10 Ways Proposition 32 Would Hurt California and Catapult the Conservative Agenda in the State
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California’s Proposition 32 proposes outlawing the use of automatic payroll deductions from union members and corporations for political purposes. Backed by such labor-hating billionaires as the Koch Brothers, Charles Munger Jr., and by anti-marriage equality crusaders like Howard Ahmanson and Larry T. Smith, the measure will decimate unions’ ability to participate in the political process—stripping them of their considerable clout in the state. But that doesn’t mean Prop. 32 is purely about union-busting. Instead, the measure provides its wealthy backers with a means to an end — to eliminate organized labor as the most significant obstacle to imposing a corporate and fundamentalist religious agenda on an otherwise stalwart progressive state.
Prop. 32 isn’t an end game. It’s the beginning of a much larger conservative agenda for California. The only way to truly understand the potential impact of Prop. 32’s passage is to analyze the agenda of its backers.
Here are the 10 most dire issues California can look forward to if Prop. 32 is to pass this week.
1. Toxic Sludge – The Koch Brothers’ $4 million donation to support Prop. 32 is often portrayed as purely ideological. But the Kochs are not disinterested players in the state of California. They own the pulp paper processing company Georgia-Pacific, which has 11 facilities in California and has spent much of the past few years lobbying to gut provisions of California’s Green Chemistry Initiative–a 2008 law protecting California citizens from exposure to toxic industrial chemicals.
2. Global Warming, Here We Come – Prop. 32 backers despise California’s landmark climate change prevention statute, AB 32. The Koch brothers’ most conspicuous foray into California politics — prior to their Prop. 32 support – came in 2010, when the Koch Industries subsidiary, Flint Hills Resources, donated $1 million to support Proposition 23. Had voters ratified it, Prop. 23 would have overturned AB 32. Flint Hills didn’t chip in out of climate-change denial. The company has a substantial investment in Canadian tar sands oil, whose extraction and consumption creates a Sasquatch-sized carbon footprint. Robust clean emissions standards, Koch Industries complained on its website, “would cripple refiners that rely on heavy crude feedstocks.”
3. Offshore Drilling – With lessons of the BP spill two years in hindsight, the idea of offshore drilling in California has resurfaced. Koch Industries recently donated $5,000 to the Congressional campaign of Santa Barbara Republican Tony Strickland—who, in various campaigns over the years, has routinely advocated opening up waters off the coast of California to drilling.
Though they don’t yet appear to have their feet in the door financially, there’s no reason to doubt that, with their army of lobbyists at the ready and history of campaign contributions in the state, the Kochs wouldn’t maneuver to profit off of California’s offshore oil.
4. Bye-Bye Minimum Wage – Not only have Prop. 32 backers been deeply involved in efforts to obliterate living wage efforts in California, they even want to roll back the state’s modest minimum wage requirements. In 2006, Prop. 32 author Thomas Hiltachk and his law firm authored and pushed for the Fair Pay Workplace Flexibility Act. This progressive-sounding bit of legislation would have increased California’s minimum wage by a pittance – while eliminating overtime pay for many workers and freezing all future minimum wage raises without the consent of two-thirds of both houses of the California legislature.
5. School Vouchers – If there’s a unifying issue animating Prop. 32’s backers, it’s that nearly all want to shift public school money to private educational entities. By far the most radical is third-generation venture capitalist and “viral marketing” guru Timothy C. Draper–who thus far has given $100,000 to push Prop. 32. In 2000 Draper was the brains and the piggy bank behind Proposition 38–arguably the most extreme school voucher effort in recent American history.