November 05, 2007
NJ's 4 Ballot Questions
So we've got some ballot questions to vote on tomorrow and I thought I'd give you my view on them. Here's the short answer: "no."
Here's basically what they are:
-- Permanently dedicate all money earned from last year's sales tax increase to property tax relief.
This is amazingly insane, and yet so typical of how our government 'works.' People scream they want lower property taxes, so does Trenton do what you or I would do: spend less? Heck no! They make a new tax and take that money and give it to folks as a 'property tax rebate'. As a bonus they've created a new bureaucracy to collect and distribute this, so spending and government obligations rise which means...they need more taxes. You really have to admire the creative genius at work here. "No."
-- Approve borrowing $450 million for stem cell research.
This might in theory be a good idea, and I'm certainly not opposed to government underwriting scientific research but the priority right now is to reduce government spending. This is more debt that we need to pay off, so No.
-- Approve borrowing $200 million for open space preservation.
"No" for the reasons above.
-- Revise language outlining when voting rights can be denied by deleting from the state Constitution the phrase "idiot or insane person'' and replacing it with the phrase "person who has been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction to lack the capacity to understand the act of voting.''
I don't know, there's something that warms my heart about having that language in our state Constitution; perhaps therein lies our new motto: "New Jersey, where idiots can't vote but they can be elected!"
I say "No" to this as well. "Idiot" has a precise medical definition, and while the PC crowd may find it offensive it does clearly denote those poor folks who lack the mental horsepower to make basic decisions for themselves, and sorry, but they should not be allowed to make decisions for the rest of us. The same with insane. This would create a huge backlog in the court systems as well, it seems to me, for these competency adjudication hearings that need not take place and necessitate the creation of a whole new bureaucracy to manage them. So "No."
So that's my stand and I'm sticking to it.
Posted by Mr. Bingley at November 5, 2007 06:56 AM
And "Idiot or insane" has such a lovely gothic ring to it!
Posted by: tree hugging sister at November 5, 2007 09:59 AM
1. Adult stem cell technology is currently running ahead of embryonic stem cell technology. Right now there are about 4,500+ treatments undergoing testing or clinical trials using adult stem cells. There, to my knowledge, zero treatments using embryonic stem cells because of the tendency for embryonic stem cells to turn into malignant cancers in about 1/4 of the test cases.
2. The NJ state funding option is to underwrite embryonic stem cell research, not adult.
3. IMO the whole purpose behind this is for politicians to help their rich friends get out of the embryonic stem cell business without getting financially hammered. Simply put most investors gave up on the idea of embryonic stem cells when it looked like it would become a political and social hot potato *and* because the test cases mostly turned into cancers.
But some people shoved huge piles of money into this field and now want a serious government bailout.
3. One supposed benefit of this public funding would be to help generate an industry that's NJ specific and that will, in the future, create jobs.
Which is IMO frankly idiotic.
Completed research by private corporations funded by public sources rarely, if ever, have territorial ties.
Posted by: memomachine at November 5, 2007 11:18 AM
A friend of ours told us he was having second thoughts about voting "NO" on the dedication of the one cent to property tax relief -- he had already voted by absentee ballot. I asked him, "Why?" His answer was that it would lock up that much money and prevent the Democrats from spending it elsewhere.
My response to that nonsense was that it would also thereafter lock in the tax increase -- constitutionally! Who in their right mind wants THAT?
The other argument against the dedication is that when it comes right down to it, Treasury in New Jersey does whatever the hell they please with money they take in. They will manipulate the numbers to minimize what they "give back."
Witness the history of the Transportation Trust Fund! In spite of obligations to the contrary, the McGreevey/Codey Administration ran it into the ground, thus prompting Corzine to come in and borrow huge amounts and backload the payments so that the obligations would not come due on his watch.
Unfortunately, there are not enough of us in New Jersey screaming effectively enough about would be quickly tagged organized crime activities in virtually any other venue.
Posted by: Trochilus at November 5, 2007 01:42 PM
Vote Yes on all of these budget measures except perhaps the 1% sales tax question. The stem cell bond would pay for itself and the potential for research is astounding; cultural conservatives may not want embryonic stem cell research, but their version of fundamentalism hurts real people with real diseases.
Open space funding is so vital to the state that I voted in favor of this ballot question, though I am concerned about debt.
The Constitution needs to be changed when there is such offensive language. Multiple groups for the disabled have argued in favor of this amendment, and they are right.
Posted by: Michael M. at November 5, 2007 10:03 PM
I'm very iffy on the open space thing. My hometown just got a 1 million dollar open space grant to put artificial turf on the high school football field. It was announced about a week ago by the democrat run county freeholder board and it just so happens that the town has several positions up for grab including mayor. I was under the impression the fund was to save what family farms and forests we had left from developers.
Posted by: Kcruella at November 5, 2007 10:33 PM
Michael, the stem cell might pay for itself, eventually, but as of right now the number of diseases helped, let alone cured, by this is, um, zero, I believe. I don't think we can plunk down half a billion clams on a pipe dream, especially when there's no guarantee that any resultant industry/jobs/tax base would be in NJ.
Posted by: Mr. Bingley at November 6, 2007 06:53 AM
*shrug* why would a public subsidy of embryonic stem cell research result in jobs here in NJ?
Weren't light bulbs perfected here in Edison, NJ?
How many light bulb factories do you see around here?
Posted by: memomachine at November 6, 2007 12:02 PM
"...but as of right now the number of diseases helped, let alone cured, by this is, um, zero, I believe."
Now, if that stem cell money was converted to green space money and used for LETTUCE production, well, then, you'd have both green and a cure! (And I am STILL astonished this has gotten ZERO press...)Capsules of insulin produced in genetically modified lettuce could hold the key to restoring the body's ability to produce insulin and help millions of Americans who suffer from insulin-dependent diabetes, according to University of Central Florida biomedical researchers.
Professor Henry Daniell's research team genetically engineered tobacco plants with the insulin gene and then administered freeze-dried plant cells to five-week-old diabetic mice as a powder for eight weeks. By the end of the study, the diabetic mice had normal blood and urine sugar levels, and their cells were producing normal levels of insulin.
Posted by: tree hugging sister at November 6, 2007 12:08 PM
Thanks, I've just spent the last 20 minutes trying to find out if light bulbs were ever mass produced in New Jersey.
The stem cell issue was the only one I voted yes on. Though it will cost the state money, I think our illustrious legislature probably would have spent it somewhere else anyway (and they probably still will). I think it's a promising line of research, and if it keeps getting vetoed federally, I don't think it's a bad idea for the states to pick up the slack.
As for how it will benefit New Jersey, as we're the host of a half dozen major pharmaceutical firms, I think we'll see some return on it.
Posted by: Tainted Bill at November 6, 2007 09:35 PM