This cartoon is unfair

Like most cartoons, the one below is simplistic, one-sided, and unfair. In this case, it's also a harbinger of the upcoming campaigns for Propositions 200, 201 and 202.


The cartoonist did not have the March 26 primary election in mind, but his theme is the same as the ballot arguments in favor of all three propositions - no-fault auto insurance, loser pays in shareholder class-action suits and a cap on plaintiff's attorney fees.

Different sponsors, different subjects, but the same language:


Dreadful, you say. Time for the opponents to come out with a ringing defense of the legal profession, to point out that plaintiffs' attorneys are only a small percentage of the bar, to explain the subtleties of tort and insurance reform.

Instead, here's how they respond:

"In Propositions 201 and 202, the only winners are the corporations that paid to put them on the ballot." (In the argument against Proposition 200, insurance companies are added).

Basically, that's it. There are six pages of superficial arguments for and against the three propositions, but in the final analysis, it all boils down to emotional appeals for citizens to vote against whomever they hate the most - corporations, insurance companies or lawyers.

Remember, this is the voter pamphlet - supposedly a sane and sober discussion of the 11 issues on the March 26 state ballot.

The list of propositions also includes such esoteric items as protecting or punishing mountain lions, carjackers and drive-by shooters; earthquake insurance; open primaries; and rent control on mobile homes.

But the big-ticket items are the three initiatives at the end of the ballot. Already arguments on both sides are being reduced to shrill and simplistic sound bites.

Millions of dollars are being spent as charges and countercharges are hurled across the airwaves. As in a nuclear war, there will be no winners.

In the end, only the blackened reputations of corporations, insurance companies and lawyers will remain as testament to another abuse of our initiative system.