Freedom in Colorado
A Commentary By John Stossel
There is actually a Democratic governor who cares about economic freedom!
He's Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. He's the subject of my new video.
Before Polis got into the ugly field of government, he did useful work. He was an entrepreneur. He started an online flower company, modernized his parents' greeting card company, and founded charter schools, an internet access company, Spanish-speaking movie theaters and an aquaculture venture fund. He sold the flower and greeting card companies for more than $1 billion.
Polis says being an entrepreneur "really helped prepare me for public service in ways that people don't expect."
Wait. I don't like the way he used the term "public service."
"I think you did public service when you ran a business. Why is only government called public service?" I ask.
"I do like to think ... any company that adds value, does something in a more efficient way, a better way, is certainly a form of service as well," Polis responds.
Good. He's right. Certainly Amazon, Starlink, Apple, Google, etc., provide more service to the public than most governments do.
Heck, government often gets in the way.
In Denver, officials shut down a kids' lemonade stand because the kids "didn't have a permit." That's typical.
I once tried to get such a permit and open a lemonade stand in New York City. The government website promised to make the process easy. It didn't. There were mysterious acronyms like "EIN" (employee identification number). Some instructions were unintelligible. Others were just ridiculous, like making me buy a "government-approved" fire extinguisher for my lemonade stand.
"Government in general does a lot of things that aren't necessary," Polis admits. He signed a bill to make it legal in Colorado for anyone under 18 to run a small or occasional business without a permit.
Polis pushes other ideas meant to make it easier for people to succeed. He wants to get rid of Colorado's income tax.
"It penalizes success," he says. "Income is something that's good. We've reduced the income tax twice in Colorado since I've been there."
Not by much. It only dropped from 4.63% to 4.4%, but still, those are unusual words, especially from a Democrat.
Polis also has a different take on fighting inflation: fight it "with immigration" and "getting rid of tariffs."
That's something I rarely hear from politicians from either party.
"Tariffs in particular penalize trade," says Polis. "Trade's a good thing. If two people, willing partners, both have something and both want what the other has, they make an exchange. They're both better off. We should not penalize trade."
Regarding immigration, he says, "We have ... an artificial labor shortage because we have people who are here today who are perfectly willing to work. They just don't have the right federal permit to work."
During COVID, Polis ordered statewide closures, but he lifted faster than other Democrat-run states.
"Our businesses reopened really early," says Polis.
Not as early as Florida, Texas or South Dakota, but sooner than blue states.
Polis also supports legalization of drugs, including, most recently, magic mushrooms.
"Your state led the country in drug legalization, marijuana and now psychedelics. This is a good thing?" I ask.
"Very good," Polis responds. "We put a lot of the corner drug dealers out of business. It's created jobs, tax revenue, and it's led to a safer product."
Polis isn't threatened by the negative effects of drug use. "I think it's ultimately a matter of personal responsibility. If you want to use marijuana, to drink, to smoke, that's your prerogative. The government shouldn't be deciding that for you."
It's rare and refreshing to hear a Democrat talk about individual freedom.
Unfortunately he becomes squishy on freedom when it comes to Colorado's forcing bakers and website designers to work for events they oppose. He also expanded government-run schools; now taxpayers must pay for state preschools. I bet that doesn't end well.
I'll cover that and other issues where we disagree in a future column.
Every Tuesday at JohnStossel.com, Stossel posts a new video about the battle between government and freedom. He is the author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media."
COPYRIGHT 2023 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.
See Other Political Commentaries.
See Other Commentaries by John Stossel.
Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports. Comments about this content should be directed to the author or syndicate.
Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.
We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.
Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.
To learn more about our methodology, click here.