• 201002.23

    California Proposition 16 - "California Taxpayers Right to Vote Act"

    With a name like "California Taxpayers Right to Vote Act," you know there is an ulterior motive. We already have the right to vote, right? In fact, we do. So what is Prop 16, really?

    Prop 16 is designed such that before a city or state entity buys a section of power grid and resells that power to its residents, it must hold an election and get a 2/3 majority vote. While it may seem nice to have the voters decide on whether or not a government entity should be spending their money, it actually doesn't make sense. The reason is the expenses involved in NOT allowing the entities to do this.

    Think of it this way. A government agency spends some of your tax dollars buying up sections of the power grid. Money lost, right? Not necessarily. After they own that part of the grid, they start charging you for the power they give you. Great, so they spend your money to charge you money...but wait, there's more. Because the government entity is essentially a business at this point which provides a service and charges for that service, it's making money back. On top of this, the residents now have a choice of who they get their power from. This is known as "competition" and is the leading force against monopolization in any industry. If a market segment is profitable, doesn't it make sense for the government to capitalize on that market segment?

    Now let's look from another angle. You are a taxpayer (I'm assuming) and you want to make the final decision about whether or not a section of power grid is bought. This is great, but your local government spends a lot (I mean, a LOT) of money without your express permission because we as a city/state/country give our government that power. We elect people to handle this in our stead because we are busy and don't have the time to make every decision collectively. That's how a representative republic works (no, the U.S.A. is not a democracy, sorry!!)

    So why bother holding an (expensive) election so the govt. entity can spend more money petitioning and explaining to you why it's good that they actually make money? Especially when they're spending your money on lots of other things, all the time. Holding an election to give a local government entity the right to actually turn your tax dollars into profit (or at least offer you lower prices on energy) seems like a waste of time, no?

    So where did this bill come from? If you read the Wikipedia page, it's obvious: PG&E. Now, I have nothing against these guys. They do a great job, and obviously they're just protecting their interests. They do not want the government competing with them, which is why thus far they have donated $6.5 million to the campaign, and have stated they plan to donate up to $35 million total. They obviously have a vested interest in forcing local governments to get 2/3 support in elections (which is very, very hard to do).

    By voting "Yes!" on prop 16, you gain absolutely no more rights than you had before, you only make it harder for local and state governments to turn your tax dollars into something useful: cheap power for you. The name "California Taxpayers Right to Vote Act" is a misleading name designed to dupe the voters (that's you!) into voting for higher energy prices and less competition in the energy market.

    It's important that our local governments are accountable for the money they spend, but passing highly targeted, specific bills that force them to ask, nay, beg, the voters for approval on everything they spend money on slows (if not stops) progress and makes our government much less useful...after all, we're already electing them and paying them to decide where our money goes. Doesn't voting on every single issue defeat the purpose of appointing representation?

    Also, if the residents of a city really do not want the government spending their money on buying areas of power grid, they can get a ballot intiative (which takes a handful of signatures) and vote on it themselves.