Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Signing Onto Democratic Monotony
It isn't very often that Rachel Maddow offers much to the public discourse other than left-wing, pro-Obama tripe.
But in a recent segment on the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, Maddow recently managed to bring an important political issue to light.
That issue is actually not Taxpayer's Bill of Rights -- it's unsurprising that Maddow would oppose this -- but actually the cash-for-signatures industry in which petitioners pay private companies in order to gather signatures for ballot initiatives.
As Maddow notes, this industry has helped to perpetuate the constant return of initiatives like the TaBOR -- which Matt Miller describes as a "lunatic measure". It allows the supporters of these frequently-defeated policy proposals to continually defer to the spirit of populism.
Paid signature gatherers are particularly important in states like California, where Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has used them as one of his favoured tools of governance.
The high demand for these signatures leads the companies that employ paid gatherers to put a dollar value on not only every signature they gather, but a dollar value on virtually anyone's signature.
Regulating the signature-gathering industry may be worth considering. It simply stands to logic that if signatures are worth enough to any particular petitioner there may be little or no constraint on how far paid gatherers are willing to go in order to get them.
Although it is interesting to note Maddow's opposition to the proposal. The idea of allowing the citizens of any particular state to set limits on how much the government can spend, and requiring the state to attain citizen consent before spending outside those limits.
It's an effective means of constraining what James Bovard describes as "leviathan" -- the out-of-control growth in the size of government in the United States that has been fostered by both Republicans and Democrats.
This doesn't justify continually reviving long-defeated ballot measures over and over again -- particularly not through the buying and selling of signatures.