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The Forgotten Elections: Ballot Propositions

October 3, 2008

IMHO – After the Ten Commandments, all laws are just job security for lawyers.

With the extreme emotions surrounding our economic woes and the presidential elections, it’s easy to see who the losers are: US. With each election, our country gets more divided. With each political operative on ANY side of the aisle making questionable claims, selling the public on half-truths and fear, we grow further and further apart. And we lose our ability to make any sense whatsoever of the political landscape, let alone simple ballot propositions.

I’ve always been wary of ballot propositions. Thrown out there in the middle of heated Presidential campaigns, most go undetected until the effect of the new law hits. Then people are furious, confused, livid! “How the hell did this law get put into place?” By YOU. You voted for it. Or worse, left it blank.

This happens in every state. Some special interest gets their knickers in a twist about some often obscure issue. So they lobby and lobby and lobby for a bill. Some politician has a hidden agenda, accepts the bill to put on the ballot (or however your state does this… let’s not quibble about process… it gets on your freaking ballot and YOU didn’t put it there.) Then that politician adds to it: “Sure, I’ll do this for you if I can add free parking spaces for legislators in front of the courthouse.”

He/She then passes it to friends who also add this or that little weird item to the bill: “Ok, but only if it’s Tuesday and it’s raining.” It may have NOTHING to do with the bill, but now it’s there in all its glory on your ballot and you can’t make heads or tails of it. The language is obscure and sounds harmless enough, or is so confusing that even the original writers aren’t sure what it says. All we know is there’s a ton of therefores and wherewiths and towhits…

Then it shows up on our ballot as a Proposition.

Why be leery of Propositions? If ya got propositioned by a hooker on a street corner, it might sound interesting and tempting. But then, you look back at it later and realize there were some unintended consequences that you cannot reverse. IMHO – THAT is why they call them PROPOSITIONS. Sound good. Probably not all that good.

For heaven’s sake, do your homework! READ the materials sent to you by your state voting office.

Here’s how to analyze a Proposition:

  • See if you can find out who authored the Proposition. That may tell you the hidden agenda.
  • Before you read the opinions presented in the pamphlets, look at the identity of the writers of the opinions. That will tell you if they have a hidden benefit from this Proposition that may hurt you.
  • Start by reading the “Vote No” opinions first. While a good many of them will be wild-eyed and a bit crazy, you will find nuggets of truth and a thread of reasoning throughout.
  • Then read all the “Vote Yes” opinions. There will also be some grains of truth there. Yet again, there will be crazy-ass, wild-eyed letters that threaten armageddon if you don’t VOTE YES NOW!!! Hey – look at the signers’ credentials. Use your noggin.
  • Decide for yourself which side of the question is the most logical and beneficial.
  • Ask yourself the classic Latin Question: “Cui Bono?” Who Benefits? Who will get money, who will get power, who will be hurt, who will lose?
  • Remember -with very few exceptions, Bills and Propositions and Laws are set up so someone gains some level of power or money. That is not always a bad thing, just be clear that there are only three things in politics: Land – Power – Money– the great triumvirate. You are just voting on who gets it.

As I read this year’s Proposition Materials, I realized that just about every Proposition promising to do one thing was actually doing exactly the opposite. One such item-I must have read and re-read 4 times. I couldn’t believe the advertising was saying X when in fact the truth was Y. And it is right there in plain view for anyone who sits and reads it.

Only we don’t. Do We? We just believe the ads. Ads that are paid for by the people who will gain from that very proposition. And that is just dumb.

The ads for the proposition I was studying kept talking about how wonderful their proposition is; how thousands of Phoenix people will benefit. What it doesn’t say in the ad is this: A Yes vote will keep open a loophole that allows this business to charge 391% on loans. Yes. That’s no typo. 3-9-1%. Yet – the ads are so funny -so cute – so compelling. “We’re here to help.” Sounds a little like the alligator offering to give the bunny a free ride across the river!

Who wrote the YES opinions in the above Proposition? The owners of the loan companies. The employees of the loan companies. Cui bono?

So – Pay Attention. Don’t let all the drama for the Presidential race take you away from laws that may be enacted in your own state.

Start here: All the Propositions are suspect.

And if you don’t know what to vote, don’t just leave it blank. Depending upon the laws in your state, that may work against you. When in doubt, just vote NO. The worst thing that can happen? They will put it on the ballot again. But if a law goes through without you completely understanding all the ramifications, the worst case scenario could wind up being your worst nightmare.

Hey, this is just my opinion, and I could be wrong.

Check it out for yourself,


© 2008 Beth Terry Seminars, Inc.

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