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CPR covers "the argument that goes beyond semantics" Apr 05, 2010



LAKOFF'S INITIATIVE: DON'T T-YOU, DON'T T-ME, T-THE MAN BEHIND THE TREE

CA Progress Report | April 5, 2010 | By Peter Schrag | LINK TO ARTICLE


The chances that Berkeley linguistics expert George Lakoff will get his California Democracy Act initiative on the November ballot range between slim and slimmer. But in contending that Attorney General Jerry Brown’s title and ballot summary would destroy any chance of its passing even if it qualified, Lakoff starts an argument that goes well beyond semantics. It tells a lot about why California is stuck in the mess that it’s in.

In requiring two-thirds majorities to approve both the annual budget – and all other spending measures – and to raise taxes, California is the only state in the union that gives legislative minorities -- usually meaning Republicans – a veto on both budgeting and taxes. Lakoff, who’s been a guru on language to a lot of politicians, wants to end what is in effect minority rule.

As it came from the author, his measure is summarized by one simple sentence: “All legislative actions on revenue and budget must be determined by a majority vote.” Wherever California’s constitution provides for two thirds majorities in the Assembly and Senate on appropriations and tax increases, it changes the “two-thirds” to a majority...

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AlterNet reports on Lakoff's solution to fix California Mar 25, 2010


GEORGE LAKOFF'S 14 WORDS THAT COULD FIX CA

AlterNet | March 25, 2010 | By Daniela Perdomo | LINK TO ARTICLE


The minority rules in the California Legislature, and they're responsible for the state's budget logjam -- linguist George Lakoff has an elegant solution to fix it.

Here's the little-known truth about California: Since 1978, the state has been subject to what is essentially minority rule. Proposition 13 -- mostly packaged as a property tax law change -- was passed that year, altering the state constitution to read that a two-thirds super-majority is needed in the state legislature to pass any revenue increases. But what this has turned out to really mean is that one-third plus one vote, or 34 percent, of the state legislature can control all legislative decisions.

You thought filibustering on Capitol Hill was bad? This is worse. And California is the only state with such a rule in place, now or ever...

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SF Bay Guardian reports on CA Democracy Act Poll Mar 23, 2010


POLL: 73% IN FAVOR OF SIMPLE MAJORITY VOTE FOR BUDGET LEGISLATION

SF Bay Guardian | March 23, 2010 | By Nima Maghame | LINK TO ARTICLE


A new poll by David Binder of DB-Research, conducted on behalf of Californians For Democracy, shows that 73 percent of California voters support a simple majority vote for revenue and budget legislation. Voters were asked to weigh this proposal: “All legislation on revenue and budget must be determined by a majority vote. Would you vote for it?” In response, 73 percent said yes, and 22 percent said no.

The findings are being hailed as a ringing endorsement for the California Democracy Act, a November 2010 ballot initiative authored by UC Berkeley Professor George Lakoff that would change the California Constitution from requiring a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to approve budget and tax proposals to a simple majority rule. Californians for Democracy is in the process of gathering signatures for the initiative...

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DailyCal reports on The California Democracy Act Jan 29, 2010


AN ACT OF DEMOCRACY FOR THE STATE

Daily Californian | January 29, 2010 | By David Fielder | LINK TO ARTICLE


The California Democracy Act, a non-partisan constitutional amendment authored by UC Berkeley Professor George Lakoff, consists in its entirety of a mere 14 words:

"All legislative actions on revenue and budget must be determined by a majority vote."

California is one of the only states in the nation to constitutionally give a 34 percent minority of its state representatives direct control over all such legislation-thereby ensuring the budget and revenue gridlock we are experiencing.

California is in the middle of an unprecedented economic crisis requiring fundamental new approaches for resolution. Creativity is essential as we are currently unable to implement more obvious solutions to resolving the crisis. For example, we are also one of the only significant oil producing states that fails to charge oil companies an extraction tax on the oil they pump-even Governor Sarah Palin prided herself on taxing Alaska's oil profiteers. ...

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Lakoff: Where's The Movement? Jan 25, 2010


WHERE’S THE MOVEMENT?

Huffington Post | January 25, 2010 | By George Lakoff | LINK TO ARTICLE


In forming his administration, President Obama abandoned the movement that had begun during his campaign for deal-making and a pragmatism that hasn't worked. That movement is still possible and needed now. Here is look at what is required, and how a version of it is forming in California.

We begin with this week's triple whammy.

Freedom vs. The Public Option

Which would you prefer, consumer choice or freedom? Extended coverage or freedom? Bending the cost curve or freedom?

John Boehner, House Minority Leader, speaking of health care, said recently, "This bill is the greatest threat to freedom that I have seen in the 19 years I have been here in Washington....It's going to lead to a government takeover of our insurance] for you." ...

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SF Bay Guardian reports on restoring Majority Rule to CA Jan 13, 2010


RESTORING MAJORITY RULE
Ballots measures seek to break California's political and financial gridlock

SF Bay Guardian | January 13, 2010 | By Sarah Phelan | LINK TO ARTICLE


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's lame duck response to California's projected $20 billion state deficit has given supporters of more than 30 budget and revenue-related state initiatives now in circulation a renewed sense of urgency as they scramble to gather signatures and qualify proposed solutions to the state's ongoing financial emergency for the November ballot.

But while this plethora of initiatives reflects widespread frustration over the state's broken system of governance, disagreement rages over how to fix it and how best to restore majority rule to California.

"These are the hardest decisions a government must make, yet there is simply no conceivable way to avoid more cuts and more pain," the governor told reporters Jan. 8 as he released a new budget proposal calling for $8.5 billion in cuts to state workers' wages, health and human services, and prisons; a legally questionable $4.5 billion shift in other funds; and $6.9 billion in federal reimbursements that have yet to be approved.

Even steeper social services cuts are in the works, Schwarzenegger warned, if the feds don't comply with this request for a bailout. ...

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UCSD Guardian reports on the UC budget crisis Jan 04, 2010


STEP ONE: TEAR THE RED TAPE

UCSD Guardian | January 4, 2010 | By Cheryl Hori | LINK TO ARTICLE


STATE NEWS — Mere weeks after the UC Board of Regents approved a 32-percent fee hike, a group of UC students and faculty have stashed away their “Lay off Yudof” picket signs and shifted their sights to higher ground: the California congressional floor.

Authored by UC Berkeley professor of linguistics George Lakoff, the California Democracy Act would allow legislative decisions regarding government spending to be passed by a simple majority, rather than the current two-thirds super majority. A simple 14-word change to the California constitution might not be a permanent solution to the UC budget crisis, but the bill would be a giant leap forward for our dysfunctional legislative system.

In 1978, Proposition 13 amended the California Constitution to require a two-thirds majority vote on every finance-related bill. But 32 years later, California finds itself in an economic gridlock. With the deciding vote thrust into the hands of a one-third legislative minority, the budget isn’t often passed on time, and public services have been cut as a result. ...

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UCSD Guardian reports on students rallying for Majority Rule Jan 04, 2010


STUDENTS RALLY FOR SIMPLE MAJORITY

UCSD Guardian | January 4, 2010 | By H. Bisceglia-Martin | LINK TO ARTICLE


After a year of protesting outside UC Board of Regents meetings and firing insults at UC President Mark Yudof, student activists have turned their attention — and well-honed flyering skills — toward Sacramento, with a ballot initiative called the California Democracy Act.

The initiative, drafted by UC Berkeley linguistics professor George Lakoff, would reduce the two-thirds legislative majority required to make any budgetary decision to a simple majority.

According to Lakoff, if budget and revenue proposals require support from only 50 percent of legislators in the assembly and senate, much of the budget gridlock would be alleviated, and the government would be able to increase statewide revenue more easily.

Lakoff said he hopes that some of that extra revenue would make its way to the UC system. Chris Ah San, Student Organizing Director of the California Democracy Act Coalition, agreed. ...

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New York Times reports on the California Democracy Act Jan 04, 2010


LAKOFF TRIES TO REFRAME SACTO’S CONVERSATION

New York Times | January 4, 2010 | By Michelle Quinn | LINK TO ARTICLE


George Lakoff is known for, among other things, writing books about how the outcome of political debates and campaigns often depends on how the conversation has been framed, who controls the metaphors used. He has spoken to lawmakers in Washington and Sacramento and analyzed conservative spin and why liberals have failed in some of their efforts.

So why is he trying to get more than one million signatures to put an initiative on the California ballot in November 2010? “It’s not fun,” he said. “It’s an education.”

Mr. Lakoff’s proposed ballot initiative would change California’s constitution to allow a majority of the state legislature to pass a budget or to raise revenue. It has been a source of frustration for some lawmakers that it takes not a simple majority, but two-thirds of the legislature to pass a budget (which has been true since the 1930’s) and to raise taxes (true since the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978).

Mr. Lakoff had heard lawmakers’ frustrations but saw no one else taking action...

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SF Chronicle reports on the California Democracy Act Coalition Dec 20, 2009


STUDENTS SEEK CLOUT BEYOND CAMPUSES

SF Chronicle | December 20, 2009 | By Tim Holt | LINK TO ARTICLE


An earlier generation of college students took on the Vietnam War. Now a new generation is poised to take on the mess in Sacramento.

This Christmas break, students from University of California and state and community college campuses will fan out across the state to collect signatures in support of an initiative that would free the Legislature from its two-thirds vote requirement on budget and revenue matters. Their goal is to collect enough signatures by April 15 to qualify for the November 2010 ballot.

Amid a welter of sit-ins, teach-ins and building takeovers, this is a bold effort to reach beyond the campuses and address the chronic problems of a dysfunctional Legislature and the state's fiscal crisis. If it passes, the California Democracy Act will allow a simple majority in the Legislature to pass a budget and balance it if necessary with new revenue sources.

The effort no doubt will be greeted with a great deal of cynicism. But, really, who better than a bunch of raw, politically inexperienced students to tackle the mess in Sacramento? Who else has the sense of urgency, the bulletproof optimism, needed for such an undertaking? ...

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Amy Goodman interviews Lakoff on CA budget crisis Nov 18, 2009


GOODMAN INTERVIEWS LAKOFF ON CA BUDGET CRISIS

Democracy Now | November 18, 2009 | LINK TO WATCH & TRANSCRIPT


Amidst California Fiscal Crisis and Political Gridlock, Scholar and Activist George Lakoff Proposes Ballot Measure to End 2/3 Rule in State Legislature

California struggles with a crippling $21 billion project deficit, professor and progressive activist George Lakoff has submitted a 2010 ballot proposition that would roll back the two-thirds majority needed to pass a budget and, he says, end the gridlock created by minority rule. [rush transcript below & to watch / listen click here]


AMY GOODMAN:
We turn now to the budget crisis here in California. The state faces a projected deficit of $21 billion, according to a new report from the state’s budget analyst. The prospect for further cuts loom.

I’m joined now from Berkeley, California by a man who says the real cause of the state’s fiscal problems is its “dysfunctional system of government." ...

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UC Berkeley News reports on reframing the state budget debate Nov 12, 2009


HOW TO SOLVE CALIFORNIA’S FISCAL CRISIS?
First, don’t think of an elephant


UC Berkeley News | November 12, 2009 | By Barry Bergman | LINK TO ARTICLE


Berkeley linguist George Lakoff aims to break legislative gridlock by reframing the budget debate statewide, and restoring majority rule in Sacramento

BERKELEY — If they noticed it at all, readers of the Contra Costa Times must have found the brief announcement utterly commonplace. "Linguistics expert and UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff will speak at the Nov. 12 meeting of the Lamorinda Democratic Club," it began, just another routine listing in the paper's "Political Notes" column. Few would have blinked at its characterization of the evening's topic: Lakoff's ballot proposal to "eliminate the two-thirds voting requirement for a state budget or new taxes."

Yet the item's very innocuousness — with its seemingly neutral reference to taxes — hints at the size of the challenge Lakoff faces in his fledgling quest to end gridlock in Sacramento. For Lakoff, a cognitive scientist best-known for his work on "framing" and for dissecting the political mind in such books as Moral Politics and Don't Think of an Elephant, language is anything but neutral. And for his initiative to have a shot at becoming law, it's crucial that voters don't think of it as a license to boost their taxes.

"This isn't about taxes," he insists, slapping the desk in his small Dwinelle Hall office for emphasis. "It's about democracy." ...

