Common sense and government donâ€™t often collide in the same sentence unless itâ€™s in reference to the profound lack one will find during even a cursory search. The latest budgetary woes to emerge in Colorado, the inevitable absurd solution and the resulting uproar even amongst the politicians who voted for it made ripples in The Denver Post at the end of last week.
It seems in the midst of a recession so severe, itâ€™s triggered disturbing divisiveness in the popular rhetoric. The Centennial State hasnâ€™t exactly been a model for pragmatism; then again, neither have the American people, much less the Colorado residents.
The Joint Budget Committee, comprising three members each of equally incompetent Republicans and Democrats, came up with a â€œcompromiseâ€ budget deal that may result in the layoffs of up to 500 people.
Now I know the Keynesians among us will grind their teeth at my naivetÃ©. However, government should be the first to lay off employees in a recession, not the last. Politicians at all levels pretend as if everything will always return to the way it was before, and inevitably, end up making things worse than they would be with advanced and pragmatic planning.
Yet there is little pragmatism to be found in government and politics these days â€“â€“ take the state of Colorado in this case. The governorâ€™s office is upset about a budget compromise proposal that would require laying off some personnel working in prisons.
Obviously itâ€™s not a great idea to start cutting into the number of guards you have punching the clock as they control the convicted criminals of the middle and lower class â€“â€“ upper class criminals go to swanky â€œinstitutionsâ€ for the most part â€“â€“ but thereâ€™s no discussion of what the governor can do himself to alleviate funding issues.
I blame much of this on the baby boomers. Despite their delightful turn as contrarian rebels in the late â€˜60s and early â€˜70s, the boomers have somehow managed to avoid throwing off the moronic-funds vacuum known as the War on Drugs.
If Gov. Hickenlooper wants to put an immediate dent in the funding issues with a pragmatic solution, he would pardon all non-violent drug offenders serving time tomorrow and have the legislature move to put identical taxes on marijuana as alcohol and tobacco currently provide. Between the combined forces of Colorado State and Colorado Universitiesâ€™ faculties and students, we could fund higher education for a decade with one epic party at Ramâ€™s Pointe.
The chances of this happening are roughly the same as me winning the Bolder Boulder Menâ€™s Elite division in any given year.
How does this happen?
The self-titled Greatest Generation came out of the war high on the buzz of having knocked off another tyrant and brought into existence the Baby Boomers â€“â€“ a group, who despite developing righteous, titanic distrust in government after being lied into the Vietnam War â€“â€“ have embraced the concepts of statism and nationalism, while in many cases wholly abandoning parenting.
The religious rightâ€™s baby boomers are to blame for Rick Santorumâ€™s rise in the polls â€“â€“ as unjustifiable an act of intolerance as Iâ€™ve witnessed in politics. This is a man running on a platform of intolerance, and they have embraced him as if he were an emissary from Christ.
Why are we, the younger generation, content to let a generation of people who have not been responsible for great things act as if they know anything, much less the best solutions?
Gov. Hickenlooper, itâ€™s time to embrace your understanding of business and tough decisions and go against the federal governmentâ€™s drug war and your legislatureâ€™s petty, political, pedantic preposterousness if you want to start solving budget issues. You have every right to pardon every prisoner presently in prison for non-violent drug crimes and to overtly support the petition to decriminalize marijuana â€“â€“ a recreational drug with medicinal benefits that has done far less harm to society than the very alcohol you used to brew your way to the top of the stateâ€™s political offices.
You lack the political courage, we know, but stop blaming the legislature for extreme actions in a dull and painful recession when the last places anyone looks for innovative thinking is legislatures.
Time to man up, Hick. Unburden the system and save money in innovative ways. The younger voters of the state will ensure your reelection if you step up.
S. Jacob Stern wishes the baby boomers would remember their roots. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.