Colorado Springs: Christian Libertarian Paradise

It’s hard to imagine a city more conservative than Colorado Springs. This is the home of Focus on the Family, Pastor Ted Haggard’s New Life Church, and (at least for the time being) the John Jay Institute. You don’t get more right-wing than Colorado Springs.

Naturally these folks don’t like taxes, even voting down a proposed tax increase to fund city services last year. And as expected, the city has made severe cuts to services like trash pick-up in parks, bus service, police protection, even deactivated nearly 9,000 city streetlights. Private groups have ponied up money to keep fountains running in some parks:

So a local swim club has taken over some of the pools. Volunteers pick up trash in parks. Some — meaning those who can afford it — pay extra to turn on the streetlights in front of their own houses.

The Springs, as locals call it, is a city in transition, a grand experiment in what might happen if a government really does hold the line on taxes — as some citizens demand — and starts curtailing services. No one knows what will result as government shrinks and citizens take up the slack.

Will wealthy neighborhoods thrive, while poor areas decline further? Will crime rise as cops go missing? Will charity transform Colorado Springs into a libertarian paradise?

Or will it be a colossal flop?

I think I know the answer. It seems to me we’ve been down this road before, many times. It seems to me that Americans are really, really bad at remembering their history. Will charity transform Colorado Springs into a libertarian paradise? Charity has never, ever been able to shoulder the burden of providing public services, not equitably and not over the long haul. For hundreds of years charity was supposed to do this and there’s a damn good reason we stopped relying on charity: it didn’t work. There’s not enough. It ends up being inequitable. Wealthy neighborhoods get the goodies, poor neighborhoods do not.

Wealthy people don’t bear the brunt of these cuts, the poor do:

“I was working up north in a little diner, and I had to quit because of the bus,” said Joseph Williams, 18, while waiting for a Mountain Metro last week.

Added fellow passenger Rashad Lindon, 20: “There are times I have to work late, and I have to put $20 in people’s gas tanks to get around. It’s a pain — from having to pay $1.75, to paying $35 for a taxi, or getting somebody to pick me up.”

Next, safety may become a concern. The city fire department is down 20 firefighters this year; the police department has 42 fewer cops on the streets. For both fire and police, there are no classes of recruits in training, which is unusual.

“In the last year and a half, we went from being a proactive, problem-solving to a reactive police department, to where we only go when we are called,” said Pete Tomitsch, president of the Colorado Springs Police Protective Association.

“There is a lot of frustration within the department. There is a whole slew of calls we don’t respond to that a year and a half ago we did.”

In Libertarian Paradise, the wealthy always do well. Getting around town is never a problem because you own a car, and insurance, and mobility opens you to opportunity. The wealthy can hire private security companies to patrol their gated communities. They don’t need to go to the public swimming pool because they have private swimming pools, either at the country club or in their backyard. They can pay to have the streetlights turned on Privilege Drive whereas someone on Unfortunate Avenue cannot. Relying on charity creates Separate and very, very Unequal:

Not every neighborhood in the city, though, is streetlight- stingy. Nor is every median brown, or each park without trash cans.

So far, about 900 lights have been “adopted” by Colorado Springs residents — a fee was paid, and the light was turned back on.

In some cases, services can be restored through volunteer labor. Residents adopted more than 100 trash cans in parks by agreeing to empty them.

But which parks and which community centers will stay active? That depends on where individuals or groups are willing to step up. And private enterprise means higher fees.

Three public pools formerly run by the city are now operated by Colorado Springs Swim School, a private swim club that agreed to take on a five-year contract. Rates have gone up. Family admission at Wilson Ranch pool, for example, has vaulted from $10.50 to $20.

The swim club’s efforts are surely community-minded.

“We just couldn’t let it happen,” said Tina Dessart, the owner of the swim school. “Our focus has been learn to swim for a long, long time. When pools shut down, drownings increase.”

But the escalating costs for residents, along with other aspects of the budget cutting, are unfair, said City Councilwoman Jan Martin, who grew up in Colorado Springs.

“These medians and parks that are being adopted are in wealthy neighborhoods,” she said. “We are seeing the creation of a community of haves and have nots.”

Nobody could have anticipated that!


Filed under Libertarians, taxes

18 responses to “Colorado Springs: Christian Libertarian Paradise

  1. >We are seeing the creation of a community of haves and have nots.Isn't that the definition of a libertarian paradise?

  2. >I'm surprised Rand "Medicare for Me" Paul doesn't live there.

  3. Jim

    >Sounds like democracy in action. The voters voted on the tax and decided against it. Do you have a problem with the voters deciding how much they are willing to pay in taxes?

  4. >Democracy in action, ah yes. So is this.Let's see how long it takes for Colorado Springs to decide maybe taxation is better than having to pick up trash in the city park yourself.

  5. Jim

    >Hey if the citizens are not happy with the result of lessened services, then they can choose to vote for higher taxes and increased services similar to the story you cited. Again, I don't see a big deal here, I see the American system working.Apparently for you, anything not handled by the government is a bad thing?

