Sunday, October 05, 2003

Peter Camejo Rocks the Boat, My World

For those of you who didn't see Pete speak in Evans Hall on Firday at 6pm (which would be everyone on the planet save for about 400 of us), he was fantastic as always.

Seemingly the Green following in the Berkeley area is comprised of a bunch of hippies; who knew? Peter's appearance was hosted by the ISO, and apparantly socialists run on "commie time," wherein events start 15 minutes late (so much for the trains running on time), but the introductory speakers were few and brief and Camejo was speaking by 6:35pm.

In good third-party tradition, he came armed with some very indicitive and interesting graphs, including a chart showing that, when income and property and sales and all other state taxes are added together, the bottom 20% pay an 11.3% tax rate while the top 1% pays 7.2%. (Here's a link to that graph and report.) He also had a graph showing that taxes on corporations are as low as they've been since the mid-90s (I don't remember the exact numbers and I can't find Camejo's graph - I'd make a lousy political intern). Further, he outlined how the number of businesses in California is on the increase, as are their revenues; in fact, California's GDP was bigger last year than ever, which makes the current deficit that moch more amazing. In other words, Peter was artfully dispelling the myth so ardently perpetuated by Schwarzenegger and McClintock: that corporate and income taxes are driving the money out of this state. This simply isn't true! The Republicans may offer anecdotes saying otherwise, but emperical data cannot support the theory that California's current fiscal policies are forcing companies to move elsewhere.

But enough about the economy. The economy bores me to tears. (Luckilly, Camejo is a financial advisor and can find money exciting on my behalf.) What really incited enthusiam in me were Pete's invigorating stances on IRV and gay rights.

First, the latter: For him and the rest of the Green party, the issue of "gay rights" is not an issue. Gays are citizens and receive the rights thereof. No concessions, no compromises, no policies treating them as if they were legally different from "regular" people. Somehow, this is a stance that every plausable Democratic candidate (c'mon, no one's voting for Kucinich, and it makes me really sad) refuses to take, perhaps for fear of wierding out a good number of Americans, or perhaps because they genuinely don't believe gays are the same as everybody else.

Second, the former: I strongly believe that instant runoff voting would make government far more representative of the public's wishes. If progressives who like like the Greens or conservatives who like the crazy Libertarians or the nut jobs who like the wacky nut job Reformists got to vote their concience, these underdogs could receive the recognition they deserve and could further play a role in the political process, without their supporters feeling like they're "stealing" votes. I can't see any reason to oppose IRV.

Lastly, the previously unmentioned: Sumbit articles to the Squelch. Especially newsflashes.


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