November 6 - Texas Constitution Amendment Vote

Have you ever read the Texas Constitution? It's a mess. Check it out, here. There's been a movement underfoot for years now to replace the outdated state constitution with a version that makes a little more sense (it's not like we haven't done that a dozen times before, don't see the problem with doing it again) but it never amounts to much of anything.

I only mention it because it's once again time to amend the Constitution, as we seem to do every year here in Texas, and I'm consequently reminded of the idiocy of the current state of our government here.

Anyway, there are 16 amendments this year, which is more than the average year. There are several guides to what the different amendments mean; ranging from the tried and true League of Women Voters to the how can this not be biased guide published on the Texas Legislature's site. (I don't know about bias, but I do know that it would take a scholar to find it. 136 pages of wind. Sheesh) There's even one from the local LP, which I'll append to this blog entry.

The reason I feel compelled to write something on this anniversary of the annual vote-me-a-benny spending spree is because of the fifteenth amendment on the list, the one that everyone's favorite biking hero has been cheapening himself shilling for.

Yes, I have a problem with being taxed so that Texas can have their own inefficient version of the NIH, and spend even more money on ill-advised gov't backed research into cancer than the federal gov't currently does.

You may well ask "why", and you better believe I have an answer. It's because I don't like theft. It's bad enough when the state steals from me when it wants to build roads (which it now wants to charge me tolls to drive on) or when it wants to indoctrinate, er, educate children (and pays too much for schools I wouldn't want to send my neighbor's kids too, much less my own) at least those types of massively over-funded boondoggles can be justified on the basis that they could benefit everyone in Texas.

Not so the TIH (or maybe it'll be called TICR, but that sounds like heart research) the expenditures there will benefit only the researchers.

Oh, but I hear you saying "what about the benefit of new cancer cures, those will apply to everyone in Texas" What's my response to that? The cures will only benefit those who can afford to pay. That's right boys and girls, just like paying to build stadiums that you then have to pay to attend (or roads that you have to pay to drive on after paying for them to be built) we get to pay for research into medical treatments that we will then have to pay for in order to receive.

Those of us who still have sufficient funds to pay with, that is. Consequently, I'm not exactly gung ho on the subject of giving a few more of my rapidly disappearing dollars to the state so that they can spend it on things they will want to turn around and charge me for.

How about this for a suggestion; I'll keep my portion of the dollars, and you can bill me for my portion of the research costs if I ever need cancer treatment (or drive on the new roads, or go to a stadium event, etc) Of course, the argument runs "well, you won't have the treatments (or roads, or stadiums, etc) later if we don't pay for them now.

I've got news on that front too. I won't be here if my tax burden gets much higher. I'll be taking up residence under the 360 bridge with the rest of the homeless.

...I guess I really shouldn't worry. Hillary will be elected next November, and I'm sure she'll be re-introducing her socialized medicine, er, single payer health care proposal; as well as putting a chicken in every pot, no doubt. Cancer treatment will be free then, right?

So, why is Texas wanting to pay for research now, then? Anyone care to follow the money on this issue?


Travis County Libertarians release constitutional amendments voter guide

AUSTIN - October 18, 2007 - The Travis County Libertarian Party (TCLP) executive committee has adopted positions on 12 of the 16 Texas constitutional amendment propositions to appear on the November 6 ballot.

For: 7, 10, 11, 14
Against: 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, 13, 15, 16
No position: 3, 5, 6, 9

Propositions 3, 5, 6, and 9 generated debate among Libertarians. On the one hand, they appear to provide some tax relief. On the other hand, they are targeted toward narrow special-interest groups to buy votes and provide sound bites for re-election campaigns, while the legislature keeps raising spending and shifting the tax burden onto others. Libertarians favor broad-based tax and spending cuts, rather than more complexity and special-interest pandering.

During the debate, some Libertarians expressed the principle, "When in doubt, vote no."

These are the TCLP positions, with brief explanations:

1. AGAINST (Angelo State University governance change) This would be more than a simple change in hierarchy. It would allow
spending, tuition, and fees to increase.

2. AGAINST (Additional $100 million bonds for student loans) Bonds cause future tax increases. Government subsidies to students enable university bureaucrats to keep raising tuition and fees. Student debt upon graduation has skyrocketed in the past ten years, and we shouldn't encourage that trend with more tax dollars.

3. No position (Tweaking appraisal cap rules)

4. AGAINST ($1 billion in bonds for state facilities) Libertarians support less spending on state facilities, not more.

5. No position (Tax incentives for down town revitalization programs)

6. No position (Tax exemptions for personal vehicles used for business)

7. FOR (Eminent domain buy-back rights)
This would provide a small amount of protection in some cases. However, the 2007 legislature failed to pass stronger protections against eminent domain, and this is a perfect case where politicians are likely to mislead voters by claiming they support eminent domain reform more than they really do.

8. AGAINST (Home equity loan regulations)
Libertarians believe in free markets and personal responsibility. This amendment would increase government interference with the loan process.

9. No position (Disabled veteran tax exemptions)

10. FOR (Abolish office of inspector of hides and animals)
Libertarians support eliminating the obsolete minor office of Inspector of Hides and Animals. We wish this amendment would also eliminate the State Board of Education, which would represent a real cut in government.

11. FOR (Require record votes on bill passage)
This would allow voters to actually find out how their representatives voted on final passage of a bill. More accountability is good.

12. AGAINST ($5 billion in bonds for Texas Transportation Commission)
The government already does a terrible job of spending transportation tax dollars, and we should not provide new revenue sources.

13. AGAINST (Denial of bail to some offenders)
This has a "tough on crime" sound to it, but it violates constitutional rights to bail and is unnecessary. America has the highest incarceration rate in the industrialized world. The state should focus on removing victimless crimes from the books to reduce incarceration and promote a stronger civil society, rather than imposing ever-increasing criminal penalties on every unwise action.

14. FOR (Permit judges who reach mandatory retirement age to serve out their terms)
Let elderly judges work if they want to.

15. AGAINST ($3 billion for a Cancer Research Institute)
Medical research is not a legitimate function of government. Funding for medical research should stay in the private sector. There is plenty of profit motive in seeking patents for drugs and medical devices, and if that weren't enough, there is also a great deal of funding provided by voluntary charitable donations.

16. AGAINST ($250 million in bonds for water development to poor unincorporated colonias)
Developers build neighborhoods without providing and paying for infrastructure like water, then want other taxpayers to pay for water and wastewater services for their developments. Wrong. Development should pay for itself without outside tax subsidies.
Early voting starts October 22 and ends November 2. Election day is Tuesday, November 6.

Contact:
Wes Benedict, TCLP Chair
512-442-4910
wesliberty@aol.com



For the purpose of completeness, I'll add this addendum. It looks like we'll be getting TICR,;getting a high profile celebrity to back spending your tax dollars (rather than celebrities spending their own private funds) always gets the public behind a project. Amendment 15 passed with 61% in favor. (source, Texas SOS)

Most of the amendments passed by 10 to 20 percent margins. With only about 5% of the population voting (One million of the over 20 million reported in the last census) I wonder how much the vote was skewed by targeted advertising, and how it might have been skewed differently if all those people who are certain that voting is a waste of time (because all the amendments will pass anyway) had gotten off their fat asses and gone to vote.

I guess it's true that we create our world through our (in)actions.

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