The wages of growth 

The latest "executive fax" from the Greater Colorado Springs Economic Development Corporation, designed to inform "leaders" in the area, tells those in charge what those not in charge already know: A nickel's worth of wages will get you a penny in the Pikes Peak region.

National consultant Ross Boyle's report to the EDC shows that six industry sectors provide 79 percent of all Colorado Springs-area wages and salaries -- service (29 percent), manufacturing (13 percent), military (12 percent), retail trade (10 percent), local government (8 percent) and construction (7 percent). And according to the report, Springs-area workers earn less than their counterparts in all 12 comparable benchmark communities (including Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Reno, Raleigh-Durham, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, Spokane, Seattle, Dallas and Denver) if they work in retail trade. Springs workers earn less than 10 of the 12 in services; earn less than nine of the 12 if they work in manufacturing and construction; and earn less than eight of the 12 if they work in local government. Military personnel fare better, earning the highest average wage, but that figure is skewed by the disproportionate number of field-grade officers located in the Springs.

But all is not doom and gloom. The EDC goes on to report that Springs-area private-sector wages per worker have been growing at a 3.7 percent average annual rate in the '90s, with the fastest growth occurring in the finance and insurance sector. Not that any of those retail-trade folks can afford to buy insurance or invest money, but what the hey... it's the price we pay for a growing economy.

News from the Libertarian Party of El Paso County's second annual awards banquet lists these two disparate achievements on a list of glowing accolades to Chairman John Bernston, who was honored with the party's highest award last Saturday: "He has been interviewed as a guest on Chuck Baker's radio program and by the Independent, a Colorado Springs newspaper which printed a five-page article afterwards that covered a wide range of issues ("Liberty and Less Government For All," July 1, 1999 Independent)." Rarely is our name spoken in the same sentence as Baker's, except as the target on one of his afternoon broadcasts. Third parties make strange bedfellows of pols and media alike, it seems, as can be witnessed by the list of potential presidential candidates now being touted by Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura's Reform Party. Donald Trump, Ventura himself, Pat Buchanan, Liddie Dole, -- the possible pairing of running mates boggles the mind.

This just in from Culture Watch, a nationally distributed bibliography on culture, art and political affairs: According to the August Focus on the Family magazine, Dr. James Dobson's syndicated newspaper column, "Ask Dr. Dobson," now appears in 550 newspapers throughout North America -- making him third behind "Ann Landers" and "Dear Abby." Kind of makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over, doesn't it?

You gotta love Ralph Nader. The guy never gives up. His Washington lobbying group, Public Citizen, is already on the national bandwagon, drumming up support for the newest version of the McCain-Feingold Bill which will be reintroduced in the upcoming federal legislative session.

Nader speculates only eight votes are needed in the Senate to pass the most significant campaign-finance-reform legislation of the century, a bill that will ban "soft money" contributions to political candidates. Currently, corporations and millionaires get around rules that limit contributions made directly to individual candidates by giving money instead to the parties, supposedly for "party-building activities."

In reality, that money is dispersed to individual campaigns, and thus, favors are bought. In 1998, over $193 million in soft money was contributed by special interests to both political parties, and among the top donors were Philip Morris and RJR Tobacco ($2.5 million); insurance companies ($7.3 million); securities and investment firms ($8.5 million); and oil and gas industries ($5 million). Nader asks: Why did Republican leaders try to secretly give tobacco a $50 billion tax break and then stop attempts to pass national tobacco-control legislation protecting young people? Why did Congress not pass health-care-insurance reforms? Why is Congress discussing giving your Social Security dollars to private investors to manage -- for a fee?

Nader believes voters at large are fed up with the special-interest electoral system and urges citizens who want their vote to count to petition their senators now, urging them to vote for the McCain-Feingold Bill in this Congressional session. Colorado Springs voters should send their letters to Sens. Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Wayne Allard, hard sells to say the least.

For more information on the Public Citizen campaign, write them at: 1600 20th St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20009. Call Cambell's local office at 636-9092; Call Allard locally at 634-6071.


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