California Propositions 2014

Cross-posting my thoughts on this election cycle’s propositions for posterity’s sake:

Prop 1 – Yes. Spend more money on much-needed water infrastructure. The con argument as far as I can tell is that isn’t a magic bullet for CA’s drought problems (which largely stem from farming water-intensive crops in dry areas) and general concerns that the state isn’t very good at handling large sums of money (which would be persuasive if there were some more responsible group that we could hand the money to).

Prop 2 – Yes. Toughen CA’s rainy day fund. Good governance generally.

Prop 45 – No. I’m a bit torn on this actually (as is the Democratic Party apparently — Senators Boxer and Feinstein endorse but Nancy Pelosi opposes. Prop 45 requires that the Insurance Commissioner approves any rate hikes by insurance companies. In theory, this allows regulators to keep premiums down, but I’m not convinced that a lack of regulation is the reason for crazy health insurance premiums. Lack of pricing transparency and excess bureaucracy seem to play a bigger role, and Prop 45 doesn’t address that. However, Prop 45 would introduce additional delay and administrative uncertainty to putting new health plans on the Covered California healthcare exchange, which would reduce some of the options available to new enrollees. So, leaning no on this, but happy to hear from someone more familiar with how healthcare works.

Prop 46 – No. This proposition mixes together a bunch of medical malpractice issues that should really be addressed separately. The big one is that it increases the $250K cap on pain and suffering in medical malpractice lawsuits to $1M. This isn’t a big deal in and of itself — the $250K cap was put in place in 1975. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $1M in today’s dollars (and really, as a lawyer, I’m not one to dispute higher jury awards).

What I don’t like though is that it requires mandatory drug testing of doctors whenever an “adverse event” occurs. Ugh. Being a doctor is already a pretty demoralizing job. Mistakes happen because doctors are human, and overworked sleep-deprived humans at that. Peeing in a cup won’t fix that.

Prop 47 – Yes. Prop 47 reduces penalties for drug and other minor crimes. Harsh sentencing guidelines haven’t done much to actually reduce drug use or petty theft. They have, however, cost us obscene amounts of money and wrecked havoc on civil liberties.

Prop 48 – Yes. The story behind Prop 48, as far as I can tell, is that when the state approved casinos for Native American tribes, a couple tribes got screwed by technicalities and left out. This just puts those tribes on equal footing with the rest of the tribes. Also, casinos don’t bother me and the tribes are giving us money.

Twitter in Iran

Currently watching various media personalities pick Jonathan Zittrain’s brain regarding Twitter in Iran. While Twitter has definitely had a powerful impact here, I’m not sure that impact is what people think it is. As I understand it, the main effect of Twitter (and while we’re at it, YouTube, Facebook, blogs, etc. — which I’m going to sum up as TLT — things like Twitter) is to provide semi-real-time communication stream between Iranians and the outside world and between Iranians themselves.

But what exactly does that communication enable?
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