Thursday, November 03, 2005

Pro-tax Republicans

First, Democrat governor Mark Warner of Virginia, who can only serve one term under the Commonwealth's constitution, rolled the Republican-controlled Assembly to enact a big tax hike.

Now, Colorado Republican governor Bill Owens puts paid to any notion that he would be a good Republican nominee for President by supporting suspension of Colorado's model Taxpayers Bill of Rights that tied increases in government spending to population growth and inflation. Colorado voters passed a referendum that suspends TaBOR for the next five years. John Andrews, former president of the Colorado Senate, explains why:

[T]o repeat, the people spoke. They're OK with all that money moving from their pockets into an unreformed bureaucracy that keeps on running school systems and road systems, prison systems and medical welfare systems in a 19th- or, at best, a mid-20th-century manner. A lot of them apparently just want to be taken care of, and never mind the details. At public forums during the campaign I was struck by the dependency mentality of so many people who showed up. "Have you no vision of community?" one woman scolded.

Her question sent me back to Robert Nisbet's classic 1953 book, "The Quest for Community." Nisbet contrasted the more American sense of community, "a political and economic context within which the spontaneous associations of men are the primary sources of freedom and order," with the more European approach "that seeks to enmesh the individual in a custodial network of detailed rules for his security and society's stability."

The Taxpayer's Bill of Rights put teeth in Coloradans' realization that the relentless expansion of this law-driven, tax-fed "custodial network" must be restrained, if we are to protect the "spontaneous associations" required for human flourishing and true community. The referendum now weakening those fiscal restraints is another symptom of our country veering the other way, Europe's way--and that should concern us.

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