San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Monday, December 7, 2015

Politico-Eco Insanity In Colorado

I opened my Denver Post over the weekend to be treated to a story about insanity among the career politicians who rule over Colorado in regards to their idiotic eco-concerns.  The headline informed me that "Recyclers push for state funding" and the sub-headline further expanded the theme by telling me that "Backers see garbage as an opportunity for jobs, profits despite budget crunch."  Let us consider the issue for a bit today.
Joey Bunch, the author of the piece, wrote that, "a group of Colorado political leaders and recyclers want some government help in turning garbage into jobs and profits in an environmentally conscious state with a lousy track record of reusing its waste."  I might as well begin by interpreting that batch of gobbledygook first.  Here is what the first sentence in the article is telling us:
  1. Some career politicians are seeking votes by promoting a program that the state coffers cannot afford but that will buy them career politician status.
  2. Shock of shocks, some Eco-businesses that specialize in the money losing game of recycling want to be granted taxpayer subsidized wealth transfers in order to promote their scam.  They attempt to justify their request by lying to the citizens of the state and telling them that the new subsidies will create "jobs and profits."  What is not explained is that those jobs and profits are created at the expense of existing jobs and profits in the private sector.
  3. Joey believes that at least 51% of the citizens of Colorado are "environmentally conscious," whatever that means, and he can therefore pander to their interests and overrule the will of the minority which is not "environmentally conscious," whatever that means.
  4. Joey is upset that the career politicians who rule over the wishes of the 49% of the citizens of the state who do not want to subsidize money losing Eco-businesses are responsible for the fact that, in his opinion, the state has a "lousy track record of reusing its waste."  How the "state" came to produce "waste" is not described.  How the "state" came to become an owner of the "waste" I produce is not defined.  
A group of rent-seekers from Boulder called "Eco-Cycle" want the state legislature to direct taxpayer funds their way so they can earn profits from a business activity which is presently losing money.  Even a rudimentary understanding of economics would indicate the folly of their request.  Despite the fact Joey believes the majority of the citizens of Colorado want recycling businesses to be profitable, the consumers have already clearly spoken.  If the consumers wanted garbage recycling then garbage recycling would be a profitable business enterprise without government subsidizes.  The fact that they cannot make a profit without a transfer of funds from the taxpayers proves the consumers do not want what they are willing to provide.
Joey goes on to explain the political problem associated with Eco-Cycle's request.  Apparently nobody believes that is is immoral to take money from taxpayers and give it to money losing businesses with government granted monopoly powers.  The issue, from Joey's perspective, is that "the shape of next year's state budget doesn't portend an easy road for state money flowing to local recycling programs.  The state is facing a potential $160 million budget deficit next session, caused by refunds mandated by The Taxpayer's Bill of Rights and slowing revenues."  For those of you who live outside of Colorado, the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, or TABOR, is a citizens initiative that passed several years ago which requires the state to give back money to the taxpayers when state revenues exceed state expenditures.  In recent years state revenues have been high, in a large part due to the oil boom, and the state is required to return some of that money in 2016.
It is fascinating that Joey, who knows better than the rest of us, believes that TABOR is responsible for the anticipated $160 million shortfall in the state budget next year.  It does not even occur to him that career politicians who spend money they do not have in search of votes could be responsible for our present state of affairs.  No, it is always those greedy taxpayers, unwilling to pay their "fair share" no doubt, who are responsible for every fiscal crisis.  The fact that taxpayers want the career politicians who rule over us to follow the law and return some of our money bothers Joey no end. 
One career politician, a Republican no less, stated that "there is no question it is something that needs to be done, but I don't think anything is going to get through the appropriations committee this session."  Why is it that there is "no question" that stealing taxpayer funds to subsidize money losing business enterprises is "something that needs to be done?"  I would really like an answer to that question but, of course, I will never get one.  How can a Republican, who ostensibly believes in a balanced budget, promote a unnecessary and useless program that will exceed spending limits?  How can any state legislator, given the fact the Colorado Constitution requires a balanced budget, ever even consider spending money it does not have on money losing environmental business activities?  The answer to all of these questions is easy...politicians do what is in their best interest, whether it is legal or not.
So I find myself, a citizen of Colorado who wants my money back as TABOR requires and who opposes all state sponsored subsidies of money losing businesses, on the dirty end of the stick.  If these subsidies do not pass this year, they will probably pass next year.  As one of those who pays a significant portion of the state of Colorado's total income tax bill I end up being the loser.  But nobody cares about me because I am in the minority when it comes to paying taxes.  The minority exists to be fleeced to finance boondoggles with politically connected businesses and that is exactly what is going to happen.  It is all political insanity, but that does not matter.  It is all environmental insanity, but that does not matter either.  All that matters is that career politicians retain their jobs and the people who vote for them get their fair share of the stolen funds. 


  1. Mad Welshman wrote: "The minority exists to be fleeced to finance boondoggles with politically connected businesses and that is exactly what is going to happen."

    Economist Howard E. Kershner expressed the same idea in 1965:
    “When government forgets its responsibility and begins to seize the wealth of some of its citizens for distribution to others, this process will go on until the last bone of the last taxpayer is picked bare.”

