I was startled to read the comparison of a $2 billion Colorado stimulus package to Christmas (Herald, Jan 24). The fact that we "need" a $2 billion infusion calls for a more somber tone, and the money certainly is not coming from Santa Claus.
Money is available for federal spending because people somewhere choose to spend less than they earn. Increasingly in the United States, money for federal spending is coming from developing countries, China in particular. The fact that Colorado is asking for a bailout from laborers in China, many working in conditions that would be illegal in the United States, is more like a Christmas party hangover than Christmas morning. Colorado is an extremely prosperous state. Durango enjoys a high standard of living and tremendous natural resources.
If we are asking for handouts to help pay for a municipal parking garage, something seems terribly off-kilter. If we cannot afford to pay for our own infrastructure, which community on Earth can? In a just world, rather than ask for money needed elsewhere, we might demonstrate leadership through conservative use of our own natural and financial resources. Perhaps we are living beyond our means.
While U.S. consumers may no longer leaf through catalogs for purchases they neither need nor can afford, the same cannot be said of some government officials. The stimulus wish list contains desperately needed infrastructure investments. It also contains items that municipalities won't buy with their own money but will happily buy if someone else is picking up the tab. I understand the importance of pumping money into the economy, but wanton consumption - by individuals or by governments - does not provide a solid foundation for any society.
Our new president sounds both heartfelt and mindful in his desire that the United States be a leader in the world. Here in Colorado, rather than looking to federal handouts to fund our lifestyle, perhaps it is time to resurrect a tired line from another harbinger of hope: "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."
Robert Ferrell, Durango