What future do you want?

RC Kubota, Guest Columnist

If you make daily choices striving for a healthier future and better quality of life, making choices once a year about policy relating to your health and well-being seems like a reasonable thing to do. Voting joins you with other people to protect or create future choices.
For example, Proposition 52 “Extends indefinitely an existing statute that imposes fees on hospitals to fund Medi‑Cal health care services, care for uninsured patients, and childrens’ health coverage” (Voter Information Guide and Sample Ballot, General Election, 08 November 2016). Do you think the fees are raising your health care costs? Are you, or anyone you know, uninsured or likely to become uninsured? Are you comfortable with a “forever” amendment — or figure a future initiative will chop the time? Is it difficult to plan for the future without knowing that there will “always” be funding?
By the way, how do you think losing $1 billion from the annual state General fund would affect your future — or do you believe there would be “relatively little impact” if “no” wins?
Then there’s Proposition 55, a 12 year tax extension to fund education — and “in certain years, healthcare” — which would affect us directly if our earnings topped $250,000 per year. But wait, it could affect us directly: California Community Colleges are included in education funding. How much of $4-9 billion per year might make it to LMC?
Amazingly, the Guide includes “depending on economy and stock market,” so maybe there won’t be too much for “health care for low-income people.” Maybe those “certain years” refer to years when California’s debt payments are not threatening to damage the state’s cost of borrowing money.
Proposition 56 might be a win-win combination, generating $1.1 billion while helping smokers quit before they’re any further behind. It seems OK to have future revenue drop since healthcare/law enforcement costs could be decreasing as fewer smokers generate less need for both costs. Revenues going to support “health care for low-income Californians” make this proposition look even better. People with allergies and/or breathing difficulties would “breathe easier” with less tobacco smoke circulating.
Proposition 60 might not appear connected to your future quality of life, but maybe seeing condoms in films would bolster arguments for using them elsewhere in life. If nothing else, any increase in testing, medical exams, etc. could reduce risks for the population.
Although the Proposition 64 summary does not mention “medical” marijuana, passage is still a future quality of life issue. Even if your future does not include needing the medical help, we will all gain when the number of people with criminal records — and their prosecution/incarceration costs — drops. There is also the research indicating that jailing people can be educational: do we need people learning to become higher-level criminals? Gaining more than $1 billion annually in tax revenues might help too.
Perhaps more important to your future quality of life in California, especially with the weather changing: making marijuana legal could save us millions, perhaps billions, when hemp growing is no longer banned.
Currently, officials don’t like hemp because it’s too similar to marijuana plants, making testing inaccurate and enforcement problematic. Hemp will grow with less water and on poorer quality land than, for example, cotton. Before marijuana was criminalized, the U.S. used hemp extensively — Henry Ford used hemp in his first cars and the first US flag was hemp. There’s nothing wrong with returning to “old ways,” especially if they’ll reduce our water use.
Finally, there’s Proposition 67, the “single-use plastic bags” referendum. There are important health considerations, such as reducing chemical contamination, however, my most-recent reason for wanting plastic bags banned comes from my car. I thought I smelled burning and took my car to the mechanics. The car was indeed burning — a thrown-away plastic bag had been sucked under my car and melted into it. It stank for months. It would have masked a burning smell from something else. Besides, they’re an eyesore and a stressor easily removed. Less stress makes for greater health and feelings of well-being.
Please vote in your community, county and state decisions.
You don’t have to vote for any presidential candidates.
You can vote to express a preference in how your future could look.