Latest Yes on Prop 23 TV Ad Loaded with Distortions

Just twenty-two days remain until the mid-term elections, which means in three weeks, we will no longer see those nasty advertisements that brilliantly show politicians in the most unflattering light.  Attack ads show Jerry Brown from 30 years ago, which make him look 30 years older than he is now; Meg Whitman with jowls that appeared from nowhere; Barbara Boxer as a cadaver with deepest face lines, and yes, that HAIR; and Carly Fiornia as morphed into The Simpson’s Mr. Burns.

But sometimes the most deceptive TV advertisements are the ones that appear to be benign, and even friendly.  Take the latest Yes on Proposition 23 plug.  After all, who would argue with the smart-looking woman in a prim coral cardigan, who just happens to engage us in conversation while she picks up her mail, and then takes us to her perfect home, with lacquered hardwood floors and strategically aligned fruit basket?  She wants to do her part on global warming, but gosh darn it, we have to get people working first.

The message comes across as a refreshing one from the usual doom and gloom voice that tries to scare us away from that horrific proposition candidate.  Nonetheless, the truth is a little more complicated. Take our friend’s claim that “All Yes on 23 says is let’s wait until people are back to work.”  True, California’s unemployment rate is at an alarming high of 12%.  But the gentle suggestion to suspend AB 32 until California’s unemployment is 5.5% for four consecutive quarters is a ruse.  The fact is that the Golden State rarely has had an unemployment rate at or below 5.5%.  Why?  Some would blame in high taxes and excessive regulations, but in most surveys, California lands around the middle of the 50 states on both metrics.  California is also land of the transitory, where people are often out of work, whether it is because of seasonal agriculture; the nature of the entertainment industry, which often relies on freelancers; or the entrepreneurial Bay Area, where booms often follow busts . . . and those companies spike and crash during the best of booms and worst of busts.  No one has revealed a study convincingly ties AB 32 to the jobless rate—at least, not one bankrolled by folks not affiliated with the Yes on 23 campaign.

And as for jobs, the clean tech sector is one of the few bright spots in California’s economy.  California receives more clean tech investment that the rest of the states combined, and could lose $80 billion and half a million jobs by 2020 if the state does not diversify its energy portfolio.  Meanwhile, policies as they stand are adding $20 billion and over 112,000 jobs.  Regardless of where the numbers lie, the fact remains that clean tech is one a buzzing industry that hires Californians.

The ad also slams the “new” energy taxes, without explaining what those taxes are.  The reality is that AB 32 does not impose taxes; it mandates that the state’s 2020 greenhouse gas levels be reduced to 1990 levels.  The law itself is four years old; and whether companies pay for their emissions or rely on technologies that reduce their carbon footprint, dismissing AB 32 as a “tax” makes for a great soundbite; then again, accuracy is not often possible or desirable in a 30 second advertisement.

Passage of Prop 23 would sabotage one of the few bright spots in California’s economy.  Change is often slow and there are costs, but nixing Prop 23 would only increase our reliance on foreign oil while shipping even more jobs and technologies abroad—an odd wish considering this same crowd preaches patriotism while saying no to foreign powers and offshoring and outsourcing.

Given the political climate, you have to wonder whether Republican Dwight Eisenhower would have seen his national infrastructure plans come to fruition.  The Interstate Highway System had a huge affect on transforming America’s economy the past 50 years, and it was not cheap: $425 billion in 2006 dollars.  Achieving energy independence will not be cheap, but the risks and costs of doing nothing could be far more costly when oil prices spike again.  The state has a chance to lead again, but out of state money threatens to lurch us on a huge step backwards.  California has its problems, many of them structural—but blaming unemployment on a bill endorsed by a business-friendly governor is not accurate—and even worse, the Yes on 23 coalition offers no solutions to our job woes.  And why would they?  Because it’s nuanced and complicated.  Soundbites are easier.

The Proposition 23 Series continues through November 2.  If you are interested in contributing, please contact us!

Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010. He has lived across the U.S., as well as in South Korea, Abu Dhabi and Uruguay. Some of Leon's work can also be found in The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. You can follow him on Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost).

14 responses

  1. The California Jobs Initiative (CJI) is an oil corporation farce and fraud. There is no connection, whatsoever, between greenhouse gas emission reduction and the loss of jobs. This notion is an insult to the intelligence of the people of California. In fact, there is job growth in the clean, renewable energy industry. Chevron employs 65,000 worldwide and CJI is not going to change this. The only jobs created by the oil industry are clean-up jobs after oil spills and deep water, blow-outs and pump-handler jobs. CJI will make fantastic profits for the oil industry, increase air pollution, especially in communities around their refineries and there will not be lower gas prices. Koch Industries, Valero and Tesoro are super Enrons. Since when did the oil companies start to show any concern for the unemployed and their families and for small businesses?

    1. get one thing clear Valero IS NOT REPEAT IS NOT aoil company they are a company that buys oil from oil companies and refines it into gas- diesel- and other consumer products that we all need i hope you have a electric car to get around in and someone invents a plane that runs on batteries you people are just another reason big componies that leave this state and take thousands of jobs with them are you old enough to remember GM and Ford plants that where here before the NIMBY’S showed up

      1. It’s obvious that the prop 23 backers have done a good job scaring people (oil company or not). What about all the new jobs that are being created in the cleantech world? Those oils jobs are on the way out one way or another, it’s just a question of moving to a clean energy economy now, or doing it later at a far greater cost.

        1. People should be scared of AB 32. The green jobs won’t begin to cover the loss of regular jobs. Companies are leaving California in record numbers, even green companies that stand to gain from AB 32 are leaving the state.

