22 October 2012

Prop 32: You shouldn’t have to fund your opponents.

The local police and firefighters’ unions keep sending me flyers that state they’re against Proposition 32. They send me so many, I’m wondering whether to vote for it just to make them STOP THE JUNK MAIL.

I suppose I’d better get to ranting about it.

Proposition 32. Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction. Initiative Statute.

What I’d call it. Republicans shouldn’t have to fund their unions’ support of Democrats.

The problem. This was a problem back when I was a Republican: In certain jobs, the union is a big part of the benefits package. That is to say, you don’t have a benefits package unless you join it. The union administers the benefits, and the corporation pays it to do so. It doesn’t handle them itself. So while you aren’t required to join, you gotta if you want the perqs.

My libertarian friends really groused about that. They hated the idea of joining, and dealing with, any union. All their sympathies were with the shop owners—’cause one day they hoped to become the plutocrats who exploited the workers, and didn’t want the unions ordering them to play fair. Some of them decided to ditch the union and pay for their benefits themselves… but healthcare and retirement cost a bundle when you’re going it alone, and not all of them found it worth it. The union deals are really good. Plus, if your boss ever tries to hassle you, the union reps come in handy.

What really put the pudding in their donuts was how the unions would take their dues, put some of it into the unions’ political action committee, and support things in elections. Like propositions. Or politicians. Mostly the other party’s propositions and politicians, ’cause Democrats tend to be pro-union. They hated that.

The “solution.” Ordinarily, union dues are deducted from the paycheck. Some of that can be used to fund the union’s PAC. Prop 32 makes it so your dues can’t be used… on state and local races.

Just state and local races? Yep. Your union can’t promote anyone for city council, county supervisor, school board, the Legislature, for Governor or the executive branch, for the State Board of Equalization… for no office in the state of California. Nor can it promote propositions.

How about candidates for Congress, or the Senate, or for President? Oh, it can spend all the money it wants. Or can afford.

How is that any better? Well, it keeps the unions out of the local races… which most of my Republican friends actually pay very little attention to. (The Democrats seem to pay little attention to them either.) All they care about are the national races. Like President and Senator and maybe our local member of Congress, if they even know who he is. The upshot is they’ll wind up putting more of their union dues into campaigns they really care about.

So I can’t see how they’ll like this proposition. Unless—which is likely—they don’t know a thing about Prop 32 except that it’s anti-union. And they’ll vote for it solely because it’s anti-union. And shoot themselves in the feet.

If it doesn’t pass: Nothing changes.

Argument pro. Special interests take political deductions from employee paychecks against people’s will. Why, that’s un-American. And they have the nerve to complain Prop 32 will strengthen the wealthy and corporations. It’s corruption, plain and simple.

Rebuttal. The wealthy and corporations aren’t affected by Prop 32. They can spend all the money they want on elections. Whereas unions can’t. It’s a scam.

Argument con. It won’t take money out of politics; it won’t really reform campaign finance; look who’s behind it; it’ll make things worse; it’s not a step forward, but just hands power over to different special interests.

Rebuttal. They’re lying. Liar liar pants on fire.

My view. Even though I’m no longer a Republican, my views haven’t changed about union dues going to PACs. I hate the idea of anyone being forced to fund a campaign they’re against. I don’t want Mitt Romney to get elected, but if you—and God help you—do, your union dues shouldn’t be going to support Barack Obama. Period.

However, this proposition does absolutely nothing to change that. In fact, instead of your union dues going to city council races, county supervisor races, sheriff’s races, and the like, now more of it is going to support Barack Obama. Because Prop 32 means they can’t spend it on local and state races. So where else are they gonna spend it?

Yeah, this gets a lot of union money out of the state and local races, and while I care about that, it’s not the real issue: People shouldn’t have to fund campaigns they oppose. This proposition ultimately does nothing to fix that issue. Instead, in local races it just gives more power, by default, to every other PAC. That’s not improvement either.

So I’m voting no.