Saturday, June 12, 2010

Atlas Shagged: Colorado Springs Is What Happens When Rich Twits Refuse To Pay Taxes

By Manifesto Joe

The city of Colorado Springs, Colo., has become a microcosm of what happens when those in the community who are prospering are unwilling to pay the taxes needed to fund basic government services.

I visited C.S. way back in 1984, and was blown away by what a beautiful place it was. There were gorgeous plants and flowers everywhere. You could see Pike's Peak through some residents' kitchen windows. There were mild days and cool nights even in August. And, most of all, one was taken by how pristine everything always looked. "This is Heaven!" one resident, a former Texan, told me unabashedly.

But, one other thing I noticed: I had never seen so many extreme right-wingers congregated in one place in my whole life. And, mind you, I'm an almost lifelong Texan.

It was Religious Right Heaven. It was also NORAD ex-military Heaven. When we went to the "hipper" part of the urban area, a place just next door called Manitou Springs, a seemingly cool-looking bookstore had a display case featuring the complete works of Ayn Rand, fiction and nonfiction. (I'm still trying to figure out how one tells those apart.) This place had every kind of extreme right-winger, variously theistic to atheistic, on full display. Even at a sort of dude ranch where we went to see a popular local show combining a traditional chuck-wagon meal and Western music, somebody shoved a right-wing screed in your hands while you ate your ranch beans and got ready to hear the greatest hits of the Sons of the Pioneers. ("Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds ...")

I was absolutely blown away by the physical beauty of the place, the Garden of the Gods, the Cheyenne Mountains ... you name it. But it occurred to me -- this is a place that votes for Reagan something like 4-to-1, or more. The local daily newspaper, the only one competing with the Denver-based papers, was a place where you practically had to pass a Libertarian ideology test to go to work as a journalist there.

Now we know what happens to a place when the locals become pathologically anti-tax. It's a lot like what happened, more gradually, to the state of California in the decades that have followed the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978. That place, once the envy of the other 49 states, has become such a hellhole that hardly anybody wants to be the governor. There's not enough money for basic things. I call it "Atlas Shagged."

Courtesy of Truthout, here's an exclusive video of what's happening in this once-pristine city. Last fall a proposed property tax increase was rejected by a margin of almost 2-to-1, and now they can't even afford adequate police protection in this fast-growing city. It's reported that two-thirds of the streetlights are idle, like, out. A merchant was murdered at a place where a city streetlight was nonfunctional.

I went to C.S. 26 years ago as a tourist. I wonder what effect all this is going to have on their tourist trade?

Spread 'em, Atlas.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.


Jack Jodell said...

Right-wing nirvana or heaven for self-centered, economic and social conservatives = pure hell for all other normal, sane people. Colorado Springs (and, in some ways California) is the personnification of conservative failure.

Manifesto Joe said...

Hi, Jack: So sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. Mine passed away last June 6, so I can very much relate.

Marc McDonald said...

Good article. Another city that has fallen into the toilet is Las Vegas. In fact, the state of Nevada (another haven for libertarians) is in the toilet these days. Statewide unemployment is 13.7 percent (of course, the real jobless rate is much higher). Some 65 percent of all homes in the state have mortgages that are underwater. Read more here. I think the crisis in Nevada is just a taster for what is in store for the whole nation, as we descend deeper into the Second Great Depression.

Redneck Liberal said...

Not so much a comment as a howdy sir! Dig yer blog from, if I may presume, a like-mind.
Keep on!

Anonymous said...

Yep, if these pinheads tried to buy a house the way that they want to maintain the public commonwealth, they would make the downpayment, then refuse to pay another dime, and then start buying their food on credit cards they don't pay off.

Anonymous said...

What an absolutely perfect demonstration of Rand's "philosophy". The "haves" love to talk about "going Galt" and withdrawing from society. But what they are too myopic to realize is that they are incapable of providing themselves with the services that they are dependent upon.

