Amendment 74 is an elected official’s worst nightmare, and a great weapon for the people. As President Thomas Jefferson once said, “When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” Government officials across the state are fighting hard to ensure that Amendment 74 is defeated, so that they may continue to harm their constituents with no consequences. There are very few amendment proposals that scare government officials more than Amendment 74, which should tell us that it is a win for the people of this great state who do not want to see their government continuously enlarge.
Government tends to increase in size with an increase in population, and rarely shrinks in scope. Governments allegedly increase in order to better serve the citizens whom they represent. As an example, the city of Denver will have more programs, departments, regulatory agents, and statutes in place than a small rural town such as Elizabeth. Many government officials are likely to say that the increased size and scope of government allows them to better serve the people, though that statement begs the question of whether or not this is true. Amendment 74, which requires government to compensate property owners for loss of value due to government regulation, could provide an answer to that question.
The town of Parker resolved—at the town council meeting on October 1st—to oppose the passage of Amendment 74. Councilman Joshua Rivero stated that it would restrict the town’s ability to improve their “product,” and another councilman said that this feeling is echoed throughout the urban corridor. Being that the government does not provide “products” and instead provides services, it is unknown what councilman Rivero was referring to; however, his statement is telling of the tendency of government to want to constantly expand, regardless of any harm done to specific citizens.
Councilman Rivero stated as much when he said in his remark, “Any attempt to improve our product would adversely affect somebody.” Opponents of Amendment 74 appear to have the same sentiment as Councilman Rivero in that they don’t appear to be concerned about loss of value to the individual, so long as the government is allowed to continue to grow. The question we need to ask ourselves is, why can’t government operate without harming somebody? Opponents also point to similar amendments in Washington and Oregon, where there may have been $4 billion in payouts due to lawsuits.
Where the opponents of compensation for loss of value see $4 billion in loss to taxpayers, supporters of this kind of amendment see $4 billion in damages owed to individuals, directly related to poor government planning and action. The Libertarian Party of Colorado has a defined stance on this issue. According to the platform, “We hold that rights to property are individual rights and, as such, are entitled to the same protections as all other individual rights…until and unless the exercise of their control infringes [upon] the valid rights of others.”
Councilman Rivero, and others like him, fail to see the alternatives to endless lawsuits due to government action: don’t do anything unless it provides value. If government does anything, it should improve the lives and livelihoods of all citizens that it represents. Amendment 74 will ensure that government does just that, assuming that those we place in power choose to view their positions in that manner. If they refuse to do so, it will come at a cost to all of us, and the blame will rest squarely on the shoulders of lazy and irresponsible representatives.
Proponents of small and efficient government, such as Libertarians and Republicans, should vote YES on Amendment 74, which will inform our representatives of our desire for them to think long and hard about any changes they wish to make to the places that we live. At worst, it will expose incompetent and ill-suited representatives for what they are. At best, the amendment will ensure that government no longer causes damage to the individual. If the Constitution remains as it is, our representatives can continue to harm us at their whim. The choice is ours this November.