Proposition 23: Skin-Deep Legislation, Not a Solution

Voters Should Not Be Fooled by Deceptive Language and Should Reject the Proposition

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Let's face it - we've all been on a bad date or two. Each starts out decently enough; he looks good, has a job, and is relatively funny! However, it might be with the first awkward silence, or maybe the off-color joke, but inevitably you realize that you're in for a night of dodging bad breath and mind-numbing conversation.

If you went on a first date with Proposition 23 it would be a lot like this, but instead of wearing a perfectly tailored blazer jacket he would be wielding perfectly tailored words, deceptively designed to sweep you off your feet before you even know what's happening. So before you venture out, let's sit down and I'll tell you a little more about your candidate.

Prop. 23 (or the "Jobs Initiative" as his friend's like to call him) is a piece of legislation that proposes to suspend

AB 32, California's landmark environmental policy that was created in 2006. Prop 23 claims that big businesses are spending too much money adhering to California's "strict" environmental standards - money that, according to its backers, could be better spent hiring new workers.

"So, I want to put the environmental thing on hold until CA unemployment rates hit below 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters," Prop. 23 says to you with a wink and a smile.

For a second you are wooed by his flashy words. You need a job, this initiative will create jobs: a match made in heaven!

But as the date goes on, you slowly start to realize all of the things coming out of his mouth are complete garbage (no pun intended). A quick background check on your iPhone shows that the unemployment rate in California has been 5.5 percent or below for four consecutive quarters only three times since 1980. So, just how are all of these new jobs going to be created?

"That's easy! The businesses will use all the money they save from blowing off the environment to hire new workers." he says.

New workers? Well, what about all the jobs in the environmental sector?

"I'm sorry?" he chokes.

It's a very basic question: How is Prop. 23 going to create new jobs? What the legislation moves to do is destroy the 500,000 jobs already created by clean energy and, in doing so, stifle the fastest growing sector of our employment market. Since all of those people will have to be rehired eventually, isn't it technically just moving jobs around instead of creating them? Why would we want to destroy clean jobs and create more dirty ones?

As he chokes on his ice cube, it dawns on you - nothing in Prop. 23 actually makes that much sense. What is the point in derailing California's current status as a worldwide environmental leader for just a temporary, tiny band-aid on the economy? Let's trash the environment ... so we can all work to clean it up? These realizations are ones that many Californians are having on their very own dates with Prop. 23. It makes a person wonder how did a piece of crummy legislation like this ever make it this far in the first place?

The answer comes almost immediately.

"Oh don't worry," Prop says, as the waiter drops off the check. "Valero and Tesoro are going to foot the bill for this one."

Oh yes, you heard me right. Prop. 23 is bankrolled by two out-of-state oil corporations. Imagine that: wealthy companies that pollute the environment are paying tons of money so that they can continue to pollute the environment. I don't suppose all that advertising money could be spent towards new jobs, now could it?

These companies prey upon Californians' lack of confidence in the current economy by splattering their campaigns with words like "jobs initiative" and "lower unemployment rate." They assume that voters will only look skin-deep at the proposition and simply mark yes on their ballots in hopes it might stimulate the economy enough to make a difference.

So let's just clarify - pumping 53 million more pounds of greenhouse gases into the air per year and destroying half a million current jobs is in no way going to be a boon to economic recovery.

Instead, we need to tackle climate change head on by maintaining our landmark environmental legislation and creating new jobs through clean energy.

CALPIRG, the student California Public Interest Research Group, is working to turn out students to vote down Proposition 23.

Here at UC Berkeley, CALPIRG students are going get 8,000 pledges to vote no on 23, and already have over 3,200 pledges. Statewide, CALPIRG students are going to get over 160,000 pledges to vote no on Prop. 23.

Visit to find out how you can help stop Prop 23. Let's work together to end this oil-bankrolled terrible date with Prop. 23 once and for all.


Winnie Cunningham is a member of UC Berkeley CalPIRG. Reply to [email protected]

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