February 5, 2008
-- by Dave Johnson
This post appeared today at Speak Out California
It’s primary election day in California. Don't let yourself forget to vote, and check our voter guide to help you figure out what those initiatives are about.
Here is a scary thought: People who are just old enough to vote for the first time in this election were ten years old when the 2000 election brought George Bush to the White House, and likely don’t remember much from before that.
They certainly don't remember California before Proposition 13 cut taxes, back when we had great roads and schools and colleges. They don't remember that there was a debate over whether the people should be allowed to decide how much to tax ourselves. Instead we now have a requirement that 2/3 of voters approve taxes - a level that can almost never be met.
They don't remember California before term limits. Proposition 93 is just a tweaking of the term limits rules, and there is no discussion over the merits of term limits generally. Young people don't know that there was a debate over the idea that people should be allowed to decide for themselves if they want to return their own representatives to office.
Last week I was caught in traffic so I couldn’t get home in time to watch the Clinton-Obama debate. I scanned the radio and not one single AM or FM station was carrying it. (Oddly one station was carrying an older Republican Presidential candidate debate.) FM was a sea of really bad commercial music, ads, and a few good Spanish music stations. AM was a sea of right-wing opinion, and ads. And then more ads.
I remember when it was considered a duty of a broadcaster to inform and serve the public. It was unimaginable that a candidate debate was not available. In exchange for licenses to use OUR radio spectrum for commercial purposes the broadcast companies agreed to serve the public interest. They would limit the number of ads and devote a large percentage of programming to documentaries, news and other information that served democracy. It was understood that WE owned the resource, and WE set the terms for commercialization of that resource. Imagine!
Yes, We, the People used to set the terms for licenses to commercialize the public resources. Now it's the other way around - the corporations give us credit ratings.
It seems like such an old debate over ideas like these. But younger people they have never heard these debates and likely don't even know there even was debate over these ideas. They don't know about a time when the people were considered to be the owners of the state's and country's resources.
If they ever did get an opportunity to hear about these debates they might even think it is a good idea for the public to make decisions. (Hint.)
Posted by Dave Johnson at February 5, 2008 9:42 PM
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