vocal minority. I part company on this one with my libertarian, anything-goes brethen. It's the fiscal equivalent of codifying "rich."

  • DKH

    I agree with you on most of these, especially 101 and 105. 202 feels like a balance of power issue that I couldn't hope to learn enough to understand, especially since I also don't understand the status quo.

    200 is somewhat confusing to me. My impression is that a yes vote would require cheaper payday loans, i.e. a price ceiling, while a no vote would mean that payday loans become illegal at a certain time. I'm not sure which is more desireable. Some part of me says to vote no and see if payday loans are re-legalized at the current, more economically free terms. The danger in that seems to be that the loans disappear entirely. Also, there is the possibility that my interpretation is entirely wrong. Someone please correct me if so.

  • http://www.checkcity.com payday loans

    i agree with what you are saying about the payday loan reform act, because it is our right to borrow money, even if it does involve high fees.

  • Kevin Jackson

    RE: 102. I hope your choice is based on more than what you write here. The argument you present is about as simple minded as saying that taxes on the super-rich don't affect anyone else. A lack of obvious, immediate consequences does not imply no consequences at all.

  • james

    @ Doug

    It's really embarrassing that you guys can't come up with anything but "WELL WHAT'S TO STOP PEOPLE FROM MARRYING THEIR SISTERS, OR THEIR DOG, OR MULTIPLE DOGS!???"

    Really? That's the best you can do? If so, you must, deep down, realize how ludicrous your position is.

    btw, here's your answers: laws against incest, bestiality, and polygamy.

  • http://thesciphishow.com Jason

    I don't understand your position on Gay marriage. Why would someone who calls them self a libertarian would argue in favor of greater government regulation of relationships.

    Nothing is stopping homosexuals from having ceremonies, working out wills etc, to do as they please. Currently they have all the liberty in the world to do as they want.

    Instead they are now demanding government regulation of their relationships, when no case has been made for why the government should give a crap what they do one way or the other.

    It is not about a question of "liberty" or "freedom", homosexuals already have that.

  • Rick C

    "btw, here's your answers: laws against incest, bestiality, and polygamy."

    Sure, and the instant the Texas law about sodomy was struck down, someone tried suing to get rid of polygamy laws.

    As a previous commenter said, it's not about your marriage. It's about damaging the institution. This is one of those places where, shockingly, the slippery slope is real. Remember that there are groups like NAMBLA that'd just LOVE to get rid of things like age of consent laws, and people in the ACLU have occasionally taken cases on the side of removing those laws.

    Assume for a moment that polygamy laws are overturned. What meaningful resistance can there be to overturning incest/bestiality/age of consent laws?

  • James

    What meaningful resistance can there be to overturning incest/bestiality/age of consent laws?

    Seriously? Ok... Gay marriage will be allowed between consenting adults. In your hypo, plural marriages (polygamy) will be allowed between consenting adults. How would we draw the line after this?

    Theoretically, you could make the argument for incest, as they would be consenting adults. You could never make this argument for bestiality (lack of a consenting adult) and you could never make the argument for sex with children (lack of a consenting adult)

    I don't understand where your slippery slope comes in. Do you really think that if we allow gays to marry, we MUST allow polygamy? Of course not. And obviously your bestiality/pedophilia arguments are just hyperbolic fear mongering.

  • James

    @ Rick C

    Oh, and how did that attack on polygamy laws fare? Wait, they weren't repealed? Holy crap! Ohhh, but if same sex marriages were legalized, well bam, then there's no stopping those mormons right?

    I really couldn't give a good god damn either way, I just think the argument 'against' is built on lies and fairy dust.

  • Rick C

    James, it's easy to say "oh, well, of course that would NEVER happen." And that's what people used to say about the idea of challenges to polygamy laws. Sure, they didn't pass now, but what if people keep pounding on them? Before that, nobody ever thought there'd be courts enforcing gay marriage, a condition which has never existed anywhere, on states. So, sure, tell me there's no slippery slope. If you squint real hard and refuse to see it, it isn't there.

  • K

    I have a bias against propositions. Most are from a special interest trying to lock in an advantage. And they tie the hands of elected officials.

    The impulse to hobble elected officials is tempting but consider why we have elected officials. They are to balance needs and resources and priorities. If they cannot shift money or change legislation to solve problems then we are left with the problems.

    States and localities have some fundamental problems. I'll discuss two.

    Prop. 105:

    Public employees have a vested interest in boosting taxes as high as possible. And government is the single largest employer in most places, even more so when education employees are added. So bond issues begin with perhaps a 25% lead and will almost always pass.

