Return to prosperity should be a bipartisan priority

Our government officials have confronted many difficult choices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Faced with an initial prediction of 33,000 Colorado deaths if no preventive measures were taken, they responded with restrictions that few could have imagined as recently as Super Bowl Sunday.

Whether those decisions were right or wrong, the reasons for those choices are understandable:  if disaster strikes and might have been prevented, the public will be much more understanding if elected leaders tried to “do something” than if they “did nothing.”

Unlike medical predictions, the economic costs of those decisions were not so easily calculated because they were unprecedented.  When government turns off wide swaths of the economy, it can’t simply flip the switch and return to normal.  The financial destruction created by the shutdown may be just as severe as the medical threat it aimed to avoid.

That devastation isn’t confined to businesses and workers; it spills over to all levels of government, as well.  The resulting fiscal catastrophe offers a once-in-a-lifetime example of the essential role that our businesses play in making government possible. (more…)

After sacrificing for others, many Americans just want to work

Other than war, nothing better illustrates the unique responsibility weighing upon our president or governor than does the current health emergency.  Senators and representatives can always point fingers at someone else, but the buck stops with the leader of the executive branch in times of crisis.

Rightfully concerned that the Wuhan coronavirus could throw our hospitals into chaos if left to run unchecked through the population, both President Trump and Governor Polis heeded the advice of experts in medicine to try to slow down the virus while increasing the capacity for treating severe cases.  Neither has been perfect, but both have shown restraint and empathy.

So far, the general public has largely heeded these precautions to protect those for whom contracting COVID19 could be a death sentence.

The cost of this government-ordered shutdown of much of our economy is barely beginning to be realized:

Even if governments ease the current restrictions by May 1, business as usual will not resume for some time.  It’s hard to imagine people eager to climb on an airplane with a couple hundred strangers.  Restaurants may have to make many tables off-limits to accommodate “social distancing.”  People will be cautious about large crowds so conferences, concerts and sporting events will be cancelled or held amid empty seats.

Sure, that’s bad news for large corporations, but it’s also devastating to anyone who makes a living waiting tables, cleaning hotel rooms, sweeping up after sporting events, or servicing airplanes.  It’s crushing to bus drivers, clerks and concessionaires.

The response to the Wuhan virus may have saved many lives, but it threatens many others – the forgotten men and women of America whose financial survival is increasingly at risk.  Many become more desperate with each passing day.  They need their job or their business to provide for the safety, security and wellbeing of their family.  Many have invested their sweat and savings in a business that is financed with debts that must be paid.

These are the forgotten men and women of the current era.  That’s not to suggest that either President Trump or Governor Polis are purposefully ignoring them.  They have been preoccupied with fighting the virus.  Now they must take a broader view.

Imagine that your family has only enough savings to pay one more month of expenses.  You are willing to work, but businesses that would hire you are closed by government order.  Years of toil and savings used to start a business are being demolished by the decisions of government officials who recognize the current health emergency but not the financial catastrophe they are imposing on so many.

While we study projections to thwart COVID19, we must not ignore the proven link between unemployment and drug overdoses or suicides.  These stem from desperation that many government officials and health experts don’t understand because their jobs and finances are secure.  Checks from government might make politicians feel better about themselves, but they don’t provide the security that comes from a reliable job.

Lives lost to depression, suicide and drug overdoses are no less tragic than those lost to COVID19.

Now it’s time to take seriously the lives and security of so many hard-working Americans who have sacrificed their own livelihood to help others and now simply want government to allow them to go back to helping themselves.

Slim chance for ‘Any Functioning Adult’ in 2020

It seems today that the only thing that unites Republicans is their disdain for Democrats and the only thing that unites Democrats is their hatred of Republicans.

Meanwhile, both parties face their own internal struggles.  For Democrats, secular progressives want to slash and burn everything about America that causes them outrage while traditional liberals favor more government spending and social change but still salute the flag.

Among Republicans, Trump loyalists are in ascendency, rationalizing whatever position the President tweets, while limited-government conservatives spin themselves dizzy, applauding Trump when he does something conservative but rolling their eyes (or worse) when he’s crude, undisciplined or philosophically incoherent.

Both Trump and his secular progressive counterparts relentlessly stoke support from true believers while antagonizing most everyone else.

A growing number of Americans (myself included) just want our elected lawmakers to “shut up and do your jobs!” (more…)

State government hasn’t earned our trust for Prop CC

Colorado voters will soon be asked to approve an innocent-sounding ballot measure asking us to “just trust” state government to spend our tax dollars.

Proposition CC reads like a greeting card, not a serious question:  “Without raising taxes and to better fund public schools, higher education, and roads, bridges and transit, within a balanced budget, may the state keep and spend all the revenue it annually collects after June 30, 2019, but is not currently allowed to keep and spend . . .?”

That makes it sounds like money is falling from the sky, but state officials can’t spend it.

Oh, please!

Colorado state government will spend about $31 billion this year – $15,000 for every household in the state.  Less than half of that money is subject to the TABOR spending limit that Prop CC would eliminate forever.

TABOR stands for Taxpayers Bill of Rights, a provision in Colorado’s constitution that limits how much government spending can increase each year and requires a public vote on new taxes.  TABOR allows government spending to grow, just not faster than the population growth and inflation.

