Ballot Initiatives for Sale

Well, my State House Representative–Amy Stevens–tried, but it looks like the Democrats still prefer to be able to pay people to keep initiatives off the Colorado ballot.

The House State Affairs Committee killed a bill Tuesday that would have made it illegal to remove a ballot initiative in exchange for compensation of any kind.

Rep. Amy Stephens, R-Monument, sponsored the legislation in response to a 2008 pre-election deal between business leaders and unions that resulted in the removal of four anti-business initiatives from the statewide ballot in exchange for $3 million to the unions.

Now doesn’t that present an interesting situation?  Here’s how Jon Caldera described it:

Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, testified in favor of the bill. He was a primary backer of Amendment 49 and told the committee that on the eve of the deadline to remove initiatives from the ballot, he was offered $800,000 to pull the initiative. “What an idiot I was not to take that $800,000,” Caldara said, sarcastically adding he now has incentive to put bad measures on the ballot in order to gain financial benefit.

Wouldn’t some slick little hustler have a field day with this kind of setup – which the Democrats and unions stood up for:

Democrat go-to attorney Mark Grueskin, who served as legal counsel for the unions during the 2008 election, testified in opposition. He argued the bill would violate free speech by banning a monetary exchange for removing a ballot measure. “Like it or not money is speech under both [the Colorado and U.S.] Constitutions,” he said.

The bill was ultimately killed on a 6 to 5 vote, with McCann being the only Democrat to vote in favor. Stephens was disappointed, but said she would continue to pursue the issue. “Now that we know those are the terms, we have a new Chicago-style politics,” she said.

Sen. Mike Kopp, R-Littleton, was the bill’s Senate sponsor and called its defeat the “Blagojevich-ization” of Colorado.

Not the best of pictures, but Amy is looking on there in the center

Not the best of pictures, but Amy is looking on there in the center

I just love that “money is speech” line from a Democrat Union attorney.  These are the ones who want to place restrictions on Republican money and then throw their slush funds behind the latest crook (nee The Messiah) while their oppoents hands are tied.

Anybody want to work to get some union-busting ballot initiative going?  We can split the bucks when the thugs come to pay us off.

Australia and China – Internet Firewalls

What will China and Australia share?  An internet firewall that will block things the “government” doesn’t want the citizens to see:

“AUSTRALIA will join China in implementing mandatory censoring of the internet under plans put forward by the Federal Government.”

(link)

“The revelations emerge as US tech giants Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, and a coalition of human rights and other groups unveiled a code of conduct aimed at safeguarding online freedom of speech and privacy.”

“The government has declared it will not let internet users opt out of the proposed national internet filter.”

This conforms to the usual way rights are lost in a “slippery slope” effect. (Here is an article on how gun rights were lost in the United Kingdom that outlines the general model for losing rights: (link).) In particular, when technology changes the way a traditional right can be exercised, as with the Internet now or with the introduction of revolvers in the United Kingdom, it’s thrown into doubt as the new possibilities are examined in the light of the worst and most inflammatory possible abuses – mass shootings with deadly multi-shot revolvers, child porn, whatever. Unless you have a zealous and belligerent lobby objecting to even “reasonable” infringements of the right in the light of new technology and making it taboo to support abridgments of the rights, the tendency is for those who enjoy the right to prove they are reasonable people (not “gun nuts”, not addicted to child pornography and so on) by agreeing to reasonable restrictions. These grow and grow and grow, and once you have conceded that there is no fundamental, absolute principle at stake on your side, it is very hard to resist them.