Tag Archives: Ballot

LOS ANGELES TIMES CARTOON: Dumbistan

Dumbistan

Silicon Valley zillionaires feel entitled. They like to get everything their way. They order off the menu. Steve Jobs, who famously parked across two handicapped spaces, prompted a note riffing on Apple’s famous advertising slogan: “Park different.” So it was bound to a matter of time — a short time — before they began screwing around with politics, and doing it in their usual brash, short-sighted way.

Timothy Draper made his money the old-fashioned way: his father made a bunch of smart investments that paid off. Like most members of the American nobility, being born at mile 25 ½ in the marathon of life has convinced Draper that he knows best how to cure everything that ails California:

Split the state into six smaller states.

Draper has submitted 1.3 million signatures to state election officials, which allowing for disqualified signatures will probably be enough to meet the 807,615-signature requirement to place his referendum — the Chinese Communist Party would call his idea “splittism” — on the ballot for consideration by voters in November 2016.

California, Draper says, is too big to not fail. With six smaller states governed from six new capitals, he argues, these state governments will be closer to the people — geographically, anyway. Personally, I don’t see the logic. If geographic proximity led legislatures to take better care of constituents, wouldn’t the city governments of state capitals be cleaner, safer and less corrupt than cities and towns further away from legislators’ offices? From Sacramento to Austin to Harrisburg to Albany, however, there is no evidence of that.

Patrick McGreevy writes in The Times:

A Field Poll in February found that 59% of California voters oppose a breakup of the state, Maviglio noted, and the strategist predicted the business community and Democratic and Republican leaders will will campaign against it. “There is no groundswell of support  for this,” said Maviglio. California, he said, “is going to bea laughing stock on [TV comedy shows, including] Jimmy Fallon and David Letterman because of this idea. For anyone considering investment in our state, this raises a question of uncertainty.”

Even if voters approve the ballot measure, breaking up California would have to win approval of Congress, which he said is doubtful. “Is Congress going to give California 10 more senators?” Maviglio asked.

The Republican House? Give Democratic California 10 more senators? Probably not.

So this is a perfect referendum: except for its dubious constitutionality, political unpopularity and almost certain unfeasibility. Which makes me wonder: who are the 1.3 million Californians who signed Draper’s petitions? Sure, I know that voting to put something on the ballot isn’t the same thing as turning up to vote and then supporting a measure. Still, some ideas are so dumb we shouldn’t have to waste our time discussing them in the first place — and this one clearly qualifies.

Which has me thinking: maybe these people need a place all to themselves.

A dumb place.

LOS ANGELES TIMES CARTOON: Why split Calif. into only six states? Go libertarian all the way!

40,000,000 Californias Can't Be Wrong

Before now I was unclear on why California should be divvied up into six smaller states. But I didn’t feel bad. Tim Draper, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist billionaire guy who is trying to collect enough signatures to put a California Balkanization proposition on the ballot, seemed unclear about his idea too.

Thanks for George Skelton’s column, however, Draper has finally shed some light on why California should fade into history, replaced by six new states (assuming Congress were to admit them to the Union), one of which would be called, um, Jefferson.

Skelton explains: “Draper’s split-up-California proposal, he contends, would result in more local control and focus on regional problems.”

Local control! Bien sur.

Draper may or may not be nuts, but you can’t reflexively dismiss the argument that Sacramento may be a too far away to understand the issues affecting people 600 miles away in Calexico.

But that’s where I get stuck.

If more local control is better, and if the way to get more local control is to divide the state into smaller statelets, the question locally follows: why six? Why not seven or eight?

Connecticut is a small state. It’s well run. Why not cut California into 49 Connecticut-sized states?

Actually, scratch that “well run” part. The Nutmeg State ranks 41st out of 50.

Um, Rhode Island? Smallest of them all?

Number 47.

Anyway.

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that there was evidence to support the notion that smaller is better. Where does it stop? Why not declare every one of California’s 38 million people the sole citizen of their own state, with their home their capitals? With 76 million United States Senators, that would give The States Formerly Known as California serious juice in Congress.

(Draper argues that ex-California would have 12 Senators, which would be better than two. Though he doesn’t explain why they’d necessarily cooperate with each other, what with having gone their separate ways in the first place specifically because they don’t have enough in common to stay together.)

Speaking of inconvenient truths, few people have brought up the fact that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t allow new states to be created by splitting up existing states (as happened, for example, when West Virginia left Virginia) without approval of Congress. With the Senate controlled by Democrats, it’s unlikely they’d sign off on a new configuration that would add a net of Republican seats.

Everything said, I don’t know if splitting the state would be a net benefit or net disaster. What I find fascinating is the transparently faulty logic being floated for a project with breathtaking implications — from a man who’s obviously smart enough to know better.