Vote on Tuesday: the Ballot Proposals
(Summary: No on all)
I’m not shy about my politics, and while I’d love everyone to agree with me I know that will never be the case. That being said, everyone needs to vote on Tuesday. For democracy to have meaning, it must have the fullest possible participation. Many local elections are decided by a handful of votes, and even national elections can come down to a few thousand (remember Bush v Gore?).
Everyone who can legally vote should, and while I know many may vote from the heart rather than from deep intellectual scrutiny, here’s my two cents about Michigan’s ballot proposals and the presidential election.
PROPOSAL 1: Emergency Manager Law–NO
This is a ballot referendum, essentially a way for The People (you and I) to approve of or remove a current law. The emergency manager law allows the state government to replace a local government with an Emergency Manager. This means that if the State thinks there is an “emergency”, the Governor can appoint a person to act as essentially as a local dictator, deciding what to do with public monies, contracts, services.
The usual argument in favor of this law is that if a city is falling apart financially, the state should step in and sweep away corruption and waste. As nice as it sounds, this is a horrible idea.
If the state and the Governor can simply wipe away our elected governments with the stroke of a pen, elections are meaningless. Local corruption should be fought by law enforcement, not dictatorship. Financial mismanagement is more a symptom of poverty than a cause. Schools and public services fail because of poverty. Corrupt officials make use of the chaos to swoop in like vultures and take what they can before there’s nothing left to steal.
There is no reason to expect a Governor-appointed Manager to be any better, any less corrupt, any more competent than officials elected by The People.
So far, this law has been mostly applied to majority African American urban centers. If you can’t vote against this law because it is anti-democratic and racist, at least consider self-interest. Your community could, at any time, be declared under “emergency” and your mayor and city council could be swept aside. This means that one person, appointed by a Governor you may or may not have voted for (Engler, Granholm, Snyder) could decide how many police and fire fighters you have, whether or not your roads get plowed in the winter, what schools to close. The power is basically unlimited. Vote “No” on 1.
PROPOSALS 2-5: NO
I agree with the sentiment of many of these proposals, but if we approve them, they will be part of our State Constitution, and we will lack the flexibility we need to deal with new challenges. Renewable energy, for example, is important for our environment and our State’s economy—right now. What if it’s not ten years from now? We’ll be stuck with a Constitutional Amendment that will be hard to get rid of.
The anti-tax proposal 5 is particularly dangerous, as it would limit the State’s ability to deal with critical matters. For example, if the Federal government offered us money to repair our roads and bridges if only we come up with the money, it might be a great deal, but it would be nearly impossible to raise the funds if we limit our taxing abilities. If you don’t like how we tax each other, vote for representatives you think will better follow your beliefs.
PROPOSAL 6: NO, NO, A THOUSAND TIMES NO!
We’ve needed another border crossing for years. For years, the owner of the Ambassador Bridge has used every tool he can find to avoid having competition. Now, finally, we have an opportunity to get our bridge, including the jobs to build it, maintain it, and the extra commerce that will come with it. And the Canadians are paying for it. Despite the outright lies from the Bridge owners, there are no new taxes. This will not cost Michiganders, but actually help our economy, not through Democratic stimulus or Republican tax cuts, but through actual job creation. The only reason to stop the bridge is to enrich the Moroun family.