Vail Daily letter: Amendments will help
August 6, 2010
In 1819, Chief Justice John Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court penned the axiom “That the power to tax involves the power to destroy; that the power to destroy may defeat and render useless the power to create ….” Being axiomatic, these words are just as applicable today as they were in the teenage years of our nation. By that I mean we should be chary of the power and authority that we repose in our elected representatives and bureaucracies to foment and levy taxes or borrowings.
I would also opine that the United States, of all nations or empires throughout history, has been the most creative, ingenious, generous and socially responsible owing partly to the effect of this admonition by Justice Marshall. Ergo, absent an abuse of this power to tax and borrow, Americans create wealth and prosperity, since their incentive or drive to do so is unimpeded.
With Marshall’s august principle in mind, we can address the proposed Amendments 60 and 61 to the Colorado Constitution as well as Proposition 101 with less trepidation concerning much publicized and deleterious effect upon the state of our economy and the empire of public institutions that are entrenched in place.
Government in general, legislators, bureaucracies and quasi-governmental agencies are adamantly apposed to these initiatives. On the other hand, informed and taxpaying voters seem to be supportive, and it should be noted that each side has its respective interests at stake. Government et al wishes to maintain its unfettered ability to raise taxes and increase deficit spending via borrowings, albeit on occasion by nefarious ways and means. For example, registration fees for vehicles that have no relationship to the costs attendant to registration — these are plain and simply “taxes” that would ordinarily require the vote of the People as mandated by the Constitution.
Taxpayers and other concerned citizens want less spending, less deficits, lower taxes, and a more efficient use of such taxes — something besides an increase in bureaucracy.
It is interesting to note that the proposed amendments (60 and 61) were ballot questions initiated by the people and not by governmental interests. The Colorado Legislature did not refer such questions to the people for their input and authorization.
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At a time when both the federal government and the state of Colorado are insolvent by definition, with that condition being attributable to the irresponsible extravagance or incompetency of our elected officials, would it not be prudent for there to be enacted a cap or brake on their ability to tax ad nausea (Amendment 60), especially when there is an extant recession?
Would it not also be prudent to expunge altogether the ability of the state (not its political subdivisions) to borrow its way out of the dilemma that it fomented only to increase the debt service for future generations to inherit (Amendment 61)?
Proposition 101 and amendments 60 and 61 are needed, owing to the lack of transparency and candidness that plagues government at all levels. They are needed owing to the slight-of-hand tactics, semantic spin and shell games that governmental lawyers devise to enhance the agenda of elected representatives and not that of the people.
If these amendments come to pass, all would not be lost for the legion of governmental agencies, lobbyists and bureaucracies, since they still could circumvent the will of the people through the passage of a myriad of rules, regulations, ordinances and obfuscations that not only obscure the meaning of such amendments, but effectually nullify those constitutional mandates enacted by the people themselves.
Witness the constitutional amendment with regard to medical marijuana (Art. XVIII, Sec. 14), and the recent legislative acts by the state, the counties (Eagle for one) and municipalities (Vail for one) that all but expunge the constitutional will of the people.
If you believe that prosperity and inventiveness is the offspring of higher taxes, a greater debt burden and misappropriation in general, then Marshall’s axiom is but a fantasy, and that America’s economy is stable, solvent and prospering.
However, if you believe in the good will of the American people to create and prosper from their endemic work ethic, then these amendments would go far to engender a renewed trust in this republic.
In summation, if you trust the compromised will and integrity of your representatives, then by all means vote “no” on these amendments; if you subscribe to the rule of law and the principles of a constitutional republic, then it would be no mean thing to finally recognize the ultimate authority of the people by casting an affirmative vote come November.