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February 02, 2010

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Actually, there's another thing they could do (and I'm sure they're seriously mulling it over as I write this):

Sell off all essential services to KBR, Lockheed, Blackwater, Fluor, Booz Allen, etc....

Sell off all essential services to KBR, Lockheed, Blackwater, Fluor, Booz Allen, etc....

Except, they don't so much as sell services to those entities, as buy them. After all, KBR doesn't pay municipalities to pick up trash. They charge municipalities.

And with what money would they buy the services from those private entities?

I wonder if McMegan is planning to move to this new libertarian paradise?

Eric, I think you're going to end up looking pretty foolish in a few years when Colorado Springs — freed from the shackles of government schools, roads, policing, garbage collection, and clean water — becomes a verdant wonderland, a crystalline city in the sky, the capital of a new Atlantis which will bring enlightenment to the world.

Though it's possible it'll become a crumbling hellhole inhabited only by those without the means to escape and the criminals who prey on them. Should that occur it will be the fault of Big Government Liberals and their Clean Water Fascism.

(IIRC, in Galt's Gulch required the Desu ex Machina of a perpetual motion machine built on Objectivist (non-relativistic, non-quantum) physics. It's tempting to suggest that almost any social or economic structure would succeed if it had access to infinite, non-polluting, free power.)

I worked in Colorado Springs for 6 years. Unless you've lived there, it is difficult to grasp the strangeness of its politics. I recall several protracted city council meetings that discussed if it is a good idea (or even legal) to prevent citizens from carrying loaded firearms into council chambers.

Some foolproof methods to get the local economy humming once again in Colorado Springs:

Put up many small, cheap signs saying:
"If you do not have a job, do not let
the sun set on you within our city limits."

Pass a law:
"No action, civil or criminal, may be taken
by anyone, or on behalf of anyone, injured
or killed while in commission of a felony."

Promote the city as a safe haven from the
coming economic collapse, for those with
enough money to contribute to infrastructure
improvements designed to make the city self-
sufficient, starting with a mini-nuke power
plant. Advertising voice over: Do _you_ know
how far your current residence is from the nearest Underclass riot zone ?

You pays your money, and you takes your choice:
"stand on Zanzibar" or "Oath of Fealty"

MReport,
I can't tell if you're kidding or not. If you are, you need to go a little bit more over the top, the competition from the real thing has become pretty heated these days.

Maybe it's just me, but McArdle seems to be far less of a doctrinaire libertarian than this post suggests. Indeed, her blog regularly discusses issues where, in her words, "government action is necessary in order to make [markets, for example] work properly." Granted that there are some nut cases out there who think taxes at zero (and the total lack of government that would result) would be a good idea. But the lady isn't one of them. Not even close.

Not that it's particularly relevant, but I was just reading a treatise today about how long electricity would likely remain available in the event of a zombie infestation. I'd say zombies are more or less libertarians.

McArdle seems to be far less of a doctrinaire libertarian than this post suggests.

I think that's about right.

IMO McArdle is a free market cultist, which is not exactly the same thing as a libertarian.

I always find it funny how, when cities are low on money and asking for a tax increase, they always make very public cuts to schools, fire, police, etc. It's an obvious ploy to get people to pass the new tax so that the less visible services or benefits can stay untouched.

Good for the people of CS, they didn't fall for it. Now let's see if they actually get off their collective butts & take a long hard look at the city budget, identify what is essential and non-essential, and decide what they want to pay for or not.

It's really amazing how many city services exist that mayors or city councils create that the population is unaware of.

Chris J.

I live in Denver.

Regarding your point, I recall years ago reading a blurb somewhere that Colorado Springs had a very liberal (words fail me) gun carrying policy, but the brave Republicans (who probably suffered from boils on their Christian butts during their college Vietnam days) on the City Council started to notice that some wag of unidentifiable political pursuasion started
showing up in the back row fondling some sort of phallic weapon, and so they amended the law to say that weapons may not be carried in public buildings.

Because if there is anything a cowardly piece of sh*t NRA Republican can't handle, it's a gun pointed in his or her direction.

