Paul Jacob

What we don't hear enough about in political campaigns is freedom. Good, old-fashioned individual freedom. That was the original philosophy. The one that provided the golden eggs.

In this election, if you want to vote for freedom — for serious reform of our out-of-control government — you have to look to ballot measures. Voter initiatives are our best lever to check the excesses of big government. In fact, citizens can even use the initiative to re-establish some level of accountability and citizen control.

This November, voters in a number of states do have something positive to vote for on their ballot.

In seven states — Arizona, California, Idaho, Michigan, Nevada, North Dakota, and Washington — voters can enact protections against the rampant abuse of eminent domain to steal homes, businesses and churches for the benefit of politicians and developers. Measures in Arizona, California, Idaho and Washington also provide private property protections against regulatory abuses.

Opponents of these measures include politicians, the regulatory bureaucracy and wealthy special interests benefiting from the current permitted abuse of property owners. They are pouring in money to defeat these measures, using their usual twist-and-distort communications strategy.

This week it came to light that Coeur d'Alene, Idaho City Attorney Mike Gridley has been telling reporters that Idaho's Proposition 2 (This House is MY HOME) would somehow invalidate laws regulating sexual predators. This is not true in even a twisted science-fictional universe, much less ours, and the attorney should either know it or not be an attorney. Local citizens have called for his resignation saying his dishonesty was "disgusting and represented the lowest form of politics."

In Oregon, citizens have placed state legislative term limits back on the ballot as Measure 45. Similar limits were passed in 1992, but the Oregon Supreme Court struck down those limits, in a breathtakingly arbitrary judgment, several years ago. In Colorado, voters will get to vote on Amendment 40, a plan to term-limit state appellate and supreme court justices.

Colorado voters will also get a chance to strengthen and expand their right to check government with the Petition Rights Amendment. Supporters of Amendment 38 are being badly outspent by big business and big government interests . . . but at least voters will decide.

In Maine, Nebraska, and Oregon, voters will determine the fate of state spending limits. In each state, government spending growth would be capped at inflation plus population growth and only voters, not politicians, could decide to break the cap. State government would be required to put surplus money away in good economic times to cushion against future revenue dips, and/or to refund money to taxpayers.

The politicians, public employee unions and an alphabet soup of government-funded lobbies opposing these measures have made outrageous charges. According to them, any limit to the growth of government whatsoever amounts to a drastic cut that will destroy all life forms on the planet.

Mary Adams, the plain-talking grandmother leading the charge for Maine's Taxpayers Bill of Rights, calls the measure's opponents "absolutely unscrupulous." She jokes that, "The enemies will tell you your teeth are going to rot and your hair is going to fall out if it passes."

Adams has horses on her farm and carries a bridle around the state with her. She explains that she loves her horses and she loves her government, but that both need the bridle so that they can be kept under control.

"This isn't about anything other than whether the power will rest with the taxpayer or with the people in Augusta who tax at will," says Adams.

Now that's something worth going to the polls for!

But you might want to put on your body armor.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.