CWA Notes 2017

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017 12:21 am
flwyd: (Trevor glowing grad macky auditorium)
I made it to eight panels at this year's Conference on World Affairs at CU. Back in college, I would skip most of my classes during CWA week and listen to at least 20, but recently I just pop in for a few interesting talks. Some interesting notes:
Hurricanes! )
Refugees: Crisis? )
Ambassador to Vietnam )
From China with climate data )
Politics, comedy, and lady parts )
Revelations of Art and Symbolism )
Equal opportunity Internet access )

Wow, that took a long time. I typed notes on a tablet during the conference, but it would've been hard to interpret. Retranscribing and contextualizing involved a lot more time-consuming typing than I expected.

flwyd: (McCain Palin Abe Maude Simpsons)
I just finished figuring out how I'm going to vote on ballot measures this year. I'm not sure I've had this high a percentage of NO votes before. The abbreviated explanation: 60, 61, and 101 are for people who think it would be fun to have California's budget problems with the additional constraint that we can't borrow money to keep things running. Or, if you prefer, 60, 61, and 101 is like cutting off your arm to lose weight. In synchronicity news, there's a meme going around to find a post you wrote "on this day in your first year on LiveJournal." Here's a 9-year old insight on libertarianism. In the fall of 2001 I also apparently invented flash mobs, made personal insights that remain largely true, and revised Pascal's Wager.
Amendment P – reorganization of bingo oversight – YES
This sounds pretty reasonable. That gambling and bingo are handled by different parts of the state government is probably a historical accident. Merging these functions should lead to government that makes more sense. Yay!
Amendment Q – a process for setting up temporary government operation if Denver gets hit by a hurricane – YES
Sounds like more housekeeping. If someone's gone through the bother of figuring all this out, we should let it in.
Amendment R - eliminate taxes on small herds of cattle grazing on BLM lands - YES
The key to this one is the phrase in Arguments For reduces the administrative burden of collecting a tax that in many cases costs more money to collect than it brings in to local governments. When the government says "Collecting this tax is more bother than it's worth," that's a good sign it's time to phase out. Also, given the scale of tax cut proposals on the ballot this year, the $46,000 of accounting rearrangement is peanuts. Or pinecones, since it's government land.
Amendment 60 – override voter-approved tax increases, add tax elections to more levels of government, cut property taxes (for individuals and businesses), and create property taxes (for universities and airports) – NO
One nice thing about TABOR is it's shown that people will often vote for higher taxes if they think they're getting good value for their money. This measure would undo some of those changes, reducing voter power. It also reduces local property taxes. But anti-tax zealots have learned that their biggest enemy is parents worried that lower taxes will lead to worse schools for their kids. So the former tried to entice the latter by replacing lost school district revenue with money for the state without creating any additional revenue for the state. Good thing to, 'cause if the kids don't get a good education, the state won't have any budget to provide the low income, health care, or prison services folks with poor education often need.

This measure also requires state-owned enterprises (universities, airports, etc.) to pay taxes. But these taxes won't make up for the lost revenue caused by the rest of this amendment! The taxes will go to pay for a further property tax reduction for people in the county (who typically get a property value boost due to the enterprise). CU became an enterprise so they'd have more budgetary flexibility while keeping tuition manageable since it was a pain in the ass to get money out of a tight state budget. If they have to pay taxes, students all over Colorado will pay higher tuitions to fund lower property taxes on expensive houses in Boulder. If they're lucky, landlords might drop rent by a few bucks.

The one redeeming feature of this amendment is letting citizens create ballot initiatives for lower (or higher) taxes at all levels of government (except federal). However, that perk isn't worth creating budget crises over.