"More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. ... The city is dumping ... a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled."

So, big pools of darkness along the business district, fewer cops, drop a vice team.

Why, it sounds like an ideal environment for free-market prostitution and drug-dealing to take off! Of course, the only thing hold them back right now are those odious government rules & stuff, but CS seems to have found a way to remove that particular yoke.

Megan McArdle should get herself to CS right away: it's just crying out for her entrepreneurial spirit!

@Madrocketscientist: You shouldn't make idiotic generalizations when you have no clue about the real situation. I grew up in Colo Spgs, and my parents still live there. Voting down that tax increase was really, really stupid. While the schools still have funding (because of the state constitution), basically nothing else does. The city government is basically stopping. In addition to firing a bunch of people directly (city employees) and indirectly (contractors), the bussing cuts have made a bunch of already low-income people unable to get to work. There are a few new roads, but most are crumbling and are generally inadequate for the traffic. There are not enough policemen or firefighters; I believe response times have been increasing. Everything green dies in the Summer. We have what is probably one of the most beautiful parks in the country--The Garden of the Gods--which will probably be trashed by the end of the Summer. Libertarian paradise indeed.

I should also note that the big employers are leaving, because the city can't offer them anything. E.g. Intel recently closed a fab plant. There was also a giant brouhaha wherein we almost lost the Olympic Training Center because they wanted more from the city...

The cuts have made it to wikipedia, so satire seems out. I wonder why noone mentioned yet that Colorado Springs is Evangelical Central. I feel a certain Schadenfreude about how the results will hit some of the less attractive* (from my POV) religious factions infesting the country.

*I have some harsher words in mind here but given the tender disposition of some people that might read this, I will abstain from using them ;-)

Meanwhile, Colorado Springs sucks on the Federal tax t*tty at Fort Carson (lots of new infrastructure going in there) and the United States Air Force Academy.

The good folks in the military down there are training to provide Iraq and Afghanistan with government infrastructure, including lighted streets, even as the lights go out in their hometown.

Touching, really.

I'm not sure either who the Family Research Council thinks is going to surveil and arrest the perpetrators of homosexual behavior lurking in the now darkened streets once the police force staffing levels are decimated.

I expect they are counting on some freebie vigilante action on that one -- there being no shortage of unemployed teabagger types with time on their hands for charitable citizen action.

As many have noted, if the low tax/low service model actually led to growth, Alabama and Mississippi would be the economic dynamos of the coutry, if not the world.

"...some wag of unidentifiable political persuasion started showing up in the back row fondling some sort of phallic weapon, and so they amended the law to say that weapons may not be carried in public buildings."

I read that in another city it was the Black Panthers who inspired the Second Amendment cultists to change their minds about open carry. *grin*

None of this should be too surprising. "I hate government. Cut it to the bare bone," is very popular until people actually start doing it. I expect the Tea Party movement to keep growing in popularity until it starts winning elections and actually implementing its program, at which point it will have to choose between compromises with reality and extinction.

Not much to add (three posts on the subject should be enough -- but thanks for the link.

Tom Levenson

I'm off for Colorado Springs tomorrow on business. I'll put a flashlight in my bag, alongside the Bible.

I expect the Tea Party movement to keep growing in popularity until it starts winning elections and actually implementing its program, at which point it will have to choose between compromises with reality and extinction.

Should the Tea Party movement field candidates, win elections, implement its program, and blow the place up, they will choose neither reality nor extinction.

They will double down.

They'll burn the place down, then they will look for someone to blame the mess on.

And "it's all (insert scapegoat's name here)'s fault" will be their new platform.

Solving problems is not their metier. B*tching and self-pity is.

"And "it's all (insert scapegoat's name here)'s fault" will be their new platform"

HMMMM, as in, "it's all Bushes fault"? Thats never been done before.

"I'm not sure either who the Family Research Council thinks is going to surveil and arrest the perpetrators of homosexual behavior lurking in the now darkened streets once the police force staffing levels are decimated."

I'm sure Ted Haggard would be willing to patrol earnestly and deal roughly with any such miscreants.

