Penry for state senate
by Linn and Ari Armstrong
The following article was originally published by Grand Junction Free Press on July 24, 2006.
It's no secret that we favor Josh Penry for state senate over his opponent, Matt Smith. (Both are Republicans competing in the primary.) Yet we had hoped to give each candidate equal space to discuss his views. Unfortunately, despite repeated attempts to contact Smith, he did not respond to the short survey that we sent to both candidates. So we will instead take this opportunity to endorse Penry and give him the floor.
We think Penry is better on the right to bear arms, better on property rights, and generally a more reliable representative of Western Slope values. That is not to say that we think he's the perfect candidate; such an animal does not exist in today's political climate. Neither Democrats nor Republicans consistently support policies consistent with the proper purpose of government: the protection of individual rights.
Penry told us, "Colorado needs to start building reservoirs to meet our future water needs. And we don't have a choice -- if this region is going to continue to grow and prosper, we need to get to work now planning for and meeting the water needs of the next generation.
"I'll also be aggressive in continuing to push for real reform of our illegal immigration laws, tough enforcement measures against sexual predators and Meth trafficking, and fight to force government to pay off debt and save, rather than just spend everything it takes in."
Penry said he would do more to support tort reform than Smith has done, and Penry supports term limits for judges.
Penry said that some Republicans haven't done enough to be "the voice of fiscal discipline that Republicans should demand and that taxpayers deserve." He finds it unfortunate that previous Colorado legislatures "spent and borrowed, and then when the recession hit after 9/11 they raided trust funds and reduced the Homestead Exemption instead of tackling mandatory spending." This "set the stage for Referendum C," the massive net tax hike pushed through by the voters of Denver and Boulder last Fall.
Penry said that "some elected officials vote to defend the Second Amendment some of the time, others most of the time, but the voters of Western Colorado deserve someone who will protect that fundamental freedom every single time. That's what I've done and what I'll do in the Senate."
We asked him whether he approves of Alaska's concealed-carry system, which offers a permit but also allows (noncriminal) carry without a permit. "I do support an expanded concealed carry law, and Alaska is one model. The truth is, states that allow their citizens to defend themselves create a huge barrier against random crime and violence. Florida, of late, has proven that self-evident truth once more."
What about registration checks for private sales at gun shows? "I didn't support it in the first place, and don't now. The fact is, more gun laws only serve the prevent the good guys from getting the guns that the bad guys already have."
Concerning property rights, we asked, "Do you support the abolition of eminent domain for all purposes of economic development and/or tax revenues?" He answered, "Yes, I have and I will."
Penry does get a black mark for supporting some corporate welfare. He said, "I support some [tax-funded] economic development programs and investment in tourism. Bringing good jobs to Colorado is good public policy. But for those programs that only serve to inflate the bottom lines of a corporation, with no connection to increased economic opportunities for citizens, I am opposed."
Penry needs to go back and read some good economics. Forcibly transferring wealth from those who earn it to politically-favored businesses does not bring good jobs. It is not "good public policy" -- it is immoral confiscation of wealth that hurts the economy.
It is the shame of Republicans that, even while they sometimes pretend to support free markets and fiscal restraint, they fall for these transfer schemes that rob from the poor and middle class to subsidize the politically favored. Yet this is a bigger problem than this one primary. Hopefully in the future any politician who dares breathe support for corporate welfare will be ridden out of town on a rail, after having been duly tarred and feathered. But, in the current climate, we are stuck with the lesser of evils.
Finally, we support the proposal to make possession of small amounts of marijuana legal for adults over 21, while keeping strong penalties for driving under the influence of any drug. Penry opposes the measure, which doesn't surprise us. We suspect he joins most Western Slope voters, despite the "live and let live" legacy of the West.
Penry is bad on corporate welfare, but he's good on property rights and great on the right to bear arms. We think he'd serve the Western Slope with tenacity and intelligence.
[August 3, 2006, update by Ari Armstrong: While we previously criticized Penry for voting for the smoking ban, we neglected to point out that fact in this article. Obviously, that vote is a strike against his record on property rights.]