Monday, November 06, 2006

On voting and government, etc.

Among other things, I wrestled with my ballot today. I live in Oregon, where all votes are absentee, if you want to put it that way - I think the official line is vote-by-mail.

I've had the ballot for days and days now, but there are still some blanks where I haven't decided on a race or ballot measure. At this point, they might remain blank. Either I don't care which side wins on that particular contest, or I wish to vote "none of the above" and that's not an official option, or I can't figure the durn thing out. Honestly, sometimes I rely on the endorsements provided, albeit usually in a negative manner. In other words, there are some folks and organizations that serve as red flags: if they're for it, I'm wary. What a way to run a railroad country, eh?

At any rate, I don't vote on an issue unless I feel I have some sort of a handle on it. I hate the idea of government "by wild guess." Don't you?

Sometimes I think our way of referring all sorts of sometimes-wild ideas to a public vote is just plain crazy. On the other hand, I'm not quite sure how to rein in ballot measures without forfeiting a very useful tool for correcting the sometimes-wild ideas that the professional pols push through. What I'd like to see, of course, is a gathering of legislators who understand that their job is not to pass new laws, but to try to make sure laws are sensible and do what they're supposed to, and who aren't afraid to get rid of bad laws and... and I'm dreaming here, aren't I? Sigh. I'd love to vote for somebody who pledges to not add one tiny bit more regulation if it can be helped. Do such people exist? That are willing to walk through the minefields of political campaigns and careers, I mean?

And must people refer to people who come close to following that line as "do-nothing" politicians? Like it's an insult? As if someone in a legislative branch who doesn't have oodles of legislation with his name attached has sidestepped his duty, flubbed his job? I'd appreciate it if more senators and representatives did less, wouldn't you? All those folks trying to do a good job by passing legislation left and right have resulted in a mess of laws and regulations that can be impossible to know, much less understand.

A suggestion, if I might, for new countries just setting up a democracy... How about limiting the total number of bills a Senator or Representative may propose in their lifetime? It might make them think harder about what they're doing, for one thing. And it might keep the total number of bills to within what the populace can keep up with? And.... and I'm probably dreaming here, too.

But it's a thought. You'd have to limit how long each bill could be, I think, to make it work. I suspect that bill-limited politicians might try for astonishing, staggering, omnibus bills. Just a guess. Something worthy of their name, you know. ;)


The Oregon Secretary of State Elections Division is a go-to place for Oregon results, starting tomorrow about five minutes after the polls close.

Some trivia. According to information at the above link, Oregon has 2,002,927 registered voters, of whom 803,250 had returned ballots as of Nov. 5.

If you want reporting, commentary, analysis, and predictions (along with victory whoops and loser whining, most likely) along with the numbers, you can find it at The Oregonian's online Elections Central page.


A postscript. This weekend I was feeling under the weather and wanted rather badly to get away from politics and the insanities of some of what passes for political debate these days. So I picked up The Best Science Fiction Stories and Novels: 1956, edited by T. E. Dikty, published by Frederick Fell, Inc., New York. I used to enjoy science fiction. I haven't read it much in a while. 1956 seemed like far enough back to avoid the topics I wanted to avoid.


The first story I read, picked at random, revolved around corruption in 2177. Little guys, who were being destroyed by government regulators who were accepting bribes from their competition, had pretty much decided to throw in the towel, if they could find enough money to file for bankruptcy, that is. But a crazy Irish-Swede drunk looking for a good fight offers to help outfox the opposition. Having no more shame or scruples than the opposition gives Swenson a fair chance at beating the bad guys at their own game, you see...

The second story I picked, also more or less at random, involved a crazy man who is weighing the relative merits of blowing up the whole world. He doesn't care if he, personally, lives or dies, but he would like to take lots of people with him, and he's discovered a way to explode all the iron in the Earth's crust...

The third story got too gross, too strange, and I gave it up. But it involved some guys in government service, as far as I could tell from the first few pages.

The fourth story involved a sneaky, underhanded government plan to get enough people to work in space. First they made a show of preventing boys from stowing away on spaceships. Then they made sure all ships were stocked with enough provisions for one or two stowaways. Then...

This collection of old views of the future didn't provide me much of a break, all in all, after all.

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