My 2012 Voting Guide for California’s Propositions

Today I’m filling out my absentee ballot for the 2012 election. In the process, I have decided to offer my own recommendations for how a rational Republican should vote on California’s various propositions this year. Moreover, I’ve compared my recommendations to the official positions of the California Republican Party. I’ve outlined areas of differences with a blue border.

I look forward to a lively and constructive debate.

Source:, Reflections of a Rational Republican

About Sean Patrick Hazlett

Finance executive, engineer, former military officer, and science fiction and horror writer. Editor of the Weird World War III anthology.
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8 Responses to My 2012 Voting Guide for California’s Propositions

  1. middleagedhousewife says:

    Sean, since I don’t live in California my opinions won’t matter much, but 34 and 36 deal with issues that are relevant wherever you live. I like that 34 puts more money directly into the hands of law enforcement. I agree with you that far to often in todays society we confuse justice with vengeance. I do think there is a place for the death penalty in the justice system, but only for the most heinous of crimes. The level of proof should be higher than reasonable doubt and it should be applied equitably. I feel that there are too many people on death row who are there only because they couldn’t afford a mouthpiece. I also feel that the prosecutors who preside over death penalty cases should be required to witness an execution. As far as the savings to taxpayers I would be interested to know the difference between maintaining and inmate on death row verses one who is given life in prison. (looks like I might have some homework to do). As for 36, it is a waste of resources and a life to put someone in prison for life for being caught more than 3 times with a joint in his pocket. On the other hand, crimes like petty theft and burglary may not be considered serious, but they are not victimless and the perpetrators often move on to more violent crimes. “Catch and release” law enforcement might give job security to police officers, but it doesn’t make communities safer. I agree that mandatory three strike laws have proven to be a burdensome expense, but I do support longer prison time for repeat offenders. Effective public safety is a justifiable use of taxpayer dollars.

    • My understanding is that if you factor in the cost of all the appeals, etc., the cost of executing someone in California far outweighs the cost of a life sentence. Moreover, despite having 725 people on death row, California has only executed 13 people since 1978. Given the state’s budget situation, getting rid of the death penalty could save up to $130 million a year. I’m sold based on nothing more than the arithmetic.

      • middleagedhousewife says:

        Thanks for the research. Of course, you have the “kill them all and let God sort them out” crowd (I which I am not one), who would argue that if we limited the number of appeals and executed them quicker, the cost would be less than life without parole. If the math adds up, then I think it does make sense to change to life. I’m not changing my position on the death penalty, just agreeing with you about the tax savings.

  2. Bob says:

    There are those with life without possibility of parole sentences which continue to murder in prison and have been able to have murders outside of prison performed.

    • Bob,

      The problem is that most of the folks on death row effectively have life sentences anyway (at least in California) because the appeals process keeps them alive. California’s death penalty is effectively the same as giving murderers life sentences because only a very small percentage are ever executed, only the cost is ~$130 million per year higher than instituting life sentences. For example, California has only executed 13 prisoners since 1978, yet 725 are currently on death row.

      The fact that people can still murder from prison speaks more to the fact that prisons aren’t as secure as they could be. Putting someone in solitary confinement costs nothing, but is just as effective at preventing these murders than killing the death row inmate.

      While executing someone may be emotionally satisfying, is it really worth an additional $130 million a year to taxpayers? I’d rather see my taxes reduced than throw money away on legal fees trying to put people to death who will more likely die of natural causes than from execution.

  3. Jeff Allen says:

    Very much concur on the math of the death penalty here. There’s a further cost that isn’t trapped actuarial – the cost of convictions which are later reversed, which is a non-trivial cost. I’d also add costs of the original trials themselves, which tend to be more expensive.

    Underlying this is the question of the cost of executing one person who was wrongly convicted. There are *lots* of examples of this, and it is dismissed as a “cost of doing business”. That cost is differentially incurred by people who don’t have the resources to effectively defend themselves. Not a good precedent to set in what is supposed to be a free society.

    In short, I think Sean is dead on; supermax prisons can deal with the potential violence, at a fraction of the cost of death row and continuous appeals. It also satisfies the problems of the state taking the life of the occasional innocent, if still leaving the problem of how asymmetric our legal system is in divvying out penalties for crime.

  4. Jeff Allen says:

    I disagree with you regarding 37 – GMO labelling. This is a serious problem. When the GM work was just splicing within genomes, it was not so big a question. However, they’re now spicing in gene sequences across genomes, that are explicitly designed to cause the food crops in question produce pesticides. There are other issues around this as well, but this one is most key in my view; but we’re just scratching the surface.

    This is a pretty unregulated industry, which because of the nature of concentration in the market, is dominated by a fairly small number of players, and so doesn’t really have the competition required to insure a balance in product quality that would create. It also means that a mistake by one player affects a very significant segment of our food supply. Consider for example, the number of places corn derived additives enter our food supply.

    I think this is an absolute yes, and applying “math”, the cost of implementation and enforcement would be offset by the cost of one “accident” prevented by the regulation. Consumers would pay, one way or another. Better it be a way that potentially reduces harm.

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