February 25th, 2024


The Rest of Your Ballot

John Stossel

By John Stossel

Published Oct. 26, 2016

 The Rest of Your Ballot

The presidency isn't the only choice next week. There are more issues than "Who's worse, Trump or Clinton?"

Other important things are on the ballot.

Congressional elections may determine whether Obamacare lives or dies. currently says Republicans will hold the House but lose the Senate. But it's close.

And politicians aren't the whole story.

In Kansas and Indiana, voters will decide whether the "right to hunt and fish" should be protected by their state constitutions. Advocates say such a right is needed because zealots will keep inventing "endangered" species and new gun restrictions until most hunting and fishing is impossible.

For similar reasons, Oklahoma voters will vote on a ballot measure guaranteeing a "right to farm."

Several states will allow voters to punish their neighbors on Tuesday by imposing "sin" taxes. Politicians like taxing "sin" because it gives them money while letting them claim that they discourage bad behavior.

So, four states offer ballot measures that would raise tobacco taxes.

Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Jersey vote on whether to expand legal gambling, but only state-run gambling. In Rhode Island, 61 percent of the revenue will be kept by the state. State-run gambling is always a bad bet, but government will really screw you in Rhode Island.

I'm surprised politicians stop at gambling and don't tax all the Bible's deadly sins: pride, envy, lust, etc. Probably because politicians don't want to tax themselves .

Californians will vote on expansion of a counterproductive rule: a ban on plastic bags. Its supporters say it reduces litter and protects oceans and wildlife. As usual, the zealots ignore science, convenience and health.

A canvas reusable bag must be used 131 times before it will compensate for the minor environmental impact of plastic bags.

Most reusable bags get contaminated by bacteria. The government tells us to carefully wash reusable bags, but almost no one does.

So California voters are likely to vote themselves increased health risk, bad smells and higher costs — for no real environmental benefit.

In Massachusetts, voters are likely to prohibit keeping pigs, calves and hens in spaces where they "can't lie down or turn around freely." This may improve animals' lives. I write "may" because more space also leads to more fighting — even cannibalism — among animals.

But the new law will triple the amount of space farmers need. That raises costs. Egg prices increased 22 percent after California passed such a law.

On Tuesday, Washington may vote to impose a carbon tax on itself. It won't have a noticeable effect on climate change, but it will make enviro-zealots feel better.

Fortunately, Tuesday also offers voters some good choices. Nevada voters may choose to open their state's energy market to competition. Competition lowers costs. I was surprised to see that unions oppose that. Do unions now oppose everything that's good?

Four states will get to vote on legalizing medical marijuana, and five vote on whether to legalize weed for all adults. The betting suggests that most of these measures will pass.

These are issues Americans disagree about — and it's good we don't have to wait for Washington, D.C., to reach agreement about them. Innovation often comes from state experiments.

Abortion and gay marriage were first legalized by states. Likewise, women first got the vote in Wyoming. Only after that did other states, and the federal government, follow.

James Madison, chief architect of the Constitution, would have approved. He wanted leeway given to state governments. In the Federalist Papers, in words that would be partly echoed in the Constitution, Madison wrote, "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite."

Since then, arrogant presidents and other federal officials have taken powers from the states. That leaves Americans fewer choices.

But the states will prove again on Tuesday that they still have a say, even if we're stuck with President Hillary Clinton for the next four (or eight?! please no!) years.

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Award-winning news correspondent John Stossel is currently with Fox Business Network and Fox News. Before making the change to Fox News, Stossel was the co-anchor of ABC News's "20/20." Eight to 10 million people watched his program weekly. Often, he ended "20/20" with a TV column called "Give Me a Break," which challenged conventional wisdom.



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