11 Awesome Props part 4: Prop 33

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Intro to series: I used to be such a sourpuss about ballot measures, and especially those on this year’s ballot. Once, I even wrote a piece for the LA Times urging a no vote on everything. Fox & Hounds Daily readers kept telling me: you’re just so negative and cynical. The only time you say nice things is when you’re being smart alecky. You need to be more positive and give credit to the reformers

I was recently in a car accident that shook me up a bit. After that, and after some meditation, I realized: you readers are right. It’s time to look on the bright side and see these 11 measures on the ballot for what they are. So I read them again.

And you know those 11 measures are? In a word: Awesome.

In fact, this year I’m going to vote for every last one of them. And I think that, after reading this special 11-part series, 11 Awesome Props, you will too.

When I think about the important issues of human rights at stake at Prop 33, and the very long effort of its very old sponsor to pursue this great advance for humanity, I can’t help but paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards auto insurance loyalty discounts.

King’s exact words may have been pithier, particularly in how he described those discounts. But you get the point. Correcting historic injustice requires a long fight.

So thank goodness for Mercury Insurance’s George Joseph. He lost a bid to do what Prop 33 proposes to do two years ago with Prop 16, spending millions in the process. But what did he do? Give up? Never. Not when the high principle of permitting loyalty discounts that he could use to draw more drivers to Mercury Insurance was at stake.

The best thing about voting for Prop 33 is that you’re going to be part of a movement. Joseph has donated only more than 99 percent of the yes campaign’s funding. The less than 1 percent is up to the movement.

But just because I love Prop 33 doesn’t mean I don’t love its opponents. I do love Harvey Rosenfeld and Consumer Watchdog. Indeed, Harvey is directly responsible for Prop 33, and for that, we should thank him. After all, it was he who pushed through Prop 103 during the 1988 auto insurance wars – and Prop 103 has given voters the joy of putting themselves in charge of auto insurance.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m sure glad we didn’t leave a tangled, complicated subject like auto insurance rates to the legislature. I don’t know what I’d do with my time if I didn’t get to sift through the hard-to-understand arguments on either side of technical insurance questions. Fortunately, Prop 33 offers all California voters a cherished opportunity to practice democracy, fight for justice, and get a discount if we’ve had continuous coverage.

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