My heart goes out to all the people displaced by the wildfires in Colorado. There is a lot of suffering and we should do what we can to help. I'm sure the federal government will help out also.
But there is one lesson people might take from this disaster, if they are willing to open their eyes to see.
Colorado Springs has been called the capital of the anti-tax movement:
Colorado Springs, which depends on sales tax for about half of its revenue, was hit harder than most. The city -- the birthplace 20 years ago of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which later passed statewide and has been pushed around the country to restrict government spending -- became a high-profile example of cost-cutting. The law restricts government spending to the previous year’s revenue, adjusted only for population growth and inflation.Bloomberg
The city, home of the evangelical Christian group Focus on the Family, is known for being conservative and libertarian. It “was the Tea Party before the Tea Party was cool,”
So when tax revenue fell during the Lesser Depression, citizens refused to raise taxes, allowing massive cuts instead. Police and firefighters were cut. Even the street lamps were turned off.
The city where the Waldo Canyon fire destroyed 346 homes and forced more than 34,000 residents to evacuate turned off one-third of its streetlights two years ago, halted park maintenance and cut services to close a $28 million budget gap after sales-tax revenue plummeted and voters rejected a property-tax increase.Bloomberg
The municipality, at 416,000 the state’s second-largest, auctioned both its police helicopters and shrank public-safety ranks through attrition by about 8 percent; it has 50 fewer police and 39 fewer firefighters than five years ago. More than 180 National Guard troops have been mobilized to secure the city after the state’s most destructive fire. At least 32 evacuated homes were burglarized and dozens of evacuees’ cars were broken into, said Police Chief Pete Carey.
“It has impacted the response,” said Karin White, a 54- year-old accountant, who returned home June 28 to a looted and vandalized house, with a treasured, century-old family heirloom smashed.
“They did above and beyond what they could do with the resources they had,” she said. “If there were more officers, there could have been more manpower in the evacuated areas.”
They did not want to pay for basic services. Now they are paying for that choice. Taxes are the price of civilization and you get what you pay for.