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A surprisingly good slate! (But please, NO ON 72.)

These suggestions for the state propositions are very good. They are a refreshing departure from the "it sounds good, so I'll vote for it" attitude common in "progressive" circles. Liberation News has thought things through and come out against the 911 fee and the children's hospital bond, for example. Though measures like these have worthy goals, they also contain serious flaws.

I do disagree with the recommendation for Proposition 72. Please vote NO ON 72! Contrary to the claim made by Liberation News, 72 does not "forc[e] the bosses to pay for more healthcare than they do presently". 72 isn't magic: someone has to pay. You can bet that overall payroll in California will be reduced by an amount equal to the cost of the new health benefits. Minimum wage employees won't lose, but anyone earning more than minimum wage and not currently receiving health benefits will see his or her wages cut. Employers who don't cut wages outright will reduce people's hours or hire fewer Californians. Proposition 72 says that part of an employee's compensation must be in the form of health insurance; it does not say that an employee must receive more compensation than she does today.

Proposition 72 stupidly ties health coverage to employment and family status. Health coverage is a universal need. You shouldn't have to have a job, be someone's child, or be someone's spouse so that you can afford to see a doctor.

Proposition 72 takes us farther away from single-payer health insurance, by "solving" the insurance problem for a few million more people. The "continuation of benefits" provisions in COBRA and the "portability" provisions in HIPAA are other examples of this Band-Aid approach. If you provide insurance for some select group of people, those people (and the compassionate public looking on) will no longer have a reason to fight for single-payer health care.

Finally, Proposition 72 contains a poison pill. It requires Sacramento to purchase all of the coverage from private insurers but exempts the insurance contracts from competitive bidding and bars Sacramento's internal watchdog, the Department of General Services, from reviewing them. (See Section 2200 in Chapter 9 on Page 158 of the state voter information guide.)

Regarding the presidential and congressional races, I wonder whether it makes much sense to vote for candidates who we know will not win. Making the people electable is a worthwhile long-term goal, but registering protest votes today just fragments the progressive vote.

I do however support Robert Norse for city council, because he is a great guy and because his platform is right on the money (I don't know Coral Brune as well, and haven't received any information from her, but I suspect that she is also a good choice). Local politics is a different game, because we can actually get to know the candidates, and because the multi-way local races do leave room for surprises.
 


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