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.