By Justin O’Donnell
The Ballot Measure, it is one of the most crucial aspects of American Democracy. The citizens voicing their desires, without the politics of the legislature. In 2014, the Citizens of Massachusetts overruled their elected officials and repealed automatic increases built into the Gas Tax, along with instituting a requirement for Paid sick days for all full-time employees in the state. In 2012 we voted to allow Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts. This year we have yet another chance to tell the Legislators on Beacon Hill that we’re done waiting for their backroom politics, and we’re taking matters into our own Hands. There are 4 questions posed on the Ballot in Massachusetts this year requiring our Vote.
Now dare I say it, I’m not writing this article in any official capacity, my position as a state
committee member with The Libertarian Association of Massachusetts aside, these are my personal opinions, and may not perfectly reflect the official views of the Party as a whole. My reasons are my own, but my philosophy is firmly rooted in my Love for Liberty.
The Massachusetts Authorization of a Second Slots Location Initiative
This question would allow for a second Slots only Casino to be built in Massachusetts. The
prohibition of casino’s and gambling parlors in Massachusetts is solely an issue of morality, a morality of times past, rooted in a culture of old. Who are we to continue legislating the morality of some on the masses? And has no one pointed out the hypocrisy of the Commonwealth forbidding gambling by any means other than they state Lottery. In 2014, we the people voted against an initiative to forbid resort casino’s in the state, why now must we limit their number?
Let’s look at the Positives Casino’s can bring to our commonwealth. I mean other than the Jobs, infrastructure, tourism, and something else to do on the weekends? Well, perhaps even the Democratic People’s Republic of Taxachusetts would appreciate the huge increase in tax revenue the casino’s will rain upon their coffers. But to be honest, I was sold at allowing another new business to operate and create jobs, entertainment, and dare I say it, freedom…
Verdict: YES on 1
The Massachusetts Authorization of Additional Charter Schools and Charter School Expansion Initiative
There is no hotter issue than our children’s education. So why do we allow the government to manage it? Seriously, why the heck do we trust a bunch of Lawyers in Boston and DC to tell us what is best for our kids? Why do we tie our children’s future to municipal budgets managed by bureaucrats who know nothing about Education? Why not entrust professional educators to manage school as a business? A business that strives to produce a quality product, at the lowest expense?
Charter schools have been proven to educate our children at a lower cost per student than public school systems, and have a measurably higher graduation rate and performance. These institutions provide an alternative for families whose children might not otherwise have access to quality education. Disadvantaged minorities in at risk neighborhoods who are being held back by sub par opportunities, these children are our future, and they deserve an equal access to quality education.
So what was it that sold me on charter schools? Well, mostly it’s the lack of government oversight. Some people might see that as a bad thing, but I can’t help but wonder, how, with all the corruption the private sector is rife with, that a private organization could do better educating our kids for cheaper, than our trusted government? Truth is, I’m not a teacher, so I can’t speak to what goes on in the class room. I am, however, a tax payer, and while I may not be a parent yet, by god do I want to live in a world where I can decide where and how my kids are educated, and the Success that’s been had makes me believe that charter schools are the Cheaper, more efficient, free market answer to our failing education system.
Verdict: YES on 2
The Massachusetts Minimum Size Requirements for Farm Animal Containment Initiative
This one is a doosie. I actually wrote an Article in The Boston Globe a few months back about this issue. I’ll spare you the gritty details and bear down on my opinions on the matter and the guts of the initiative to bring some context. The initiative was circulated under the guise of animal rights and protection, and I’ll admit, I was more than willing to sign the Petition when it was presented to me on a weekend down the cape.
Keep in mind, it is already illegal for Farmers and producers in Massachusetts to practice “cruel” treatment of poultry and farm animals, with regards to their
confinement and housing. This initiative ups the ante, making it illegal to sell any meat or poultry or
dairy product that holds an origin from a facility that does not comply with those rules, even if it is imported from out-of-state. Now, many of you may think this a good thing, and long-term, maybe it is, but let’s think about the immediate impacts.
Me personally, I shop at Whole Foods for my groceries when I can. I prefer cage free and free range eggs and meat products. I like my fish wild caught, and my steaks medium rare, but that’s a set of choices I make for myself. And for my choices, I pay more for my food. It’s a voluntary expense that I choose to incur. This isn’t a choice everyone makes, in fact, there’s many who would love to make that choice, but simply can’t afford to. These products are significantly more expensive than the traditional groceries you might find at Stop and Shop. Forcing this additional expenditure on those who can’t afford to willingly accept it, would increase the cost of living significantly in The Commonwealth, and amount to an obligatory food tax to account for increased regulations on your food supply.
There is no choice involved whatsoever in a governing body making decisions about how you feed your family on your behalf, and I can’t possibly be in favor of forcing my own choices on those less fortunate than me.
Verdict: NO on 3
The Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative
Let’s be honest here, this is the question that most of you care about. The question many have been working towards for the good part of a decade. 6 years ago we decriminalized it, and 4 years ago we voted to allow it for medicinal uses. But this year is Different, we’re voting to allow legal recreational marijuana in Massachusetts, an Initiative that has already seen rousing success in Colorado and Washington. This initiative will legalize Marijuana, and regulate like alcohol…
Regulate it like alcohol…
This is rubbing some people the wrong way. While attending a rally for Governor Gary Johnson in Boston this summer, I overheard someone in my vicinity respond to Gary’s enthusiasm for Question 4 with “No Libertarian would ever support that initiative!!”
Well then, color me confused. I identify myself as a Libertarian, and I’m all in favor of ending the prohibition and prosecution of Marijuana, it is after all, a damn plant that grows
naturally in the dirt. And to dispel any misconceptions, I do not, and do not plan to in the future, personally consume or use Marijuana Products. But that’s my personal choice, and I respect the choices of anyone who wishes to use it for themselves. Some people are apparently upset that removing the prohibition would involve regulating it, putting age limits, restricting where it can be sold and taxing it, rather than simply letting your corner Drug dealers file for an LLC and start accepting credit cards on their cell phone appendages.
I’m all for a free market solution, and deregulation as a long term goal, but to say that no
Libertarian would support a step in the right direction seems like a fundamentalist zealot to me. There are those among us who refuse to accept any form of compromise, and expect Anarchy to consume the nation overnight. These are our Friends in the Radical Caucus, and while they mean well, the pragmatic among us recognize progress in the right direction as a wonderful thing.
Verdict: YES on 4
In Summary Well, those are my views on this years ballot questions, and to sum them up, Yes on Casinos, Yes on Charter Schools, No on Cage Free Eggs, and Yes on Legal Weed. But those are my personal opinions, and while rooted in my Libertarian Philosophy, should not be taken as an end all of why and how you as a Libertarian should vote.
Take what I’ve said with a grain of salt, I’m only 26, and have a lot of growing up that I still keep procrastinating on. But I stand by my beliefs and my reasoning, and if you find hey make sense to you, then consider this a guide. But if you want to vote in another way, well that’s your choice, and it wouldn’t be very Libertarian of me to tell you otherwise.
Yours in Liberty,