          If these green companies are leaving with the possibility of AB 32 coming into full effect so soon, that tells me that AB 32 would not have held tham anyway.

          Companies spent $4.7 billion dollars to leave California in the 1st half of 2010. They took hundreds of billions of payroll and profit with them, and of course, many jobs.

          I feel that we are teetering on the edge of the frying pan, about to slip into the fire.

      2. Why do we care more about money than the survival of the human race. You should be ashamed of yourself for promoting Prop 23. This perversion will destroy any chance your children will have to survive. SHAME on YOU for giving this earth to your child. SHAME on YOU for allowing and supporting the destruction of our Livlihoods. SHAME on YOU for not respecting GOD’s Earth. SHAME on YOU for not allowing America to progress in society. SHAME on YOU for allowing coporate money to purchase your soul. The truth is climate change is real and AB 32 is only a small change compared to what needs to happen. I believe we need to go further than AB 32 and promote new clean technology/ innovations to bring America to the forefront of this emerging Economy. Just as Oil was the emerging economy century ago Clean Energy will bring us out of the economy. It is the Oil Companies not small businesses that want to pass Prop 23, so understand the importance of AB 32 and vote No on 23.

        1. Wow. Someone needs to get off their soapbox. Do a little more research on FACTS before you start spouting Insults assuming that your moral & ethical integrity is of such a higher value than those who are for Prop 23. It is amazing how people will portray the passing of it as the end all and be all of the movement toward “clean energy” in the state. Talk about deception? Yeah, like those No for Prop 23 campaigns are so noble–portraying images of refinery STEAM plumes as if they are smoke, as if the refineries (whose gasoline products you put in YOUR car are the fruits of hard worked labor 24 hours a day rain or shine, day or night, by thousands of Californians with families and mouths to feed) will magically all of a sudden start smoking should Prop 23 pass. ENERGY IS ENERGY. Do all you “No’ers” just simply forget to mention that AB32 is an energy-company-backed bill as well, one that will financially profit alternative-fuel source companies, the major funders of the No campaign, by making them more competitive in the overall energy sector? You say “why do we care more about money.” Well ask THEM and see whose answer YOU should care more about–theirs, or that of the thousands of people who don’t have the money to pay for food or gas as it is already in this incredible state of unemployment but for whom you want to justify adding more taxation NOW, just because, rather than at a time when more families are back on their feet.

  2. I agree with the statements in Leon Kaye’s article. Prop 23 is deceptive in tying loss of jobs to AB32, the law Prop 23 is designed to overturn. One additional reason for voting NO on 23 is that AB32 was legislated by the legislature and the governor–something we have seen relatively little of in recent years and will need a lot more of to survive the challenges posed by future reduction of oil supplies throughout the world. If we develop clean (non fossil fuel) technologies sufficiently, my children and grandchildren may just “make it” in the 21st century.

  3. The last time unemployment was less than 5.5% for four consecutive quarters was Oct 2006-Sept 2007. This has happened 7 times since 2005, 14 times since 1999 and 22 times since 1987. It isn’t as rare as you would portray it. Unemployment has been above 10% for the last 7 quarters, and above 12% for the last 5 quarters This is unprecedented in the last 70 years. These stats are seasonally adj. from EDD and account for some of the jobs you so easily dismiss as transitory. The rest usually make up the 6% average unemployment CA has seen for the last 4 decades. There’s also that pesky under-employed number which is hovering around 20% or more. I’d like to see these studies you suggest put CA in the middle of taxes and regulations, everything I’ve read puts us near the top 5. Cap and Trade is an insidious tax on all of us, since it will impose costs on all forms of energy use. Call it what you want it will be inescapable, because no utility will be 100% emission free, and I don’t think we’ll be getting rid of the 40 million cars powered by “dirty” fuels anytime soon. CARB has defined their authority under AB32 to regulate fuels, energy, housing, all manufactured products and imported goods with the associated forms, fines and penalties necessary to monitor all these activities. Their early actions have put many small businesses under.You fail to mention that the opposition to Prop23 is funded by greedy venture capitalists who look at AB32 as an opportunity to capitalize on government intervention in the free market. Maybe they will help facilitate the next boom and bust cycle that seems so natural to you.

    1. Maybe I’m missing something but how can unemployment be below 5.5% for four quarters (a year) 7 times since 2005 (5 years ago). Looking at from the CA Department of Social services I can see a 10 quarter block from May 2005 to Aug 2007 but I think it is awfully generous to call that 7 instances of four quarters below 5.5%. Same with the additional 7 times you claim from 1999 to 2005. Also does prop 23 count overall unemployment or just seasonal because without those adjustments the numbers will come out much higher and thus condemn AB 32 more soundly.

    2. I’m looking at the official state Voter Information Guide and there have been only THREE instances since 1970 that met the 4 consecutive quarters below 5.5% occurred

  4. In my mind, the No on 23 campaign is guilty of far more misleading scare tactics than the Yes on 23 campaign.

    The AB 32 supporters say that this is just about oil companies making profits, when this is most certainly about jobs and the economy. The average cost per family, estimated by Sacramento State University, is $3734. How can one not understand the impact this will have on the economy.

    AB 32 supporters want to call this the “Dirty Energy” proposition, when clean air laws are not impacted by it.

    They talk about the $20 billion in clean jobs added, and the possibility of $80 billion more, when we have already lost over $100 billion this year alone. Companies spent $4.7 billion to leave California in the first half of 2010.

    AB 32 is a global warming law that has NO effect on global warming. It is senseless to bankrupt the state to implement it right now.

    I feel that the premature enforcement of AB 32 will actually set the cause back, as it will show other states and countries what not to do.

Leave a Reply