Vail Daily letter: Fear-based governance |

Vail Daily letter: Fear-based governance

In her recent letter to the editor, Suzie Shepard pointed out the disparity between the agenda of governmental personnel and that of the general public of the town of Eagle regarding the implementation of an Interstate 70 interchange east of Eagle, as she put it, “the wrong side of town.”

For the past five years, Eagle residents have voiced their objections to an east interchange for cogent reasons, such as: It does nothing to alleviate the traffic congestion on Eby Creek Road and U.S. 6; it subserves only those interests of one private and out-of-state developer; it would curtail future development of an interchange where it is needed most, that being west of Eagle near the existing population centers and airport; and it diminishes the small-town character and personality of Eagle itself by redefining sylvan hay meadows into a “blighted urban area” for the purpose of procuring more quasi-governmental debt.

The governmental proponents to which Shepard alluded have utilized various fear-inducing arguments to rationalize their agenda, such as: Without the Eagle River Station project and its attendant interchange, Eagle will not prosper; without the mega-development and the “windfall” of sales tax revenues derived therefrom, Eagle could not maintain its infrastructure and public services; without the project, Eagle’s lifestyle will suffer, and so on; and finally, without the project, there would be rampant unemployment for want of available construction jobs.

Doesn’t this remind one of the federal rationale and fear tactics that gave us the TARP bailout of selected financial institutions, the intrusion into the free market and bailout of selected automobile manufacturers via the messaging and spinning of bankruptcy laws, and the massive foreign-aid packages dealt to our avowed antagonists under the guise of fighting terrorism or the drug war or just simply fighting in Afghanistan or some other “stan” around the globe?

On a more local and state level, we have seen taxpayers’ funds used and governmental agencies or support groups promoting such fear tactics to defeat legitimate and well-reasoned amendments to our state constitution – Amendments 60 and 61 or Proposition 101 to modify certain statutory provisions in order to curtail the subterfuge of hidden taxes under the guise of fees of various sorts. And in this, we have heard that our school systems will degenerate with the limitations placed upon governmental taxation and borrowing policies, that there will be rampant unemployment in Colorado owing to the curtailment of future infrastructure improvements, or that governmental “efficiency” would be diminished if elected or appointed officials first had to seek voter approval on pet projects.

Merely because of imperial endorsements from governmental agencies, support groups or other camp followers on issues that confront us all, that fact should not sway us from our logical and rational perceptions of an issue.

When governments at all levels stoop to emotionally persuasive techniques such as confusion, obfuscation, evasion or fear to have their way, one should be especially chary of the self-interests that come into play. I, for one, would rather hear about the whys concerning an issue rather than the fears emanating from one side. Like why is an east interchange in Eagle a good thing? Why is bailing out GM, Goldman Sacks, AIG, etc., better for the middle-class business venue or the resulting employment? Why is unconstrained taxing or borrowing on the part of governmental representatives and appointees better for the taxpayers? Why do the endowments for our avowed enemies somehow constitute a fight against terrorism?

Fear without a reasonable explanation or a plan to ameliorate that emotion is nonproductive and eventually leads to ruin. Support for the east Eagle interchange, TARP, ill-advised foreign aid and opposition to Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 seem to have one common genesis – fear!

Fredric Butler

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