If it sounds too good, check it out
If you ever doubted the claims that our schools are failing to educate, consider this: A recent Fox News Opinion Dynamic survey posed this question: "Some people say the government has plenty of money of its own and that it should be spent on programs. Other people say that the government has no money except that which it takes from its citizens in taxes. Which do you believe?"
Fifty percent of the respondents said the U.S. government has "plenty of money of its own and that it should be spent on programs." Of those polled, only 39 percent understood that the federal government’s only source of money is money taken from the taxpayers. Eleven percent said they did not know the answer.
This means 61 percent (the majority) of us are clueless about the most fundamental fact of our form of government: the government has no money of its own. Its money comes solely from taxpayers.
If the majority of us think the government is some kind of tree that grows its own money, no wonder federal spending is out of control and often spent without accountability.
An electorate that bases its decisions on wishful thinking, rather than fact, is easy prey for candidates or for ballot issues that have appealing, but deceptive, slogans and issues. For example:
In 1999, Congresswoman Diana DeGette proposed H.B. 829, the Colorado Wilderness Act. Who could be against more wilderness? But if one digs into the details of the Wilderness Act, it is a case of overkill. Instead of improving our forests and wildlife, the Act makes it virtually impossible to manage our forests and wildlife in way that protects them and benefits the taxpayer. The recent rash of forest fires shows what happens when excess fuel piles up on the floors of unmanaged forests. The result is crown fires so hot that the land becomes sterile for decades to come. Europeans do not experience forest fires because they make wise use of their forests.
Congresswoman DeGette’s Congressional District consists of only 1.5 percent of Colorado’s acreage and contains no forests. The "wildlife" in her district produces the overwhelming majority of Colorado’s urban crime and violence problems. Logic would suggest that Ms. DeGrette concentrate on solving the problems of her constituents and allow those who live in the other 98.5 percent of Colorado to figure out how to manage their forests and wildlife.
Colorado’s proposed Responsible Growth Initiative (AKA Amendment 24) is more of the same kind of overkill. If passed on November 7th, local control of Colorado’s future will be be history. Big Brother in Denver (Congresswoman DeGrette’s District) will make decisions that ought to be made by elected officials in towns, cities and counties. While limiting growth sounds good, Amendment 24 won’t work. The real way to limit the growth choking Colorado’s Front Range is to stop diverting so much water from the mountains to the Front Range. Less water, less growth.
Term Limits fall into this same over-kill category. Term Limits punish good public officials who deserve the recognition of re-election. Meanwhile, bad public officials can get in and out of office without having experienced the punishment of being rejected by the voters.
The Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) is currently before Congress. The name sounds good. But CARA would give the federal government $3 Billion to lock up even more of the American West from wise forest and wildlife management practices. It even includes $1 Billion for the condemnation of private property.
Just like books, one cannot always judge legislation or ballot amendments by their titles. If it sounds too good, it usually means more power for bureaucrats at the expense of the taxpayers. The Wilderness Acts, The Responsible Growth Initiative, CARA and Term Limits all fall into the over-kill category and need serious re-thinking. Hopefully, this re-thinking will be done by the 39 percent who understand where the government gets its money.
William Hamilton, a nationally syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, has lived in the Colorado Rockies for the last ten years.