Voting time

07Nov06

:: These are the people and amendments I would be voting on today, yet I missed the deadline for my absentee ballot. Oops. I sometimes think, I’m better off not contributing to this puppetry…  

U.S. SENATE
Republican Jim Talent and Democrat Claire McCaskill are locked one of the highest-profile national races of the year. To the winner’s party likely goes the U.S. Senate majority.
The incumbent: Sen. Talent is against stem cell research (he says it’s tantamount to cloning), against the minimum-wage hike (he says should be handled on the federal level) and wants to keep our troops in Iraq as long as it takes to finish the job.
The challenger: McCaskill is pro-stem cell research, pro-minimum wage hike and has attacked Talent for blindly supporting Bush in the war.
Why you should care: If you can force yourself, you should be excited that we live in a state that may set the tone for the entire country.

Why should I care: I would like to see a change. I’m for McCaskill [just iffy on the stem cell research issue]. She was an outstanding debater and proved points Talent missed or skipped.

AMENDMENT 2 (STEM CELLS)
This amendment to the Missouri Constitution would legalize and set limitations on stem cell research, and mandate patient access to stem cell therapies. Stem cells are (very basically) cells that have the ability to grow into other types of cells or tissues. The science has doctors giddy that it could treat a range of diseases. Stem cell research can be conducted using embryos or adult stem cells, though scientists believe embryos have more potential.
If you vote “Yes”: You’re voting to allow Missouri researchers to conduct—and the state to pay for—any type of stem cell research permitted under federal law. The measure would also ban cloning. Several states, including California, Illinois and Wisconsin, have legalized stem cell research and pro-research groups like Missourians for Life-Saving Cures believe stems cells have the power to help treat incurable diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Other advocates say approval will bring much-needed tech and science jobs to our state.
If you vote “No”: You’re voting to not allow stem cell research in Missouri. Many opponents of the issue—including Republican state Senator Norma Champion—say the amendment as written is too ambiguous and “redefines cloning.” Staunch right-to-lifers like Missouri Right to Life say the creation of embryos for the purpose of harvesting stem cells is abortion.
Why you should care: This is a fundamental change to the state’s constitution. Both sides, especially evangelicals, are passionate about their stances, though it hasn’t been the GOP-Democrat wedge issue many expected (Governor Matt Blunt is for the amendment). Catanese warns voters not to let anyone speak for them. “I urge anyone who cares to read the actual amendment and decide what they believe.”

What do I think: I don’t care about the jobs it would bring in the state honestly, I care about the clear definitions of the amendment.  One could say, why not “utilize” aborted fetuses [for whatever reasons they were aborted” for “a cure” rather than to “get rid of them”. But then again, to what extent could this be stretched? If they are testing on adult stem cell why do they need embryonic? Will they mess with the “fine print” after they get the funding? I just think, issues like these need to be publicized more via the media – because the majority of the public will probably read the full amendments at the polls for the first time! Do we want another habeus corpus to slip by?

AMENDMENT 3 (TOBACCO TAX)
This Amendment would create a fund which—as stated on the ballot—would help pay for “payments for services provided to Missouri Medicaid beneficiaries” and fund tobacco-control programs. The funding source: A tax increase of four cents on every cigarette sold and a 20 percent increase on the price of all other tobacco products.
If you vote “Yes”: You’re voting to add 80 cents to the cost of a pack of cigarettes (the current tax stands at 17 cents). Some supporters […] say $61 million of the $351 million the tax is expected to generate will go to help prevent teen smoking, while the other $290 would help low-income Missourians with health care costs. He says smokers should be supplementing an industry that their health issues help overwhelm, adding that Missouri has the second-lowest tobacco tax in the country. We have the second most smokers, according to the CDC.
If you vote “No”: You’re keeping cigarettes cheap in Missouri. Catanese says politicians from both parties are shying away from supporting Amendment 3 since tax hikes aren’t cool for either side right now. Some, like Champion, say the increase is too drastic. Others, like state representative Sara Lampe, a Democrat who is undecided on the issue, say they fear Amendment 3 unfairly affects one segment of the population—in this case the poor, who tend to smoke more.
Why you should care: If you’re a smoker, there’s no issue that will affect you more surely and swiftly. Plus, says Catanese, this issue could set a precedent by amending the Constitution for a “sin” tax. “Some people feel taxes shouldn’t target anyone,” he says.  “What’s next, a fast food tax?”

Why do I care: Having been raised in a country where everyone smokes, I can view this from both sides. I don’t think people will quit smoking due to a raise in the price. If someone wants to smoke, they’ll find a way to get it. And why is there an impression that most low income citizens are the smokers? I just don’t get that. I disagree with that generalization, which I’ve heard from several people. Raise the cost will not create awareness. Does the drinking age create awareness? C’mon. I agree with the comment above, that taxes should target a specific audience – and yes, if tobacco should be taxed, so should fast food – since we are the ranked #1 in obesity numbers!

PROPOSITION B (MINIMUM-WAGE)
This proposition would raise the minimum wage to $6.50 per hour—a $1.35 increase over the federal level of $5.15—and increase it annually along with inflation in the Consumer Price Index.
If you vote “Yes”: You’re voting to pay every worker in the state (minus tipped employees, natch) at least $6.50 per hour. Supporters say the current wage is unlivable, and the resulting poverty affects everything from drug use to public health to children’s education.
If you vote “No”: You keep the wage at the national minimum. Some opponents, like Dan Scott, GOP candidate for Springfield’s 137th House district, say tying the minimum wage to the CPI is dangerous, since there would be no cap.
Why you should care: It boils down to livable wages for poor people versus the ability of employers to create jobs and sell goods and services at low prices. Which is more important? Catanese says this issue—unlike stem cells—is much easier for people to form opinions on, and that it will definitely impact the economy no matter which way the vote goes.

Why do I care: I care because some work 3 jobs to make ends meet. That’s unfair – simply that. $5.15 an hour just doesn’t do it for the standards of living today.

:: Quotes of the day [chosen by James]

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Those who vote decide nothing. Those who count the vote decide everything.” – Josef Stalin

|Go magazine|

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