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Colorado in the News

seeing it clear....

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, November 18, 2009.

Ted Haggard is back in the news committing religion again. He says he still has homosexual thoughts, which is a major violation of the faith he preaches. Perhaps it’s the liquor, but maybe this is because he is gay? Seems simple enough. But drawing the correct conclusion from the obvious isn’t always that easy as several stories in the news demonstrate. From a parent using and then hiding behind his children after a failed grab for idiot level fame, to huge in-state Ponzi schemes and crooks, to airplane ice falling through a home roof, to visits by the First Family, this should have been a great time for Colorado journalists, had we any left. Because in a decidedly mixed bag of stories, correlations need to be made.

For example, Emory University just finished a study saying that by 2018, the obesity of Colorado’s citizens will cost us $3.2 billion, possibly for the bigger gurneys to wheel our bloated selves into the operating room or, more likely, the morgue. The good news? We’ll be the only state with under 30% obesity. Think about that. All those illegal immigrants will be needed to wheel us around. And, think about how Colorado, with its silent lobby of sugar beet farmers, has played a role in this obvious cause and effect from sugar to obesity and, well, profited.2009 might be the best Colorado sugar beet crop ever. 30,000 acres of beets were planted and while in a normal year farmers lose about 10% to weather or disease, this year less than 1 percent was lost. Farmers expect a 27-28 ton to the acre harvest, up a ton per acre over last year. In 2007, the harvest was worth $28 million to our farmers. Significant in this state’s economy, but not compared to the projected $3.2 billion that obesity, due in large part to over consumption of sugar, will eventually cost us. Of course, it’s corn syrup sweetener that is likely the most guilty party, as its increased use coincides to our national obesity. Does Colorado grow corn as well?

But, this shows how varied are the concerns involving public money, like health care. Sugar beets provide 30% of the world’s sugar and obesity is increasingly fingered as a major health issue. Substituting Splenda for actual sugar may be a great idea and may or may not affect the sugar crop income, since Splenda is made from sugar, but it’s unlikely to be an easy sell among the doughnut and coffee crowd. But, if there is an actual correlation as claimed between our waddling citizens, of whom I am close to being one, and our state deficit, would it be fair or, more ominous, possible, given their numbers, to punitively and financially punish the obese? It may, like limitation of family size, be an issue up for a vote sooner than could be comfortably imagined, like a black president just a few years ago. We’ll have to find out, because it costs everyone to deal with obesity.

There are many states in fiscal peril at the moment, not unlikely to beg for federal help. Mostly, this is their own fault for incompetence or variations of our Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights legislation, called TABOR, which limits our elected officials from doing the main job of elected officials: budgeting funds collected by various taxes for common good. Colorado was recently revealed not to be in the top ten states currently in most fiscal peril. At this announcement, the plantlife of sclerotic reaction at the Independence Institute jumped up and down and said this justified TABOR. Well, no. We’re number eleven. Hoo-rah. We’d rank higher if the Democratic Governor hadn’t recently slashed spending throughout the budget. The Pew Report says we, tied with Georgia and Kentucky, are worse off than 37 other states regarding finances, and that TABOR is the culprit. Democrats squeeze their thighs over this political issue as chickens not on a first name basis with Ward Churchill come home to roost. They shouldn’t; TABOR is the symptom. The culprit is the average American’s lazy lust for simplicity, which is too often revealed to be stupidity. If it cannot fit on a bumper sticker, it’s too complicated.

Conservatives sold America on the short term benefits of reducing taxes, but not on paying its way. Next year in Colorado Springs, home of TABOR lust, bus service will end at 6:45 p.m. during the week, with no buses at all on weekends. City parks have no money for water or maintenance. Community centers will get three months worth of funding, and if they want to stay open beyond March, donations will be needed. To the reactionary rich, this is great, making the poor poorer and dependent on the rich for donations, as they accomplished with art long ago. That’s their goal for the entire state, if we’d only see and remark upon it. It’s as clear as the solution to Ted Haggard’s supposed agony.