Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Reflections on CA Props 30, 34, 37

Today was not as emotional as the day after the 2008 election. After the presidential race (phew) and the historic victories for LGBT and Asian American communities across the nation, I was also watching closely for the results on California propositions 30, 34, and 37.

Prop 30 - Increase Education Tax - Passed

I'm excited at the margin with which this passed. The tides are turning, however slowly, toward more equitable taxation, and increased willingness to pour money into our education system. Now, the question of whether our education system is even effective is a whole other issue. When are we going to start reducing standardized testing (and the millions of dollars that go to the College Board, Princeton Review, and Kaplan), and spend more of that money on teachers, providing students with enrichment beyond the classroom (and, I daresay, beyond computers), and better food in schools? 

Prop 34 - Repeal Death Penalty - Failed

When I was a sophomore in high school, I wrote an impassioned essay about why I believed in capital punishment. My arguments were based mainly, I recognize now, on wanting vengeance. My feelings on how I would want to punish someone who badly hurt someone close to me haven't changed, but my perspective on whether the state ought to be allowed to do so has. I no longer believe in capital punishment. I don't even believe in our current prison system. Evidence shows a significant probability that innocent people are put to death. There's also the matter of the hypocrisy in criminalizing murder and then using murder as a punishment. I look forward to the day when California joins so many developed nations in abolishing capital punishment. 

Prop 37 - Label Genetically Modified Food - Failed

Big agriculture and companies like Monsanto have so much power that It didn't surprise me that this proposition didn't pass. I would have to see it pass, if only for the spectacle of stickers declaring genetic modification that would (likely) be slapped on to nearly everything in grocery stores. Since humans began practicing agriculture, we've employed genetic engineering; the difference (and problem) today is that the modifications are often made to increase productivity and transportability rather than for nutrition. Beyond getting the companies to employ these practices to stop, we have to begin to find other ways of feeding ourselves.

So there have been victories and setbacks, and the exhilaration of election night will fade, but it's not going to be one election or one ballot that will create the world we want. It happens every day, bit by bit, and it's happening constantly. It has to.

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