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May 21, 2008

An Initiative to End All Initiatives?

posted by Josh Goodman

Patrick details the perils of direct democracy in a comment on my post on ballot initiatives:

I live in California, where initiatives were introduced as part of the good government initiative of the early 1900's.

They haven't exactly worked out that way. Most initiatives are put forth by special interest groups, sometimes to sabotage the very cause they are supposedly designed to promote.

Like Prop 99, the eminent domain reform measure on the June ballot. It is touted as the "good" eminent domain reform ballot measure, as opposed to Prop 98 the "bad" eminent domain initiative, or so Prop 99's supporters would have you believe. It was sponsored by the League of Cities, and has so many loopholes that it does little to nothing to reform eminent domain. For example, it only protects single family homes, not commercial property which is more often than not what is taken by cities in eminent domain. Private property protection under Prop 98 by contrast is much more comprehensive.

Or take Prop 103, the insurance reform issue from a few years ago. It changed the California Insurance Code to allow banks to sell insurance, but it failed to remove the same prohibition from the Financial Code; it took laywers and courts to sort that mess out.

My fantasy is an Initiative to End All Initiatives; a ballot initiative that would eliminate the ballot initiative as a form of law-making.

Comments

Evan Ravitz

Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater! Voters on initiatives need what legislators get: public hearings, expert testimony, amendments, reports, etc. ALL proposals for this and other reforms have been ignored by the legislature, which, like you, want to eliminate initiatives -so they have absolute legislative power, the monopoly which initiatives broke.

Even with the problems, initiatives are the origin of everything from women's suffrage (passed by 13 states before Congress went along) to Clean Elections (passed by initiative in 6 of 7 states with them), medical marijuana (in 8 of 13 states with it) and increases in minimum wage (6 for 6 in 2006).

You've chosen a VERY poor analogy: as we know by now, "war to end all war" is actually the military-industrial complex's formula for perpetual war.

The best project for better initiatives is the National Initiative for Democracy, led by former Sen. Mike Gravel: http://Vote.org. Also http://cirwa.org

Evan Ravitz

i forgot to add:

Voters on initiatives need what legislators get: public hearings, expert testimony, amendments, reports, etc. The best project for such deliberative process is the National Initiative for Democracy, led by former Sen. Mike Gravel: http://Vote.org. Also http://cirwa.org

Nehemiah


Hi
We provide Emergency Deployment Special discounts to members of certain armed forces related companies. If you’re on active duty, retired from the military, or maybe a member of the National Guard or Reserves, you will be eligible for insurance savings.

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