Eber: Ignorance plus Fear Equals Power in CA politics


By Richard Eber, California Political News and Views 

I’m not the brightest star in the galaxy.  In my world credibility is earned when the magic words “As seen on TV” or “It must be true” if it is on the internet, are spoken.  However, in rare instances I do my own personal investigations in search of the truth.

One case is the arguments for and against Proposition 8 on the November ballot, which attempts to have the State government regulate the profits of Kidney Dialysis Centers.  After viewing commercials on television which depicted these places to be unsanitary places infested by cockroaches .blood stains, and urine, one would think we were walking “The Streets of San Francisco.”

In addition there was this individual called “Big Dialysis” who oversees these kidney sweat shops. I wanted to learn “who is this masked man”

Enquiring minds had to know so I decided to make a short trip to a clinic near my office.  Although thinking about a getting tetanus shot booster and spraying myself with Raid prior to entering the premises I decided to take my chances and go in cold turkey into this place.

Opening the front door, the clinic looked like a medical facility.  The lady behind a glass window greeted me and asked if an appointment had been made.  She was a bit perplexed when I said “no” while asking with my best PC manners to speak with Ms. or Mr. “Big Dialysis” to receive their perspective on Prop 8.

Following this request I was asked to take a seat while a supervisor could be fetched.  Soon this person appeared and advised me no such person worked there. This did not surprise me as previous attempts to contact Big Oil, Tobacco, Pharma, and a host of others had met with similar failure. My quest to find a magician behind the curtain to blame for whatever ails me was once again foiled.

Eventually I was given a tour of the center that appeared to conform to sterile conditions one would associate with doctor’s offices.  Making sure this observation was not an illusion; I went down on all fours trying to find evidence of cock roaches, splattered blood, or any other foreign substances that could impair patient care.

Nothing could be found.

Leaving the Dialysis Clinic I couldn’t help muttering to myself, “Where is the Wizard of Oz” when you really need him.  If there were any cockroaches or vampires associated with Proposition 8, they likely were employed by the PR firm who put together the commercials in favor of the ballot measure

This is how silly things have gotten during the election campaign in 2018.  It seems almost all the propositions are trying to use negativity to influence the electorate to vote in a certain way.  The formula for success in California politics outlined in novelist Eugene Burdick’s The Ninth Wave some fifty years ago “Ignorance plus fear equals power” is alive and well in the Golden State.

Why then would signatures be gathered for a dumb ass ballot measure to regulate kidney dialysis centers?  Isn’t it up to the Medical Boards or even the legislature to perform this task?  Why are voters asked to take a position on issues they know absolutely nothing about?

Good question.

It sure seems odd to me that if we are to believe the pro Proposition 8 commercials, Terminix should be hired to eradicate the cockroach infestation and perhaps gas that Big Dialysis guy at the same time.

It turns out in this case that Proposition 8 is sponsored by a branch of the SEIU Labor Union as a means of bargaining a better contract for their workers.  Regardless of the merits of the proposition, (or if 3 out of 4 doctors oppose it), this is a subject that should be worked out by labor and management rather than being put before ignorant voters.

As might be expected Proposition 8 isn’t the only questionable proposal on the ballot that deals with competing special interests.  Proposition 11, which is sponsored by ambulance companies, requires their work crews to remain on call during meal and rest breaks.  It is being sold to voters as an attempt to speed up response time on emergency 911 calls.

In reality the ambulance companies, who derive most of their revenue from insurance companies and municipalities, are trying to increase their profits by creating make work scenarios.  Their ploy in advertisements is to mandate special training, which is already provided in most cases, to a naïve public.

These are similar tactics used by Veg-O-Matic Salesman selling products most people don’t need or Phil Swift trying to  convince us we require Flex-I-Tape to seal man made  leaks in motor boats when insomnia strikes  at 315am in the morning.

Despite how ridiculous Propositions such as 8 and 11 might sound, there are some legitimate issues on the ballot that voters should decide on.  This year in California the most contentious one is #6 which repeals the gas and vehicle registration taxes passed last year by the Legislature and signed by Governor Brown.

Those who are in favor getting rid of these transportation taxes are saying

  • California’s existing sales, income, property, and other sources of taxation are among the highest in the country, putting more burden on residents with this non-progressive taxes, is unneeded and hurts poor people
  • If the public employee pensions deficits totally about 1 trillion dollars with CalPERS and CalSTERS were reduced, the State would not have to divert revenues away from road repair. Critics point out that 6 billion dollars Governor Brown loaned the CalPERS last year would fix a lot of pot holes.
  • There is plenty of waste within Caltrans where the cost of constructing new roads in is estimated to now be over $ 57,000 per mile (ninth in the Country). If expensive Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) and the Money pit Bullet Train could reigned in, the new transportation taxes would be unnecessary

These arguments are being countered by an advertising campaign mostly sponsored by the Democratic Party and Labor unions which contend if Proposition 11 passes, thousands of road projects will be cancelled before they are completed.  Without the new taxes, opponents tell voters gridlock driving conditions will worsen along with the deteriorating conditions of highways

Such a “Chicken Little” approach is a time honored methodology to manipulate voters to support more government involvement in their life.  Whether it is cock roaches threatening Dialysis Clinics or loss of additional tax revenues to “Big Government”, we can count on the Hinny Penny’s of the world to spread fear in the electorate in order to have their way when ballots are counted

It is hard to argue against the success of the “Paranoia Patrol” school of politics.  It usually works.

Richard Eber studied journalism at the University of Oregon. He writes about politics, culture, education restaurants, and was former city and sports editor of UCSB Daily. Richard is president of Amerasa Rapid Transit, a specialized freight forwarder.

Get Citizensjournal.us Headlines free  SUBSCRIPTION. Keep us publishing – DONATE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *