Mainers are facing five referendum questions Nov. 8 (six if you count an uncontroversial transportation bond of the sort that are approved routinely).

But the others all come from the political left, and contain provisions that are problematic – or worse – for people like me, who prioritize limiting the size and scope of government power. In ballot order, they are:

1) “Do you want to legalize the possession and use of marijuana by persons who are at least 21 years of age, allow state and local regulation of retail sales of marijuana, and allow state regulation of the cultivation, manufacture, testing and distribution of marijuana?”

Its sponsors must believe that the biggest thing our society lacks is another legal mind-altering intoxicant.

Further, they apparently think we should legalize it before we have any way to test if people driving cars are stoned on it.

Do people really believe that our society is doing so well that increasing the number of people who can tune in, turn on and drop out is exactly what the doctor ordered? Bummer.


2) “Do you want to establish a Fund to support kindergarten through 12th grade public education by adding a 3 percent surcharge on Maine taxable Income above $200,000?”

All this would do is raise taxes on Maine’s highest earners to the second-highest rate in the nation. Are we doing so well economically that we can tell the entire nation that our state wants to put punitive taxes on its most productive citizens? That’s a heck of a way to persuade business leaders to move here.

3) “Do you want to change Maine law to require background checks prior to the transfer of firearms between individuals, with some exceptions for certain circumstances?”

While ads for this useless folly focus on sales, the law also criminalizes entirely innocent “transfers” like lending your gun to a buddy the day before he goes hunting.

Plus, while former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has found a cop or two to promote it in ads financed by his millions, a large majority of elected sheriffs oppose it, and there’s a very effective TV commercial giving their views.

The proposal is a back door to universal gun registration – it wouldn’t work without it – and it would do nothing to stop the most common ways criminals get their guns: stealing them, buying them from other crooks or finding a “straw purchaser” who can pass a background check for them. All those ways are already illegal. Hey, let’s make them more illegal!


4) “Do you want to raise the minimum hourly wage of $7.50 to $9.00 in 2017, and in $1.00 increments up to $12 in 2020; and to raise it for service workers who receive tips from the current rate of $3.75 to $5 in 2017, in $1.00 increments up to $12 in 2024?”

The flaw here is the idea that every job should pay enough to allow a person to subsist on it alone, the so-called “living wage” standard.

But many minimum wage jobs are held by teenagers getting their first work experience or people seeking to augment their current income, and higher minimums price them out of the market.

Salaries are an expense to an owner, just like flour is to a baker. The cost of a worker has to be balanced against that worker’s contribution to the bottom line.

Sound harsh? Remember, no bottom line equals no jobs and no workers.

And that segues into the iron economic law that says when you raise the cost of something, demand for it declines. So this idea violates both common sense and basic economics. No wonder leftists like it so much.


5) “Do you want to change Maine election law to allow voters to rank their choices of candidates for U.S. Senate, Congress, Governor, State Senate and State Representative?”

The case for this is based on a presumption and a superstition. The former is that most voters like more than one candidate, when it is just as likely that they really like only one of them.

When all the others are “last choices,” why negate your first vote, which could provide a plurality win for your favorite, to elect someone you dislike?

Second, the idea that majorities somehow legitimize officeholders is a matter of faith, not experience.

I never heard a single liberal say Angus King or John Baldacci were not legitimate governors because of their plurality elections. And Bill Clinton didn’t get a majority either time he ran for president.

So, if it never mattered to leftists before, why should it matter to the rest of us now?

But if all that “no” voting sounds too negative, you can always vote “yes” on the transportation bond. Improving infrastructure is actually something government is supposed to do.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a free-lance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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