by Ari Armstrong
The following article originally appeared at Boulder Weekly on October 26, 2006.
Marty Neilson would make a fine state senator for District 16, which spans parts of several counties, including Boulder. I know her from her work with the Colorado Union of Taxpayers (CUT). Neilson would usually protect economic liberty, though her views on some social issues are bothersome.
Neilson's opponent is incumbent Democrat Joan Fitz-Gerald, whom the Rocky Mountain News recently excoriated for "her populist grandstanding on subjects such as Wal-Mart" and her "effort to pass special legislation targeting the Catholic church."
CUT recently rated Fitz-Gerald with an 8 percent for this year's legislative session. Fitz-Gerald voted for corporate welfare for tourism and movies, for example. She voted to impose penalties for alleged "price gouging," an arbitrary label that would encourage political persecutions over free exchanges. Fitz-Gerald did vote with CUT on two of 26 issues, including a bill to prevent private corporations from condemning property for toll roads.
In reply to a survey, Neilson writes that Fitz-Gerald "is well loved by special interests." Neilson, in contrast, will "fight back to protect our liberty." (For complete answers of candidates who replied, see the survey link at FreeColorado.com.)
Neilson would generally protect property rights. She opposes "the use of eminent domain for purposes of economic development and/or generating tax revenues," and she opposes the smoking ban on private property.
Neilson also would support the elimination of all corporate welfare and economic subsidies. No more tax dollars offered to Kodak, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Intel, Group Publishing or the Limon Golf Course. This view won't make Neilson popular with those who have developed an addiction to these forcibly transferred dollars, including the bureaucrats at the various so-called "development" offices. But her position is the only one consistent with economic liberty and real economic development.
Neilson also strongly supports the fundamental human right of self-defense. She answered the survey consistently in line with that right, vowing to oppose proposals that would interfere with it.
Minimum-wage laws violate the right of contract and result in lost jobs, benefits, and hours for many low-skilled workers. Not surprisingly, Neilson opposes Amendment 42, a constitutional change that would dramatically raise Colorado's minimum wage and increase it every year according to a metro inflationary index that ignores rural conditions.
Neilson writes, "I support parental choice in education. I do not support more spending, I support demanding better results." She adds, "I do not support a 'single-payer' health system or [government run] universal care. I believe people should have choices and responsibilities in their health-care decisions. Unfortunately, whenever government gets involved, the price goes up and the quality goes down."
Neilson is an excellent candidate on matters of economic liberty and self-defense -- far better than many Republicans. Gov. Bill Owens, for example, who supported corporate welfare and restrictions on gun rights.
Unfortunately, on other matters her views are not as good. She opposes Amendment 44, which means that she opposes the right of adults to control their own bodies with respect to marijuana use. Obviously, giving the state so much power over our lives is inconsistent with Neilson's pledge to "protect our liberty."
Isn't free-market economist Milton Friedman a hero to those who want to limit taxation? Friedman signed a letter calling for "a regime in which marijuana is legal but taxed and regulated like other goods." According to Forbes, Friedman said, "It's absolutely disgraceful to think of picking up a 22-year-old for smoking pot. More disgraceful is the denial of marijuana for medical purposes." More disgraceful is the fact that so many Republicans endorse such rights-violating policies. Thankfully, Colorado already has a medical-marijuana program, and Amendment 44 would remove state-level legal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and older.
Neilson writes, without qualification, "I oppose abortion." She opposes Referendum I, regarding domestic partnerships, which I favor because it grants equitable treatment to gay couples.
Even Neilson's support for economic liberty is compromised. Presumably Neilson thinks employers should be able to hire any willing Colorado resident to perform a job. The same right is extended to employers who want to hire somebody from another state. But Neilson wishes to forcibly prevent employers from hiring some people from Mexico.
She breathlessly writes, "Most of the people coming to our country are good and honest people who want nothing more than a better life for their families... BUT illegal immigration is a DISASTER that puts a senseless strain on our schools, healthcare system, prisons, and floods our economy with cheap labor that takes real wages and real jobs from Colorado's hardest working citizens. As State Senator I will work with the new Governor to demand the Federal Government do its job and close our borders!"
Everybody agrees that illegal immigration is a problem. Those who favor economic liberty want to make immigration legal (except for criminals and those with contagious diseases) while cutting welfare benefits. Those who succumb to some combination of populist xenophobia and leftist protectionism want to eliminate much or most immigration.
Across the state, our choices for political office do not include credible candidates who consistently defend individual rights. Yet in this race Neilson is the better choice.