(We continue to be fascinated with what has happened in Colorado Springs. If you haven’t been following, Colorado Springs is actually finding out what happens when you cut taxes and cut spending indefinitely (hint: it ain’t good) – promoted by Colorado Pols)
Colorado Springs councilman Sean Paige has a funny – and telling – screed up defending Colorado Springs from, well, the basic facts. He accuses my recent column and the Denver Post’s recent front-page story of “slurring” his city by reporting on the draconian budget cuts its anti-tax zealotry are now compelling.
I’m not quite sure how simply recounting cuts to police, firefighting, park services, road maintenance is a “slur,” but then, I’ve learned not to try to make sense of the eternal delusions of a right-wing mind. What I can, however, do is point out some of the “tells” – the poker term for a bluffing player’s giveaways:
– Paige says Colorado Springs attracts new residents and economic growth “by actually putting America’s limited government ideals into practice.” In this, he asks us to forget that one of the city’s biggest employers is the defense industry – that is, an industry that has absolutely nothing to do with “limited government” and everything to do with the hugest of Huge Government. Here’s the Colorado Springs Business Journal:
One of every three residents of the Pikes Peak Region depends directly or indirectly upon the military. According to the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, the total economic impact of the military in Colorado Springs is $4.58 billion. This represents more than one third of the total regional economy.
That’s right, one of every three people living in the Colorado Springs area “depends directly or indirectly upon the military” – ie. upon Huge Government. Add in city, county and state workers, and you are probably approaching half of the entire Colorado Springs economy relying on the government. In that sense, Colorado Springs is an American version of almost pure Marxism: a city that is as close as any major city in the United States to being a full-fledged ward of the state (only one that is now planning to stop its road/park maintenance, cut police/firefighting forces, etc.).
Whether you support this kind of Huge Government or not – whether you think a city relying so heavily on military spending is a good or bad thing – that spending’s size and centrality to the Colorado Springs economy is undeniable, as is it’s antithesis to the concept of “limited,” small or efficient government. You don’t have to trust me, the guy who Paige calls a “statist” (do people even use that red-baiting McCarthy-esque word anymore?). You can look at the bloated $700 billion annual defense budget, or you can look to people John McCain and Don Rumsfeld who have repeatedly noted just how wasteful the government’s defense budget really is (I wonder if Paige believes McCain and Rummy are “statists,” too?).*
– As evidence that Colorado Springs is a great place, Paige cites magazine fluff rankings, many from right-wing business publications like Forbes. Frankly, I never said Colorado Springs wasn’t a good and decent place, and didn’t have real potential, nor do I wish it ill will. Quit the opposite: I simply argued that its tax and spending decisions are tragically threatening some of the very social fabric that would help it fulfill its potential. Maybe he believes that a city that will now severely slash its basic security and firefighting forces and its road maintenance (to name just a few things) is a way to preserve a city’s future – but my guess is many mainstream business people and voters would disagree.
– Hilariously, in puffing out his chest with fake outrage, Paige actually concedes the very fundamental point of my column and the Denver Post’s article. “Voters could have helped the city out several months back, by approving a property tax increase,” he writes. Yes, Paige correctly says voters could have helped their city out by doing that. And yet, he then says its a “slur” to say, um, exactly that. Odd…or, really, beyond odd. Insane.
So what to make of Paige’s incoherence? I’d say it’s a reflection of the incoherence of conservative ideology in general. The right will desperately paint the biggest of big government as “limited government,” attempt to change the subject, and then – preposterously – argue that it’s somehow a “slur” to argue something that the right quietly concedes. These are the eternal delusions of the right-wing mind – and as I said to start, it is a fool’s errand to try to make sense of them.
* To those right-wingers who might argue that the Constitution specifically calls for the funding of defense, and therefore massive Pentagon spending represents “limited government,” let me add two things: 1) The Constitution does not specifically call for a defense budget so wasteful that the Pentagon has literally lost $2 trillion (and here’s hoping nobody will actually argue that the Founding Fathers would be happy with that sad state of affairs) and 2) The Constitution has a “general welfare” clause, too – and yet, I don’t hear conservatives saying that, say, municipal police, fire fighters, roads, parks, etc. (much less national health care) represent “limited government.”