D. Dowd Muska


When Voters Say No to Moonbats

November 06, 2014

Reeling from Republicans’ election-day triumph, liberals are taking refuge anywhere they can.

Tuesday was “encouraging … for the progressive economic agenda,” insisted The American Prospect’s Rachel M. Cohen, because majorities in “four red states” agreed to hike minimum wages.

Arkansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Alaska did make dunderheaded choices that are sure to boost unemployment for their low-skilled workers. But placed in historical perspective, Cohen’s crowing is unapt. Most citizens never took -- or can’t recall much about -- Econ 101. For decades, voters have backed minimum-wage hikes. Blue (New Jersey, California), purple (Nevada, Ohio), and red (Arizona, Montana) states have consistently approved increases.

Surveying all the questions, measures, propositions, amendments, and initiatives put before the public in 2014, it’s easy to find significant rejections of “progressivism.”

In moonbat-dominated Massachusetts, “public investment” suffered a bitter defeat at the hands of a tiny group of cash-poor populists. Question 1 was a longshot attempt to repeal the legislature’s 2013 decision to tie the Bay State’s gasoline tax to inflation. Establishment opposition was massive. Construction firms, AAA, unions, “business” organizations, editorial boards, and the state’s phony-baloney “taxpayer” organization united, in a coalition of the selfish and the clueless, to voice their disapproval.

Repeal supporters argued that inflation-indexing is a weaselly way to avoid accountability. If the gas tax “needs” to be raised in the future, why not let lawmakers do so, and then face voters? Proponents had another PR weapon: outrageous expenditures for roads and highways. Citing a Reason Foundation analysis, a Cape Cod lawmaker noted that for New England’s five other states, capital, maintenance, and administration costs, per mile, average $297,000. In Massachusetts, the bill is $675,000.

The hapless Martha Coakley, who would lose the governorship to a weak GOP opponent, helped demonstrate Massachusetts elites’ expensive ignorance of transportation policy. Asked in May what the state’s current gas tax was, she guessed 10¢. Coakley was off, just a bit. It’s 24¢.

The count was close, but Question 1 prevailed.

In Nevada, teacher-union bosses pushed a different kind of “revenue enhancement.” Question 3, “The Education Initiative,” would have imposed a “margins tax” on businesses. The new levy would have raises hundreds of millions of dollars annually, to be delivered to government schools.

Education-themed plebiscites are usually slam dunks. It’s nearly impossible to vanquish any proposal pitched on behalf of “the children.” But Nevadans are probably the most libertarian citizens in America. The Silver State has neither an income nor a corporate tax. And while mining thrives in rural Elko County, metropolitan Las Vegas and Reno were hard-hit by the Great Recession.

Numbers were useful, too. Glenn Cook of the Las Vegas Review-Journal offered a scathing rejoinder to educrats’ complaint about funding “adequacy” in Nevada: “The record tax increases of 2003 were supposed to take care of that. More than $800 million in tax hikes sent … per-student spending soaring, from about $6,500 in 2002-03 to almost $8,900 in 2007-08 … . The result: no significant change in achievement.”

Even Nevada’s AFL-CIO declined to back Question 3. It got crushed.

Finally, there’s “Frankenfood.” The benefits of genetically modified organisms, enumerated by biologist Theresa Phillips, include “increased crop yields, reduced costs for food or drug production, reduced need for pesticides, enhanced nutrient composition and food quality, resistance to pests and disease, greater food security, and medical benefits to the world’s growing population.” As Grace Boatright of the National Grange explained, “every independent scientific body and government agency worldwide -- including the American Medical Association, The National Academy of Sciences, The French Academy of Science, The European Commission and the World Health Organization -- have declared GMOs safe for consumption.” Regulation? The FDA orders that foods “from genetically engineered plants must meet the same requirements, including safety requirements, as foods from traditionally bred plants.”

No matter. Moonbats believe that GMOs are scary. (Or at least, maybe, kind of, potentially scary.) Mandatory food-product labeling has already passed the kook-left legislatures of Vermont, Maine, and Connecticut. On Tuesday, forced-disclosure requirements were considered by Oregonians (Measure 92) and Coloradans (Proposition 105.)

Happily, junk science lost. The margin was thin in Oregon, but decisive in Colorado. With a previous failure in the Beaver State, and defeats in Washington and California, professional biotech alarmists are now 0-5 at the ballot box.

It remains to be seen if Republicans elected this year will reclaim ground taken by the unlimited-government lobby. But the results of initiatives suggest that Americans have not irreversibly committed themselves to higher taxes, bigger government, and Luddite lunacy.

Keep hope alive.

D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska.

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