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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Beware of money behind Your Vote Counts campaign

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:20 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Be careful what you wish for. That's my warning to the proponents of the Your Vote Counts ballot initiative currently gathering signatures for Missouri's November 2012 ballot.

It might seem like a great idea on the surface, but if the Your Vote Counts measure passes, it will amend our Missouri Constitution and require a three-fourths vote from both the House and Senate in our Missouri legislature to make changes or repeal ANY ballot initiative. A task that is virtually impossible. So what does that mean, you ask? It means that ANY ballot initiative that is passed by the voters becomes LAW. There's a name for that, and it's called direct democracy.

Direct democracy is a failed model of government. Our Founding Fathers understood why direct democracy, or majority rule, results in anarchy, which is the reason they created America's representative republic form of government ruled by law (the Constitution), which protects the rights of the individual against the actions of the majority. Direct democracy is a tyranny of the elite. Thomas Jefferson described it best when he said: "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51 percent of the people may take away the rights of the other 49 percent."

The state of California now has direct democracy. And it's no secret in California that the ballot initiative process has become a tool for the wealthy special interests. Voters are passing ballot initiatives that are unfunded mandates on the state, which have contributed greatly toward bankrupting the once-great Golden State. In California, ANY ballot initiative that is passed by voters becomes law, bypassing the legislature and forfeiting the checks and balances of floor debate, committee hearings and deliberation by legislators who take an oath to uphold both the U.S. and state constitutions.  

I dread to think what might happen to Missouri if Your Vote Counts were to pass. Ballot initiatives that could force such issues into law concerning right to life, taxes, health care, utilities, environmental issues, private property, agriculture, food sources, gun rights, gun bans — just to name a few. All it takes is for a ballot initiative to obtain financial backing of wealthy special interests who are able to control the media message and influence the voters to get their measure passed by a vote of the unknowing, media-influenced voter into law. Direct democracy in action.

Your Vote Counts is largely funded by the wealthy animal rights group, the Humane Society of the United States. Here in Missouri and in 17 other states, the group has exploited the ballot initiative process with their big money, allowing them to saturate the voters with commercials and dominate the airwaves with their emotional message and propaganda to essentially buy their vote.

To date, the Your Vote Counts campaign has raised $345,644, of which only 1.5 percent has come from Missouri residents. We must not allow out-of-state big money and special interests to hijack Missouri’s form of government and buy our laws.

Our state sovereignty is not for sale. Missouri, wake up and smell the money.

Mindy Patterson is the campaign manager for The Alliance For Truth, a campaign working to defeat Your Vote Counts.


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Comments

Tim Dance February 28, 2012 | 9:49 a.m.

Wow, the "wealthy" animal rights groups? What a stretch. You have to be the lowest of the low to demonize the Humane Society.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 28, 2012 | 10:53 a.m.

Tim: "You have to be the lowest of the low to demonize the Humane Society."
______________________

Nah. Supporting an organization that aborts babies of your own species is probably lower than that.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 28, 2012 | 10:55 a.m.

Granted, there's plenty of room for semantical games with the author's choice of words, but her letter IMO is chock-full of conflicting/contradictory information:

-The strict definition of anarchy, as I understand it, is simply a lack of government. A direct majority is still a form of government, regardless of its track record.

-How is direct democracy "a tyranny of the elite" when direct democracy is by definition majority rule? The elite are the elite for a reason, aka they're not the majority. The elite is already in control the media; what is preventing them from brainwashing the population now?

Plus, by this logic, ANYTHING can be painted as "a tyranny of the elite." The Constitution protects the rights of the individual, which can be easily twisted to mean "the Constitution shields the rich from accountability toward the population at large, aka it gives the rich carte blanche to continue lining their pockets with everyone else's money, yadda yadda yadda."

