Ad Watch: Proposition 87
of the most talked about issues among everyday people is gas prices. During the
1990’s the average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline, according to the
California Energy Commission, ranged from $1.09 in 1990 to $1.36 in 1999
(adjusted for inflation 1990 would be $1.54/gal and 1999 $1.61/gal.) In
2006, the gas price average peaked to an astonishing $3.33 per gallon of
regular unleaded gasoline. These record prices, in turn, translate into record
analysis, it is important to understand what proposition 87 would put forward.
According to a summary in the 2006 California General Election Official Voter Information
Guide proposition 87 “Establishes a $4 billion dollar program to reduce
petroleum consumption through incentives for alternative energy, education and
training. Funded by tax on
watched the first campaign ad against proposition 87 during a commercial break
from NCIS on CBS 13. In black and white and with no background music, newspaper
after newspaper whipped the air as they slammed down on a rough background. No
humans were presented just newspapers. A female voice declared that newspapers
the ad voiced the opinions of newspapers, it did not specifically voice the
sponsor’s opinions on why this proposition should be defeated. At the end, the
ad simply reiterated the newspapers ideas that this proposition was wasteful
and not a matter of progress. With the newspapers being presented as the all
knowing group, this ad takes on a bandwagon appeal. Simply defined, to join the
bandwagon is to join those who know. To
not join the bandwagon means you are not in the know. In this ad, those who
know or at least those who are thought of to be in the know are the people in
newspapers. Since newspapers throughout
The several claims made by the newspapers contest the essence of proposition 87. “Proposition 87 champions a worthy cause… Unfortunately the backers picked a lemon of a vehicle.” This argument came from the Sacramento Bee’s Editorial section on September 21, 2006. Essentially, the ‘lemon of a vehicle’ is proposition 87. The ‘new’ bureaucracy that will be established under this proposition will have no legislative oversight, according to the Sacramento Bee. Additionally, there could a conflict of interest because those who would sit on the new ‘board,’ comprised of UC professors, may direct funds to other UC professors.
next claim originated from the
from the Los Angeles Times Editorial section the third claim states that,
“creating a state bureaucracy to oversee R&D in this industry is a
spectacularly bad idea.” The article does not sternly press on the issue of
oversight. The article mainly suggests that abundant money is already being
“pumped” into the private sector to promote alternative energy programs. The
new oil tax on
Ultimately, the last quoted statement was from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, “end up costing the state and taxpayers for years to come.” The article seems to say that the ‘new’ bureaucracy will have 50 political appointees who will in some cases be former “legislators looking to reclaim a spot on the public payroll.” Similar to the L.A. Times argument, SGV Tribune says that plenty of private money is being steered to help companies such as the Virgin Group and Edison boost alternative energy programs. Their call to us is “to question the need to raise taxes.” It also states, “[Proposition 87] isn’t half-bad - after all, the state could benefit from increased research into wind, bio-fuels, nuclear, hydrogen and solar energy uses.” However, “Taxing oil companies isn’t the problem. Setting up an agency with no accountability and rife with possible conflicts of interest most definitely qualifies as problematic.”
All of the quotes used were obviously different. But the articles from which they originated from essentially contain similar arguments about proposition 87 being a bad idea. In sum, the problems are: a lack of legislative oversight in a new established bureaucracy, unnecessary taxes that would fund an otherwise already well funded alternative energy program, and the supporters of this proposition seek to gain a plethora of funds for their own companies and pursuits. Highly significant, however, is the fact that none of the newspapers directly said that proposition 87 would raise gas prices, a claim that is widely used in other ads.
With the existence of several newspaper editorials declaring that proposition 87 is a bad idea, it is difficult to investigate whether the editorials are somehow corrupted. That is, to conclude that these newspapers are somehow conspiring on behalf on those who want to demolish proposition 87 would have difficulty making the case. Twenty eight newspapers are urging voters to vote no on proposition 87.
Most of the evidence that these newspapers use appear to originate from the information provided in the voter guide, specifically from the “Analysis by the Legislative Analyst.” Here, the analysis states that there are two ways that the new oil tax can be interpreted. This was an argument by one the editorials. It claimed that this proposition is poorly conceived that interpreting how the exactly the oil producer will be taxed is ambiguous. The analysis also points out that oil companies can simply shop for cheaper oil, foreign oil perhaps. This is another reason newspapers chose to include in their editorials. The analysis, however, does not assert that having a new bureaucracy will complicate matters. This is an interpretation that newspapers concluded perhaps from prior experiences in which new bureaucracies had “conflicts of interest.”
The analysis contained in the official voter, I believe, examines the proposition best. It does point out ambiguities in proposition 87 but it does not necessarily mean that such ambiguities are negative or that they are not up to further interpretation. This proves the analysis’s neutral interpretation.
The ad against proposition 87 is a good one. The black and white and the newspapers slamming down makes one believe that they are talking serious business. The idea of using an informative figure, the newspapers, makes this ad seem credible. If the newspapers say that proposition 87 is a bad idea, regardless of the origination from the editorials, then it must be a bad idea. That a population will try to come up with the time and effort to challenge these assertions is impossible (unless they are well compensated or it’s a homework assignment). The ad uses an effective method to convince voters to vote no on proposition 87.