Retaking the Initiative

By Bill Maher

Recently on Real Time we talked about Prop 37, a California ballot measure that would have required labeling of genetically modified foods. Monsanto, Coke, Pepsi, Kraft, General Mills and others formed a nutritional axis of evil and spent 45 million dollars to successfully defeat the initiative. And this is not the first time large outside interests have butted their noses -- and wallets -- into the state of California's affairs. The same thing happened with Proposition 8, the initiative to ban gay marriage, which was on the ballot in California in 2008. Backers and opponents of the bill donated 83 million dollars in total. Donations rolled in from all 50 states and, ironically, the US Virgin Islands.

Those supporting the bill to ban gave 39 million dollars. Those against the bill gave 44.1 million dollars. Of the 39 million spent to pass the measure, 27.7 came from California; 11.3 million came from out of state. Of the 44.1 million spent to defeat the bill, 30.9 came from California; 13.2 million came from out of state. Prop 8 passed and gay marriage -- which had been legal in the state for the previous five months, thanks to a California Supreme Court equal protection ruling -- was no longer legal.

It's time someone put an initiative on the ballot banning donations to state ballot initiatives from people who don't live in that state.

Obama is hoping for a Democratically-controlled House in 2014, but it doesn't really matter; special interest groups have figured out how to bypass the federal system and enact their agendas into law through state ballot initiatives. It's also why Congress can get away with not working anymore.

Why should powerful wealthy groups and individuals be allowed to interfere with the way of life in an area where they don't live? Isn't that how America got started in the first place -- to put an end to that sort of thing?

When are we going to stop allowing corporate interests or the Mormons or the Koch Brothers or Sheldon Adelson to get all "King George" on us every election year?