The real problem: Amendment 23

Neil Westergaard, thanks for your column, “Sure, let’s talk, although you’re wrong” in the Oct. 14-20 issue of the DBJ. Unfortunately, it is you who is wrong in a number of ways.

Percentage comparisons to other states are meaningless. At best, it means that 36 states (if we’re 37th) have governments with even more rapacious tax appetites than we do. And the Colorado budget, at $15.2 billion, is the highest it’s ever been. Undoubtedly, given the inherent incompetence of government, there is wasteful spending, but whether that is squeezed out or not is irrelevant to this debate, although it would be nice if it were.

Your line “… unless you want to gut public school spending, college and university funding, transportation, health and prisons” is intellectually dishonest. These things will not be “gutted” as a result of either staying under TABOR’s limits or saved by passing C & D. In fact, K-12 education is the central problem with the budget as a result of Amendment 23. It insanely requires continuing increases on automatic pilot regardless of needs, results or economic conditions. The fact that politicians won’t even talk about the real budget problem — Amendment 23 — and simply want to grab more cash to cover prior bad decisions is truly disheartening.

Fix 23 and the non-education budget pressures in a time of record high state revenues are relieved. Higher education should be cut loose so it can stand on its own, and we can also avoid silly episodes like the Ward Churchill and football fiascos.

CU, at least, receives a small share of its funding from the state. Let them stand on their own based on the value they have to offer in the marketplace for services like theirs. Surely the editor of a “business” journal can appreciate that, unless you think higher education would not have any value to its customers in an unsubsidized market.

In addition, every alternative to traditional public schools — charter schools (which are still public), home school and private schools — all generate superior results, and charter and home schools are always cheaper per student than regular public schools. If we would take a rational approach through vouchers, private school costs would also fall as they reach a broader market, as would the cost of public education as it has to respond, at long last, to its customers — parents — in an open market.

Public health? With the exception of something like a communicable epidemic, all health is individual, not “public.” People have responsibility for their own individual lives, but I will gladly help those in difficult circumstances through voluntary charity (the only truly human solution for those in need).

Prisons? Stop the insane, destructive war on drugs, and prison space will take care of itself.

Freedom works. Socialism doesn’t. More money siphoned from the private economy and placed in the hands of politicians means lower growth and job destruction, which means Coloradans are less secure and less prosperous.