Posted: August 30, 2012
Proposition 32: not what it pretends to be
By Bill Wallace
Proposition 32, the so-called,“Stop Special Interest Money Now Act,” was written to look like a fair and even-handed solution to take special interest money out of politics, but it is not what it pretends to be.
This initiative is just another attempt by billionaire businessmen and corporate special interests to rewrite the rules in their favor, giving them special exemptions to spend unlimited amounts of secret money to influence elections. Even worse, it's designed to single out and limit the voices of our everyday heroes, such as teachers, firefighters, and public employees, to speak on issues like our schools, public safety and homeowner rights. Since it only limits payroll deduction, the initiative only affects unions. Unions collect dues through payroll deductions. Corporations don’t use payroll deductions for politics, they just take it from their massive profits.
When you take a close look, it’s clear that this measure was intentionally written to create special exemptions for billionaire businessmen—giving them even more power to write their own set of rules. It's an unfair, unbalanced approach, and that's why newspapers across California are warning voters to take a look at what's really inside.
This initiative was craftily written to look like a fair and even-handed solution to the problems in Sacramento. But in truth, it is not a balanced approach because it only restricts unions. Corporations and commercial interest groups spend far more money on political issues than what unions spend, but they are not restricted. Proposition 32 is a good example of the wealthy using their profits to sell a lie to the voters of California. They are counting on the voters’ general distrust of politics to get this initiative passed and consequently provide the wealthy with even more power.
Proposition 32 is a measure that turns our century old initiative process on its head to do exactly the opposite of what it was designed to do; that is, enable voters to protect themselves from octopus monopoly corporations. In 1911 we the people enacted the initiative process to break the corrupt power of Southern Pacific Railroad. Today wealthy special interests are investing some of the billions they make in profits to fund this initiative to break the power of the only organizations that stand in their way of an unchallenged monopoly. Corporations using their financial power to usurp the election process.
Proposition 32 follows on the heels of “Citizens United,” the US Supreme Court decision that designates corporations as people and corporate campaign contributions as “freedom of speech.” Proposition 32 exempts secretive Super PACs, allowing them to raise unlimited amounts of money from corporate special interests and billionaire businessmen. It does nothing to prevent anonymous donors from spending unlimited amounts to influence elections. It was written to create special exemptions for Wall Street investment firms, hedge funds, insurance companies, real-estate developers and many other powerful interests. In addition, there’s nothing to stop corporations from creating secretive front groups and making unlimited campaign expenditures. The truth is that wealthy CEOs, Wall Street investors and hedge fund managers will just be given more cover to operate in the shadows and control California politics.
If Proposition 32 passes it will cut off the ability of organized labor to participate significantly in the electoral arena. Unions will not even be able to spend money to communicate with their own members on electoral issues and candidates. Then, in the next election cycle the super rich can move onto their real agenda: passing a Right to Work Law and undo all of the gains that California labor has made in the last century. The next target after that will be Social Security.
If we allow Proposition 32 to pass, backroom brokering by the wealthy will become the law of the land in California. The result will be Super PACs, billionaire businessmen and corporate special interests running our state. Don’t allow this to happen—vote NO on Proposition 32.
Bill Wallace is a retired member of IBEW 1245 and the local’s representative to the Alliance for Retired Americans.