Heads in the sand
U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn released a statement on the original House stimulus bill, celebrating his Republican party's "solidarity against the bill" further stating: "Despite President Obama's personal appeal to Republicans, not a single Republican Congressman voted for this bill."
I telephoned Lamborn's Washington, D.C. office and reached one of his aides to discuss the bill. The aide was not aware of the deteriorating job market here but expressed Lamborn's position as "based on his strong personal beliefs." I inquired whether those beliefs were politically partisan or "philosophical," given his statement attesting to "solidarity."
I offered a metaphor: "There are parents who possess strong personal and religious beliefs who do not believe in modern medical treatments, and hold to absolute power of prayer, even if their child has a deadly illness. Our society has deemed this as irresponsible behavior, and authorities have had to remove a child from parental custody to administer life-saving treatments." The aide repeated the congressman "held strong beliefs."
Edmund Burke, the father of American conservatism, believed the basic tenet of government is to nurture the organic unity that binds a nation together, especially in times of great trouble. "This is done," he maintained, "by replenishing a civil society by adjusting to changing conditions." Burke proclaimed conservatism was based not on ideological principles but on distrust of all ideologies.
In the face of what practically every recognized economist calls the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression, Lamborn and his ilk are holding onto their solidarity and "ideology" instead of adjusting to changing conditions and "using government powers to make things better." Lamborn and House Republicans are no different from parents who refuse medicines to treat their own dying child.
Look out below
The plain and simple flaw in all the debate of stimulus and bailout talk is this fact: If by creating money out of thin air, the U.S. economy could have borrowed and spent its way out of any previous problem, it would have. All those problems would have been solved, from poverty to health care to jobs. Simply create the trillions needed and spend it. Voila, problem solved, right?
Even in the Great Depression, contrary to myth, Franklin Roosevelt used thousands of tons of gold the U.S. held to leverage the recovery and create the dollars injected into the economy and government programs, not fake money created out of thin air. None of those reserves now exist to do the same for the current crisis.
The unfortunate, plain fact is no one person can do such a thing (borrow their way out of previous debt), and the government can't either. The only certainty from the stimulus and bailouts is that they will end in a complete destruction of the financial and economic system of the U.S. and the world rather than an extended restructuring. Those who rationalize otherwise are either totally ignorant of economic reality or certifiably insane.
Desperate citizens and politicians are signing up to support such insanity out of obvious desperation or complete economic ignorance, or both. They do so without realizing that the end of the road is a cliff instead of a wooden barrier.
Can't have it both ways
Every resident of El Paso County needs to read "Stimulus can't sate wish lists" (Denver Post, Feb. 15) because it clearly illustrates the hypocrisy that we live with here. Colorado Springs is the epicenter of the pro-growth, anti-tax, anti-government philosophy and birthplace of the TABOR amendment. That philosophy has prevailed here for years, and our community is suffering from a lack of public investment in services and infrastructure.
It is not surprising that U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn thinks little of the economic stimulus package. He voted with every other House Republican to defeat the bill and has stated that "this spending bill is a sorry substitute for an economic stimulus plan ... my constituents are looking to Congress for real solutions."
Apparently, officials in Colorado Springs did not get that memo and see the stimulus package as a solution to our budget woes. According to the Post article, Colorado Springs has requested $1.3 billion in funding; that is 30 percent of the $4.4 billion requested in total by communities in Colorado, and more than twice what any other city requested. This is from a community that defeats most initiatives to raise local funding for community services despite clear and growing needs.
Colorado Springs has real needs for community investment, as does every city. But we can't ask for taxpayers throughout the U.S. to rescue us if we are not willing to support ourselves first.
It is clear that Lamborn and Colorado Springs' elected officials need to talk through this hypocrisy. Either Lamborn needs to take a positive stance toward the economic stimulus package, or Colorado Springs needs to step out of line for its funding.
Reverse the curse
Sadly, the U.S. has turned into a "risk management," ultra-greedy society. I spent years as a division clerk in the courts. One of my strongest memories is the very kind and very brilliant judge for whom I worked, coming into the robing room, and cursing highly unusual. The reason for his frustration and anger? He had just had to rule in favor of an insurance company, thereby following the law of the land and state of Colorado.
U.S. citizens and others in this country are defrauded constantly by unregulated private insurance companies. For example, individuals are far too often randomly selected, often by computer, to have their claims denied.
