Raising The Bar: Redux

As members of the Colorado Legislature who played intimate roles in the budgeting and appropriation of marijuana tax revenues, we feel it is our duty to set the record straight so that voters in both states have accurate information about this subject.

We can say with certainty that the claims about Colorado marijuana tax revenues featured in your committee’s ads range from highly misleading to wholly inaccurate. As you can see in the attached issue brief provided by Colorado Legislative Council staff and fact sheet produced by the Colorado Department of Education:

[List of notable inaccuracies]

We respectfully request that you stop airing or otherwise publishing campaign ads that contradict these facts. We also trust they will be reflected in any of your future communications to Arizona voters regarding Colorado’s experience with regulating and taxing marijuana for adult use. (Colorado Officials Politely Ask Arizona’s Anti-Marijuana Group To Stop Lying)

Almost five years ago, I wrote an article entitled Raising The Bar. The subject of this article was the perennially poor quality of public policy conversation and punditry from which our city, county and state suffer.

This year Arizona has a demonstrably destructive minimum wage hike and benefits mandate on the ballot (Proposition 206). New law which will knock more rungs out of the bottom of the employment ladder and make it harder for young people and low skilled workers to find a path to success in the labor market.

However, with the laudable exceptions of Americans for Prosperity Arizona and The Free Enterprise Club, no organizations have attempted to form a principled opposition to this harmful initiative. No one is trying to educate and persuade voters regarding this critical economic issue.

What do we get instead? Hundreds of thousands of dollars plowed into the Pima County Supervisors race to ignore substantive issues of governance and maintain the status quo of entrenched interests. Millions of dollars invested in misinforming AZ citizens (see quote above) and promote the continuation of a failed and murderous drug war.

“Raising the Bar” was the first of many articles I have written since. It was the start of my pursuit of more formal study in economics, political philosophy, and policy issues. It came at the end of six years of self-study and spurred the last five years of university study. I have invested significant amounts of my time and money to increase my understanding of these critical issues facing our community, state, and country.

At the end of this process I see even more of the same problems I addressed in “Raising the Bar”. I see them from Republicans and Democrats, from conservatives and progressives.

There are hard problems that are difficult to resolve in the areas of governance and policy. But we don’t even get to deal with those because the lies and distortions of our major political parties and coalitions get us stuck arguing over the most easily checked facts and figures.

Prop 205 has been a travesty of misinformation from the No Campaign (as seen in the attached letter from Colorado lawmakers) while these same influencers haven’t lifted a finger to oppose Prop 206 (which economic principles conclude and research confirms will harm the most needy among us).

We can’t all be experts in everything, but as I said five years ago…

  • We can hold those we look to for advice and counsel to a high bar.
  • We can demand factual, fair, balanced analysis.
  • We can shun and devalue the commentary of those who have shown themselves to be distorters and propagandists.
  • We can look skeptically at government giveaways and stop bending or breaking our principles when those giveaways are aimed at us.
  • We can question our own priors and approach policy topics with humility.
  • We can demand humility from those who wish to make government plans and spend tax dollars on our behalf.
  • We can ask good questions about proposed policy and reject those who best responses are “Just trust me” or “Our MBA consultant assured us this will work” or “Everybody does it this way.”

Everyone who reads this brings a unique background and perspective to these important topics. Everyone of you can make a difference on holding accountable those in our communities who presume to make policy, to drive public opinion, to guide popular sentiment.

Raising the bar of public discourse does not happen overnight, it is a slow and steady process of turning a big lumbering ship. It happens through questioning, long term thinking, principled stances, coffee dates, showing up at City Council meetings, volunteering with civic organizations, reading great books, and investing some (not a lot) of your time informing yourself and developing your own outlook on the proper roles of the for-profit, not-for-profit, and public sectors of our communities. You raise the bar when you then engage that perspective consistently.

In this election cycle, my perspective tells me to vote YES on Prop 205 and NO on Prop 206.

If you’ve reached different conclusions, I’d love to hear your thinking. If you’re interested in how I reached mine, I’d love to hear your questions.

I promise not to answer with “Just trust me.”

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