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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Mr. Peter Porcupine Explains It All For You

So, you were wondering about how to vote on the ballot questions?

Did you know there were ballot questions?

There are three of them, and Porcupine opposes them all. If that is sufficient for you, good day. If you need further information, please read on.

Question One would allow the sale of wine in food stores, subject to local licensing laws. Porcupine says ‘food stores’ because proponents say grocery stores, and opponents say convenience stores. The proposed law defines a “food store” as a retail vendor, such as a grocery store, supermarket, shop, club, outlet, or warehouse-type seller, that sells food to consumers to be eaten elsewhere (which must include meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs, fresh fruit and produce, and other specified items), and that may sell other items usually found in grocery stores. Most gas station convenience store would probably qualify. Many who oppose the question believe that such food stores may not be able to properly control liquor, but they sell cigarettes, and do a decent job of controlling those sales to minors.

Porcupine opposes the question for local economic reasons. He is a proud Chamber of Commerce member, and regards local package stores as community businesses. He had also opposed the Sunday sale of liquor, as small businesses found it hard to stay open and the chain stores had an unfair advantage. Now, to compete with supermarkets and gas stations for wine sales – the fastest growing and most lucrative type of liquor sales, now that distilled spirits are out of favour – will put many of these small businesses under. Porcupine sees no reason to put Bass River Liquors out of business in order to enrich Deb Goldberg’s Stop and Shop chain any further. Package store profits stay in town, and chain store profits are spirited away. Vote no for your neighborhood business’s sake.

Question Two is the most confusing. It would bring to the state a phenomenon called ‘fusion voting’, in which every candidate can appear upon every party’s ballot, and the winners are chosen by adding them all up. The idea is to encourage the proliferation of small, boutique parties – the Working Families Party and the Constitution Party are big in New York where this is done. Porcupine does not wish to encourage the trend towards extremism in political parties, and prefers to have closed primaries instead, forcing unenrolled voters to pick a party in order to vote, not encourage chaos in an already shaky voting system.

Question Three is the one with the most hidden agenda since ‘Ban Cruel Leghold Traps (and by the way, change the composition of the Fish and Wildlife Board)’ in 2000. Ostensibly, it would allow providers of home day care to unionize, even though they are independent contractors and business in their own right, and lobby the state for better reimbursement rates for day care. However, Massachusetts is not a right to work state. Home day care providers who do not WANT to be forced to join a union, and who perhaps have only 1 - 2 state subsidized children out of six charges may eliminate them from the slots, making it harder for mothers with day care vouchers to find care. Most women doing home day care WANT to be independent contractors - if they didn't they would probably work at a Center instead. They want flexibility in their operation and pay for it with a reduced margin. Why would they want to pay dues to the SEIU, and cope with ANOTHER behemoth bureaucracy? What happens when they call for a strike, for something they don't even want? Do they ditch their private pay clients? Far better to eliminate the state slots.

Also, legally, this is a questionable precedent. What's next - barbers, because the state regulates them? Veterinarians, who are ALSO closely regulated for practices? These are independent businesses, with no relationship to one another and different costs and expenses – and yet 50% plus one would force them all to join the SEIU. These are businesses, not employees, and for that reason alone the question should be voted down. The very real possibility that the most vulnerable women who depend upon day care vouchers would lose care is another excellent reason.

Here is a link to the Secretary of State’s web page explaining the questions – although if you Vote Porcupine, you’ll never go wrong!


Blogger Globalize This! said...

You just don't get what Question 3 is about. It is important to get the facts out because Question 3 is a good thing that will help hundreds of thousands of parents and children in Massachusetts.

A YES vote on Question 3 will give family child care providers a voice to work with the state to:
*make child care more accessible to working parents
*improve training opportunities so kids get the quality care and early learning they need to start strong
*raise health and safety standards by creating incentives (rather than the disincentives of the current program) for providers to become licensed
*and stabilize the child care profession to retain and attract the most qualified providers.

I'm surprised more conservatives aren't embracing this initiative, because essentially what it does is devolve authority from inefficient state bureaucrats and vest it in the people. Family child care providers are the people parents depend on and trust most to make decisions about their kids safety and early learning. That's why it only makes sense that providers should have a voice in decisions made by state bureaucrats. And that's why parents are some of the strongest supporters of Question 3.