Only the few individuals who have the intelligence, persistence and economic means to challenge such decisions become recognized by companies as litigious threats. These are the exceptional few who experience a reversal in the company decision and have their claims granted.
If the U.S. is to survive and have a true democracy, we must undo the (military/industrial/corporate) coup! Yes to single-payer health care!
Rita Walpole Ague
Once again we hear a doomsday scenario from City Council over the disaster known as the city budget ("Vex and the city," News, Feb. 12). After months of trimming, city leaders are poised to make serious cuts that will severely impact the quality of life in our fair city. Police and fire are being kept relatively stable, although I cannot understand why the police helicopter is so sacred. Given the increasing crime rate, and the number of fires lately, I can understand why these services are kept intact.
Missing from the discussion is the revenue problem. The city budget depends almost exclusively on sales tax revenue and an extremely low property tax rate. But what is the basis of our local economy? The military, Olympic Committee and Christian religious organizations. What do they have in common? They pay no property taxes. To exacerbate our problem, both active-duty and retired military have access to the base PX and commissary, where no sales taxes are collected.
What would be the impact on the city budget if sales tax was collected on base? I suspect the budget problems would be solved. What if the USOC were to pay property tax, even at a reduced rate, on the training center? What if James Dobson paid property tax on his emerald city on the hill, which is far more of a political than a religious operation?
Exempt active-duty military from sales tax if you must; I'm fine with that, given their extreme sacrifices. Retirees need to pay their fair share. Churches and other religious organizations need to help support the city services they too depend on.
Before our quality of life deteriorates further, it's time for all to share the burden.
Tax and tracks
As a truck driver, I am absolutely opposed to the state funding a move such as the one described in the Independent ("Study: pluses to moving tracks," Noted, Feb. 12). While requiring railroads to enhance the safety and noise pollution levels of their rail lines should be offset to an extent by the state, a complete infrastructure upgrade and move is a bit ridiculous.
Why should Colorado taxpayers subsidize the major Class 1 Railroads (in this case, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific) when services they depend on, such as Front Range Express and local bus service, fail and disappear, and tolls pop up on Interstate 70? Highways are funded by the fuel tax that Colorado residents, visitors and motor carriers pay. On the flip side, Class 1 Railroads are exempt from Colorado fuel tax.
It's well-noted that the state has had severe issues funding Colorado's highway infrastructure and affiliated programs that ease congestion. If the railroads don't pay taxes for the maintenance or enhancement of their infrastructure, the state has no right to dip into other funds to do so.
Last summer, I made a commitment to start recycling. I purchased four containers to separate my glass, plastic, aluminum and newspaper. I was diligent for three months and was quite surprised as to how much I had been contributing to our landfills and I am a one-person household.
I proudly bundled up my recycled items. I had to go to Wal-Mart and thought I would drop off the items at the recycle bins in the parking lot before shopping. I thought this was so convenient: drop and shop in one location. But all the recycle bins had been removed from the premises. I was disappointed, but thought, OK, I will go to Safeway as they had recycle bins in their parking lot, and I shop there as well. To my surprise, all the recycle bins were gone from Safeway's parking lot as well!
I understand there are other locations to dispose of your recycled items. But it made sense to have recycle bins at a place where many people frequently go. What happened? If you want people to make a conscious effort to support a cause that is preached about all the time, they (whoever they are) would bring back the recycling bins to these locations. Having to pay for a trash company to pick up the recycled items, in addition to your regular trash, doesn't seem right either. Or is there something more to this situation that I don't understand?
Trying to clean up my act ...
Let's be clear
I like your coinage "Sino-Americana" (Audiofile, Feb. 5). As one quite familiar with Abigail Washburn's music, I think it's a perfectly succinct yet full description of her unique sound.
One clarification: The Sparrow Quartet did not play at the Beijing Olympics, though they did play shows in and around Beijing during the 2008 Olympics.
"A fact that until now has flown low low below the radar is that the Sparrow Quartet was supposed to play an Olympic venue in Beijing ... but we didn't play an Olympic venue," wrote Washburn in her blog "Tales of Abigail" (at abigailwashburn.com) on Aug. 28.
In "Class Act" (7 Days to Live, Feb. 12), Patrick McConnell was identified as Patrick Dougherty. We regret the error.