(And let's note for the record that none of my arguments are meant to be in support of direct democracy. I happen to think that majority rule is also a terrible idea; I'm just taking issue with the author's seemingly contradictory logic)

-Indeed, it's pretty sad that the Humane Society is being vilified as if it's the same thing as oil/insurance/pharmaceutical companies. What are they...Big Spay & Neuter? Big Euthanasia? The "big money" label is pretty funny too, especially when accompanied by the whopping $345,644 figure.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humane_Soci...

"In 2009, HSUS reported assets of over US$160 million."

"A nonprofit, charitable organization, HSUS is funded almost entirely by membership dues, contributions, foundation grants, and bequests. It receives a small amount of federal money in support of particular programs.

HSUS is governed by a 27-member, independent Board of Directors. Each Director serves as a volunteer and receives no compensation for service.

In 2010, HSUS’s program expenses comprised 77.9% of its budget. HSUS’s financial efficiency ratios exceed the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance (BBBWGA) standards which require that program expenses as a percentage of total expenses be 65% or greater. HSUS meets all 21 BBWGA financial and administrative standards, and all 20 of the BBB's Standards for Charity Accountability."

Hmmmn...assets worth $160 million and the majority of its budget goes to operations instead of boardmembers' bank accounts. Assuming the numbers on the link are trustworthy, their assets are only ~$19.34 billion less than Michael Bloomberg's estimated wealth, ~$640 million less than Schwarzenegger's, ~$60 million less than Mitt Romney's, ~$33 million less than John Kerry's. Big money indeed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ric...

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 28, 2012 | 11:39 a.m.

Jon says, "I happen to think that majority rule is also a terrible idea."

Me: Agree, although we tolerate it well at local levels.
________________________

Jon: "as if it's the same thing as oil/insurance/pharmaceutical companies."

Me: You left out our local MEM.
_________________________

Jon: "their assets are only ~$19.34 billion less than Michael Bloomberg's estimated wealth, ~$640 million less than Schwarzenegger's, ~$60 million less than Mitt Romney's, ~$33 million less than John Kerry's."

Me: You left our Soros, Winfrey, and Moore.
________________________

I have heard, but cannot attest to, that HSUS spends an exorbitant percentage of it's money on administration and things other than operations. Do you know the correct answer?

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 28, 2012 | 12:34 p.m.

Michael: "You left out our local MEM."

I wasn't arguing for or against any political ideology. I was just using the usual "evil corporation" stereotype to illustrate the point. (assuming this was meant as criticism of my post)
_________________________

Michael: "You left our Soros, Winfrey, and Moore."

I guess Bloomberg is technically an independent, but I always pictured him as left-wing since he's the mayor of NYC and all. Anyway, I used 2 (what I thought were) Democrats and 2 Republicans specifically because I wasn't trying to turn this into the usual left-vs-right debate, furthermore I was referring only to rich politicians, not rich celebrities meddling in politics.

Maybe I need to brush up on my politics, but to be honest I'm not even sure what the author's overall political stance is, given the seemingly mixed message in her letter.
________________________

Michael: "I have heard, but cannot attest to, that HSUS spends an exorbitant percentage of it's money on administration and things other than operations. Do you know the correct answer?"

Hmmmn, no idea. To my knowledge most people don't have a very high opinion of Wikipedia, but IMO the open format eliminates bias in the long run, as articles get flagged by readers and competing camps duke it out to get more representation on the page and what not. That said, the article I linked to did seem somewhat slanted in favor of the HSUS. Unfortunately, though, I'm not having much luck finding neutral-sounding articles on the matter. Most of the hits I get when I look for "HSUS budget breakdown" lead to articles such as this:

http://humanewatch.org/index.php/site/po...

The info could be legit, but in general I'm wary of bloated language when looking for source material.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 28, 2012 | 12:49 p.m.

Jon, no I wasn't being sarcastic or critical. More light-hearted than anything else and certainly not antagonistic. I was just trying to add a few names so the forum scales of justice would not tip too far one way or the other.