Megan McArdle writes a whole lot of stupid stuff. Here's one teardown of a fairly typical specimen. She's in her mid-30s but has the cultural literacy of a 13 year old who didn't pay any attention and the self-awareness of a fruit fly.

Another example of her wisdom:

The FDA is notoriously risk averse when it comes to new drugs, a legacy of events like the Thalidomide horrors, when pointless foot-dragging on the approval accidentally protected American mothers from limbless babies.

I don't know where to start with that.

Unfortunately, the rejection of the two ballot measures last fall means that the city will be crippled for the foreseeable future. Given the way the State and City TABOR (tax payer's bill of rights) works, even if the economy picks back up tomorrow, there will be no benefit to city services. Although certainly not the only thing to suffer, watching the once very good park system go down the tubes is particularly rough. Grass that goes unwatered now will need to be replaced entirely in the future. Playground equipment will be removed rather than repaired. Good luck finding a restroom.

It's pretty sad to see a city choose to remain second rate, if not devolve into third world. I live in Colorado Springs, relatively young, and currently unemployed. Most of the jobs I've applied to have been in Denver. If I were to be offered a job locally, I would consider it temporary as there is no longer much reason to live here anymore.

kumasama:

I live up in Everett, WA, a city of about 100K+. I'm pretty active in my community and I sit on the Neighborhood Council, which is an advisory body to the Mayor & the City Council (in short, the Mayor and Council don't have to do what we tell them, but they do have to report to us on city matters, and they do have to listen to us). Everett is hurting just as bad as other cities out there revenue-wise, but ya know what, the budget is balanced, and the city is nearly debt-free. How do they do this? Simple, when the economy started to slide, they didn't sit on their hands or ignore the problem, they started negotiating for cheaper benefits with the city employees, and they started to offer 3/4-time schedules, early retirements, and a hiring freeze. They also put certain projects on hold (there is a Riverfront development happening a short ways away that is just collecting dust right now).

Certain services got cut or reduced, but not a single primary service did. We still have our libraries, and schools. We have all our cops and firefighters. All the street lights are shining, and the parks are still tended, and no one raised any fees or taxes. We even have expanded bus services.

It can be done, and towns & cities all over the country manage to do it just fine. The city government of CS made a bunch of poor, expensive decisions, and now they want the people to cough up cash to cover their assess.

From what it sounds like, the city government is targeting the primary services it has to provide in order to get the population to panic, instead of cutting the secondary & tertiary services.

I could be wrong, they might have sold off unnecessary assets, furloughed or retired extraneous employees, offered reduced hours & benefits to the ones they keep, delayed all non-critical projects, and shut down non-critical services, and they are truly down to the brass tacks. If that is the case, then I am truly impressed with their resolve, and curious as to how they let it get so bad.

HMMMM, as in, "it's all Bushes fault"? Thats never been done before.

Right Marty. As if the Dems aren't busy blaming each other. Have you not seen the health care debates?

But Bush deserves all the blame that he deserves. For everything that he did in fact do. And there's a long list. That's not scapegoating, that's just reality. Ignore it at our collective peril.

"That's not scapegoating"

It is when everything is anyone's fault.

It is when everything is anyone's fault.

Whose position are you describing here, Marty?

HMMMM, as in, "it's all Bushes fault"? Thats never been done before.

The difference here is that the list of things that are, in fact, Bush's fault runs to many, many pages.

I don't really have a big problem with folks who are, plainly and simply, conservative. I really don't. I disagree with them on a lot of points, but I'm fine with them.

George W Bush sucked. He was a crap President, just like he was crap at every other damned thing he did in his life.

And when I say "he sucked" and "he was crap", I'm talking well beyond the scope of mere incompetence.

Bush was a blight. He profoundly damaged the nation.

It's true, everything isn't Bush's fault. Just more things than any other American public figure I can personally think of.

"Whose position are you describing here, Marty?"

The quote was in Erics 10:36

The quote was in Erics 10:36

No, it most definitely is not. Nowhere in that quote do I say that it is all Bush's fault. I'm not even sure what "all" means.

