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Monday, November 5, 2012

Massachusetts Ballot Questions 2012

My buddy, Josh Gee, recently wrote an excellent post on the California and Los Angeles ballot questions.
I thought it was such a good idea that I decided to write my own for Massachusetts.

And for the love of god, no hanging chads!

So, for all you last-minute ballot researchers:

QUESTION 1: Availability of Motor Vehicle Repair Information
"This proposed law would prohibit any motor vehicle manufacturer, starting with model year 2015, from selling or leasing, either directly or through a dealer, a new motor vehicle without allowing the owner to have access to the same diagnostic and repair information made available to the manufacturer’s dealers and in-state authorized repair facilities.

The manufacturer would have to allow the owner, or the owner’s designated in-state independent repair facility (one not affiliated with a manufacturer or its authorized dealers), to obtain diagnostic and repair information electronically, on an hourly, daily, monthly, or yearly subscription basis, for no more than fair market value and on terms that do not unfairly favor dealers and authorized repair facilities." (state.ma.us)
In short, the law would require manufacturers to disclose proprietary information on all of their vehicles so that any garage may fully service them.
On the one hand, it would likely reduce the repair and maintenance costs for vehicles. On the other, the state is forcing companies to divulge their competitive advantages over other companies.

Suggestion: VOTE NO

Rationale: I was torn on this issue for a while.
While this may seem like an ideal law for consumers and a win for their wallets, ideologically I cannot agree with a law that forces a company to release proprietary information. (It reminds me greatly of the case of 'Rearden Steel' in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged).
In the short term, it will likely reduce costs for consumers. However, it will ultimately result in decreased innovation and higher costs.
If a company is forced to reveal secret information, it will eventually stop putting secret information into their products; i.e. it will stop innovating. Put money into R&D if your competition will just get to see it and copy it after the it is released?
It is innovation and competition that drives prices lower and increases features, so one can extrapolate the effects. This lack of innovation will result in a stagnant industry and uniformity of product offerings. The lack of competition will drive prices up, not through the lesser maintenance and repair fees, but through initial purchasing costs.

QUESTION 2: Prescribing Medication to End Life
"This proposed law would allow a physician licensed in Massachusetts to prescribe medication, at a terminally ill patient’s request, to end that patient’s life. To qualify, a patient would have to be an adult resident who (1) is medically determined to be mentally capable of making and communicating health care decisions; (2) has been diagnosed by attending and consulting physicians as having an incurable, irreversible disease that will, within reasonable medical judgment, cause death within six months; and (3) voluntarily expresses a wish to die and has made an informed decision. The proposed law states that the patient would ingest the medicine in order to cause death in a humane and dignified manner.

The proposed law would require the patient, directly or through a person familiar with the patient’s manner of communicating, to orally communicate to a physician on two occasions, 15 days apart, the patient’s request for the medication. At the time of the second request, the physician would have to offer the patient an opportunity to rescind the request. The patient would also have to sign a standard form, in the presence of two witnesses, one of whom is not a relative, a beneficiary of the patient’s estate, or an owner, operator, or employee of a health care facility where the patient receives treatment or lives." (state.ma.us)
Suggestion: VOTE YES

Rationale: This was a bit easier.
Rather than list the reasons of why a patient should have the choice, I will pose this question instead: Why shouldn't they?
As far as I'm concerned, it is completely up to the patient and their family to decide. Many times the patient is going through unbearable agony in their final days and would rather go peacefully.

QUESTION 3: Medical Use of Marijuana
"This proposed law would eliminate state criminal and civil penalties for the medical use of marijuana by qualifying patients. To qualify, a patient must have been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition, such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV-positive status or AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, or multiple sclerosis. The patient would also have to obtain a written certification, from a physician with whom the patient has a bona fide physician-patient relationship, that the patient has a specific debilitating medical condition and would likely obtain a net benefit from medical use of marijuana.

The proposed law would allow patients to possess up to a 60-day supply of marijuana for their personal medical use. The state Department of Public Health (DPH) would decide what amount would be a 60-day supply. A patient could designate a personal caregiver, at least 21 years old, who could assist with the patient’s medical use of marijuana but would be prohibited from consuming that marijuana. Patients and caregivers would have to register with DPH by submitting the physician’s certification." (state.ma.us)
Suggestion: VOTE YES

Rationale: Easiest yet.
Moving away from simply the medical uses of marijuana, I am in favor of decriminalizing it altogether and moving it towards a regulated substance along the lines of alcohol.
Over and over again, research has shown that the "War on Drugs" is a failure. Not only has it had little (if any) effect on the distribution and usage of drugs, it has wasted billions of dollars. Additionally, it has instigated botched/faulty raids, some of which have resulted in the deaths of innocent people. (This case of a grandfather killed by police comes to mind, but there are dozens like it).
Additionally, we must remove the power of the federal government to impose its will over state law. The federal government (A.G. Eric Holder) has repeatedly stated that it will continue to prosecute citizens in possession of marijuana, even if it is legal in their state.
Not only does this completely contradict the Constitution and its intentions of limited federal government, but it just creates an incredibly and unnecessarily complicated situation where our own government is at odds with itself.
I highly doubt the federal government's case would hold up if a case was ever brought before the Supreme Court and, in the process, it would have likely cost taxpayers millions in legal fees to do so.

Hopefully this helped a little.
The most important part is that you continue to do your own research on the issues and remember to vote tomorrow!

As always, any thoughts (or corrections) are welcome and encouraged.

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