I haven't written about politics in a while. Strange considering how much is going on lately. Well today in the mail we got our copies of 'The Official Massachusetts Information for Voters: The 2008 Ballot Questions'. Direct democracy is a hoot, so this seems like a great way to get back in the swing of things.
I've written about this one before
. Question 1 is on the issue of ending the Massachusetts income tax. My previous assessment boils down to the thought that ending the income tax is all well and good, but I'd much rather see the property tax go, as property tax is, in my opinion, in direct conflict with the concept of private ownership. But you can read about my previous thoughts on that in the post linked to above. In reading the provided arguments for and against presented in the packet I'm struck by a couple of thoughts. First, in the argument against there's really only one point, that the government needs
that tax money. The rest is just supporting arguments for that. Most strikingly, however, is the way they chose to phrase the argument. The argument opens with, This legally binding initiative would slash state revenues by more than $12 billion a year - nearly 40 percent of the state budget'. This contrasts nicely with the opening statement of the argument for: '"41% waste in Massachusetts state government," reveals survey'. Nice. So in theory it's possible to end the income tax and still come out ahead. Didn't Deval Patrick say he was going nto cut waste or something? What ever happened with that? One other point on the argument against. Their conclusion, which really should be their best argument: 'Times are tough enough. Let's not make them worse. Vote NO'. While I understand they're saying that repealing the income tax will result in fewer services and smaller budgets, I'm not sure it's in their best interest to claim that an extra $3,700 in your pocket (on average) is going to make tough times tougher. I'm thinking I'm probably going to vote 'yes' on this one. If for no other reason than that I enjoy being contrary.
This one actually caught me by surprise. Apparently I just haven't been paying enough attention. Question 2 is about decriminalizing possession of marijuana. I'm sure we're all familiar with the arguments against decriminalization: it encourages usage, increases crime, &c. It's probably not much of a surprise to anyone who reads my blog to find out that I don't really buy that. Regardless of what you might believe about the morality of mind altering substances, there is absolutely no reasonable way to believe that marijuana is any worse or more harmful than alcohol (except for the fact that you generally smoke it), and plenty of reasons to believe that alcohol is more harmful than marijuana. If for no other reason than to save the billions of dollars that we pour into finding, arresting, trying, and incarcerating people whos represent no threat to society, and who probably outnumber (or close to it) the 'law-abiding' population. Let's stop throwing our money down that bottomless pit.
Question 3 is about prohibiting dog racing in Massachusetts. The argument for is that it's cruel and inhumane. The argument against is that we've always done it, besides it makes money. I'd say all three of those statements are true. So I'm probably voting yes.