A balanced approach to ballot questions

24Oct14

voter_infoBy now you’ve received the red booklet, Massachusetts Information for Voters: 2014 Ballot Questions, published by William Francis Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth. This handy booklet provides you with all the information on the four ballot questions that you could possibly need when you go to vote on Nov. 4.

All the information, that is, except the most important piece of information of all: how you should vote on each question. They actually expect us to think for ourselves! What on earth are we paying taxes for?!

Don’t worry, I’ve done the thinking for you. The following is my own handy Guide to the 2014 Ballot Questions.

I’m voting ‘YES’ on Question 1 to repeal indexing the gas tax to inflation. Last year, Massachusetts state legislators decided that they never wanted to vote to raise the gas tax again. It’s not that they don’t want the gas tax to go up. Of course they do. They just don’t want you to see them doing it. So they tied the state gas tax to inflation – but only if the Consumer Price Index goes up. If the CPI goes down, the gas tax does not. It’s a one-way street going uphill.

Route 1 - Saugus, MassachusettsThey say the increases are needed to maintain our crumbling roads and bridges. Fine. Then legislators should be proud and eager to let the voters see them cast an annual vote to fund this noble need, instead of hiding behind the CPI. Vote YES on Question 1 to repeal the indexing and make the pols do what we sent them to Beacon Hill to do: to cast votes.

Vote ‘NO’ on Question 2 to stop the state from expanding the bottle deposit law to apply to most non-carbonated drinks, including juices and water. Most people realize that this is totally unnecessary and it will be a giant pain for everyone to lug even more containers back to the store that you can currently conveniently recycle by the curb.

You can almost rationalize the deposits on beer and soda as a kind of sin tax. But how is making it less convenient and more expensive to drink healthy beverages like juice and water a progressive idea?

Wakefield RecyclesExpanding the bottle bill is yet another example of pro-government types trying to micromanage our lives. They have so little faith in you to do the right thing that they think that bribing you is the only way to get you to recycle instead of littering.

Actually, recycling is like anything else in life. The harder you make it, the less of it you get – which may be the whole idea. The state makes millions of dollars every year from deposit containers that are not returned. They’re counting on people doing the easy thing and continuing to recycle these containers curbside. That way the state gets to keep all of the deposit money.

If Question 2 passes, it will also add another burden on businesses, which will have to deal with tens of thousands more returnable containers.

Question 3 is a tough one. A ‘Yes’ vote would prohibit casinos in Massachusetts. It won’t affect me since the extent of my gambling is to play the Lottery once a year and then toss the ticket out six months later because I forgot to check to see if it was a winner. Maybe I’m a millionaire several times over, but I’m not losing a lot of sleep over it.

LUV2WINI’m somewhat persuaded by libertarian arguments that the government should not interfere in a person’s individual freedom to gamble. At the same time, the big bucks unions are urging a ‘NO’ vote in order to keep casinos. I’m generally wary of anything that the unions want. Also, casinos are magnets for corruption. Do we really have a shortage of corruption in Massachusetts?

Sorry, gamblers. I think I’m voting ‘Yes’ on Question 3 to repeal the casino law.

I’m voting ‘NO’ on Question 4, another union-backed measure that would force employers to offer sick time to employees. This proposal derives from that all-too-familiar Mr. Burnsmindset that all businesses and employers are heartless, greedy monsters who are looking for an excuse to fire an employee for staying home to care for a sick child. The idea that sick people are being fired left and right by mean old employers is a red herring.

The proponents of earned sick time tend to be the same “folks” who successfully pushed for an increase in the state’s minimum wage. Apparently, the minimum wage hike isn’t damaging businesses fast enough, so mandatory sick time was introduced.

The fact is, compassion aside, for practical business reasons alone most employers are not going to fire a good employee for being legitimately out sick only to have to train someone new who might not be as good a worker.

Most workers already have paid sick time. But mandating sick time would hurt small businesses. I’m voting ‘No’ on Question 4.

So I am taking a fair and balanced approach to the ballot questions. In chronological order, I’m voting Yes, No, Yes, No.

[This column originally appeared in the October 23, Wakefield Daily Item.]

Montgomery Burns photo by Vaguely Artistic.

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One Response to “A balanced approach to ballot questions”

  1. 1 Robert Buonfiglio

    Excellent article!! (as usual)

    You ask, “But how is making it less convenient and more expensive to drink healthy beverages like juice and water a progressive idea?”

    Well, it isn’t a progressive idea. It’s a Progressive (capital “P”) idea. As you probably realize, Progressives see government as the answer to, well, just about everything. But they never seem to perceive any downside to handing more and more power and money over to the government. They trust government implicitly, and they are blind to any fraud, waste or abuse that is perpetrated by government agencies.

    I tend to agree with P.J. O’Rourke, who once wrote, “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” (I would have written beer instead of whiskey, though.)


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