Due diligence of a voter

With so much time to read on the train, I’ve also been reading the state voter guide. It’s dense material. On issues that I’m personally familiar with, like transportation, I can make a relatively informed decision, backed up by what I know of the going-ons in the industry. On other topics like personal rights: gay marriage, parental notification on teen abortions, etc, it’s also pretty easy for me to decide how to vote.

It’s the other topics like crime/court systems, that have me scratching my head. For instance, there’s one proposed measure that deals with drugs that seems to be easing up on drug-related crimes, yet there’s another measure that wants to deal with gang-related crimes more harshly. I read the ‘non-partisan’ Legislative Analyst discussion, and there’s pros and cons in each measure, so it’s hard to weigh which way I’d vote. In reading the material, I also start having more questions like “What’s really going on here? Who lobbied to put this on the ballot? Why did they do so, what did they think a change was needed to the status quo, or what ulterior motive did they have for doing so?” But it’s very hard to find out the answers to these kinds of questions, especially when I’m not familiar with the industry of crime/law enforcement. It makes for an unsatisfying voting experience.

Another thing that ticks me off is all the $%&%#$ bond measures. I’d really rather pay higher taxes, direct user fees, etc instead using bonds, where it seems like 50 cents of each dollar goes to interest/finance charges. With higer taxes, at least more of the taxpaper money goes to the actual dollar. But we live in such a ‘credit-card’ society; everyone would rather ‘charge it now’ and pay later with interest; bonds are sort of like a credit card for public infrastructure financing. People shy away from ‘higher taxes’ like anathema. We’re such idiots. And our politicians are so lacking in backbone. The only time I really liked Schwarzenegger was when he proposed to temporarily raise the sales tax to deal with the deficit duing the budget impasse.

Sigh, I guess I should be grateful that the voting process and rights in California has more of a due process than in Thailand. I cannot believe what is going on over there right now. I’m disgusted with the so-called “People’s Alliance for Democracy’ wants to concentrate power in the urban middle class votes, since they are outnumbered by the rural/agricultural votes, by having a Parliament that’s mostly appointed, backing away from the ‘one person, one vote’ concept. The PAD’s original tactic to gain the sympathies of Bangkokians for their side was to sell it as an anti-Thaksin, anti-corruption type of campaign, but it’s become a messy, stupid, foaming-at-the-mouth mob that’s dragging this on and on with no clear plan or strategy for resolution. At least that’s my perception of it. But then, what do I know? I’m not over there, and I don’t know the complexities of what/why these people do these things. There’s always something going on behind the scenes that only insiders know.

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