The Colorado Springs Model: A Voluntary, Entrepreneurial City
The American Dream is alive and well in Colorado Springs because it is still a place where America's founding principles are taken to heart and put into practice. Our vision for Colorado Springs is of a great American city that, through a conscious choice to blaze a new and different path, steers clear of the big government pitfalls that plague so many other large American cities.
The city today teeters on a tipping point. We can trudge along the well-worn ruts carved by other cities, embracing ever-expanding bureaucracy, central planning and the creation of a burdensome tax and regulatory climate. Or we can do things differently, based on the idea that greatness, economic vitality and opportunity don't come through the beneficence of government, but by reducing government's influence and unleashing the freedom, creativity and civic-mindedness of average people.
The good news is, we already have the solid foundations for such a city now, thanks to the budget discipline required by self-reliant citizens who expect local government to stick to basics. All that's needed, therefore, is that we preserve and enhance the things that already make Colorado Springs such a great place to live.
The Colorado Springs Model calls for modest, efficient and innovative government, whose non-governmental activities are supplanted by highly effective private institutions, including charities, non-profit organizations and the business community. We in Colorado Springs will look first to the private sector to deal with most problems, by working consciously toward a renewal of what once was called civil society. Most of the pieces of this mosaic already exist; this city is blessed with many good philanthropic organizations and a strong spirit of volunteerism. All that's required is to fit all the pieces together in a way that makes the whole stronger than its parts.
As our civic institutions become more effective, as the spirit of volunteerism and self-sufficiency spreads across the city, and as residents take personal and collective responsibility for addressing these issues, government will become the problem-solver of last resort. Local government then can focus on the fundamentals: on protecting public safety, operating public works, building and maintaining roads and bridges.
Colorado Springs should pare back local government, by outsourcing inherently non-governmental functions. City council shouldn't be running far-flung enterprises that are better managed by private sector professionals. Proceeds from the sale of enterprises, prudently re-invested, will put the city on a sound financial footing, help improve its infrastructure and mute the constant calls for higher taxes.
Colorado Springs should boast a business and regulatory climate that doesn't depend on bribing companies to come or to stay, but creates the ideal conditions for the entrepreneurial spirit to flourish, building its economy from the ground up. Lower taxes, less regulation, a much-improved public school system and modernized infrastructure will produce an opportunity-oriented atmosphere. That, combined with our many natural and recreational amenities, will make the city a desirable place to start or relocate a business. We'll opt out of the bidding wars other communities engage in, welcoming outside companies but concentrating on growing and strengthening businesses already here. We'll politely tell outside corporations that we would love to have them move here but that part of being a good corporate citizen in Colorado Springs means paying your own way.
Rather than embracing "smart growth" strategies that tend to drive affordable housing out and the cost of living up, Colorado Springs will be a city where the American dream remains within reach of average people. There's a place for reasonable planning. But we in Colorado Springs won't hand professional planners and a minority of anti-development activists the power to tell our residents how and where they should live. We'll put the emphasis on opportunity and affordability, rather than regimentation; on personal creativity and consumer choice, rather than command and control. This will make us a magnet for people and companies that share these values.
We'll build the Colorado Springs Model by treating all our local institutions -- city and county government, the charitable sector, public school districts, UCCS and PPCC -- as incubators for new ideas, fostering a city-wide enthusiasm for embracing new paradigms. Rather than thinking of this as an anti-government agenda, we think of it as a pro-people, pro-opportunity, pro-self reliance agenda. Government will always have its place. But confining it to its core functions will leave more money and control in the hands of average people, which they can use to support their families, build businesses, contribute to the causes and charities that strengthen civil society.
Our dream is that Colorado Springs becomes a national model for the truly voluntary, truly entrepreneurial city. We invite those who share this vision, and those who aren't sure, as well as those who oppose it, to join us in an open-minded discussion about the possibilities. It's not enough to dream about the Colorado Springs Model. We must build it methodically, step by step, through the choices we make moving forward.
Peak Freedom Forum Local Liberty Action Cheyenne Mtn Civic Solutions The Schuck Foundation Pikes Peak Economics Club Woodford Foundation Community Leadership Fund El Paso County TEA Party
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