What I actually said is that Bush deserves blame for all that is his fault, and there is a long list. As Russell pointed out, this guy was a bad, bad president. As such, his bad decisions and policies have left some stuff to clean up.

That's reality.

Marty, that misrepresentation of Eric's comments is disappointing, to say the least - *especially* since the pseudocon echo-chamber is STILL blaming Carter & Clinton (and now Obama) for everything from Lady Gaga to the sinking of the Lusitania.

But for Reagan & the Bushes, it's "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" all the way - while the anvil chorus of pundits sing LALALALAICAN'THEARYOULALALALALA....

So tell me, Marty: are you actually here for the discussion/debate? Or do you just need some lib'rals to poke at?

or Again, in response to the specific question I was asked, was the quote:

"That's not scapegoating"

Was in Erics 10:36. And it is scapegoating. Because, despite your minimal caveats, Bush is the excuse for everything from the Dems side. The facts of things like Congressional control and, in many cases, Congressional complicity remain largely hidden in the "B*tching and self-pity" by the Dems.

My only objection here is the implication by Russell that this mode of politics was limited to Republicans.

My only objection here is the implication by Russell that this mode of politics was limited to Republicans.

You may have inferred that, Marty, but I don't see how russell implied it.

Marty, you weren't asked about the quote. You were asked about the strawman you created and beat up on. You were asked who you were arguing with because no one holds that ridiculous positions.

Nobody, and I mean N-O-B-O-D-Y, is arguing that "everything" is Bush's fault. I mean, what is "everything" anyway?

And it is scapegoating. Because, despite your minimal caveats, Bush is the excuse for everything from the Dems side

No. Simply not true. Not even remotely true. There are a million issues we face today, and issues that are being addressed, that are not Bush's fault and nobody said they were, let alone all Democrats:

Climate change, health care, out of control defense spending, DADT, gay marriage, crumbling infrastructure, etc.

Bush is responsible for the following: One complete clusterf*ck of a war of choice that is costing us dearly. Neglect of a second war that was far more justified, the result of which is hurting our efforts presently. Taking a surplus and blowing it sky high with an unfunded entitlement program (Med D) and massive, unpaid for tax cuts. He is also responsible for taking a chainsaw to our Constitution. And a general gutting of the regulatory apparatus that will have ripple effects in many areas (say cheese New Orleans!).

But that sure as hell ain't everything. Not by a long shot. And no one ever said it was. HSH asked you whose position you were arguing with.

Instead of owning up to the infeasibility of your caricature, you put words in my mouth. You are usually far more reasonable and fair minded. This was beneath you.

HSH,

I think it is pretty clear, will be glad to be corrected.

Eric,

I think I did what you do often, so I will engage in your response, find me a quote from anyone in the Democratic leadership that doessn't point the finger at Bush for pretty much all of our current problems. Since I was speccific to blaming Democrats.

Every quote seems to start with "the last eight years" that, of course, now is the last decade. In the context of the discussion I don't find my objection to the characterization as being one sided lacking any fair mindedness(?). They ran a Presidential campaign against a guy who wasn't even running.

Taking a surplus and blowing it sky high

The decline in receipts pre-dated any Bush tax cuts; it's probably fair to say the dotcom crash would have resulted in deficits, even with no war, and even with no tax cuts.

Receipts that had been climbing by over a $150b a year only increased by only $6b in 2001. Some of that was due to dotcom crash; some of it was due to shock from 9/11.

"Expensive war" stands well all by itself, though.

My only objection here is the implication by Russell that this mode of politics was limited to Republicans.

I wasn't even talking about Republicans. I was talking about the Tea Bag movement.

IMO the tea bag folks aren't really motivated by constructive ideas for policy. They are motivated by their resentment of people who they think are taking their way of life away.

Their analysis of how and why that is playing out is, as far as I can tell, divorced from reality.

For example, I'll paraphrase a tea bagger's comment from a piece in a recent New Yorker:

"They're taking our hard earned money and using it to pay for social programs in coastal cities".

First, for "coastal" I think we can read "California and the northeast", as opposed to, for example, "Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina".

