Learning to Love the Denver Post

The Rocky Mountain News was my favorite newspaper in the entire world. I’m not saying it was the best in the world, but it was the best at covering my region. The only thing that mitigated the pain of its closing was that the event was anticipated for many weeks.

But then the Denver Post did something that surprised me, though it makes perfect sense: it hired some of my favorite writers from the Rocky, particularly Vincent Carroll.

Moreover, the Post’s editorial board has seemed to put out better work since the closing of the Rocky. I don’t know if this is just coincidence, some bias in my observations, the addition of Carroll, or some other factor.

But for a paper with a widely acknowledge leftward tilt, the Post’s editorial of the day offers an outstanding defense of legislative sanity:

Mr. President, private companies that have not accepted federal bailout money are not yours to govern. That idea needs to be killed too. …

Congress, in great haste, gave banks and other lending companies trillions of dollars in bailout money. Then, when passing President Obama’s stimulus package — again, in great haste — Congress approved an amendment that allowed firms like AIG to accept big bonus payments.

Then, when AIG legally paid out its bonuses, Congress flipped out and, again, in great haste, overwhelmingly approved a 90 percent tax on the executives who earned bonuses.

And the 90 percent tax is not just applicable at AIG. The tax would be levied on executives at any financial institution that received bailout funds, including those banks, such as Wells Fargo, that didn’t even want the money and were basically forced to take it. Stories have surfaced of profitable companies, whose parent companies received bailout money, where executives would be penalized with this burdensome tax.

I can quibble with other lines, but the heart of the editorial is an informative and spirited critique of overreaching government.

Also today, the Post published Carroll’s article against single-payer health care. He concludes, “I’d rather see health-care reform nudge us in the direction of cost-conscious consumption — so that ‘rationing’ is more directly related to individual preferences and costs are driven down through provider competition.”

Carroll doesn’t quite go far enough — he complains that real reform is “a pipe dream in today’s political climate,” when actually it is journalists like Carroll who help create today’s political climate. The unpopularity of a good idea is reason to argue for it all the more strongly, not surrender. Besides, the main problem with free-market health reform is not that it is unpopular, but that most people simply aren’t aware of how political controls caused the current mess or how real market reforms would help solve the problems.

I’m sure I will continue to find my daily annoyances in the Denver Post. Still, I’m hopeful that the newspaper has improved and will continue to do so.