Friday, July 15, 2011


Referendum News

This November, San Francisco will have
a referendum
might be unconstitutional as Jews and Moslems practice circumcision for
religious reasons. It also would be ineffective, as people could easily
have the procedure down outside San Francisco limits.
It is sad that
referendums, a wonderful tool, are used for such silliness when Californians
have very pressing problems.

On the subject of silliness in California Referendums, Amazon is using the
referendum process so it does not have to collect sales tax, even though
it "has a physical presence in the state."

Unfortunately, it will probably end in court--apparently in.
California, budget related
laws and "laws that take effect immediately" can't be referendum-vetoed

And one borough is dealing with anti-budget referendum by a clause in its. And there is a move to discourage voting.
bylaws that says fifteen percent of the voters must vote in a referendum--otherwise the referendum is null and void

And Maryland is going to have a referendum on whether undocumented immigrants.
will be eligible for in-state tuition in the Universities

New Zealand will vote on which parliamentary voting system it will use:

  1. Currently they use mixed-member proportional with 70 chosen from districts
    and fifty thorugh party lists

  2. single transferable vote with some districts electing more than one member
    of parliament

  3. a conventinal system like what the United States does, where each district
    elects one represenative.

  4. A variation of this with single transferable

  5. and a variation on MMP, but where they don't try to adjust the party list members
    to ensure tghat the percentage of each party in parliament matches the total
I discussed many of these voting options in my last Thoughtful Thursday posting.

Apparently, the voters will choose on two questions and then there will (I would be in favor of using approval.)
be another referendum in 2014.
voting here between the systems

Anti-nuclear referndum are popular world wide. Poland is planning one on shelving
building their own that were planning.

Italy voted against nuclear energy. Voters also rejected immunity for government officials, so they could
concentrate on their official duties. This is a referendum on Berlusconi who
would have to attend four separate trials.

Health Care

The new health care law allows businesses to pay two thousand dollars
instead of insuring its workers. At that point the workers move into
subsidized "exchanges." There is debate about how many businesses will But Freakonomics reports that when a day care center
take that option. And small businesses less than fifty employees pay nothing
if they choose not to pay their employee's health insurance.
moved from no fine for coming late to pick up your child to a three-dollar
fine, more parents were tardy to collect their kids. Sometimes, people
will take a minor penalty when given that option. With no penalty, moral
pressure will get them to do the "right thing" whether that be picking
up their kid on time or health insuring their workers.
In any event, my suggestion is to apply a sales tax based upon.
the business's provision of health insurance, among other factors.

Businesses would compete to be good businesses, and that includes

taking care of their workers.

elatedly, the June 28th issue of the New York Times (Andrew Pollack, page one)
reported on drugs that
extend the lives of a small percentage of prostate cancer sufferers, those
who are unfortunate enough to have the cancer goe beyond the prostrate and
for which hormone therapy has not worked. This is the question of whether
a few billion dollars is worth what appears to be a modest extension of survival.

And the Wall Street Journal just reported on several drugs that
are truly innovative as opposed to a me-too product. They include a new
drug for advanced melanoma, the first drug for lupus in over fifty years,
and improvements in hepatitis C care.

Of course, I propose that we have a fixed amount of money for drug innovations.

The drug companies would innovate to achieve the best improvements and try
to find drugs that work where no drug has worked before, as contrasted with
me-oo drugs.

Then, the money would be given to the teams and companies achieving the best
outcome, compared to current care.

Admittedly, the insurance companies are achieving this outcome already, by simply
demanding that their patients use generic drugs when such are available and
the new pharmaceutical, under patent protection, dosn't do much better.

Good Statistics, in 2006, pharmaceutical firms spent 45.8 billion on research,
17 percent of their revenue.
("Drug Makers Refill Prched Pipelines", by Jonathan D. Rockoff and Ron Winslow,
July 11 2011 BVol CCLVIII No 8, Wall Street Journal, pages A1, A12)

Another pork barrel project

Representative John L. Mica, who happens to be chairman of the House
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has pushed through a 61 mile
ommuter ail prject. The federal government ranks it as one of the least
cost-effective, only projected to serve 2100 people per day. Althougn in

Central Florida, it does not serve the Orlando Airport or Disney world attraction. The Federal government will pay CSX $432 million
for the use of its tracks. CSX and other contractors have contributed to
r. Mica's campaign.

All government projects should go before a sortition jury for approval.
New York TimesJune 28th, pages A1 and A3, "A Congressman's Pet Project;
a Railroad's Boon" by Eric Lipton.