“Teabagger Paradise” revisited: Colorado Springs begs for mercy

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.


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  • Funny how the real world always has a way of intruding on delusional systems at some point.

  • One of Ohio’s rare moments of intelligence was rejecting Ken Blackwell’s “Tax and Expenditure Limitation” (TEL) TABOR-clone (and rejecting Blackwell). Blackwell has come back to haunt us in Ohio as a player behind the scenes in a move to manipulate the next election by backing (through proxies) a measure to stop slot machines at race tracks. I’m no gambler–I’m too cheap to throw my money away like that. But, with every state around us in the casino racket, Ohio is foolish to not take the money of fools.

  • People should bear the consequences of their actions. Cut their services to nothing for five years, and then let them vote again.

  • Danielle E. (Beth) Lyles MS

    Good idea GIT. Start with the cops and the fire dept. The Springs is an extremely dry area. One good blaze on a breezy summer day (hopefully starting at James Dobson’s FOTF campus) and Colorado Springs wouldn’t have any more problems because it wouldn’t exist. Pikes Peak woud look down on a giant ashtray.

  • It is interesting how the cut taxes crowd reacts when they are asked which govt services and programs they are willing to give up. Police, firemen, teachers, good roads and bridges, Social Security, Medicare. How do they think the govt services and programs are funded?
    Thought must be given to who is planting the seeds of doubt and taking advantage of those whose emotions are overriding their reason. There is an election coming up in Nov. and there are those who want to regain power lost.

  • If the mayor were truly behind a “timeout” policy Rivera would launch a measure to get rid of the city’s own Tabor legislation (the city being the only one in the state that has both a state-wide and city Tabor law in effect). Further, he would admit he supports a measure to change the name of the city to “Freedom City” along with several other council members. The mayor might also apologize to the city employees he helped fire at all levels of government. (Remember: the mayor was named among the “Worst People” by Keith Olberman for saying that homeless people chose to be that way. I wonder if he thinks that unemployed people chose to be “that way”. ) A lot of explaining needs to be done here, folks.

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