Regarding my question, I did a bit of research. Wiki seemed the most balanced; HSUS is not better and not worse than many other charities. But, you can find web pages that give administrative percentages all over the place....depending, of course, on the final conclusion the author wanted to make.

Everyone has an agenda, something I'm sure you would agree upon. The only questions are (1) is it known, and (2) is it benign or malignant?

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking February 28, 2012 | 1:41 p.m.

Jonathan Hopfenblatt wrote:

"Indeed, it's pretty sad that the Humane Society is being vilified as if it's the same thing as oil/insurance/pharmaceutical companies. What are they...Big Spay & Neuter? Big Euthanasia?"

Actually they're "Big Animal Rights". They give very little support to actual hands-on shelters and do very little hands-on work of their own. They're closer to an advocacy agency (like PETA), than what most people think of as a "humane society"

DK

(Report Comment)
John Schultz February 28, 2012 | 4:22 p.m.

I agree exactly with Mark's assessment. I make donations to the local Humane Society (not affiliated with the national group) and would have no reason to send the national group one red cent.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 28, 2012 | 5:26 p.m.

Yeah, I read "Humane Society" and immediately associated the term with the local shelters and what not, but I guess the umbrella corporation really doesn't have to be involved at the local level at all.

All the same, the criticism levied against the national group still sounds somewhat overblown, at least to the extent that they're being called "big money," profiteers, etc. The hate directed at 'em makes it sound as if these guys are the animal-advocacy equivalent of Monsanto. And yet, assuming their assets indeed amount to ~$160M, that's chump change in the big scheme of things; I certainly wouldn't group them with the ExxonMobils/Pfizers/Monsantos out there.

(Speaking of Monsanto, I've yet to meet a single person who has anything good to say about that company. That's quite a feat IMO, considering I've even heard arguments in defense of the Taliban here in the US, heh.)

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 28, 2012 | 5:59 p.m.

Jon: "Speaking of Monsanto, I've yet to meet a single person who has anything good to say about that company."
___________________

You have now, lol.
Well, ok....technically we haven't met.

;^)

(No, I don't want to go there on this thread. Besides, I'm hungry.)

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking February 28, 2012 | 6:04 p.m.

Well, I'll say something good about Monsanto - they feed a hell of a lot of people and livestock. HSUS doesn't do much of anything except agitate for an unrealistic place for animals in our society. And like most advocacy groups, once they score a victory somewhere, they come back later and press for even more.

For them to be totally successful would mean they become irrelevant, and their leadership doesn't want that to happen. So there is always one more cause, one more battle, one more reason to keep the donations coming in.

DK

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 28, 2012 | 6:48 p.m.

Mark F: "HSUS doesn't do much of anything except agitate for an unrealistic place for animals in our society. And like most advocacy groups, once they score a victory somewhere, they come back later and press for even more."

Well, any movement of this sort always comes back and presses for more, which is a good thing. "Alright, blacks and women, we gave you the right to vote already, so how dare you demand equal pay now?" (I'm not equating the HSUS's goals to civil rights movements, btw, just illustrating that the principle is the same and that it's not a bad thing)

Perhaps we should also define "unrealistic."

"For them to be totally successful would mean they become irrelevant, and their leadership doesn't want that to happen. So there is always one more cause, one more battle, one more reason to keep the donations coming in."

Eh, like I said before, I was hoping this wouldn't turn into another left-vs-right discussion, but it's worth pointing out that total success in the conservative fight for small government would render government irrelevant as well--after all, if smaller is better, the best possible situation is zero government. But, despite all their promises, politicians running on this platform are certainly not working toward making their jobs obsolete, aka even if do a really good job of reducing the size of government, they too will look for any excuse to justify their existence. It's always some other staff position and bureaucracy that needs to be cut.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking February 29, 2012 | 8:02 a.m.

Jonathan wrote:

"Well, any movement of this sort always comes back and presses for more, which is a good thing. "Alright, blacks and women, we gave you the right to vote already, so how dare you demand equal pay now?"