Since the last recession, TABOR has allowed government budgets to rebound to pre-recession levels.  In those 10 years, the state budget has grown by 55% from $19.9 billion to $30.9 billion.  During that same time, our state’s population has grown by just 15% and inflation has raised prices by 23%. (more…)

Teaching ‘intersectionality’ poisons America’s future

For the first time in history, legislators are writing the progressive doctrine of “intersectionality” into Colorado law.  They want our schools to teach that the groups we belong to – our race, sexuality and religion – are more important than our shared achievements, our character, and the way we treat each other.

House Bill 1192 mandates that history lessons in Colorado public schools include the “social contributions” of a people who are identified with certain ethnic and sexual minorities.  Then it specifically requires teaching “the intersectionality of social and cultural features within these communities.”

If you’re asking, “What the heck does that mean?”, then you’re probably busy raising a family, running a business, and enjoying life.  That is, you’re not a “progressive” with a chip on your shoulder.

For progressives, intersectionality is foundational to their doctrine of victimhood – the belief that society is divided between oppressors and the oppressed and that the deck is hopelessly stacked against all but a lucky few.

To progressives, the American dream is a fool’s errand.

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Progressive Democrats aimed to deceive Colorado voters in 2018

The brazen cutthroat attack by “progressive” Democrats against Colorado’s oil and gas industry is astonishing.  But the most astonishing aspect may surprise you.

It’s not that Senate Bill 181 could bring new oil and gas exploration in Colorado to a halt for several years while bureaucrats go back to square one to write new rules for the industry.

It’s not that the bill amounts to a recession-through-legislation – devastating an industry that employs more than 100,000 Coloradans and generates over $1 billion per year in state government revenue, most of which goes to support public schools.

It’s not the embarrassing slapdown that progressives delivered to former Gov. John Hickenlooper just as he launches his bid to be President.  Hickenlooper spent much of his two terms as governor working to strike a delicate balance between property rights, environmental concerns, and the burgeoning energy industry.

Most astonishing is the outright deception in last year’s election by Democrat candidates who told voters they were opposed to Proposition 112 – a draconian ballot issue that would have banned oil and gas exploration in much of Colorado.

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GOP’s choice: pay for year-round campaign or for oppressive government

Everyone knows that Republicans and Democrats hold fundamentally different views of government.

For Republicans, government is a necessary inconvenience that should be limited to a few essential functions like national defense, public safety, highways and public schools.  To Democrats, government is an essential service that should do all of the above, plus right every wrong, assist with every difficulty, and protect us from ourselves.

Our view of elections is consistent with our view of government.  After an election, Republicans want to get on with life and forget about elections until the next even-numbered year.  For Democrats (particularly the activist variety), government is life.  Planning for the next election begins as soon as the election watch party hangover wears off.

It’s no wonder Democrats are winning.  We all understand that an athlete or team that prepares year-round will win more often than its competitor that takes six months off.

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Colorado Republicans can’t govern unless we can win

Three months ago, the Republican Party in Colorado took its worst beating since before World War II.  Since then, rank-and-file Republicans have been asking, “Can we turn this around?” and “Are Colorado Republicans on the verge of becoming politically irrelevant?”

Colorado Republicans aren’t yet irrelevant, but from where we stand today, irrelevance is within view.  Anyone who says otherwise is ignoring hard facts.  That should make your blood run cold – even if you’re a Democrat – because states in which Republicans are a permanent minority tend to be fiscal basket-cases (see California, Illinois).

Our state’s leftward drift didn’t happen overnight, so turning it around will require persistence, patience and, most importantly, long-term commitment by everyone from grassroots activists and party leaders to financial supporters.

As chronicled in The Blueprint, Colorado Democrats began building their machine, combining a massive, ongoing infusion of money and an army of activists, back in 2004.

Back then, Democrats were sick of losing.  Bill Owens had broken their 24-year hold on the Governor’s office.  Republicans controlled both legislative chambers for more than 20 years, except for a one-vote Democrat majority in 2001-02.  Hank Brown and Ben Nighthorse Campbell (who switched parties after first being elected as a Democrat) were overwhelmingly popular U.S. Senators.

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We can all do better in 2019

It’s easy to be discouraged about the future of America, particularly if viewed through the lens of Facebook and Twitter or described by television talking heads who thrive on conflict apparently because doing so drives up ratings and online followers.

Ironically, Social media cultivates anti-social behavior because we all like to see ourselves as aspiring Rush Limbaughs or Rachel Maddows.  Incivility is rewarded by “likes” and “retweets.”  Reason and understanding, not so much.

Productive conversations do not take place on social media.  It’s difficult enough to have a reasoned online disagreement with someone you know, but the “audience factor” makes it worse because my “friends” disparage you and encourage me and vice versa.  Emboldened by cyber-separation, we throw spiteful jabs at each other using scornful rhetoric that most would recognize as unacceptable in polite society.

For 2019, let’s remember that each of us has an inherent right to his or her own thoughts and to express their opinions.  Our clever comeback probably isn’t so clever.

Proverbs reminds us, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

It’s encouraging that we still tend to behave cordially when we put down our devices and re-enter the real world of face-to-face interaction.  I am reminded of the goodness of my fellow Americans often when I simply hold the door open or show a small courtesy to someone at a store or on the sidewalk.  When meeting face-to-face, we still try to get along – and not only with people like ourselves.

Hundreds of miles away in cities where many doubtless hold opinions quite opposite of my own, people still appreciate courtesy and tend to respond in kind.  A sincere smile or “thank you” from a real person is far more valuable than a fleeting “like” from a “friend.”

We can all do better in 2019 if we put down our devices and re-engage with real, live humans.

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