It has been a loud year for politics. The rush for the presidential seat has reflected poorly on both major political parties especially after the conduct in both the presidential and vice presidential debates. It has become a headache to scan the news headlines and see the avalanche of accusations of incompetence being shouted from both sides. Do not let this stop you from voting, especially since there are two propositions on the ballot that could change California dramatically.
Proposition 34, the End of the Death Penalty Initiative, and Proposition 37, Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food, are both on the ballot for California voters. If both propositions are passed, California will no longer offer the death penalty as punishment and genetically modified foods will have to be labeled as such. I find it interesting that with all the commotion being made about the presidential election and what could theoretically be the outcome, I have seen limited media coverage on these two propositions that would have immediate and serious results. Both propositions are only on the California ballot, which may contribute to the lack of national coverage. However, California is a massively influential state and these two propositions could also have an impact on the lives of those who reside outside the golden state.
Proposition 34, if passed, will repeal the death penalty as punishment in California. This will also lift the death penalty punishment from anyone waiting on death row and replace the punishment with life in prison without parole. In addition to the elimination of the death penalty, Proposition 34 will allocate $100 million to police forces in California, aiding in the prevention and solving of rape and murder cases. Both sides have conflicting statistics about the relative costs of the death penalty, those in favor of Proposition 34 say that it will decrease incarceration spending while opponents believe that death row inmates have no major impact on prison spending. Since California reintroduced the death penalty in 1978, thirteen prisoners have been executed. Supporters of the death penalty argue that the potential punishment of death deters crime, but statistically states without the death penalty have lower murder rates than states that do enforce capital punishment.
For someone to be committed to death, their crime must be particularly heinous, to the point that society no longer deems them to be worthy of their life. There is a desire for vengeance, and setting right a gruesome wrong. Unfortunately, no punishment will undo the acts of the wicked, and taking the life of someone who has caused unspoken turmoil to the family and friends of their victims will not bring them peace. As voteno34.org points out, only the truly villainous are punished with death. I do believe that criminals of this caliber deserve severe punishment, but it is not the role of the government to decide who lives and who dies. What if a man is convicted of a crime he did not commit, and loses his life not because he deserved it, but because of a flawed justice system? Our justice system is not without error and no one should lose their life on a technicality.
The death penalty has been argued on for centuries, but Proposition 37 surrounds a modern issue that has not been thoroughly discussed. If passed, Proposition 37 would mandate food companies to label products containing genetically modified foods. If consumers reject foods with genetically modified ingredients, this could force companies to use ingredients that do not contain genetically modified elements, which would increase the price of certain foods. Consumers should not be willfully ignorant of the food they eat, and it is curious to see who supports and opposes Proposition 37. Supporters are predominantly organic food companies, whereas opponents are food companies that use genetically modified foods. Many of the opponents are major international companies who are spending millions of dollars to try and halt the passage of Proposition 37. This includes Pepsico, Coca-Cola, Nestle, General Mills, Kelloggs, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Sara Lee, and Campbell's Soup, just to name a few.Keep in mind, Proposition 37 will only be effective in California. This would not be the first time that out of state spending has had an influence on a California election. In 2008, Proposition 8 was on the ballot in California, which when passed made same-sex marriage illegal. Massive donations were made by donors in Utah, despite Proposition 8 being exclusively a state issue.
NoonProp37.com claims that genetically modified foods have no serious impact on consumer health, but the issue isn't that the foods are dangerous, it is having the choice to knowingly decide whether or not to buy foods made with genetically modified ingredients. If consumers do not want to eat foods with genetically modified ingredients, then consumers have that choice. Food manufacturers need to recognize that even if genetically modified foods are cheap and potentially harmless, ultimately consumers will dictate what is produced.
Voting is your voice. Whether you agree with me or not makes no difference if you do not vote. Get out there November 6th and make a difference.