Well, it's not necessarily a good thing to demand changes that are out of the specific control of the people you're targeting. Voting is a specific, fundamental activity which can be granted with a single decree. While on the surface, equal pay might be seen as the same thing, it's so much more complicated than voting that any attempt to legislate equal pay would likely result in less fairness in the labor market, as well as a huge increase in court backlogs.

There's a point at which you give people an equal opportunity ,and then a point at which you give certain groups an advantage. The first is eminently fair, and the second becomes progressively less fair the farther it goes. But many advocacy groups don't care about fair - they care about advancing their agendas and remaining relevant. There's a lot of money in advocacy.

I don't think you were around for the acrimonious (to say the least) debate on these pages about Proposition B, but you might look back and read some of the articles and discussions. Missouri already had strong laws protecting breeding dogs, and HSUS promoted Prop B as a way of increasing enforcement against poorly compliant breeders. But it went far further in demanding space, husbandry and care requirements that few breeders would be able to comply with. In essence, its true aim was to shut down Missouri's breeding industry, and this was even admitted by proponents of the bill during the debates. That's what I mean by "unrealistic".

"Eh, like I said before, I was hoping this wouldn't turn into another left-vs-right discussion,"

I didn't mean to make it one (I'm sorry if I did?). I was just pointing out that few advocacy groups, particularly ones that acquire a lot of paid administration and staff, accomplish their goals and go quietly into the night. And this can be said for groups all across the political spectrum.

"But, despite all their promises, politicians running on this platform are certainly not working toward making their jobs obsolete, aka even if do a really good job of reducing the size of government, they too will look for any excuse to justify their existence. It's always some other staff position and bureaucracy that needs to be cut."

Right - exactly what I was saying.

I don't want this to get into another huge Prop B fight so I'll not respond further. Nothing personal, but you'll understand if you go back and read some of those articles.

DK

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 29, 2012 | 10:19 a.m.

My comment about the potential left-vs-right debate was in reference to the analogy I made. Drove the point across well IMO, but I also figured someone could take offense to it, prompting them to respond with anti-left comments, so on and so forth.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller February 29, 2012 | 11:39 a.m.

In many of your knee jerk reactions in defending HSUS, an animal rights group with goals like ending animal agriculture as its mantra, you have missed, not surprisingly, Mindy Patterson's point. The real danger in the the "Your Vote Counts" initiative is that if it passes it will amend our Missouri Constitution and require a three-fourths vote from both the House and Senate in our Missouri legislature to make changes or repeal ANY ballot initiative.

Consequently, a ballot initiative passed by perhaps 10-12 percent of the electorate will become the law of the land, thus being virtually impossible to repeal. Once again, we are not a democracy-not at the federal level nor at the state, but rather we have a representative republican form of government. Consequently, we elect legislators to make our laws--to tie their hands with the "Your Vote Counts" initiative that has the mechanics of making any cockamamie idea emanating from a minority with a particular ax to grind is an absurdity.

As is the norm, some of you cannot see the forest for the trees.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 29, 2012 | 3:33 p.m.

I didn't miss the point, because I never disagreed with it. Quoting myself:

"(And let's note for the record that none of my arguments are meant to be in support of direct democracy. I happen to think that majority rule is also a terrible idea; I'm just taking issue with the author's seemingly contradictory logic)"

That's from the first comment I made. Michael Williams even responded to it. I never argued against this point; I argued against the convoluted logic and contradictory statements she used in support of it (aka pretty much everything in her letter past the 2nd paragraph).

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 2, 2012 | 7:52 a.m.

J Karl Miller wrote:

"Consequently, a ballot initiative passed by perhaps 10-12 percent of the electorate will become the law of the land, thus being virtually impossible to repeal."

Yes. This bill is the poster child for unintended consequences. Unfortunately, it is being pushed by a group with a very narrow agenda, but the scope of this bill is very general. I think the letter writer should have focused on this aspect, and any activities of Alliance for Truth (which is left over from the Prop B battle) should also focus on that, and not so much on HSUS proper.