    1. Mr. Motes:
      Thank you for your comment. I too am a reader of The Freeman but I don't go back as far as you do. I was unfamiliar with Kershner so I looked him up and could find very little about him.
      Your quote reminded me of an even older economist who wrote, “But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.” (Bastiat)

  2. I don't actually go back that far myself -- but my search engines do! I believe I was reading through Lawrence Reed's series on the Roman Republic at The Freeman online when I came across a reference to Kershner's First Law. So of course I had to search the Internet to find out what his Second Law is, and it makes a profound point that warrants extended discussion by a talented essayist like you (if you don't mine my saying so):

    Kershner’s First Law
    “When a self-governing people confer upon their government the power to take from some and give to others, the process will not stop until the last bone of the last taxpayer is picked bare.”

    Kershner’s Second Law
    “Throughout history periods of sound money have been marked by moral advance and prosperity. Conversely, periods of unsound money have been accompanied by moral decline.”

    The Freeman has six articles by Kershner in its online archives:

    I also found a few Kershner quotes on sites that collect quotations:
    "The world has been carried forward on the shoulders of a few of our ablest and most constructive men." - Howard E. Kershner
    How sad that today's foremost impulse is to hurl the worst of abuses on our ablest and most constructive men, both past and present.

    Speaking of The Freeman's online archives, I enjoyed reading some of the essays in Reed's Real Heroes series:

    I particularly appreciated his articles on Cato the Younger and William Gladstone, and I think you may like them, too:

    Some time back, you announced a retirement from blogging, and I was so sorry to read it. I took a chance that you might have changed your mind and visited your site again this week. THANK YOU for continuing to blog. Writing is sometimes a discouraging endeavor, especially for a long-form essayist in a world dominated by tweeters, but I believe you have important things to say and, equally important, the literary skills required to express your ideas effectively. In real life, I am a nonfiction editor, so I hope you will take my compliments as something more than mere flattery.

    1. Mr. Motes:
      You are either a very good liar or an excellent judge of writing ability. I will assume the latter. Thank you very much for your kind words, I do appreciate them.
      I will check out the links to some of your favorite articles. I subscribe to the magazine version of the Freeman and have not spent much time poking around the archival writings. They look most interesting.
      I will also take your suggestion and post something about Kershner's First and Second Laws before the end of the year. Thanks for the tip.

    2. Thank you, Mad Welshman. My mother wouldn't let us kids even use the word lie, much less tell one, and I claim without false humility that I am an excellent judge of writing ability. I enjoy your site very much.

      I am pleased to have introduced you to Kershner and to learn that his work interests you. I had never heard of him myself before this week, and I have been trying to find more about him online. As you have already seen, there isn't much info available. Because you may be writing an article, I will share the background information I have found so far with you.

      I found Kershner's First Law in the Reed article in The Freeman. I found his first and second laws at (quotations only, no commentary). I googled the text of Kershner's Second Law and found only two results: the jpatton.bellevue page and a comment on a zerohedge post that quoted both laws from the page. Googling "Howard E. Kershner" "Second Law" produced only 9 results, all useless. So unless an article is buried in a book or old magazine that Google cannot find, it looks like you may be the first person to write about Kershner's Second Law (certainly the first person in the Internet age). Cool!

      His obituary, with informative biographical detail, was published by the NYT in 1990:

      Kershner, who studied economics at Harvard, was the editor of the periodical Christian Economics, published by the Christian Freedom Foundation. The CFF was anonymously funded by J Howard Pew, who hired Kershner following a consultation with Norman Vincent Peale. Their work is well described in a chapter by Lee Haddigan reprinted online in 2010 by the Mises Institute:

      I'll copy one Haddigan paragraph because it explains Kershner's philosophical foundation for Christian Economics, by which you may be able to judge his views against your own:
      "Kershner wrote the editorials for Christian Economics, and had an initial writing staff of two economists, George Koether and Percy E. Greaves, who received instruction from Ludwig von Mises in the correct economic principles to explain to ministers. In an early editorial of September 1951, Kershner set forth a general libertarian position that government should be limited to the basic requirements of: maintaining domestic order, restraining and punishing fraud, providing for the common defense, conducting international relations, and insuring the public health. And, for the next twenty years, Kershner and a succession of staff and guest writers (including von Mises, Hayek, Haake, and Roepke) consistently defended that laissez-faire position in relation to the eternal principles contained in the Bible."

      Sounds like just what America needs. Considering the luminaries associated with this journal, I don't understand why it is not better known today.

      Merry Christmas to you and Mrs. Mad!

    3. Mr. Motes:
      Your last comment did not show up on the MW post above but it did show up in the email box connected to the blog. I don't know why that is as the technology associated with this blog is one of the mysteries of the universe to me. I will respond to you here.
      I had checked out the Christian Freedom Foundation enough to learn a bit of its history as well as to learn that it is now defunct.
      The connection to the Mises Institute makes me think that Kershner was sort of a precursor to the Institute for Christian Economics and the theonomist movement founded by Rushdoony. I didn’t see any connection, other than Mises, between them however.
      Merry Christmas to you and yours as well Mr. Motes.