Government for the Suckers, by the Suckers

 

I’ve been a broken record for decades when it comes to state Propositions. Unless you have a LOT of spare time and you have researched the Propositions on the ballot to the point you are an absolute expert on them, vote no. Always vote no.

Propositions were probably thought of as a good idea back in the day. Have the electorate weigh in directly on subjects. But we are a representative democracy. We hire people to do that. We hire plumbers to do plumbing stuff and electricians and dentists. We can give feedback or say what the issue is, but we hire experts to do complicated stuff. Politicians are just experts on politics. Meaning, we pay them to spend 40 (hopefully more) hours a week doing politics and listening to politics and researching politics.

I have no idea if raising taxes on certain corn meal products should be used to fund certain roads in certain counties. Not only do I have no interest in that, I don’t have the time to research it. I pay people to do that for me. They aren’t better people, they’re just plumbers of government.

There’s the preamble.

I’m guessing 20ish years ago they put out a Proposition in California that gas stations should all have free air/water for customers. Why should fat oil companies not provide this for free to keep our vehicles, which support them, in proper operating condition??? Of course, I knew what was going on. I knew because I had worked for a major oil company–or had recently left and was still getting their literature. That Proposition was sponsored and put on the ballot by fat oil companies. Literally. It is not easy to get a Proposition on the ballot, get it in front of the public, get them interested. That takes either a lot of grassroots interest…or money. The people and organizations with money are going to spend that money to benefit themselves.

That Proposition was aimed at small business gas companies not affiliated with the majors. Like non-branded. Because those often didn’t have air/water facilities. And to install them would require space and money. Which would put them out of business, force them to brand with the majors, or put them closer on an economic scale with the majors who have higher costs. It worked. The Proposition passed. And for XXX years, we had free air/water at gas stations.

But it didn’t last, of course. Maybe a decade ago, they started charging for that same air/water. You could go to the attendant and say please turn on the air but it was no longer automatic. This rant is based on me having to put air in my tires today. The first station I went to the air was 75 cents. I asked to turn it on. The airflow was so low I couldn’t even fill one tire before it cut off. It would have easily cost me $5 if I was paying. I left and went to another gas station.

I saw the air at this station was $1.50. For air. They’re charging a buck-fifty for air. The attendant there said no, I had to buy gas. I said, I’m a regular customer, just not today. Which is true. It’s my closest gas station. He grumbled and said, like I was robbing him at knifepoint, okay. I then handed him the credit card that had been left in the air machine. I said, “someone left this.” Now I’m going to send an email to that bank to make sure that credit card isn’t abused. (Technology: I’ll just tell them the location and the $1.50 amount and I’m sure they can find it.)

Anyway, I can’t remember the last time I saw a mom and pop gas station in California. They were all put out of business. I’m not saying it’s entirely cuz of air. Economics change. But the bottom line is Propositions are almost always, like 99% of the time, special interests for groups that can throw down millions getting on the ballot.

We have a state legislature. There is a process for getting on the ballot and voted on by people who are accountable to us and who have the time to research this stuff. The fact air/water now cost money and are a hassle and it, in a roundabout way, raised the price of gas because there is less competition…well, that’s our fault. The fault of people who voted on Propositions they didn’t fully understand.

Vote no on every Proposition. Have those who are accountable do their jobs. If you do dental work on yourself, don’t be amazed when you end up with a crooked smile.

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