Thursday, October 9, 2014

Oregon's Measure 92, Requiring Labeling of Food Containing Genetically Modified Organisms

This is the kind of thing which makes one feel proud to be living in a democracy. The only opposition comes from big industry, which is doing its usual whining over having to accurately label its products.

There is a growing trend across the country to add this requirement to state laws. Vermont just this year became the first state to have such a law in effect, and Maine and Connecticut have enacted laws which have not yet taken effect.

Conservatives like to talk about how, in our federalist system, the states are supposed to be laboratories in which new ideas can be tried out to see how they work. The idea is that if a new idea works out on the state level, then perhaps it can be implemented on a national basis.

Well, the GMO issue is an example of states fulfilling this experimental laboratory role. The national Food and Drug Administration has declined to issue such a labeling requirement, even though a petition asking it to do so received more signatures than any petition in the agency's history. However, individual states like Oregon do not have to wait for the feds, and this measure will likely be passed overwhelmingly.

The measure would not take effect until 2016, giving industry more than a year to comply. This should give industry plenty of time to get up to speed on the law's requirements.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Oregon's Measure 91: Legalizing Marijuana

This ballot measure is as close to a no-brainer as anything on the ballot. Our draconian drug laws have made the U.S. the laughingstock of the world. We imprison our citizens at a higher rate than any other country on this planet; having only 5% of the population, we nevertheless have 25% of the world's prisoners, and most are there because of the stupid drug laws.

Millions of lives have been ruined because of drug convictions. And these drug laws result in persons of color being arrested and imprisoned at far higher rates than whites, even though the rates of drug use among different ethnic groups is comparable.

Legalizing marijuana is a useful first step in reforming our ridiculous drug laws. Washington and Colorado have proven that legalizing marijuana can be undertaken in a responsible manner. There is really no good reason to oppose this measure, and it needs to be passed overwhelmingly. Let the police work on catching real criminals, and leave the weed smokers alone!

Oregon's Measure 88: The Driver Card Initiative

Measure 88 would allow persons who cannot prove they are in the U.S. legally to nonetheless be issued driver cards by the state. The knee-jerk right-wing reaction is to oppose measures such as this, and Portland radio talk show host Lars Larson is strident in his adamant opposition. He has made the point that the TSA would accept these cards as ID's at the airport.

While the ballot measure itself says this is not the case, it appears that Larson is right and that the TSA will indeed accept these cards for ID purposes. My reaction to this is, so what? It does not mean these people will be allowed to fly, it just means that the TSA will have a way to properly identify who is trying to board our planes. The TSA operates under federal law, not state law, and under the doctrine of preemption federal law supersedes state law.

Oregonians should vote for this common-sense measure, which is in the tradition of Oregon as a forward-thinking, humane state.

Oregon's Measure 90: The Open Primary

This measure, on November's ballot  in Oregon, would allow everybody to receive the same ballot in primary elections, and the top two would then go on to face each other in the general election. It is on the ballot as the result of a citizen's initiative, and is a rarity among citizen's initiatives in that the purpose is not to further the private goals of some special interest group, but rather, to make the election process more fair and democratic for all.

The current system is responsible for the paralysis we have in government today, especially at the federal level. Under the current system, candidates in the primaries feel the need to appeal to the party's base, which often means the extremes in the party. The moderate Republicans who have been ousted in the primary by Tea Party radicals is a good example of what can happen under closed primary systems.

The major two parties will undoubtedly lose some power under this system, so they tend to oppose the open primary. But citizens who yearn for good government should support this common-sense reform.

It should be noted that Washington and California already are successfully using this system, so Oregon is a bit behind its neighbors on this issue.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Possible World Series Match-ups

The teams in this year's MLB post-season allow for some interesting World Series match-ups. We could have the "I-70 series" between the Royals and the Cardinals, a rematch of the memorable 1985 Series. We could have a "freeway series" between the Angels and the Dodgers. We could have a "beltway series" between the Nationals and the Orioles. Had the Athletics not lost the wild card game, we could have had a "bay series" between the Giants and the Athletics. The remaining two teams out of the ten in the postseason are the Tigers and the Pirates, the latter having been eliminated by the Giants in the wild card game. A matchup between these two could have been called the "Rust Belt series".