Saturday, October 20, 2007

Taking the Initiative

As usual, we’ve got a number of contentious ballot issues on this year’s election slate; as usual, the backers and opponents of those measures are inundating the electorate with all sorts of half-truths and whole lies in an attempt to sway the public in favor of one side or another; and as usual, the people (and here I include myself) are no more qualified to assess those claims than they are to drive 6000 pound motor vehicles while talking on cell phones and drinking hot coffee, an inability, unfortunately, that doesn’t prevent them from doing so, resulting in accidents no less ugly, but far more frequent than the yearly results on the first Wednesday morning after the first Tuesday in November.

In my not-so-humble opinion, the ballot initiative process is the worst thing to happen to our country’s alleged representational democracy since the Electoral College. All it does it let a bunch of ill-informed voters (and again, here I include myself) make decisions that historically, and according to our Constitution, ought to be made by elected representatives since, after all, isn’t that what we elect them for in first place?

So, this year, for example, we’ve got a ballot measure that asks whether we should tax ourselves to the tune of a hundred dollars or so on car tabs and other automobile-related expenses to fund some billions of dollars in road and transit projects. I say “sure,” or “maybe not,” or “hell no;” I can voice my opinion, no problem, but do I really have the information to make an informed choice? To acquire it strikes me as a fulltime job—and isn’t that what I’ve elected those bozos in Olympia to do?

The other contentious one has to do with whether policy owners should be allowed to file lawsuits against their insurance companies when claims are contested; I’ll probably vote for it, but I’d rather have elected officials who took the initiative to lead, instead.


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