New year's resolutions for the Legislature
by Linn and Ari Armstrong
Unfortunately, if legislators articulated their New Year's resolutions, some of them would go like this: "Pander to special-interest groups," "Tax the disorganized masses in order to reward the politically powerful," "Talk about freedom while increasing state power," and "Figure out how to spin my opponent's record so that I can win votes without having to debate the real issues."
If most legislators were not allergic to principles of liberty, we would suggest resolutions such as the following: dramatically reduce the level of state spending so that individuals can decide how to spend the money they earn, repeal the property-rights violation known as the smoking ban, and eliminate corporate welfare.
But we know that such "radical," "extreme" positions would never gain a hearing in the modern Capitol, where the only "principle" is that no principles are allowed. Therefore, we will offer a set of milder resolutions that even this year's legislature might consider.
1. Help restore freedom in medicine. Even though decades of political controls have wreaked havoc with health care in America, many of today's "reformers" call for even more political controls. Legislators should resist such demands. To address the problems in health care, legislators should not raise taxes, impose more controls on doctors or insurance companies, or force people to buy politically-approved insurance. Such measures will only make matters worse.
Instead, the legislature should do what it can to restore liberty in medicine, so that doctors, insurance companies, and patients can interact voluntarily to find solutions that work. The state imposes a variety of mandates that force up insurance costs; the legislature should repeal those. However, many of the most important reforms, such as fixing the tax distortions that drive up costs, must be made at the federal level. While the Colorado legislature cannot fix federal problems, at least it can resist "reforms" that would make those problems worse. It could also pass a resolution calling for the repeal of national controls.
To learn more about the causes of modern problems in health care, and how those problems can be solved, read "Moral Health Care vs. 'Universal Health Care'," by Coloradans Lin Zinser and Paul Hsieh, MD, available at TheObjectiveStandard.com.
2. Fight the expansion of the Nanny State. For now, we seem to be stuck with the rights-violating smoking ban. But at least the Democrats have mostly shied away from trying to push more controls on peaceable, law-abiding gun owners. We know that some Democrats sincerely want to put the screws to honest gun owners, but they are holding back for political reasons. Whatever their reasons, we hope that the Democratic leadership continues to resist the siren song of the victim-disarmament lobby.
It looks like some Democrats might actually try to roll back the Nanny State where alcohol laws are concerned. In Colorado, we still can't legally purchase alcoholic beverages at liquor stores on Sundays, which is ridiculous. Nor can grocery stores sell anything other than 3.2 beer. We call on the legislature to repeal those restrictions. Consumers and sellers have a right to conduct business on terms to which they agree, rather than terms forced on them by politicians.
3. Keep tax spending under control. The left is great at talking "on message," and already we are hearing calls to "fix" the state's Constitution. State Senator Bernie Buescher has joined this crowd, according to The Denver Post. Yet, as Douglas Bruce told the Post, "This is all a big smoke screen to go after the [Taxpayer's Bill of Rights] amendment... The way they want to fix the TABOR amendment is the way a veterinarian would fix your pet. They want to neuter it." This despite the fact that we're still paying for the multi-billion dollar net tax increase of Referendum C.
The problem, says the Post, is a set of "provisions limiting taxes and mandating spending." We're all for repealing provisions that mandate spending, such as Amendment 23, which automatically increases the flow of tax dollars to government-run schools. The only reason that the spending limits are a problem is that politicians can't get enough of other people's money. The lesson that politicians constantly forget is that people are able to spend their own money wisely, thank you very much. At least for most of the state's budget, political spending forcibly takes money from some people in order to give the money to others.
We also suggest a broader resolution: protect individual rights. We have the right to control our own bodies and property, so long as we don't interfere with the equal rights of others. We have the right to spend our income as we see fit. The sole legitimate purpose of government is to protect individual rights. With every vote, legislators should think about whether they are about to violate or protect individual rights.
Even legislators have been known to do the right thing.