Tis the season for crazy voter initiatives sponsored by billionaires who want to buy changes in the law. The initiative process is an important one in California; however, for the last several years, it has been subject to abuse and manipulation. I have seen a change since the late 1980s and deplore the way some multimillionaires and billionaires use the system to promote their own personal agendas and increase their own vast wealth.
Is it the ego of the billionaire that compels him/her to seek to change the law because he/she can afford glitzy campaign commercials? I am talking this time about another billionaire trying to cheat the public by manipulating voters just as was done for Prop 33. This California billionaire also wants to take money from the poor so that he can be even more wealthy, by restricting workers' rights to speak out in elections.
Prop 32 attempts to create special exemptions for corporations and Super PACs to continue spending unlimited amounts on political agendas that may only be good for those corporate interests. Charlie Munger, Jr. has apparently spent $22 million to fund Prop 32. For that reason alone, I would not trust the proposition, no matter what their high priced commercials say.
I have been involved in initiative battles and I can say firsthand that the ads are expensive and often misleading, and the entities best served by the process are often the political advisers and the companies who are paid for by the media. The process is valuable, but the abuses are legion.
When a billionaire tries to change the law, beware.
These big money propositions (like 32 and 33) reappear every year, with different names and different numbers, but always with more funding. They won't go away, even after the public has voiced its opinion by voting the propositions down. They have been nicknamed the "zombie propositions". The Consumer Watchdog Campaign created this spoof to get their point across:
California voters keep figuring out year after year that they are being had. They vote No on these propositions. This is what voters should continue to do. Voting No kills these propositions again. There is much power in your vote. Please use it wisely.
Special thanks to the filmmakers Shannon O'Rourke & Tom McMahon.
Claude A. Wyle is a partner of Choulos Choulos, and Wyle, a San Francisco based law firm dedicated to representing clients who have been injured by the wrongful conduct of individuals, corporations, public entities, and businesses. Mr. Wyle also frequently sits as a Judge Pro Tem for the city and county of San Francisco.