  6. >This is exactly what "libertarians" want. They have theirs.This also explains why there are few lower-income and minority "libertarians".

  7. >Jim:We get it, really. You're self sufficient and everybody else should be, too. Let me know when you've finished paying for the street that runs from your house to your business, the grocery store, the hospital, your church and all of the other places that you like to go, using the taxpayers' dime. You're an ass.

  8. >Jim likes for each generation of Americans to learn how that voting thing works all over again, from scratch, like nobody's ever gone down that road before. Hey, that seems fair, right? Come the snows, when the city shuts down this winter and the snowplows aren't funded…hey, the weather is really unpredictable around November 2nd, I believe. Might be nice, but could be snowed in. That should make for some interesting stories.When I visit there, any time of year is frankly creepy. It's a beautiful place, but you overhear folks proselytizing in the coffee shops and get God-be-praised out the wazoo.

  9. >I can't believe Ted has his church back. I was laughing so hard.

  10. >Come the snows, when the city shuts down this winter and the snowplows aren't funded…hey, the weather is really unpredictable around November 2nd, I believe.Oh, my. I never thought of that!

  11. Jim

    >Well I assume the actual citizens of Colorado Springs would be best at deciding what level of government they want for themselves. Apparently that is not acceptable to anyone else here. Obviously the people of Colorado Springs are too dumb to know what they want and should be forced to support and pay for services regardless of what the general public votes for.

  12. >" Obviously the people of Colorado Springs are too dumb to know what they want and should be forced to support and pay for services regardless of what the general public votes for."After 8 years if Bushit you can still say that with a straight face?democommie

  13. Jim

    >Demo – I am not sure what your point was with the question. Bush was president and expanded the federal government. Federal government is not real good at addressing the specific desires and needs of localities. That is one main reason I am for limited federal government and for leaving as much decision making as possible at the local level. Local politicians are much more accountable to their constituients than the federal politicians.

  14. >Jim:Really, you don't think that the fact that Bush was president for eight years–eight years in which massive public debt, wholesale gutting of economic and financial safeguard rules and social programs were de riguer doesn't speak to the fact that about 50% of the U.S. voters had their heads up their asses. Oh, wait, you voted for him? sorry, my bad.Considering the fact that Colorado Springs is KKKristian AmeriKKKa meets self-indulgent crystal gazer central, things will work out just fine, I'm sure. BTW, with allathem churches and guns why do they even need cops?

  15. JB

    >"wholesale gutting of economic and financial safeguard rules"Which ones?

  16. >JB:You can read, obviously, there's plenty of information out there.

  17. JB

    >Demmo,I have looked and despite the talking point "8 years of Bush deregulation" I have not been able to identify specifically this deregulation. Since you brought up the point, I figured you could easily point to some of the "gutting of economic and financial safeguard rules." that you refer to."President Bush deserves most of the blame for this regulatory expansion. While the president does not have to sign new rules before they're implemented, he does implicitly approve them. In addition, he signed hundreds of laws commanding federal agencies to produce new regulations. One is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which established new or enhanced standards for all publicly held companies and accounting firms in the United States. Another is the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law, which imposed new restrictions on campaign spending and prohibited unregulated contributions ("soft money") to national political parties.The Bush team has spent more taxpayer money on issuing and enforcing regulations than any previous administration in U.S. history. Between fiscal year 2001 and fiscal year 2009, outlays on regulatory activities, adjusted for inflation, increased from $26.4 billion to an estimated $42.7 billion, or 62 percent. By contrast, President Clinton increased real spending on regulatory activities by 31 percent, from $20.1 billion in 1993 to $26.4 billion in 2001." the WSJ article from Reason: Bush's deregulation was so pervasive and sweeping, wouldn't there be some specifc law or laws he signed that coudl be easily cited?

  18. >"Obviously the people of Colorado Springs are too dumb to know what they want and should be forced to support and pay for services regardless of what the general public votes for." – JimAs a resident of Colorado Springs, I can say that yes, they are too dumb. Many people didn't even fully understand what the (small) tax increase was about, what it would cover, and how it would work. All they knew was that it was a tax increase, period. Or else they claimed that they weren't 'giving' more money to the current local government because of all the 'bad' things they did with it, despite the mayor being re-elected mostly by the people that bitch about him the most. Now crime in the city is exploding. There have been about 4 or 5 murders *this past week and a half alone*, store robberies are steadily increasing, and home invasions have increased 100% in 2009 alone. So because the people here were allowed to vote down a small tax increase that would keep things running as they had been, they vote it down and now the rest of us have to handle the consequences. It's ridiculous! This town used to be pretty boring in regard to the news, but it's constantly hopping now.And to answer this: "Do you have a problem with the voters deciding how much they are willing to pay in taxes?"Yes, I do, very much. Because now my family has to deal with the consequences. And it sucks! Not to mention how incredibly annoying it is now that the same people who voted down the increase are bitching about the problems they created!