No two days start quite the same in Colorado. The mix of sky and clouds and sun deliver a new canvas for us in Elbert County to paint on each day. This morning I did my ablutions, got ready for work, fixed breakfast for the kid, sent him off to school, kissed my wife goodbye, and jumped in the car for the short ride down the hill to work at the data center.
Thank God we finally elected some county commissioners who understood the value of a job and what it takes to provide career opportunities in some other field than local county government.
Oh, the oil fields provided some work when the drillers came through, though not much remained in the way of career opportunities after they left. Mineral royalties and tax collections provided some private income and tax revenue for the county, but that money mostly went to pay private and public debts run up during decades of economic neglect.
The local jobs in the oil boom were pretty much what you’d expect – food service, groceries and sundries – not much in the way of career opportunities that might give our kids a reason to settle close to home.
Then everything changed. People seemed to take a look at the county with new eyes one day. They saw cheap land, an abundance of resources, great weather, access to a vibrant metropolitan area, and a high local unemployment rate indicating that a lot of people wanted to work. Perhaps those who had seen how the rest of the world makes use of their God given capacities to produce, create, and improve their own conditions along with the condition of their surroundings, had finally been heard above the din of predestined cult babel.
Whatever triggered the epiphany, people finally realized that county zoning and regulation didn’t have to be used to stop new economic activity. They realized that the zoning czars of the last 30 years had produced hundreds of pounds of pages of growth-stopping regulations, had consumed millions of dollars in legal fees and regulatory compliance actions, and had cost us billions of dollars in economic opportunities to create and grow new wealth. The zoners only accomplishment, because success doesn’t seem like quite the right word, had been to stop most growth and deliver an impoverished county to us.
So one day people woke up. They saw that county regulation had taken control of their natural wealth and churned it into poverty. They saw a self-righteous class of bureaucratic parasites dug into our local institutions to protect us from the evils of the modern world. They saw that whenever the zoners power and decisions were questioned, all that people got in return were lectures on why regulatory control was necessary for our health, safety, and well-being.
Decades went by with each commission full of believers in the regulatory state, trying to fix the mistakes of the past commissions while rushing headlong into their own versions of the same mistakes.
Turns out the only protection the people really needed was from them. Who knew? In protecting us from the evils of the modern world, they had closed off the potential for us to realize many of the benefits of the modern world. The Founders had had it right all along. They knew that the only good government was a limited government.
Wide awake now, people searched for commissioner candidates who actually promised to make local government smaller, candidates who knew that the answer was not for government to occupy the field of economic activity, candidates who promised to allow and encourage private entrepreneurs to take the risks of bringing new businesses forth from our fertile long-dormant abundance of resources, land, labor, and the remaining capital that the bureaucrats had not yet commandeered.
They elected those candidates and the candidates delivered freedom to the people by sending the regulatory czars, with their tonnage of arresting regulations in tow, back to Boulder from whence they had come.
And with that freedom the businesses came. They brought investment, industry, jobs, and career paths. They brought education, new schools, clinics, and healthcare. They gave families opportunities for enrichment and fulfillment. And they brought something that had been thought long gone. They brought the American dream back to this county, the same dream the original settlers of this country had brought with them.
So now I get to live and work in beautiful Elbert County. And I get to spend some daylight around the edges of each work day with my family at home because I’m not driving 3 hours to and from a job on the other side of Denver. I’m paying my bills and putting money in savings to build up capital for my family’s education and our future.
And the regulatory czars became a bad dream, slowly fading from memory.