Mark Your Colorado Ballot for Liberty

The following article originally was published on October 13, 2008, in Grand Junction’s Free Press. On the same topic, see also Diana Hsieh’s voting recommendations.

Mark your ballot for liberty

by Linn and Ari Armstrong

We suggest a single standard as you mark your ballot: liberty. If a measure advances liberty, vote for it. If not, vote no.

The federal government has been spending our money like there’s no tomorrow, and state Democrats have spent the extra billions brought in by Referendum C. No matter how much of our money we give them, politicians and special interests will always want more. Thus, we face several new proposals to hike taxes.

People have the right to spend their income as they see fit. It’s wrong to force Peter to pay for Paul’s needs, even if 51 percent of the voters allow it.

Vote no on Amendment 59, which would permanently eliminate refunds under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. This is a forever net tax increase. It is also a blank check. While its advocates call it a “Savings Account for Education,” it would free up general funds for whatever politicians want. Special interests are already lining up to take a chunk of your money.

Mesa County voters should reject 3A and 3B, which would raise taxes for schools run by politicians, bureaucrats, and unions. We spend an absurd amount on education for generally pathetic results. People have the right to spend their money on the educational services they want, whether for themselves or others.

In Grand Junction, voters face 2A and 2B. Vote no. These are forever net tax increases. Local politicians need to allocate existing funds more prudently, not demand more. The city refers to an unsafe city court and security problems in the evidence room, yet your elder author has spoken with officers who believe improvements could be achieved at low cost. Don’t be fooled when advocates point to popular expenses; the measures, like Amendment 59, sign a blank check at taxpayers’ expense.

We hope the residents of Fruita vote down 2C, which would unjustly force some people to fund a community center they don’t want that undermines some local businesses.

For more good discussion of the local measures, see Gene Kinsey’s blog at

At the state level, the most dangerous ballot measure is Amendment 48, which would ban abortion even in cases of rape, incest, fetal deformity, and health risks, subject to severe criminal penalties. It would also ban the birth control pill and fertility treatments. See “Amendment 48 Is Anti-Life” at

Amendment 46, which would eliminate race-based hiring and admissions in government, wouldn’t accomplish much, but it would reinforce the crucial principle that all people are equal under the law.

We don’t like 47, which interferes with the freedom of contract between employers and employees. Unions have undue power due to federal controls, but the answer is not state controls.

Vote yes on 49, which would stop the government from transferring funds from the paychecks of its employees to unions. We don’t care if you contribute to unions, we just don’t want that to be a government function.

Yes on 50; this would modestly lift gambling limits. No on 51, the sales tax for the disabled. If you think the disabled deserve more of your money, then please give it to them. Just don’t force everyone else to follow your choices in charitable giving.

No on 52; the state constitution is no place to micromanage highway funding. No on 54; this limitation on political spending by government contractors infringes free speech. No on 58, another tax hike. Energy companies deserve to keep the money they earn.

We have no problem with Referendum L, which would let 21-year-olds serve in the legislature. Frankly, if more legislators could muster the maturity of a 21-year-old, we’d be pleased. Measures M and N repeal obsolete provisions; that’s fine.

Referendum O would make it harder to amend the state’s constitution. We like that. Contrary to the assertions of some of our conservative friends, the ability to change a state constitution via petition is not what the First Amendment is getting at. The First Amendment Center notes that, under the First Amendment, petitioning means “any nonviolent, legal means of encouraging or disapproving government action, whether directed to the judicial, executive or legislative branch.”

The initiative process necessarily falls within government rules. And we think those rules make it far too easy to amend the constitution by popular vote. We do not advocate majority rule; we advocate individual rights. A separation of powers, with distinct branches of government and indirect popular oversight, provides the best hope for protecting individual rights, though certainly that’s not sufficient.

O requires signatures from each congressional district for constitutional changes, further separating power geographically. We’re not thrilled that O makes it easier to make statutory changes by popular vote, but we can live with the trade-off.

What do we need beyond thoughtful structures of governance? A populace that takes seriously our heritage of liberty and works to protect it.