Small towns gamble on economy 
as politicians let jobs go bust

I read that the town of De Beque is thinking about asking the citizens to sanction small-stakes gambling as a way to increase revenues.

On the one hand, I think I can say with some degree of certainty that not many folks have gone broke investing in businesses that allow people to make bad financial decisions while they’re drinking. On the other hand, it’s not great to be in a place where a lot of people are hung over and realizing they made some bad financial decisions.

However, if you think you’ve got a really good Elvis imitation, this could be your chance.

The reality of the situation is it would be nice to be able to have an industry in a small town that didn’t involve a bunch of difficult trade-offs, but in the small towns across the Western Slope that’s the kind of choices that have to be made, due to high unemployment and a lack of business.

Ranching is a tough trade at any time, but given the economic conditions, it’s hard to pull together much of a living unless you are diversified in a couple of areas of production. Even then you’re taking quite a chance with volatile markets.

Over the last 20 years, more and more people trying to make a living off small ranches have had to have one of the breadwinners in the home take some kind of steady employment outside of agriculture. Given the size of the towns we’re discussing, this often means some windshield time driving to larger population centers for work. I have relatives in the De Beque area and that’s their story, as it is many of their neighbors.

Gee, wouldn’t it be great if there were some kind of industry that people could work at close to home, between De Beque and Parachute?

Wait, there is one: the oil and gas industry. What a shame a few people in the wrong positions are trying to make that into a memory rather than a future.

I think about the little towns in an area that have the opportunity to benefit from the extraction industries. They are usually filled up with people who work 12-hour days, most days of the week, and are lucky at the end of the year to do a little better than breaking even on their farms and ranches.

They like where they live, but in many cases they would enjoy the opportunity to do a little better and perhaps afford a truck new enough to have an FM radio.

Luckily, activists of one sort or another work tirelessly to keep folks like this from having the difficult job of having a choice in employment. For instance, we’re embroiled in endless discussions about harmful fracking, despite the fact that governmental studies have failed to find a single instance of the practice harming the water supply.

It’s not just a campaign against extraction technology in the state the last four years; it seems to be a general feeling that jobs don’t matter. as the state Legislature and governor have chased high-paying fabrication jobs associated with the firearms industry out of the state.

This week Breitbart news reported that Colorado’s new, pointless and intrusive gun laws have taken the state out of contention for expansion by FGI Companies, which includes manufacturers such as Remington, Marlin and DPMS, among others.

I wish some of these folks who are so opposed to one type of industry or another could come up with something for people to do that might make them a good living. I recognize pounding out form letters to various regulatory bodies may be fulfilling for them, but it’s hard to actually make a living out of it.

The truth is, politicians on both sides of the aisle talk a lot about jobs but are really interested in votes. As long as some can get those votes in one part of the state by sacrificing jobs or the opportunity to have jobs in another part of the state, well, I guess some of the little towns will just have to roll the dice.

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


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