Wednesday, October 15, 2014

GMO labeling, weed, equal rights, driver card should pass

There are seven statewide measures on the ballot this November, and six of them are worthwhile.

Measure 86: This allows the state to incur some debt to finance college for Oregonians. Currently, the state has little financial stake in post-secondary education. The result is that college tuition in Oregon has doubled in 10 years. Also, Oregonians are finding it more difficult to get accepted to an Oregon college because the schools are relying on out-of-state students, who pay more than double the in-state tuition rate, to balance the books. Vote Yes.

Measure 88: This "provides Oregon residents a 'driver's card' without requiring proof of legal presence in the U.S." Yes, this is mainly targeted at undocumented Mexicans whose work at low wages helps sustain the state economy. This has widespread support because it brings Mexicans into the system so that they can eventually become legal here. Predictably, race-baiters who live and die by Fox News are vehemently opposed. That's a damn good reason to vote Yes.

Measure 89: An equal rights amendment to the state constitution. It puts into writing, what is largely happening anyway, that women and men have equal rights. Um, this is more than 150 years overdue, or since 1859, when Oregon joined the union. Vote Yes.

Measure 90: Open primary. This creates a single primary ballot, where the top two vote-getters advance. It allows Oregon non-affiliated voters, who represent about a quarter of the electorate, to help choose the candidates for the general election. In principle, it makes sense. California and Washington already use this system. However, out-of-state money is backing this measure because, like the states to the north and south, Oregon leans strongly towards Democrats. In the current primary system, Democrats vote for the centrist, level-headed politician, while Republicans usually back a candidate so extreme in their views that they can't possible win the general election. Essentially, this bypasses the kooky Republican primary and allows for a more centrist-seeming Republican to make it to the top two. It's a ruse to help Republicans get elected to a statewide office. This measure will surely pass, but I'm still voting NO.

Measure 91: Yes, legalization of marijuana is back on the ballot after failing two years ago when Washington and Colorado voters passed their measures, which altered the landscape. Yes, weed will bring with it problems, just like alcohol. But, in a state which produces and consumes its beer-gut-size share of craft brews, it is totally hypocritical to then turn around and say pot users should go to jail. Is it better to be drunk and driving or stoned and driving? Neither, they're both bad. But the genie is out of the bottle on this one. It's an economic issue now. Creating jobs, like in Washington and Colorado, for the growing, processing and selling of marijuana is needed in a state with such high unemployment. Plus, young people are moving to states that legalize marijuana. If this measure doesn't pass now, it will soon enough. The times they are a-changing. Vote Yes.

Measure 92: This requires food manufacturers and retailers to label "genetically engineered" foods as such. Yes, genetically modified organisms or GMOs are generating their fair share of controversy. The food manufacturers, backed by mega-agri-businesses like Monsanto, say the financial sky will fall from all the new labeling. Completely bogus. People have a right to know what's in the food they consume. It's long overdue. Vote Yes.

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