All I hear is white noise about national politics, but I grew up with the adage that "all politics is local." Eagle County has a local election to select two of three county commissioners. Regardless of my contempt for politicians (in general) that do not understand root-cause analysis, I do have a civic duty to be informed when voting.
Truthfully, I am that geek who watches ecotv18 and Public Access 5, so I hope to watch or read the answers to the following questions before mail-in ballots arrive in mid-October.
Based on early projections from the Eagle County Assessor's Office, the property tax revenue could decrease by 18-20 percent for the next budget.
Have you identified budget priorities? What trade-offs are you willing to implement?
Among the smorgasbord of theoretical budget reduction tools, which ones would you explore? How do you propose to increase the county's revenues to decrease the need to cut expenditures and salaries?
As the Great Recession unfolded, some governmental entities chose to nominally decrease mill levies, such as the town of Vail, in recognition of the difficulty that many residents were having at the time with ever-increasing mortgage payments.
In light of the number of empty houses and storefronts, along with underwater mortgages, was it a wise decision to decline to provide Eagle County homeowners with property tax relief?
Before Jon Stavney's term, the county commissioners paid for a poll to be conducted to determine the level of public support for new bonds to expand the jail. The poll results indicated a very negative response. However, the county commissioners pursued certificates of participation and built the addition that now sits empty.
As a future commissioner, what emphasis do you place on public opinion, and when should it be ignored when managing public finances?
Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper announced that he is opposed to Amendment 64 that would legalize the possession of one ounce of marijuana within the state of Colorado. Sheriffs across the state are opposing Amendment 64. Do you support Amendment 64?
Is the open space fund revenue being allocated cost-effectively?
Are the down-payment assistance programs for home buyers structured optimally in the county?
A former county commissioner, Dick Gustafson, helped convince federal officials to build a flight control tower that catapulted our local airport's success.
If international travel is the next evolution for our economic development, what will you do as commissioner to convince TSA to authorize and allocate funds for an international terminal?
I am aware that one answer is not the only option that leads to political discourse and a vibrant democracy. I look forward to future debates and formats that allow the voters to assess how the candidates address these issues and other residents' topics, so my neighbors and I can make an informed vote.
Socialism's no answer
It is a given that Henry Bornstein is an intellect, a lawyer of some constitution and admittedly, a socialist. His commentary Aug. 29, "How GOP is ruining U.S.," is an expose of contradictions. How is it that an American constitutional lawyer can also be a socialist or Marxist? Why is it that all Republicans are capitalists?
Bradley Thompson, another intellect, observed, "Throughout history there have been two basic forms of social organization: collectivism and individualism. In the 20th century, collectivism has taken many forms: socialism, fascism, Nazism, welfare-statism and communism are its more notable variations. The only social system commensurate with individualism is laissez-faire capitalism. Under socialism, a ruling class of intellectuals, bureaucrats and social planners decide what people want or what is good for society and then use the coercive power of the state to regulate, tax and redistribute the wealth of those who work for a living. In other words, socialism is a form of legalized theft."
Another intellectual declared: "We are socialists, we are enemies of today's capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance. ..." That was Adolf Hitler in 1927.
Another incredulous generalization of Bornstein's is "Republicans always have and continue to oppose any regulation ...," and they claim that regulation causes job loss. Whew! That is one sweeping pronouncement and deduction. Where are the statistics on this one? I note that Bornstein worries about the abuse that capitalists may cause, but gives a pass to the regulators regarding what pernicious evils (regulations, etc.) they may perpetrate or impose.
Ayn Rand, one of my intellectual giants, said, "America's abundance was created not by public sacrifices to the common good, but by the productive genius of free men who pursued their own personal interests and the making of their own private fortunes. ... They did not starve the people to pay for America's industrialization. ... They gave the people better jobs, higher wages and cheaper goods," and all of this in spite of the extant regulations.
Bornstein and his socialist ilk fault earned or inherited wealth and corporate largess as evils to be either disbursed or distributed for the sake of the common good. Sound familiar?
Alan Greenspan does not believe this diatribe when he says "capitalism is based on self-interest and self-esteem; it holds integrity and trustworthiness as cardinal virtues and makes them pay off in the market place. ... It is this superlatively moral system that the welfare statists propose to improve upon by means of preventative law, snooping bureaucrats, and the chronic goad of fear."
Hernando De Soto endorsed this view when he observed that "capitalism stands alone as the only feasible way to rationally organize a modern economy."
Mr. Bornstein, a constitutional lawyer, opposes this constitutional mandate and would impose the heavy, arbitrary, incompetent and oppressive hand of government through regulation upon its citizens in their individual pursuits of prosperity.
Theft of a citizen's wealth, either by way of taxation or regulation, only promotes an "equal sharing of miseries" (Winston Churchill). And despite the intellectuals' psychotic hatred of capitalism, it is the only moral and just social system. For the moment, to achieve such a system, capitalism is the only game in town.
I would be constrained to say that "the Democratic Party is ruining the U.S.," since that generalization would be exposing my lack of intellectual capacity. I wonder if Mr. Bornstein's comment about the GOP in that vein reflects upon his superior intellectual acumen.