Show Notes: Friday, November 3

Most of the show was devoted to the other initiatives on Tuesday’s ballot. I’ve beaten Amendment 2 nearly to death, and the most recent SurveyUSA poll shows that what would have been a 57%-27% victory for the amendment three weeks ago is now a 50%-40% margin.

It doesn’t appear that the Michael J. Fox TV commercial has helped.

Here’s our very brief summary of the amendments on the ballot here in Missouri:

Amendment 2 (the stem cell initiative)
Sorry. I can’t offer any reasons to vote “yes” on this one. Amendment 2 would give researchers the unrestricted right to conduct research on blastocysts created by the Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer process. That’s the method used to create Dolly the sheep; i.e., cloning.

What’s really despicable is that the amendment’s supporters claim that Amendment 2 bans cloning! Not so. The amendment redefines “clone” so that it excludes SCNT if the cloned embryo isn’t implanted in a uterus.

That’s the same logic Bill Clinton used to claim that “fellatio” wasn’t “sex”. What’s the definition of “is” again?

The amendment’s language pulls the same sort of bait and switch with regard to paying for human eggs. Let them do what they want in California; we don’t want to create a market for human eggs in Missouri.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of embryonic stem cell research, inventing a constitutional right to clone is ridiculous. Let’s argue the ethics of ESC research later; Missouri should vote down Amendment 2.

Amendment 3 (the tobacco tax increase)
This raises the tax on a pack of cigarettes from 17 cents to 97 cents a pack. The purpose is to raise money for tobacco control programs, health care for low income Missourians, and payments for services to Medicaid recipients and uninsured Missourians.

Pro: Higher prices offer an incentive for smokers to quit; pays health care costs for those who can least afford it; tax applies only to those who smoke.

Con: It’s a regressive tax that places a disproportionate burden on low-income smokers; 82.5% of the revenue would go to health care costs, which appears to benefit health care providers rather than beneficiaries; “low income” is defined as “200% of federal poverty guideline” (that’s $40,000 a year for a family of four), which again appears to provide another government subsidy that winds up in the pockets of insurers and health care providers; it would make Missouri health care dependent on smoking–which removes the incentive to spend the 17.5% of the tax earmarked for anti-smoking programs.

Amendment 6 (making property used for veterans tax-exempt)
This one is pretty straightforward–a tax exemption for real and personal property used exclusively for non-profit purposes or veterans organizations.

Amendment 7 (changing the process for pay raises for legislators and judges)
The ballot language is deceptive on this one, too. It appears to say that the amendment will prevent legislators, elected officials and judges who are convicted of a felony or removed from offices by impeachment or for misconduct from collecting their pensions. But there’s more: It would change current law to require a two-thirds “no” vote by both house of the state legislature to block pay increases recommended by a commission of appointed citizens. (A simple majority is all that’s required under current law.)

Pro: Judges claim that their current pay levels have fallen behind the private sector to the point that talented attorneys have no incentive to serve as judges. (It’s been six years since they’ve received a raise.)

Con: Changing the law to require a two-thirds majority to reject a pay raise makes it far too easy for legislators to take the money without the responsibility of voting for it. Current law already strips pensions from officials convicted of a felony, so there is no need to amend the constitution for this purpose.

Proposition B (minimum wage increase)
This is simple enough: It raises the minimum wage in Missouri from $5.15 an hour to $6.50 and then ties it to the Consumer Price Index for annual adjustments.

Pro: It’s been nine years since the last increase in the minimum wage; because of inflation, the minimum wage is at its lowest real (inflation-adjusted) level in over 50 years; 22 other states have already increased their minimum wage since 1997, including border states Arkansas and Illinois; the wage increase could raise $3.4 million and $4.3 million in state tax money; it’s not an amendment to the state constitution, so the General Assembly can modify the bill as needed.

Con: It imposes a burden on small business owners, who’d face an annual increase in their labor costs that would make it even more difficult to compete with larger companies; workers who already make above the minimum wage may see future raises shrink as business owners shift money to pay the higher minimum.

Today’s Intelligence Briefing:

Pentagon speeds plans for attack on N. Korea
Russia threatens to double gas price to Georgia
Canada military upset by U.S. security regulations
Memphis DHS office bugged
Google will be able to ‘keep tabs on us all’
Ratings show Republicans outnumber Democrats online
At least 10,000 registered Missouri voters are dead

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