April 18th, 2010

totally_sane, suzie

Politics: Money Talks

KQED's California Report has been doing some good reporting on some of the disturbingly skewed campaign spending going on in California elections.

For a start, there's Meg Whitman, who in her campaign for California governor has already spent $129 for every $1 Democrat Jerry Brown has spent, and we haven't even had the primary yet. Of course, this will all be deeply hilarious if after spending a metric ton of her own money, she loses the race, but I find myself not entirely sure of that outcome.

More sickening is PG&E's attempt to buy protection for its electric power monopoly by passing Proposition 16, which would require the approval of 2/3 of the voters before local governments could invest public money in electric power provision. PG&E has pledged to spend $30 million in campaigning for this. The Utility Reform Network, the major organization opposing Prop 16, has apparently spent $35,000. Because that's all they've got.

Again, I rather hope that voters will see Prop 16 for the transparent ploy it is and reject it. (PG&E has done their best to spin it as giving voters the power to stop local governments from wasting money on expensive boondoggles, but I imagine that many voters will see the "Paid for by Pacific Gas and Electric" all over the ads, and draw their own conclusions.) But that will still leave us with a situation where PG&E will have spent $30 million, paid for by the utility bills of customers like me*, to try to preserve their ability to gouge enough money out of customers like me to continue to fund political campaigns. I am not amused.

* At the moment, I actually get my electricity from Silicon Valley Power, one of those public utilities that PG&E is trying to block with this measure. I get my gas from PG&E, though, and when we move to the new house, I might have to go back to PG&E for electricity as well.

So, clearly we need some kind of campaign finance reform. Or maybe a reform of California's initiative system so that fewer stupid special-interest propositions get on the ballot. However, until then, I'm doing the only useful things I can think of to do: I've made a couple of small donations to Jerry Brown's campaign and the No on 16 campaign. And I would encourage you, if you're a California voter, to do likewise and spread the word. Let's not let them buy our state without a fight.