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Life in the Marxist millennium


Last week wasn't a particularly good week for Republicans, was it? Bad enough that vouchers and reapportionment were thrown out by those pesky Communist Democrat judges, but what about poor ol' Rush Limbaugh?

Yup, those Florida prosecutors had the temerity to go after his medical records, attempting to prove that he'd been doctor shopping to feed his drug habit. The very idea! Don't they realize that Rush, like every prominent Republican, is all for law enforcement? Go catch some real criminals, and stop picking on innocent, law-abiding and extremely rich citizens like Rush!

And speaking of extremely rich citizens, President Bush hisself had to drop tariffs on imported steel because a bunch of bureaucrats at the World Trade Organization told him to. And why did George W. -- Hero of Baghdad, Scourge of Saddam, Avenger of Afghanistan, Wielder of the Shining Sword that Smote the Infidel Fiends-- lie down and roll over like a mongrel dog? Simple -- those cunning foreigners threatened him with retaliatory tariffs that would've cost him a lot of votes in key states come next November.

So all you liberals and Democrats: Enjoy! It's great to watch the president squirm a little and, closer to home, it's equally satisfying to watch voucher proponent Steve Schuck, Gov. Bill Owens and the new nitwits on the D-11 school board sputter and harrumph.

Unhappily, that doesn't do much to change the politics of our fair state. Thanks to some moderate judges, we've bought some time on vouchers and reapportionment, but the extreme right still dominates the political landscape.

In Colorado, the right generally opposes taxpayer-funded open-space programs, increased funding for public education, environmental protection, and land development regulation. By contrast, Colorado voters statewide and in many local jurisdictions (including Colorado Springs!), have approved dozens of tax-funded open-space programs.

Colorado voters turned down three attempts to mandate statewide educational voucher programs and, by passing Amendment 23, mandated steadily increasing funding for public schools. And every public opinion survey conducted over the last decade shows that voters want more, not less, protection for the environment and regard untrammeled development as the single greatest threat to Colorado.

And what does the right want? Vouchers, of course. More money for jails, even though in Colorado's most conservative county (our own!) the voters overwhelmingly refused to fund a new lockup. And, the right steadfastly rejects any attempt to modify the TABOR Amendment, which governs how much revenue the state may spend in any given year. They're not bothered by the argument that TABOR, thanks to the so-called "ratchet down" effect, will gradually deprive state government of the revenues it needs to fund programs that voters overwhelmingly support.

Of course that doesn't bother them -- that's exactly what they want. With the fervor of true believers, the leading figures of Colorado's dominant political culture believe that government ought to shrink. Waste, fraud and abuse! Time to get back to basics -- cops and asphalt and forget about the rest! With government out of our hair, we'll be free, happy and prosperous!

Actually, I've heard that story before -- in a college economics course. A then-obscure 19th-century philosopher/economist/crackpot proposed, in 700-odd pages of turgid prose, that the very nature of capitalism would lead to a new epoch. Yup, the state would just wither away, leading to a new age of justice, freedom and prosperity. I imagine that Karl Marx would have been surprised to see the totalitarian empire erected in his name ...

And I wonder whether Marx's co-religionists on the extreme right give much thought to the world they're trying to create, as opposed to the ideology that they profess. Do they/we really want to defund public education, open public lands to private exploitation, trust developers to regulate themselves, jail nonviolent offenders and shrink government to nothing?

Yes. But as the hard, brutal men who created the Soviet empire well knew, you can't implement policies that most citizens oppose without pervasive mechanisms to enforce those policies.

Thankfully, ours is an age of kinder, gentler totalitarians who've managed to privatize the means of persuasion and control. Instead of the secret police, the secretly financed campaign flyer. Instead of the big lie, lots of small lies; as in, vouchers are an urgently needed reform, not a blatant attempt to circumvent the will of the people. Instead of the knock on the door, the invisible use of databanks to circumscribe and manipulate our choices. Instead of intimidation at the polls, corporate money to pols.

But that's OK by me -- it fills me with joy to know that, thanks to lawmakers Dave Schultheis and John Andrews, the Marxist millennium is finally at hand ...

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