Archive for April 21st, 2011

2011.04.21

Fixing California

I have little to argue with this article on the late, great California legislature. It points out three creeping, insidious and long term failures affecting the California legislature that inhibit and stymy the performance of its duties.

1: Term limits kill any experience from accumulating in our representatives. Essentially term limits as they stand now are a knowledge drain, and the result is sewage.

2: Proposition 13 needs, at a minimum, to be reformed. Not only does it keep housing taxes at a fixed rate more-or-less in perpetuity, but it requires any new taxes of any kind to require a 2/3 vote in the legislature. I’m not saying new taxes are always a solution, but let the legislature hang itself with the taxes when we vote them out when they screw up.

3: The article’s advocation of eliminating individual campaign contributions is the one item I have an issue with. I think this is a field that could be reformed or, better, completely revamped. I propose that to run for a legislative seat you should a certain number of signed petitions (say 100,000). Once underway, anyone can contribute to that election. The candidates all pull equally from that pool. Individuals, corporations and special interests can all contribute to the pool without limits. This way the candidates have equal footing so long as they can make the ticket.

The final piece I think is missing from the article is a reform of California’s referendum system. The referendum system is clearly broken with almost every single one requiring government spending (often mandatory) with no inclusions of where the money will come from. In some few cases it is used to limit the rights of others, and in other cases to cover for a cowardly legislature.

Now that I think about it, maybe what California really needs is a complete reboot. A new constitution, a clean wipe of all debts and existing laws. Let’s just make sure to get it right this time.

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