    The solution? I don't know. But I don't think the situation is healthy.

    Prop. 300: Another structural problem. Government usually sets its own salaries and benefits. Of course so does management at corporations. The difference is the corporation can't take money from people by force.

    The solution? The salaries of elected officials are not often a problem. Salaries and raises are visible and you may lose the next election.

    In contrast, benefits draw little public attention. So it is not unusual across America to find lifetime pensions voted for six years in office - perhaps not in Arizona, I am hardly an all-seeing state watchdog. And lifetime medical insurance and cost-of-living increases are usually added on.

    Something must be done about the pension and benefits situation. The money hasn't been funded and isn't being funded now. A trip on LSD has more reality than public accounting. The problem is nearly a crisis over in California. Those interested might search on San Diego, Vallejo, and Kern County for starters.

    The solution: Who knows? But clearly adequate funding must be provided as a pension or benefit is earned and not expected to appear later.

    They present method is to put on a happy face mask, pay as little as possible into a fund, and tell the fund managers to earn impossible rates of return to make up the shortfall. Have you heard about any
    investment problems recently?

    Prop 101 A rare yes. The state has no business mandating health coverage. This would be another agency that failed to achieve much. To pass the time it would hassle those already having health insurance.

    Exactly what would be done to a poor person caught without insurance coverage? Is Sheriff Joe going to run sweeps through hospitals?

    Forget it. The agency mandate would prove inane and expensive. And tens of thousands would remain oblivious to medical insurance laws until they have a serious condition.

    Prop 102: Gay Marriage? Come on people, on this issue the judges will rule however they wish.

    If they favor GM the judges will find the needed wording in the State and US Constitution. Any contrary words in propositions and statutes might as well not exist. In fact, one wonders if the words of the constitutions need exist either.

    Gay marriage is the Roe v. Wade of the decade. The next few appointments to the US Supreme Court will decide the matter for a generation.

  • Kevin B

    Prop 200: I'm all for the free market, and I think the Payday Loan folks provide a needed service, this ballot proposition needs to fail.

    The law allowing these operations to exist expires in 2010 and the legislature has so far refused to extend it.

    The proposition was written by the Payday Loan people in an effort to get this law written into the constitution, therefore unable to be changed.

  • Miklos Hollender

    Coyote,

    same-sex marriage: it's about the long-term view. Just like with abortion, the core idea is that do we see sex and partner relationships as the means of reproduction or just as a way to achieve and share pleasure?

    What happens when well-off, intelligent, successful folks start to have less children? Just think it over. Concepts like concentration of inheritance, less well-educated professionals, social security collapse, and so on? The results are easy to deduce. I'm not for Social Darwinism but this would clearly mean the opposite extreme, an Anti-Darwinist society where the most fit reproduce the least - can that be a good thing?

    Yes - same-sex marriage in itself won't make successful folks have less children in the short run.

    But if you take the long-term view and see it as one of the many steps in the 60-70 years old "sexual revolution" process that aims to separate sexuality and partner relationships from reproduction, kids and family life...

  • skh.pcola

    @K: Government usually sets its own salaries and benefits. Of course so does management at corporations.

    Both of those assertions are substantially incorrect. Everything else you said: +2

  • K

    pcola: I would say you mistake "government" with "government employee." Agreed, a given employee doesn't set his own salary. But government does. No taxpayer is asked.

    Similarly the employee in industry does not set his own salary. But the company management does. No outsider is asked about the matter.

    The board of directors at corporations can control salaries. But if directors aren't management then who is? Perhaps you refer to the set of employees known as company officers? Well they approve salaries for lower down. Senior officers are usually directors too. Often they virtually are the board.

    Some locales vote directly on the salaries of elected officials. It happens here and there. If possible the measure will be the only one in a carefully unpublicized special election. Eighty percent of the public will be unaware that the election ever occurred.

    But legislators usually can just vote themselves raises. A common dodge is to appoint an independent board to recommend salaries. The board members are chosen by the people desiring raises. They recommend the raises. Sometimes the independent board can also grant the raises.

    A legislator corresponds roughly to a company director. They set the salary of the executive officers. They in turn set the lower salaries. Or negotiate with unions about them.

    In the end, almost no salaries in government or industry are set by anything except other employees. The difference is that industry can very seldom force me to pay.

    And as I said. The salaries in government are not often a problem. Benefits, far less visible and even more costly, are the real cost. At least the ones incurred on the job are paid then and the matter ends. The pension and other retirement commitments are open ended, Hence the cost can only be estimated. And the cost need not be paid today. So it isn't paid today.