I’m sure you’ve all heard recently of the dismal survey that shows that Americans refuse to consider to pay higher taxes even as they refuse to support cuts in government services. Gee, I wish we had a Transformational President or some visionary state governors who would point out the fact that 1) Americans have historically paid much higher taxes, and 2) that our federal taxes are more regressive than they have been in the past. Instead, we have a President and a Congress who are pantomiming their “seriousness” by suggesting that cuts in WIC and PBS are the solution, and we in Colorado have a “Democratic” governor who released his new budget plan: “Spending on K-12 education would take the biggest hit in state history, colleges would get less money, state employees would see less in their checks and Colorado would close four parks and a prison under a revised budget Gov. John Hickenlooper unveiled Tuesday.”
What, according to Hickenlooper, is the key to our financial crisis? “‘[w]e have to change the culture of the state,’ the governor said. ‘We have to find ways to make the entire culture of the state more pro-business.’”
Well, what about raising the incredibly low, regressive taxes we “enjoy” here in Colorado?
However, Hickenlooper said raising taxes was a non-starter.
“There is still a deep-seated belief out there that in this economy, people don’t want to pay more taxes,” he said.
The biggest change Hickenlooper proposed is a $375 million reduction to public schools from Ritter’s budget, which includes a $257 million reduction in general fund support for education and Hickenlooper’s decision to not backfill a $117 million reduction in local share funding caused by decreases in assessed values.
Those decisions would result in a $332 million net reduction over funding for K-12 in the current year, or $497 less per kid.
Yeah: what a brilliant “pro-business” plan this is! Absolutely everyone wants to move their businesses to a state that’s cutting education! It’s so easy to get your employees to see the advantages for their children of attending schools with huge class sizes and no “extras” like music, art, sports, or anything that’s not covered on the Colorado Student Annual Progress (CSAP) tests. And if they love that, they’ll love the nonexistent state support for universities here! (And guess what? Republicans here are lauding the governor’s “seriousness,” while Democrats are treating Hick’s budget like a flaming bag of poo left on their doorstep.)
We get the politicians we deserve. The fatuousness of these conversations among our elected representatives reflects our own unseriousness as citizens. We expect to enjoy quality schools, universities, parks, roads, hospitals, medical care, emergency services, low-income assistance, prisons, public transportation, and all other services without paying taxes. We’ve been living off of the crumbling infrastructure Americans invested in fifty years ago and more, expecting that nothing would change and that no further investment was required.
It would be terrific if a new Franklin Roosevelt would spring up and get himself elected and treat the dire state of American public services, education, and infrastructure like the threat of Nazi domination, and revive the Fireside (YouTube? Facebook? Twitter?) Chat to convince a majority of Americans of the need to pitch in and reinvest in our nation. But until a working plurality of us citizens make up our minds to do this, he doesn’t have a chance in hell of getting elected County Commissioner on a platform of raising taxes.
What a noble ideal: Representation without Taxation! Depend upon it: our era in American history will be notable for the smallness of its leaders, but that’s the fault of the rest of us. They represent us perfectly.