Declaration of Dependence

(Denver Post, May 2) “Son, you have become a man. Mom and I are so proud of your maturity. In turning 21 today and taking a bride tomorrow, you reach the age of emancipation. This is literally your time of being set free, entering upon self-determined adulthood. What a milestone. Because we care for you and your wife and children, we’ll stay involved as parents in a few small ways. We will provide a house for you, and cars as needed. We will supply you energy for all those. Of course we’ll always cover the medical bills for you and the kids. Costs of school and college will be on us as well. Plus an income floor. Pay a share of these things if you can, but don’t strain yourself. It’s our tribute to your independence.” Independence, Dad? Who are you kidding? That’s a gilded cage. Any mother and father who coddled their grown children this way (some do, of course, to their sorrow) would be committing parental malpractice. Any son or daughter thus “cared for” should feel insulted, indentured, and infantilized.

But consider: The dependence we find so repugnant if indulged within the family is all around us politically, under paternalistic big government. Housing, heating, healing, food, fuel, lighting, leisure, teaching, transportation, and pocket money are ALL now provided, subsidized, or facilitated for many of us by the omnipotent State. And the trend line keeps rising, no matter which party is charge. We’re hooked.

To feed our habit, Americans will pay more in taxes this year than everything we spend for food, clothing, and shelter. And to meet the remaining cost of paternalism, we’ll borrow yet more from our grandkids. This year’s actual Tax Freedom Day, deficit included, isn’t until May 17. Obama’s spending orgy in 2009 and 2010 has pushed it later than at any time since World War II. Then we were fighting for survival. Now we’re just gorging for appetite.

Don’t worry, though. Those health care heroes, the Democrats, have the cure for our fiscal obesity: more calories. In honor of April 15, state Sen. Chris Romer warned that Colorado can’t hope to have a thriving economy “until we learn to raise our taxes.” That same week, US Sen. Michael Bennet claimed the Tea Party movement is “trafficking in a kind of nihilistic vision that says we don't have a responsibility to the next generation.” So now dependency is a duty?

Most Coloradans, whether their party is R or D or Tea, would snort in disgust if you gave them a Declaration of Dependence to sign. Statehood was only granted us, after all, on condition of upholding the Declaration of Independence. We pay it lipservice, picturing ourselves as “a free people” who honorably direct their own “lives and fortunes,” and resist despotism “with manly firmness.” Yet sadly, we’re more like a fatty seeing muscle in the mirror. The firm self-reliance of our forefathers has gone to flab.

The collectivist freebies we all depend on are scarcely imagined in the Colorado Constitution – and unauthorized in the United States Constitution. Immense unfunded liabilities for entitlements and pensions, state and federal alike, loom like Katrina headed for landfall. Yet the political establishment shrugs off the impending emergency. Democrats and Republicans, courts and media, labor and business have combined to weaken this state’s best protection, TABOR.

Citizens unwilling to declare their dependence have put on the ballot a TABOR rescue package. Amendment 60 restores our vote on property taxes. Amendment 61 restores our vote on debt. Proposition 101 cuts the tax on cars, phones, and income. Womb-to-tomb paternalism will suffocate our liberty and prosperity if we don’t bestir ourselves. Passing those three measures would be a start.