Government Beggars, Bluffers, and Bullies, and the Truth about Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

They fib about everything. In their endless campaign to get their hands deeper into Coloradans’ pockets, all the government pleaders, the non-profit advocates, the squinting analysts, and the sniffing journalists agree on their biggest enemy. The main target, the bête noir, the great white whale, public sector enemy number one is the Colorado Taxpayers Bill of Rights, the TABOR Amendment.
The taxing crew is forever trying to convince the skeptical public that TABOR, adopted by voters in 1992, has changed Colorado from a bountiful land of milk and honey into a North American colony of Somalia. This post is the first in a Tribe series that will explain why that charge is bogus and the taxers know it’s bogus.
The Moaners’ Litany:
First lets review a few of the descriptions of TABOR from the taxers.
The Denver Post is more measured than most when it says TABOR is “inefficient and ultimately hurtful to our growing state. [snip] TABOR’s powerful check on government spending in reality has been a padlock on the purse-strings. [snip] We are convinced Colorado needs more revenue to fund the quality of life we’ve all come to expect from this great state.”
The Colorado Fiscal Institute laments that TABOR saddles the state with “antiquated tax policy” that produces “painful results.”
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities warns that TABOR is a “formula for decline” that causes “essentially a permanent revenue shortage” that “slowly starves the services on which state residents rely”
And, of course, to protect the children, the National Education Association weighs in to condemn TABOR as
“a proven failure” that is “destroying public services in Colorado.”
Simple Proof They are All Dissembling:
So, are the critics right? Is Colorado withering on the vine? Does state government lack the resources to provide quality modern services? Does its budget put it in the company the bottom 10% or 5% of states? Or closer to the level of a developing nation?
Not at all, any of that. The basic budget fact is that Colorado has about as much money for its population as any other state. Less than some, more than others, and above the national average.
A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation (no libertarian outfit) analyzed the budgets of all 50 states, including general funds, federal funds, and other state funds. The study reports Colorado at $6,320, ranks 23rd in per capita spending, right in the pack and a little above the middle.
It’s a very interesting list, and poses questions about some of the high and low placers. But, importantly, here are a few of the states that spend less per capita than Colorado: 26. Maine–$5,811; 28. Pennsylvania–$5,746; 31. Virginia–$$5,623; 32. Ohio–$$5,609; 33. Washington–$5,598; 34. Michigan$5,364;
As it turns out, California, at $6,420 lands just three spots above our Rocky Mountain home. And if government spending more money is the key to better living, why are so many Californians coming to Colorado? The US average, incidentally, is $5,777, landing between 27 Nebraska and 28 Pennsylvania. Colorado spends 9% more than the national average on each of its residents
The takeaway from these figures is that money, like all resources is finite. We all would like more. Your kid’s baseball team holds fundraisers because it needs more. Your school PTA does too. And the Girl Scouts. Every person, family, institution, and government would like and could use more money.
But, next time of one of Colorado’s public money hungry sob sisters tells you that TABOR is tightening his/her corset, don’t give in to guilt. Don’t let them off the hook without demanding better information. Smile and ask, why are you such a poor budgeter? Why do you need 9% more than Virginia for decent schools? Why do you need 9% more than Washington for decent roads? Why do you need 8% more than Kansas to provide health and human services?
The answers should be enlightening.
To be continued…

President Trump’s Strange Medicine for Healthcare

The prospects are looking dimmer for the Senate to adopt a repeal of Obamacare. Lawmakers are returning from a two week recess under pressure to take up the House-passed ACHA. Congressional leaders have praised the bill but public response has been mixed. Conservatives complain the measure leaves too much of Obamacare’s structure in place, while liberals complain it removes critical safeguards for the poor and vulnerable.

