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October 18, 2008

If I had a billion dollars ... I'd buy some guideline reform

With apologies to BNL for tweaking their lyrics (an for linking to this version of their fun $$$ song), I find quite interesting this WSJ $$$ blog entry noting billionaires fundings various ballot initiatives this election season.  Of course, what really caught my eye was some competing criminal justice efforts:

Billionaire George Soros spent $1.4 million to support California’s Proposition 5, which would expand drug-treatment programs and apply new restrictions on sending paroled drug offenders back to prison for parole violations....

Loren Parks has spent $3 million on this year’s [Oregon] election –- partly to fund ballot measures designed to get tougher on criminals and to shift a portion of the state’s lottery proceeds to law enforcement....

Is all this billionaire-backed politics democratic?  Not initially, since ballot measures often are the creation of wealthy political donors. But come election day, it is up to the voters. Many of Mr. Parks’ previous measures, for instance, have failed. And since the millionaires and billionaires often fund opposing campaigns, they can cancel each other out.  Money can buy you a spot on the ballot: but it doesn’t buy a win.

Hat tip: TalkLeft.

October 18, 2008 at 06:34 PM | Permalink


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I'm rather astounded that Ohio has four Constitutional Amendments and one Referendum on the ballot. I find the use of the Constitutional Amendment most interesting. The money for these initiatives is indeed a concern. In fact - the money and power in government is troublesome.


Posted by: | Oct 19, 2008 12:08:27 AM

One of the most problematic aspects of this process is that it tends to produce complex, lengthy proposals, which should really be made by the legislation. Really, think what you may about California's Prop 8, we can't argue over the fact that the question "should same-sex couples be allowed to marry?" is a simple yes/no one. That is not the case with the crime-related proposals on the ballot this year (5, 6, and 9). And it seems that at least 9 advances two agendas: victim rights and tough on crime, which are not always congruent.

Of course, the money spent by billionaires on this process, while in questionable taste, is less of a problem than the money we later might have to spend on implementing poorly conceived propositions.

Posted by: Hadar Aviram | Oct 19, 2008 10:07:13 AM

"And it seems that at least 9 advances two agendas: victim rights and tough on crime, which are not always congruent."

Not always, to be sure, but they are in this case. And the root cause, we should never forget, is the dysfunctional California Legislature. If it represented the people's views on crime, we wouldn't have to keep going back to the ballot. Abolishing gerrymandering would go a long way toward making it more representative. Not sure if the initiative on that subject will pass or if it will do the job if it does pass. We'll see.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Oct 19, 2008 1:13:32 PM

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