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Nap Time!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Charge sheets!

Elections Council Chair Jessica Wren filed two charge sheets with the Judicial Council seeking an advisory opinion on two issues.

The first is the one I mentioned yesterday about timing of referenda. The constitution says:
The vote on an initiative, referendum, or amendment shall take place at the next regular election following receipt of the petition or vote of the Senate (or Graduate Assembly, as provided herein), provided that the date of receipt or Senate (or Graduate Assembly) vote is before the end of the candidate filing period for that election; otherwise, the vote shall take place at the second regular election thereafter.
The filing period ends this Friday (March 16). The question is:
I am seeking an advisory opinion from the Judicial Council as to whether propositions approved by vote during the Senate Meeting held on Wednesday March 21, 2007 will be allowed to be on the ballot in the 2007 ASUC Elections, provided that they have fulfilled all of the other requirements outlined in the ASUC Constitution and By-Laws to be included on the ballot.
My personal opinion is that this is an open-and-shut case. The vote is after the end of the filing period. Therefore, it cannot be on this year's ballot. The Judicial Council probably doesn't even need a hearing.

The second issue is more subtle, and has to do with campaign finance. The proponents of the TGIF referenda have already spent a shitload, and don't want to be held to campaign spending restrictions (the reason they gave was funny: It would be unfair to proponents to have to limit spending, since there is only one choice. Opponents don't exist, which is actually fairly accurate). My opinion is that, since the campaign finance limits specifically mention Senate and Executive races, and don't mention propositions, there are no campaign spending limits on propositions. There probably should be, but that would make it harder to pass propositions, so don't expect any action on this by the Senate any time in the next few decades.

However, a second issue is whether they have to document their spending. Clearly, they have to document their campaign material, as that is in the campaign violations section which specifically mentions propositions. Do they have to submit forms documenting their spending? The section on campaign finance mentions "candidates," so maybe not. However, just how much of a "candidate" is a proposition? More importantly, does the public have a right to know how much is spent on proposition campaigns, just like they have a right to know how much is spent on Senate and Executive campaigns?

This issue isn't explicitly raised by Wren (she just asks which campaign spending restrictions apply), so I don't know if it will be answered by the Judicial Council.

More problematic is her request for an injunction:
I have requested a preliminary injunction against the Proponents and Opponents, primary and otherwise, from distributing campaign material. This is done with high regard for those Proponents and Opponents so that we can prevent a situation in which they participate in actions that will be found to be in violation of the ASUC By-Laws after the Judicial Council's opinion is administered, for which censures may be a sought. I would hate for the Proponents and Opponents of any Referenda to be punished for acting out of ignorance if I could so prevent them.
I think that an injunction against Proponents and Opponents (who, to my knowledge, don't exist yet) treads on free speech and could not be put into place. I think that Proponents and Opponents should understand the risk in acting while ignorant, but should be allowed to take that risk.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 3/14/2007 08:58:00 PM #
Comments (13)
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I'm confused. Why don't they just pass everything during the meeting that's going on right now? Why wait until next week?

Do bills have to sit for a week before they can be passed?
The answer to your last question is "yes." That said, they may try to pass it during the current meeting, too.
"There probably should be ... campaign spending limits on propositions."

This seems contrary to the Libertarian political viewpoint. How do you defend this statement?
Because the ASUC isn't libertarian. If you wanted to talk about how I would write the laws, then yes, there would be a shitload of changes, including the elimination of campaign limits, as well as a much higher threshold for fee increases, if I were to allow them at all. If you expect to see me grant libertarian protections to an effort to increase fees through a majority vote, then you absolutely don't understand libertarianism.
Have you ever thought about running for Senate?
No, never
Oh. Just thought that would give you a chance to try to make some of the changes that are seem to be quite important to you.

Also, I understand your point about the tradeoff between idealism and practicality vis-à-vis spending limits for propositions. However, it also seems like you are abandoning your principles -- by calling for a limitation of freedom -- in order to try to stop an outcome that you do not like. This seems very slippery.
It's not a tradeoff, and practicality has nothing to do with it. The tax-by-majority-vote concept is abhorrent to libertarian principles. It's not a legitimate function of government. As such, to apply libertarian principles of freedom to efforts to deny libertarian principles of freedom is not libertarian. A libertarian does not protect the "freedom" to deny individuals freedom.

In short, libertarian ideals do not apply piecemeal to a non-libertarian system. One does not argue "You have the right to free speech in an election to deny you the right to free speech." They rejects the legitimacy of such an election, so once it's on, libertarian protections no longer apply to it.

By the way, "no, never" was a joke for those who know me. I'm actually the BEARS-United candidate this year. Though I won't win, so running for Senate doesn't give me any chances to do anything.
cool, thanks for the clarification.

one question I have wondered about libertarianism is, how could a society achieve national security under libetarianism? i.e. could purely private interests achieve national security? or perhaps there's no such thing as "national security" under libertarianism because there is no need for a "nation"?
...also, one other thing I've wondered: what does libertarianism say about negative externalities and pigouvian taxes?
Libertarianism says a lot of things. And you'd have to ask various philosopher-types who take their libertarianism to such depths if you want to know. I'm not one of those people. I probably miswrote above by suggesting I can speak for libertarianism, because I can't. I have my own principles, and it just so happens that libertarians share them. That doesn't mean that I share their conclusions about policy.
Ok, fair enough -- thanks.

You might be interested to learn more about pigouvian taxes and negative externalities, because negative externalities actually cause economic inefficiency under laissez-faire. That is, when the market is left to its own devices, if negative externalities (such as pollution) exist they actually cause economic inefficiency. What's really interesting about pigouvian taxes are that they are actually corrective taxes, as opposed to distorting taxes (which most kinds of taxes are). That is, pigouvian taxes correct the market distortions of negative externalities and actually increase economic efficiency, in effect "undistorting" the economy. Kind of cool. I don't know what Libertarianism would say about this, but if Libertarianism is all about economic efficiency, then maybe (?) pigouvian taxes could be part of Libertarian policy.

I've noticed that in a lot of your postings you seem very angry and mocking. I think this is too bad, because I think you make some very valid points, but I think your tone sometimes dilutes, or even obscures, those points. It is possible that you might have more success in connecting with people and having them hear what you are saying by writing in a different manner.

I understand that life for a (quasi-?)libertarian must be frustrating, as many policies and events in society turn out contrary to your beliefs -- I would be very frustrated too. But I worry that the considerable time and effort you seem to spend pointing out how things could be improved is less effective than it could be because of the way it is delivered. This is unfortunate, because you are clearly very passionate and sincere in your beliefs. (In fact, I very much respect you for standing up for your beliefs).

On the other hand, perhaps part of the reason people like to read your blog is specifically because of the tone you have chosen -- that I can't be sure about.

Anyway, not that you asked for any advice or anything, but those are my thoughts -- I only share them because I would like you to be able to be as successful as you can. And of course, it's totally up to you, as you are free to do what you like. :)
Hi, Dad!

I'm afraid I don't find pigouvian taxes as cool as you seem to.
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