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A matter of life and death

A matter of life and death For over two months, the opponents of Referenda C and D have been given a free ride by much of the media and, not least, the Pro C and D campaign itself.

The Independence Institute's Jon Caldara et al have sent to the marketplace of ideas the most amazing drivel: wild fantasy generalizations like "a forever tax cut," puerile stage props like a Trojan horse, and always the slogan that, tellingly, defines their campaign, "Vote No, It's Our Dough."

It's one thing to cheapen the civic discourse, as these sound bites assuredly do. It's another to imply, as the slogan does, that we voters are so motivated by base self-interest that we will forego reflection and thoughtful analysis of what "Vote No, It's Our Dough" actually implies.

We need to dismantle this canard once and for all. So let us walk carefully through the tests that it fails.

First the reality test, most notably, that of our forebears: When we are confronted with such slogans as "Vote No, It's Our Dough" we will regard it as a matter of honor to imagine our grandparents or parents embracing such an attitude -- and picture for ourselves, as their legacy to us, the cities and state they would have built had that slogan been their guide.

Once the slogan is placed beside the heritage we all have been given, thoughtful voters realize they embrace the opponents' slogan at the cost of their own integrity. Many resent the attempt to lull them into doing so. They quickly realize the opponents' position is nothing but a fraud.

The slogan also fails the tests of reason. It demands a compartmentalized mind. It cries out for people not to think. For a defeat of C and D means that, in addition to the billion already cut, hundreds of millions more will need to be cut, year after year after year.

When do statements cross the line from ideology to irrationality? Let's look at former state Senator John Andrews as he says "higher taxes hurt families." Sounds good, but an absence of higher taxes leads to cuts in the State Patrol, lengthens response times to serious accidents, hurt families even more.

There is a tipping point' where fiscal conservatism depends on taxes -- when slogans and ideology find their limits in reality. It's when you and I say, "Wait a minute."

If we don't deal with the funding that requires taxes, it won't be but a few months down the road that someone's child, hit by a speeding driver on Monument Hill, will be trapped, semi-conscious, in their car -- still with a chance to make it if help arrives in time.

But late into the night, instead of getting to see that child recovering in an emergency room, the parent will become wild with grief. Because no one could get to their child on time. Because the Patrol was short-staffed. Because there were budget cuts that hit essential services.

The ultimate evil that ideology brings will have come true: Beleaguered lawmakers -- at the point when so many cuts had been made, and had still to be made, because Refs C and D had failed -- no longer could keep clear heads as to what qualified as "essential." In essence, by leaving TABOR's destructive elements untouched, the opponents will have persuaded voters of Colorado to make this simple statement: No services, of any kind, are essential anymore.

And long after that parent, at the loss of their treasured child, has become inconsolable, the haunting, taunting sound bites of Jon Caldara will remain hanging in the air:

"They're playing Chicken Little, trying to scare you."

"It's a forever tax increase."

"Vote No, It's Your Dough."

Curtis Bernard Schmidt, Ph.L., S.T.L., Ph.D, is a Denver resident who holds five advanced degrees, including a Licentiate in Philosophy, a Licentiate cum laude in Sacred Theology, and a Doctorate in Psychology. He is the author of the booklet TABOR The Taxpayers' Bill of Responsibilities.

  • A matter of life and death

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