For a couple of years, I lived in Southwest Colorado. One of the places I used to go on various service calls was a small little resort town called Pagosa Springs. It’s a pretty place, at the western bottom of Wolf Creek Pass. It has a year-round population of about 1600, with a lot of “second homes” in the area. A typical resort town, in many ways. On the other side of the Rockies, there’s a major city – Colorado Springs It has over 400,000 people, and a fairly stable and vibrant economy. It’s the home base of a lot of conservative organizations, a haven for low-tax and small government advocates. Which is rather interesting, because Colorado Springs and Pagosa Springs wouldn’t be that much different, if it weren’t for one thing: Government spending.
You see, the real change happened at the beginning of World War 2. That’s when the Colorado Springs bought the land that would become Fort Carson. An airfield eventually became Peterson Air Force Base. Then the Air Force Academy was built there, along with NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain facility. So the resort town that was having economic problems became a large city with a steady economy, thanks to the government building military facilities around it. Besides the direct employment, there’s also the employment from companies that service those bases, as well as other companies who moved in because of the economy there. The absolute linchpin of the city’s economy, in fact, the reason it is a large city today, is because of government spending.
Which is what makes the presence of so many small government, low tax types there an exercise in irony. They literally don’t see it, there’s a massive perceptual disconnection. I said in my previous post that many of the conservatives are more against other people’s government spending, not theirs. Imagine if the BRAC Commissions had decided that Peterson and Carson had to close. The city today wouldn’t be where it is. Even more, if they’d never existed, the city today would be mostly like Pagosa Springs. A nice little resort town.
If it was just Colorado Springs suffering from this perceptual disconnection, it’d be amusing. What isn’t amusing is when you start looking at many of the so-called “Red states.” The ones that are homes to the Tea Party Movement and provide so many of the national Republican and conservative figures. If you look at the figures, something stands out. Many of the Red States are the ones which receive more in federal funds than they pay. It’s something to keep in mind when you hear someone like Rand Paul ranting about how much Kentucky pays in taxes, considering that Kentucky has received every year for the past 30+ years more money from the federal government than it paid in federal taxes.
Which is going to make it very interesting in 2012, if some of the Republican cuts get made. You see, a lot of those supporters really don’t think that the cuts will impact them, or their states. When it actually does, their reactions may not be what the conservative politicians think it will be. We’ve already seen some rumbles about it as some of the Teapublican governors ended up giving back government funding. Which might be “brave” of them – never mind that the projects to be funded were desired by businesses and well thought out – but it didn’t make them very popular with their electorates. Their having to deal with a loss of federal funding, and their electorates losing things they thought were “safe”? It’s going to make them scramble, to put it mildly. I think that’s going to be when the hypocrisy of what they’ve been doing becomes clear: They’re against government spending, unless it’s on them.