Back in February I authored a look at the implications of Colorado’s infamous Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) on the state, and in particular on the city of Colorado Springs, which has been forced to cut services that most would regard as essential in order to comply with one of the most foolish bits of legislation in the nation. Teabagger Paradise, I called it, and it must be admitted that my tone was on the snarky side in spots, and I accept that those who don’t share my take might have been a little put off. Sorry about. Still, I stand by my conclusions.
When all is said and done, the most satisfying course of action will be to grab some popcorn, pull up a chair and enjoy the show. There are few things I enjoy more than watching stupid people reaping what they have sown (which explains my love of reality television, I suppose). What we’re seeing right now in the Springs are the first few scenes of a morality play. The question is whether or not the denizens of America’s foremost Anti-Tax Utopia are bright enough to figure out the moral: to wit, where taxes and services are concerned, 2 -2 = 0.
In the wake of that post I got called a number of things, some in the comment thread and more via private channels. Some of these things are mostly true, others less so. For instance, am I a “liberal”? Depends on your definition, but almost certainly not in the sense intended by the class of people who prefer labels and bumper sticker slogans to thought and analysis. “Communist?” Not in the least. “Socialist?” Well, there are things I think various socialist thinkers and governments have right, but not enough that I’d feel comfortable wearing one of their t-shirts. Am I anti-accountability? Ummm, have you ever read a word I’ve written?
All of which leads us to this item from the other day:
Mayor wants vote on a TABOR timeoutJune 30, 2010 5:16 PM
Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera called Wednesday for a three-year timeout from the part of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights that limits how much tax money the city of Colorado Springs can spend as the economy recovers.
Really? Remember – this is the Springs, home to TABOR, anti-tax extremism and their patron saint, Douglas Bruce. The tone of the city officials being quoted is instructive – on the one hand, they’re smart enough to know they’re screwed and that they need relief. On the other hand:
“You have to base it on having credibility with the electorate,” he said. “I don’t think we do.”
I suppose it’s nice, at some level, to see your predictions validated. But it’s hard to feel too full of yourself when your main contribution to the debate was to observe that 2-2=0 and that there is such a thing as cause and effect.
Listen, I don’t think any of us actually enjoy paying taxes. That includes liberals, who for the most part could find something to do with an extra several thousand dollars every year. And I know for a fact that most liberals get pretty frustrated at government waste and inefficiency, although they might get specifically irritated at different things, like the current move afoot in Congress to cut Social Security so we can spend that money on what looks more and more like a futile war in Afghanistan.
We’d all like a more optimal return on our investment. And we all get that governments, from the highest levels to the lowest, can represent varying amounts of wastage, although our patience runs thin when the people complaining the loudest were quiet as church mice while Republican administrations were spending like drunken sailors at a hooker convention. That makes us suspect that the outrage is more about naked partisanship than an actual concern over fiscal responsibility.
The problem that we see in places like Colorado Springs – and really, anywhere there’s a Tea Party rally taking place – is that certain segments of our noise machine have spent 30-40 years promoting the self-destructive meme that all taxes are evil and that the best government is none at all. This isn’t rational, and it’s a sure-fire recipe for disaster in Washington, in Colorado Springs and in your town.
I’m glad that the powers that be in the Springs have reached the point where they can float this argument, even in a carefully crafted and severely watered down form, to a population that surely, surely must be growing uneasy as certain counter-ideological realities weigh on the well-being of their community.