Local elites want tax funds 
spent on arts, entertainment

It doesn’t often happen, but occasionally one is presented with the situation where one is actually able to feel the definition of a word. This happened to me this week while reading an editorial comment in this newspaper and I was able to feel the meaning of the word “dumbfounded,” a word that means astounded or confused, much akin to Mesa County’s accounting group — Startled, Stunned and Surprised.

I felt this after reading a comment that the present Grand Junction City Council was not inclined to fund nonessential projects. Pretty much the entire recent council agenda has been a nonessential project. I thought about this for a minute and realized there may be some who believe many of these recently funded projects or studies of projects are essential. At this point I then experienced the word “flabbergasted.”

The triggering comment was made in the context of whether or not the conjoined government entities involved in the Orchard Mesa pool will continue to fund the endeavor. These include Mesa County, the city of Grand Junction and School District 51. Even though the facility is located at the base of my former adversary, Orchard Mesa Middle School, the home of the Knights, (as a former Bookcliff Mustang, I played football and basketball at that then-unfriendly location) the pool is a well-used facility and one of the few family recreation areas on Orchard Mesa.

So if I understand it correctly, $3 million for the Avalon (which is just a start) and a zipline across the river are essential expenditures but a pool facility enjoyed by regular folks, not so much. This is an interesting example of well-heeled pressure groups getting their way and the average guy getting something else.

Sure, there’s nothing like putting on one’s top hat and toddling down to the Avalon to enjoy an evening of Buddhist throat yodeling with the other 37 attendees and then, a swap of clothing to Guatemalan hair ties and a serious weekend movie on how fracking threatens backyard composting.

Great to have a facility for that, but an effort by the same elites arguing for an upgrade to the fairgrounds monster truck area seems a little slow to develop.

The great historian and Hoover Institute Fellow at Stanford, Victor Davis Hanson, refers to this as Liberal Apartheid.

He describes it as two groups, “On one side, there are ... those with enough capital to easily afford the higher taxes and higher costs of fuel, power, and food that are the inevitable wages of their own boutique ideology. On the other side, there are the apparent losers and clingers who are out of work, who pay over $4 a gallon for gas for their silly used Dodge Ram trucks, and who stupidly splurge by turning their air conditioners on for an hour or two a day.”

This second group might be the same sort of people who are interested in having their children learn to swim and enjoy a day at the pool out of the heat, as opposed to taking in a bit of throat yodeling or anti-fracking visuals.

The funny thing about the choice of expenditures is that the money used by government most often comes from this second group of people and not the first. Cities generally survive off sales tax revenue, which is not a graduated system like income tax. Elites are, by their nature, not interested in things that the majority of the folks are inclined to experience every day, so they have interests and priorities for public money that are more often entertainment-oriented than things like redoing the now busy road by the railroad tracks that runs to Walmart and the discount furniture store.

There is seldom an aristocratic constituency available for trash trucks or potholes and certainly little interest in addressing the creation of trails someone might ride an ATV or motorcycle upon.

Such is the elite impulse toward the gentrification of tax dollars. It’s a small step that maybe we could have just have a little throat yodeling in the background at the pool, and I promise to oppose any fracking in the deep end.

Rick Wagner writes more about politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.


COMMENTS

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Mr. Wagner’s exaggerated opinions are mildly entertaining but not enlightening. I’d suggest he write us a piece explaining how the mantra in favor of the private market applies to a public subsidy for neighborhood children whose parents didn’t have the gumption to provide pools for their children. Or perhaps an analysis of the economic development payback of Las Colonias Park versus the OM pool.

In his world, it’s always elites who seem to be to blame when the poor get the short end of policies enacted by conservative administrations.

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