Candy or coal in taxpayers’ stockings?

At Christmas, it’s traditional to decide who’s going to fiºnd candy canes in their stockings and who’s going to find lumps of coal. This year, citizens and taxpayers are likely to find both.

The sweet pieces involve the results of the November national election, as responsible citizens were at least able to barricade the remains of economic viability and personal freedom from the 111th Congress and its monomaniacal gnawing at the Constitution.

Conservatives also received another large lollipop in the form of an enormous shift in the makeup of state legislatures and governors’ offices from Democrat to Republican in this important year of redistricting.

This will become even more important as the results of the 2010 census will mandate reshuffling of congressional seats in 18 states, the lion’s share going to states that voted for John McCain in 2008, away from states that voted for Barack Obama.

Colorado, unfortunately, is a recipient of a large piece of the bituminous product due to the election of spending cavalier, former mayor of Denver and soon-to-be-Gov. John Hickenlooper.

To his credit, Hickenlooper has sent out some expeditions to the west to probe the boundary lines of the state — apparently hoping to trade some brightly colored beads to the natives for water and severance tax revenue. These probes into enemy territory have also reportedly been utilized as impromptu job interviews by cast-off politicians and rejected candidates, hoping to snare some kind of government job or position.

The governor-elect’s office, however, has been strangely quiet on many fronts as it and the Legislature confront an alarming budget shortfall of around $1 billion in the 2011 to 2012 budget. Much of this shortfall is the result of the rum-soaked-sailor spending policies of the Legislature over the last five years.

Managing this budget, and the choices made about what tax and regulatory schemes will stimulate economic growth or crush it, is circumscribed by frightening examples in other states.

The most obvious example of fiscal disaster and the governing head being completely detached from the producing body is California. The brilliant author and historian, Victor Davis Hanson, recently wrote of his examination of Southern California, not as an economist or historian but simply as an observer.

He noted there seemed to be two Californias. In one, large cities were obsessed with questionable environmental concerns, wealth redistribution and crushing business regulation, thereby stifling business and causing productive citizens to flee the state. The second California exhibits the result of these policies: disappearance of the state’s traditional backbone of farming and vineyards, junk-strewn properties, unrepaired roadways leading to ramshackle Third World style encampments that are ignored by elites obsessed with illusory global interests.

Hanson describes much of the state as “feral.”

This results in a situation where, he said, “California has a consumer market surely, but often no apparent source of income.” This sad state of affairs is able to temporarily exist, to some extent, on the $40 million per day in unemployment benefits the state is “borrowing” from the federal government.

The state of Colorado is also upside down with its unemployment payments and borrowing millions of dollars from the federal government.This will have the undoubted result that unemployment insurance for Colorado employers will rise noticeably in the coming year.

Nothing encourages job growth like continuous, incremental increases in the cost of hiring and keeping employees.

The examples of budget failure are ominous and various levels of government have spent rainy day funds long ago.

In the end, the best gift Colorado taxpayers may receive this Christmas will be a more conservative Legislature and an engaged and watchful electorate.

Rick Wagner offers more thoughts on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.


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