Amendment 61 – stop government borrowing – NO
What happened to the Republican phrase of ten years ago, "Run government like a business?" Short and long-term borrowing are important parts of most businesses' operation. This amendment would prevent the state government from borrowing money at all and require voter approval for any local government borrowing. This is an understandable knee-jerk reaction to perceptions of the recent financial crisis, but it's not very helpful. If the interest rate on long-term borrowing is less than inflation plus growth, it makes money for the state. Preventing short-term borrowing is asking for chaos at the legislature, forcing them to consider things like paying state employees IOUs until everyone's taxes come in. If your "make government more accountable" plan is anti-commercial paper, you really shouldn't be proposing tax law.
Amendment 62 – let fœtæ own property and access the courts – NO
For Halloween season, how about a zombie anti-abortion amendment that died 75% to 25% two years ago? Oh wait, they changed "moment of fertilization" the the far more vague "beginning of biological development of that human being." Well my biological development began 6000 a couple billion years ago. Oh, and everything I said about Amendment 48 is still a problem.
Amendment 63 – add health care choice as a constitutional right, but prevent the government from creating health insurance worth choosing – NO
This measure seems designed to counteract the sort of health care bill that Congress didn't have the balls to talk about in 2009. You could at least wait until there's some data on the success of a plan before deciding it sucks. A full essay on how I think health care should work will have to wait for another day.
Proposition 101 – slash vehicle taxes and fees and reduce income tax by over 1% – NO
This seems to be a reaction to Bill Ritter's move last year to increase vehicle fees in order to balance the budget. One of the downsides of TABOR is that only citizens can raise taxes, combined with a balanced budget requirement, means the government has to get creative in how they balance the books. One could argue that the budget process should have gone differently, but the solution is not to drop vehicle fees to approximately 0 and simultaneously reduce income tax (why are those part of the same measure? at least the anti-abortionists didn't propose "Change the definition of person and also cut taxes by half a percent."). Cars create significant social externalities and should be taxed accordingly. What is especially ironic is I suspect many of the supporters of this amendment opposed the cash-for-clunkers program.
Proposition 102 – require participants in pretrial services programs to also have bonded bail – NO
I might support this measure if it had an exception for all nonviolent misdemeanors rather than just the first. Since the judge already has the flexibility to require bonded bail, I don't see how this amendment is a win for anybody but bail bondsmen. Maybe this is the plan to fund the courts system if 60, 61, and 101 all pass.

So please go out and vote for reason and sanity in government. Or, since you're a fan of reason and sanity, stay in and vote by mail. Otherwise, there tea party will lead to a pretty terrible hangover.
flwyd: (1895 Colorado map)
Here are my current positions on the initiatives and referenda on the Colorado ballot this year. Since I don't have a TV and haven't dug through the web on these issues, most of my information comes from the blue book. If you think there are considerations I've overlooked, please comment. If I learn something that changes my mind, I'll update this post. If you don't have time to read this post, please just vote NO on 48, the "personhood" amendment.

Note that amendments 53, 55, 56, and 57 have been retracted in a deal to oppose amendments 47, 49, and 54. Amendments 53, 55, 56, and 57 will be on the ballot, but votes won't be counted. 47, 49, and 54 will be counted, but "business" has joined with "labor" in opposing them. If you don't vote in Colorado, use this opportunity to research your own ballot or convince a friend in California to vote NO on prop. 8. )

Quick Reference:

  • 46: No
  • 47: No
  • 48: No
  • 49: No
  • 50: Probably yes
  • 51: Unsure
  • 52: No
  • 54: No
  • 58: Yes
  • 59: Yes
  • L: Yes
  • M: Yes
  • N: Yes
  • O: Yes
Take that, longest ballot in the country!

flwyd: (santa fe church ironwork and cross)
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that the pro-life Catholic Church spends a lot more energy opposing abortion than opposing the death penalty. In every place of worship, and around many believers necks, sits a sculpture of an ancient device for killing a prisoner in public.



(I've heard that Catholic organizations have started taking stands against the death penalty, war, and other politically-charged death situations. I applaud this direction and hope the world's largest organization takes a more public and active role in these campaigns.)
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