In a community of wealthy industrialists, who is going to repair the sewers and harvest the corn? On the flip side of the coin, a community bereft of wealthy industrialists will probably fare just fine.

John Coby said...

How awful! I lived in CS for two years in 85-86. It was absolutely PERFECT!!!

We decided to stick our heads up our ass and move back to Texas. Go figure.

Now it is just as bad? Wow. Sad.

Anonymous said...

Too true, Joe.
I've been a Colorado Springs resident since '97. I'm a liberal living smack dab in the middle of the conservative part of town, just a stone's throw from Focus On The Family's world HQ. I shudder twice a day during my commute to and from Denver, as I pass New Life Church.
I voted for the tax increase last fall, primarily to keep our police force fully funded along with other infrastructure needs and was saddened when it failed. But the Tea Baggers were the driving voice of opposition. Their nonsensical rants about Socialism and "taking America back," whatever that means, put the fear of God into our voting populace (re: elderly, ex-military, scared of hippies and Mexicans, Caucasian retirees).
What kills me is that most of our politicians are conservatives. Why would they ask for money if we didn't really need it?
Now, the same people who railed against the proposition are complaining because the grass in the parks is dying (no $$ for running the sprinklers), we had practically no snow plow money for the big spring storms, and our roads are literally falling apart for lack of maintenance.
It takes money for all that, lame-os. Tax money.

Liutgard of Luxeuil said...

My brother lived in CS for several years, and finally moved teh family out to Palmer a couple of years ago. He also says that the Springs has gone downhill significantly, and he blames it on the fundies. Why spend money on public needs when Christ's return is imminent? His office used to be on the side side of the building that overlooked the Focus on the Family HQ, which he calls the Hellmouth. ;-) He's on the other corner now and like it much better.

And about Vegas- a friend of mine just moved back to the Bay Area from Vegas because his kid was going to be entering kindergarten soon and Vegas schools are crap. My sister lives in Vegas still and she'd leave if she could but there's custodial issues with the kids. Her ex just bought a new car without any visible means of support, and she's worried that he's doing something illegal. Hey, nothing else to do there- there's certainly no legal jobs available.

Anonymous said...

Not sure what's more sad; the fact that you attribute right wing conservatism with the ideologies presented in Atlas Shrugged, or the fact that the city only suffered after the economic downturn resulting from several altruistic choices our country's leaders mistakenly made.

Manifesto Joe said...

Not sure which is more sad -- the fact that you are a ridiculous fool or the fact that you are semiliterate.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Rapture from Bioshock 1 and 2 before the fall. Wonder if there's splicers and Big Daddies fighting over what's left there by now?


liberal momma said...

I have been in Colorado Springs since early '86 and there is no way around it-our city is a MESS. And many of the city areas that have been hardest hit by defunding hit those of lesser financial means hardest of all-several of our city facilities, for example, that offer swimming, are closed so if you don't have money for a private swim facility or access to one, you are SOL if you want to take a swim. And the city pools that ARE open are privately funded for the moment and it remains to be seen if that will be a viable financial situation for them in the future. Mass transit services, such as they were, are bare bones. Community centers have closed. I could go on and is all SHAMEFUL. Thanks writing about this and for this forum to vent.

Anonymous said...

One thing you Liberals fail to realize is that YOUR party is the one that holds all the power these days. Dems control the House, the Senate and the White House.
The American economy was doing fine until 2006 (when the Dems took control of the Congress).
And yet you Liberal continue to blame the Republicans for everything.
The American people see through your lies and I predict they will punish the Dems in the upcoming Nov. elections.
I'm sure when this happens, you Libs will complain and claim the election was "stolen" (like you did when President Bush defeated Gore in 2000).

Manifesto Joe said...

Anon, your problem is an inability to see more than about 2 or 3 years behind you. We've been watching the current mess for about 30 years. Some people can see that far back. Some can't.