25 October 2011

Those pesky voting machines

They're back. So with that in mind. I did my usual research on the local issues. You know, those things most people don't vote for or pay attention to.

The state of Ohio has three statewide ballot initiatives.
1) Amends state constitution to permit judges to be 75 and run for office. I don't see why there is a maximum age to begin with. If a judge is actually incompetent by age, then they would either retire, someone more competent and younger will run against them and/or they will be voted out of office. I'd prefer an amendment abolishing the maximum age requirement and not one replacing one arbitrary number with another one, slightly higher. That said, it seems better to have a higher age limit if we must have one than a lower one.

I'll probably vote yes here.

2) I think this has to do with collective bargaining restrictions. The only provision I saw that I actually liked or cared one way or the other was the provision that allowed teachers to work as teachers/public employees, without automatically having union dues deducted in order to do so. I think this is perfectly legitimate. Unions can complain about free-riders all they want, but I'd say that if their members or potential members cannot be convinced enough about the actual benefits the union is conveying upon them to continue to pay dues so as to be provided those benefits more explicitly, then the benefits provided by such union membership probably aren't as good as is commonly believed by union boosters. The results of such legal changes for dues payments in other states bear this out; lots of people stop paying when they're no longer required to do so.

Most of the rest of this bill appears to be useless on both sides. Banning and penalising strikes doesn't seem very useful. Just replace the striking teachers with new teachers and move on, or acknowledge the working conditions are terrible and make adjustments if new teachers cannot be had. Restricting negotiations doesn't seem sensible. Benefits like vacation or health care or pensions might be expensive, but arbitrarily removing them from the table isn't going to realistically control costs in a way that attaches to improving educational quality output. Performance pay needs some work before I'd say that it seems like a very good idea. I think on some level it needs to go into effect, but the methods of determining "performance" and the actual incentives offered need to be seriously looked at to see if they even have desirable results (improved academic and/or lifetime workplace performance by the student body for instance). I'm not convinced that they do. More properly, I'm not convinced that the methods we currently have to use do, but I do think there might be methods out there that will. I am convinced that there needs to be more discretion to remove incompetence. But that doesn't appear to be up for discussion with this law.

I will probably ignore this issue and not vote on it, but I'm leaning toward No (repealing the Ohio law). Mostly because I think it goes too far. I think it has some promising provisions and a bunch of ill-conceived ones surrounding them. I prefer not giving more power to governments than is necessary whenever possible.

3) Issue 3 is essentially Ohio's GOP attempt to repeal ObamaCare. I'm ambivalent on ObamaCare mostly because I don't think that it really substantively changed the status quo.  That means it's pretty dumb, but the status quo was, also, pretty dumb. And also it's basically RomneyCare (and Romney will probably be the GOP nominee). The experience in Massachusetts hasn't been very encouraging for someone like me in terms of watching health care costs become more sensible and more economical decision making occur, and the Massachusetts law is in fact more stringent about its mandates by having more severe penalties.

I will ignore this one. While I think ObamaCare or more precisely, national health care policies, do need to be seriously reformed, I don't think that states' efforts have done much to help us in doing so. All repeal at the state level will accomplish is legal confusion and will not encourage the more desirable end of attracting any more attention toward productive reforms and discussions surrounding bloated public entitlements (which account for most of our nation's health care spending, a position I would love to see decline but which the supporters of this bill do not, making them hypocrites undeserving of support).

Local stuff
The county has some minor price control issue relating to energy, but I won't get to vote on it because it relates to people who don't even live in exurbs, much less suburbanites like myself.
Hospital and school levies (including vocational school). I usually vote against these, but I'm re-thinking my opposition. I will probably vote against the local school, for the vocational one, and for the hospital. My preference would be for more of these sorts of public externalities to be funded in other ways (tax credits for instance rather than monopolising funding), but ultimately some public tax supports will be needed because of massive free rider problems. The benefit of educated, healthy citizens living around you are far more excessive and more easily shared than the purported benefits of unionisation (which essentially is privately extracted economic rent carved out of the public dollar rather than a genuine externality). So that means that I should pay for some of them too. My opposition to the local school can largely be explained by
a) that I went there and felt it wasn't much of a school, at least for educational opportunities
b) that it doesn't need more funding, what it is actually asking for, and probably could do with somewhat less. It's unclear to me what the school district wants more money for in other words.
Post a Comment