Second, in 2005 CA got 78 cents back for every federal dollar of tax revenue they paid, and (frex) NY got 79 cents. The state of Kentucky, where these particular folks lived, got $1.51 for every dollar they paid.

So, they owe me money.

Net/net, these people are just pissed off, and they make sh*t up to explain why they're pissed off.

I'm pissed off, too, but I feel obliged to temper my own personal sense of outrage by the actual facts on the ground.

And that's the difference between me, and tea baggers.

If the tea baggers actually manage to field candidates, get them elected, and implement their policies, their policies will fail, because they are rooted in resentful, ignorant falsehoods.

Were they to get that far and then be confronted by the failure of their "policies", I don't think they'd respond by adjusting their point of view.

They'd just blame it on somebody else.

I give the Republicans credit for actually having something like policy in mind, I just don't think the policies are very good ones.

I think I did what you do often, so I will engage in your response, find me a quote from anyone in the Democratic leadership that doessn't point the finger at Bush for pretty much all of our current problems.

What does this mean? You want me to find one quote by any Dem leader that doesn't say Bush is to blame for all our problems? Seriously? There are millions. Literally. You can't be serious.

Marty: They ran a Presidential campaign against a guy who wasn't even running.

Bush 2000? ("Restore honor and dignity to the White House")

Marty, would you mind giving us a quick list of what we are allowed to blame Bush for? I mean, I understand that he was only President for an uneventful 8 of the last 9 years, and therefore had a minimal impact on US politics, the economy, and foreign relations. So the list should be a short one, and won't take up much of your time.

They ran a Presidential campaign against a guy who wasn't even running.

Al Gore didn't run? He was in the White House, and privy to what was happening.

But now we've swapped places, and it's Democrats that are worried about access that foreign governments might have to our political processes.

To everything, there is a season.

Can someone explain to Marty the difference between "blaming" and "scapegoating," because he seems to be confused.

Apparently they did it again in 2004.

which clearly referred to Bill Clinton's infidelity

Among other things, yes. To Frank Bruni, they might mean only Clinton's infidelity, but not to me.

So, Slart, what undignified and dishonorable things do you attribute to Gore during his time as VP (while in the White House)?

I think I've gone over this, hsh, but certainly he was party to and aware of much that Clinton was doing, and definitely he was party to fundraising from Chinese nationals.

Which predated what I like to call an involuntary technology transfer to the Chinese government in 1998 or so. Could have been a coincidence.

Thanks elm I was confused. Sorry russell I must have misread your comment.


Marty, no worries.

Hartmut:

"The cuts have made it to wikipedia, so satire seems out. I wonder why noone mentioned yet that Colorado Springs is Evangelical Central. I feel a certain Schadenfreude about how the results will hit some of the less attractive* (from my POV) religious factions infesting the country."

I feel sorry for the children, and those who are not white, right-wing Evangelicals. The rest, IMHO, deserve to drink deep from the cup that they spent years forcing on us.

News all over the globe about our beautiful city, located in the shadow of Pikes peak. The city council spent big bucks to keep the USOC in town. The property tax we voted down was going to TRIPLE; now the council is punishing the most vulnerable: kids, seniors, people trying to get to jobs at restaurants, retail stores, Ft Carson and colleges; etc. In my lifetime I have never seen drastic cuts like this. Hopefully, we will have good, honest, smart people to vote for in the next city election.It is really depressing to see the city so dark; what is really odd, you hardly ever hear anything on our local TV news stations, about our dilemma.Maybe, the "powers that be," need to hang a sign at the city limits, "closed for lack of interest." So sad to see such a beautiful city go to waste.

Which predated what I like to call an involuntary technology transfer to the Chinese government in 1998 or so.
Interestingly enough where Slartibartfast's attempt to place all blame for China stealing nuclear secrets is concerned, in 1995, documents turned over by a Chinese defector detailed a multitude of thefts that took place during the Reagan and Bush administrations. The loss of the secret of the miniaturized W-88 nuclear warhead to China, for example, can't be blamed on Clinton because China successfully tested one of those before Clinton was elected.

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