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Angie Coiro interviews Garamendi & Lakoff about Majority Rule Sep 28, 2009


ENDING MINORITY RULE

Live From The Left Coast with Angie Coiro | September 28, 2009 | LINK TO LISTEN


Professor and framing expert George Lakoff, Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi and strategist David Atkins (There Is No Spoon on Daily Kos) discuss Lakoff's ballot proposition to end the requirement of a two-thirds supermajority for budget passage in California.

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Calitics reports on Lakoff's Majority Rule forum at SEIU 721 Sep 25, 2009


LAKOFF’S REMARKS ON THE MAJORITY RULE INITIATIVE

Calitics | September 25, 2009 | By Dante Atkins | LINK TO ARTICLE


What follows below the fold are George Lakoff's remarks on the majority rule initiative from the forum this evening.

Notes on Lakoff forum

ERIC BAUMAN:
53% of revenue now based on personal income tax. Used to be 23% when Prop 13 passed.

Vehicle license fee: $6.3 billion in today's dollars. ...

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Lakoff: Ending Minority Rule in California Sep 24, 2009


ENDING MINORITY RULE IN CA: ONE SENTENCE CAN DO IT

Huffington Post | September 24, 2009 | By George Lakoff | LINK TO ARTICLE


California is in deep trouble because it has a dysfunctional system of government. Much of the problem can be changed by one sentence.

I have sent to the Attorney General a ballot proposition for the 2010 ballot called The California Democracy Act, whose content is the following:

All legislative action on revenue and budget must be determined by a majority vote.

It would change two words in the Constitution, turning "two-thirds" to "majority" in two places. It is simple, understandable, and it is about democracy. ...

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Calitics reports on CA Democracy Act papers filed Sep 24, 2009


GEORGE LAKOFF SUBMITS MAJORITY VOTE INITIATIVE

Calitics | September 25, 2009 | By Robert Cruickshank | LINK TO ARTICLE


With tomorrow being the recommended deadline for submitting initiatives for the November 2010 ballot, we're starting to see people file their proposals. One of those is George Lakoff's initiative to restore majority rule on both the budget and revenues. His initiative is quite simple, reading in essence:

“All legislative actions on revenue and budget must be determined by a majority vote”

Of course, this initiative doesn't address the requirement for voters to approve taxes by a 2/3rds rule, nor does it seem to deal with the Prop 218 requirements for local governments to submit tax increases to those voters. But this would almost totally eliminate the conservative veto in Sacramento.

It's unclear whether there will be the resources to get this on the ballot. But you can learn more about this in LA tonight at 7PM at a meeting Lakoff and grassroots activists are holding at the SEIU 721 offices at 500 S. Virgil just west of downtown LA.

We still expect to see other initiatives dealing with the 2/3rds rule to be filed in the coming days. ...

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Recent News

  • CPR covers "the argument that goes beyond semantics"



    LAKOFF'S INITIATIVE: DON'T T-YOU, DON'T T-ME, T-THE MAN BEHIND THE TREE

    CA Progress Report | April 5, 2010 | By Peter Schrag | LINK TO ARTICLE


    The chances that Berkeley linguistics expert George Lakoff will get his California Democracy Act initiative on the November ballot range between slim and slimmer. But in contending that Attorney General Jerry Brown’s title and ballot summary would destroy any chance of its passing even if it qualified, Lakoff starts an argument that goes well beyond semantics. It tells a lot about why California is stuck in the mess that it’s in.

    In requiring two-thirds majorities to approve both the annual budget – and all other spending measures – and to raise taxes, California is the only state in the union that gives legislative minorities -- usually meaning Republicans – a veto on both budgeting and taxes. Lakoff, who’s been a guru on language to a lot of politicians, wants to end what is in effect minority rule.

    As it came from the author, his measure is summarized by one simple sentence: “All legislative actions on revenue and budget must be determined by a majority vote.” Wherever California’s constitution provides for two thirds majorities in the Assembly and Senate on appropriations and tax increases, it changes the “two-thirds” to a majority...

  • AlterNet reports on Lakoff's solution to fix California

    1 month ago
  • SF Bay Guardian reports on CA Democracy Act Poll

    1 month ago