President Trump waded into the controversy with a cryptic tweet: “I suggest that we add more dollars to Healthcare and make it the best anywhere. ObamaCare is dead – the Republicans will do much better!” This is puzzling. America spends more per capita on healthcare than any other nation. A study by the Commonwealth Fund reports:

The U.S. spent more per person on health care than 12 other high-income nations in 2013, while seeing the lowest life expectancy and some of the worst health outcomes among this group, according to a Commonwealth Fund report out today. The analysis shows that in the U.S., which spent an average of $9,086 per person annually, life expectancy was 78.8 years. Switzerland, the second-highest-spending country, spent $6,325 per person and had a life expectancy of 82.9 years. Mortality rates for cancer were among the lowest in the U.S., but rates of chronic conditions, obesity, and infant mortality were higher than those abroad.
Whichever direction healthcare policy goes, it is not a reasonable premise that the system needs more dollars. If conservatives win the day and push delivery of health more toward a market system, it is hoped that will create competitive forces and efficiency that reduce medical costs, not increase them. Conversely, if liberals gain power and increase government administration of health care, it should be with an intent to allocate efficiently and hold costs down. In either case, “lets spend more on healthcare” is not a reasonable starting point for the discussion of reform.

It Is All About Control

I hear and read the daily screeching about universal healthcare and free college and endless items to which people believe they are entitled.

Entitled is the correct word here and this is why: be it healthcare or housing or education or anything else there is nothing preventing these folks from forming voluntary associations in order to collectively accomplish these goals among themselves without the use of government what so ever.
There is nothing stopping these people from forming organizations to collectively cover healthcare cost or education cost or housing cost. There is nothing stopping these people from sitting down and writing a check themselves.
However that is not what they want to occur and not what they will do. What they want to have happen is to have government pass laws and create regulations to control the lives of others. If this was not the case they would have formed these voluntary organizations in order to accomplish these goals by now – but they have not.
Hence the only logical conclusion to draw is that it has nothing to do with healthcare or housing or education – it has everything to do with controlling your neighbor and helping yourself to your neighbors stuff.
It is all about control – not helping other humans. If you believe otherwise, no matter how sincerely believe that, you are being conned.
It is all about control.

The House Healthcare Reform

The healthcare reform bill passed by the House yesterday is an improvement on Obamacare – and in some respects a major improvement. I do not consider that a debatable point. It is better than Obamacare.


What is debatable is if it is better enough?


Much in the same way that the argument is made that Trump is better than Hillary the argument that the House version of healthcare reform is better than Obamacare misses the point. Will it / can it solve the problems we have?


Of that I am doubtful. Making it ‘better’ and solving the problem are not the same things. True of Trump and true of healthcare reform.


Claiming Trump is better than Hillary or that GOP healthcare reform is better than Obamacare is a very low bar.


Clearing that low bar does not equate to success.

Laura Hillier Didn’t Have to Die. Single Payer Killed Her With Bad Budgeting and Bad Facility Management.


A beautiful young woman, full of life and only 18, died recently. She didn’t have to. She had a curable form of leukemia. She needed a bone marrow/stem cell transplant. There were abundant compatible donors. All she lacked was the right kind of specialized operating room.

This young woman didn’t lack for health care “coverage.” She was in the hands of the lauded Canadian health care system. Universal coverage promised to all. Except, there was a backlog to get the right kind of room for the needed procedure. There were 30 people booked ahead of her. Laura Hillier deteriorated, suffered, and died while waiting for her elusive appointment with medical rescue.

Her recorded message to the world is haunting. Listen to it embedded in the Toronto Star’s account of her illness and death, and her parents’ campaign to bring change to Canadian health care. According to the the Daily Mail, Laura’s doctors told her there were numerous compatible donors. They just couldn’t quite schedule her yet.

After Laura’s death and her parents’ passionate campaign to draw attention to the senseless problems that caused it

The health ministry approved more than $100 million in spending recently to redirect hundreds of patients who will probably die waiting for transplants in Ontario to hospitals in Cleveland, Buffalo and Detroit. More than 200 cases have been outsourced since September, yet only 19 patients have made it there so far.

As Americans debate the future of our own health care system, it is worth remembering policies and grand designs should be judged based on their results, not on their aspirations, intentions, or paper promises. American facilities in Ohio, New York, and Michigan (Detroit, Michigan!) offer capacity  that the well-intentioned Canadian system cannot.

Maybe America’s system would improve even more if we could get government further out of it and free exchange further into it.