DK

(Report Comment)
Shelly Cooper March 6, 2012 | 9:07 a.m.

It's not real hard to see where HSUS money goes if you really want to. By law their tax returns are made public. You can even go to their web site and view them.

http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs...

If after viewing their tax returns you believe they are about caring for animals then I'd have to believe you are a part of the animal rights movement or you have really poor judgment.

Consumers need to wake up if they want to continue to eat in this country. The majority in this country depend on the minority to feed them and the minority is shrinking every year, due in part to groups like this that lobby for more and more regulation that has nothing to do with making life better for animals. Most of these people have no experience whatsoever in raising animals, yet we're allowing them to say they know better than people who are 4 and 5 generation farmers/ranchers.

(Report Comment)
Shelly Cooper March 6, 2012 | 9:15 a.m.

Any doubts about HSUS this is just another one of their agendas, a vegan society.
http://action.humanesociety.org/site/Mes...

Take note of this sentence:While their eyes are opened to the often cruel practices behind their favorite foods, they also learn how enjoyable a humane diet can be.

The HSUS believes any raising of animals for food is inhumane and no amount of regulation will ever be enough for them unless it is totally removing meat from the American diet.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 6, 2012 | 10:50 a.m.

Shelly: As I posted on another thread, I wish farmers would organize and simply NOT plant 10% of their acres in a single year. Ranchers...reduce your herd by 10%. Just pick a year and do it!

I want folks to see the cascade of events befalling them.

Those in agriculture should only take so much before taking direct and decisive action.......farmers are truly independent sorts, but enough is enough and there does come a time for organized thought and action.

(Report Comment)
Vet Barnes March 7, 2012 | 11:14 a.m.

Ms. Patterson is entirely correct in her assessment of the situation. Once you allow the majority to make the rules for everyone then you lose your freedoms entirely. Representative government is what our forefathers decided upon because it meant that no one had the right to tell someone else what they could do with their property or how to live as long as they followed the laws. Right now HSUS has spent millions of dollars on pushing over 800 laws that pertain to just pets. People are going to jail for not brushing their dog's teeth, and for not walking their dogs 3 miles each day. We know in California the havoc that majority rules mandates have done to our lives. We are subject to the whims of the animal rights cults. NO hunting, while cougars are allowed to roam freely killing our children and our pets. No fishing unless you are a native American, no eating of eggs unless they are free roaming which means they produce eggs with salmonella and PCBs. Maurice Stokes is on the board of HSUS and he spoke before the United Nations to push AGENDA 21 by saying they needed to bring down American agriculture if they were to raise the level for developing nations. The perfect venue for this is organizations like HSUS which can move the people to act emotionally rather than logically. When you have no food to eat blame HSUS. *Dr. Richard Raymond is a medical doctor by training and a former undersecretary of agriculture for food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Social media can be even more damaging, creating misunderstanding through outright lies and innuendos (and, yes, I do consider my food safety blogs a form of social media. I just hope to portray an accurate view based on facts.) The hidden agendas sometimes become very apparent when a blogger writes about how if meat became more expensive by eliminating concentrated animal feeding operations, that would be a good thing. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course. It is just that with the internet, Facebook, Twitter, etc., those opinions are being offered up to many more people than ever before, and while I believe these opinions are in the clear minority, they are influencing the opinions of many regarding how we raise, slaughter and process livestock into the meat and poultry. The food industry needs to counter the lies often reported and provide real knowledge as to the need to increase production using technology to feed the world population. The leading cause of death in children living in developing countries remains malnutrition. Anyone with a heart and soul has to feel badly about that. The reporters, vegans and animal rights activists who are behind the misinformation being provided out there need to go to bed hungry a few times before they rant against the industry's attempts to increase production of safe, affordable AND available food for our tables and the world's tables. The influence of the media on food safety issues scares me, and it should scare you too."

(Report Comment)

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