Question 3 WILL NOT affect what parents pay for child care. That, as always, will be determined by the market and the relationship between parents and providers.

Question 3 WILL NOT force anybody to join a union. It changes the law to allow providers to have a voice with the state government, which they cannot do now. As always, the choice whether to join and which union to choose will be up to individual providers. It will be Massachusetts providers who get to sit at the table to make improvements in our child care system.

In fact, Question 3 is such a good thing that the Secretary of State couldn't even find anyone who wanted to write the "anti" summary for the ballot.

Before you take ballot endorsements from a porcupine, get the facts for yourself: YES on 3 For Kids.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Peter Porcupine said...

All of Porcupine's children were in family day care, and Porcupine sat on the board of a day care center. He numbers among his past and present friends many providers. They have never struck him as MUTE, or unable to represent themselves. Without paying dues to SEIU.

I seriously question the assertion that care will be more accesible, as providers opt out of the state voucher system, and retreat into private pay to avoid this.

By the way - what is this "raise health and safety standards by creating incentives (rather than the disincentives of the current program) for providers to become licensed" - so, you have plans to play with license requirements, too? Please let me know, after you have checked back with the source of your generic talking points.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Globalize This! said...

If you want more than generic talking points, you should try offering a substantive, empirical argument yourself--rather than mere baseless speculation.

1. The providers you know (I'm guessing) are probably not mute, but definitely are unable to speak with a unified voice as a group of professionals. That's because Massachusetts law does not allow them to do so. And that's why Question 3 is necessary: to give family child care providers the legal right to speak with a united voice on child care policy. Without Question 3, there is no way for providers to do so. Speaking as individuals, family child care providers will not be able to influence Massachusetts child care policy. Child care providers from communities across Massachusetts will be the ones to develop proposals and, with Question 3, to sit at the table with state officials.

2. The choice of whether to join a union and, if so, which union to choose will be left entirely up to individual child care providers. Any assertions to the contrary are simply bald faced misrepresentations of the facts, and I think you know this Mr. Porcupine. Question 3 will allow family child care providers to negotiate as a group over chid care policy. If Question 3 passes, it will be up to the Mass. Attorney General to define a process by which providers can choose or not choose to join a union.

3. Right now there are some 17,000+ children on the state's child care waiting list. This represents a failure of the state's child care policy, and not the dedication of family child care providers. Meanwhile, many child care providers are closing their business because they simply can't operate economically when voucher reimbursements from the state are delayed and inconsistent, and not to mention the rising costs of health care insurance that all of us face. The state has allowed the value of child care vouchers to fall below market rates. Many providers out of their commitment to parents and kids commendably continue to accept vouchers despite taking a loss. The accessibility problem is rooted entirely within state policy that gets the price wrong and forces the burden of adjustment onto family child care providers, causing some (usually the highly skilled ones) to exit the business. Child Care providers know what's wrong with the system, and they know what parents and kids need, and that's why they sould have a voice in fixing Massachusetts child care policy.

4. It is shameless that you would twist my words to insinuate that child care providers want to lower standards (which is a silly notion anyway as high standards are what attract parents to child care providers). The incentives are quite clear: give more providers carrots (not literally) to become licensed with opportunities for training and professional development, etc.. Providers are the people that parents trust to ensure their kids' health and safety. By making such things possible, Question 3 will help attract and retain skilled child care providers. In fact, this is exactly what is happening now in states like Illinois and Washington where providers have similarly gained the right to have a united voice. Providers have parents' and children's best interest at heart, and that's why they should be part a of the decision making process, rather than leaving it to inefficient, insulated state bureaucrats.

5. Last, your logic is simply incomprehensible. Why would a union want to restrict access to the services its members provide? That just does not make a bit of sense. Rather, they would want to expand access and create demand for their service. This is what we in economics would call a Pareto improvement. And that's why Question 3 is a win-win: parents and kids get better access to affordable, quality child care while providers get a stabilized workforce that allows them to expand and invest in their services.

4:43 PM  

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