Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Two Propositions: 32 and 37

Last night I went with a friend to a meeting of rather conservative business people.  The high point of the meeting was to be a debate or exchange of remarks between two candidates for the State Senate: Fran Pavley, the incumbent seeking reelection, and Todd Zink, the challenger.  Unfortunately Senator Pavley couldn't make it and Mr. Zink had to face a rather friendly audience without an opponents.  The majority of those attending the meeting were Republicans and a few of them were "red meat" Republicans.  To Mr. Zink's credit, he didn't give the "red meat" people much aid and comfort.  One person asked why it isn't a requirement in California for a person to show an identity card, such as a driver license, before voting.  There's a big possibility of fraud, etc.  Mr. Zink calmly replied that he had many priorities and voter fraud was way down on the list.  It is a crime that rarely occurs and there is no need for special tests to identify who is and who isn't a legal voter.

I thought that was a good answer.  I believe that Senator Pavley would have answered the question the same way.

Before Mr. Zink had his half hour or so with the persons present two individuals were given five minutes each to persuade the others to vote for their favorite propositions.  Proposition 32 requires labor unions to obtain permission from their members for spending members' dues in support of political candidates or issues.  I am not sure of the exact wording, so all I can say about it is that it seems to me to be just another attempt to stifle what little political power labor unions still have.  There seems to be no corresponding restriction on corporations in spending money for or against candidates and issues.

Proposition 37 would require that all processed food sold in California should be labeled to indicate whether it contains genetically modified food.  At present there is no such requirement in this country.  More than 40 other countries do require that genetically modified food be labeled.

I haven't read the text of either proposition yet.  My inclination at present is to vote NO on Proposition 32.  I believe that Proposition 37 is an exercise in futility.  Food labeling is at present governed by federal law.  If California tries to impose a standard stricter than that of the federal law, the proposition would be challenged in court.  The chances are that the federal court would eventually decide that the federal law preempts any State law regarding food labeling.  I will probably vote for the proposition but won't expect it to go into effect during my remaining lifetime.

I wish the backers of Proposition 37 would direct their attention on getting the federal law changed.  They should be sending petitions to our two Senators, Feinstein and Boxer, as well as to Representatives Waxman, Berman, and Sherman, to name a few.

This issue is a good example of the power of corporate money in our politics.  Companies like Dole, Green Giant, and Monsanto don't want genetically modified food to be identified as such.  Even though most such food is nutritious and harmless many people are suspicious of it and won't eat it if given a choice.  That would be bad for business.  And, as President Coolidge once said, "The business of America is Business."

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Mr. Sauer; your blog post is interesting. Simply stated and honest. I agree with you on your Prop 37 stance. But I am curious about your stance on Prop 32. Shouldn't individual union members have the right to decide on what political issues or what politicians a portion of their union dues (dues they are required to pay because they are required to join a union if they want to work in one of the many closed shop states such as California) are to be used to support? Labor union dues are meant to support the union's efforts in contract negotiations, in assisting members during labor actions, in providing members information regarding their legal rights and other things where the union "goes to bat" for its membership in matters of labor/management relations. Politics is, I would think, outside of that purview. Therefore shouldn't any political contributions be voluntary? Shouldn't they be brought before either the membership as a whole or the members individually for their approval?
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