Do citizen initiative rights give voters or give special interests “too much” power to pass bad laws?
Sure, bad initiatives sometimes pass. But as Eric Dixon points out at the Show-Me Institute blog, our intermittently esteemed representatives do not religiously avoid passing bad bills. Lawmakers enact lousy laws galore.
Dixon argues that the track record of citizen initiative is actually pretty good. “For every misguided minimum wage increase and tax hike that voters pass,” he writes, “there are dozens of initiatives that have cut taxes, slashed spending, passed term limits . . .” He also says that ballot initiatives make elected officials much more accountable than would otherwise be the case.
Exactly, Mr. Dixon.
There even seems to be a kind of multiplier effect. More good has come from California’s Proposition 13 than bad has come from all the bad initiatives passed in all the states over the past century. After all, it sparked a tax revolt nationwide.
We enjoy disproportionate benefits from initiative rights because the good things that come from them are nearly impossible to get from legislatures. Meanwhile, the bad things typically expand the power of politicians – so, politicians are inclined to enact them anyway.
Besides, it’s easier for special interests to persuade or bribe a handful of politicians than influence a majority of voters. So, to block and reverse the bad stuff, the citizen initiative sure comes in handy.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.