by Jaye Sudar
Entitlement is not only the right to something by law, but also the belief that one deserves a reward or benefit. Our democratic system has led us to believe that we are entitled to certain things. For example, the Bill of Rights is one document that spells out rights and privileges. The mindset that goes with democracy can make people jump to certain conclusions. What needs to be understood is that most people have the right to certain things only because they pay for them.
As a resident of Huerfano County, I often take it for granted that the scenery, clean air, low cost of living and generally low stress life are there as a right. Also, I feel that education, decent roads, police, local government and clean water are a right. I don′t need to participate to enjoy these services; they are simply there. Right?
Wrong! I′m not entitled to these things because I choose to live here, but because they are paid for by our taxes. Without taxes, our city, county, state and country would not work. Real estate property taxes pay for much of our infrastructure. Schools, the county, the city and our public library all receive operating money from these taxes.
For example, on a house worth $50,000, one pays approximately $320 in taxes. Out of that money, $16 goes to the library. $125 goes to our school district and 40 cents goes to the county road and bridges fund. Not a lot of money in the greater scheme of things. Just think, for the average home owner, most of us spend more on a candy bar than we do to pay for the yearly upkeep of our roads. We spend more on one fast food meal for the family than we give the library for a year. We spend more on one week’s groceries than the school district receives for a year.
When Tabor and Gallagher amendments became law, it looked like a good thing. What could be better than asking the people what should be taxed? What harm could be done by taming the government′s desire to raise or institute taxes. However, after years of watching communities and school districts struggle with ′De-Brucing′–the term used to avoid Tabor– one realizes that those two amendments have strangled government and contributed to the crisis we are dealing with now.
New propositions like Proposition 101 will do more damage to an already compromised system. Some people feel that not voting is the way to go, because their vote “doesn′t count.” Once again, Wrong! People not voting and therefore not voicing their opinion has gotten us in this situation. We are not entitled to safe streets, good water, good schools or much of what we take for granted. These are rights earned by paying taxes, voting and participating in our community.
Voting for Proposition 101 is the equivalent of nuking Colorado back to the 1800′s. Not voting at all is a decision too, and one that may lead to the same result. People complain about local government now. Imagine what it would be like if there were no money for any government entity or for the schools.
Huerfano County is in one of the most poverty stricken zones in the state as it is. If this proposition passes, it won′t get better. Nor will moving to Denver or Pueblo help.
Government works because people participate and it is funded by our taxes.