Overview of 2020 ballot questions in Colorado

In this year’s election, Colorado voters will decide on 11 ballot questions that will amend either the state constitution or statutes.  Following is my attempt to condense sometimes complex issues into a simple statement that explains my thoughts on each question.

NOTE: Constitutional amendments cannot be changed by the Legislature, only by a vote of the people, so if they don’t work as advertised, it’s really tough to make corrections.  Statutes can be amended by the Legislature. (more…)

What it means to be American

One explanation for the contempt and polarization in our country is that many of us never learned what it means to be “American.”

Unlike citizens of most countries, “Americans” do not fit a racial stereotype.  George Washington said that Americans were “a new race,” unlike any other.  American colonists cultivated liberty and self-government.  Immigrants came to pursue religious freedom – the right to follow their own conscience.

Immigrants to France or Germany or Russia can become citizens of those countries, but that doesn’t make them French or German or Russian.  In those countries, immigrants stand out as different and don’t enjoy the same societal status as native citizens.  But immigrants to America, through becoming citizens, contributing to the economy, and engaging in their communities can soon become as “American” as anyone else.  Often, they are an inspiration to natives who forget that life in our country truly is better than in any other.

The genius of America is captured in our motto, E pluribus unum, correctly translated, “Out of many, one.”  From many different countries, backgrounds and beliefs, we come together as one people: Americans. (more…)

Polis, Hancock fiddle as Denver descends into chaos

Once known as The Queen City of the Plains or the Gateway to the Rockies, Denver is rapidly descending into a cesspool of violence and filth.  Fifteen years ago, if I met a friend for dinner in LoDo or went to a game at Pepsi Center, I would walk back along the 16th Street Mall at 10 or 11 o’clock with little concern for my safety.  Today, it’s not worth the risk or the hassle.

Denver’s “progressive” politicians are allowing this once great city to become a rat’s nest that is unsafe for families, inhospitable to businesses, and an embarrassment to all Coloradans.

Since 1894, our State Capitol has been a majestic sight on Denver’s Capitol Hill.  When I worked there, I remember walking along 16th Street early in the morning, viewing the Gold Dome as it reflected the rising sun like a beacon shining beyond the downtown office buildings.

Today, the grand old building stands disgraced as never before by vandalism that began in late May and – due to the inaction of Gov. Jared Polis and Mayor Michael Hancock – has continued for weeks.  Sprayed profanities reach 15 feet high on its marble walls.  Windows have been shot out, and those that remain on the ground level are covered with plywood.

CBS4 reports: “The State Capitol is almost unrecognizable. The granite walls are covered in graffiti, windows and lights are shattered, and monuments and memorials are defaced or destroyed. Night after night, the vandals have come back to cause more damage.”

Never in its 126 years has our Capitol been so disgraced, not only by the mobs who attacked it but by the leaders entrusted to protect it. (more…)

Big Tech, Big Media are strangling intellectual freedom

In its early years, the internet’s strength was the unfettered freedom that allowed countless voices to flourish and let readers choose between established sources of information and newer outlets with varying levels of credibility.  This celebration of free speech leveled the playing field between Big Media and independent voices.

But Big Tech has now teamed up with Big Media, and together they behave like Big Brother from George Orwell’s 1984 – monitoring, influencing and censoring our ability to speak freely and even to consider dissenting views.

Google and its parent company, which also owns YouTube, generated over $170 billion in advertising revenue in 2019 from vendors, large and small, who use Google’s advertising service to reach customers.  Google, Facebook and Amazon control the lion’s share of digital advertising sales.  Each exerts more control over the free flow of information than any media conglomerate in our country’s history. (more…)

Mob violence drives U.S. apart when we were coming together

Most Americans were sickened by the senseless killing George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.  For a day or two, we were unified, asking, “How could this happen?” and “What can be done so it doesn’t happen again?”

But protests soon turned into riots and looting, inflicting untold damage to property and stores usually owned by and providing a living for urban residents.  New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones instructed that “destroying property . . . is not violence” and said she would be “honored” to think that her “1619 Project” – which lies about U.S. history – inspired the riots.

Then came the assaults on public property.  In Denver, shots were fired into windows at the State Capitol which was vandalized with graffiti.  Miscreants sprayed obscenities on the marble marker at the Ralph Carr Judicial Building, ignorant that Gov. Carr had refused to send Japanese Coloradans to internment camps during World War II.  They vandalized memorials to Colorado’s Civil War soldiers and to Armenian victims of genocide.  Gov. Jared Polis and Mayor Michael Hancock did nothing to protect these public landmarks.

Demonstrating rage was all the rage.  Thinking was an afterthought, if that. (more…)

Fiscal tailgating made Colorado budget debacle more painful

Tailgating on the highway presents an obvious danger: drivers in a reckless hurry, traveling too fast, following the car ahead too closely.  When someone taps the brakes, a chain reaction ensues, and the resulting collision is far worse than if everyone had been driving cautiously and responsibly.

Fiscal tailgating at the State Capitol has made budget cuts even more painful in the wake of the COVID shutdown.  In times of prosperity, lawmakers saved next-to-nothing for the next economic downturn, spending literally 99% of all general tax revenues collected since the last recession.  Worse still, they employed budgetary shenanigans to grow spending at unsustainable rates.

A year ago, lawmakers approved Gov. Jared Polis’ top priority – funding for full-day kindergarten.  But analysts used dubious assumptions to shave $40 million off the estimated cost.  However, when school started last fall, the sleight of hand was exposed, and legislators had to pay the full cost.

In September, Colorado Sun reported that legislation passed by the Democrat-controlled House and Senate “often masked the true cost” by keeping spending low in the first year and pushing costs to future years. (more…)

‘Progressive’ politicians show contempt for Colorado job creators

At a time when public-spirited Coloradans should be rallying together to help our state’s businesses get back into high gear, “progressive” Democrats at the State Capitol are instead practicing opportunism at its worst by slapping a fresh coat of paint on their pre-COVID agenda.

Just over two months ago, Colorado’s political leaders made a difficult choice that jeopardized the financial stability of its residents in order to save lives that were vulnerable to coronavirus.  Those choices are water under the bridge, so we should charitably presume that officials acted in good faith to choose the lesser of two evils.

Still, nearly 500,000 Coloradans have lost their jobs lifting unemployment to a record high.  Some unemployed workers have no jobs to return to because their employers are out of business for good.  Economists predict a 25% reduction in tax revenues to state government, reflecting an unprecedented collapse in real-world commerce.

Affected businesses and workers did nothing to bring this calamity on themselves.    Surely, our elected leaders are now doing everything imaginable to help business survivors get back on their feet and to put Coloradans back to work?

Sadly, they are not.

Progressives are mindful to “never let a crisis go to waste” and that “anyone who robs Peter to pay Paul can count on Paul’s vote in the next election.”  So, when the legislature re-convened, progressive Democrats who control both the Colorado House and Senate unveiled bills to propose more burdens on business and on working families by: (more…)

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…)