January 26, 2014 Updated: January 27, 2014 at 1:10 am
A City for Champions opponent said Colorado Springs doesn’t need tourists. “We need good jobs,” he argued at a Gazette-sponsored forum on economic development at Colorado College last week.
Of course we need more high-paying jobs. That’s exactly why the Colorado Economic Development Commission, a board of 11 of Colorado’s most successful private-sector jobs creators, chose to invest $120 million into City for Champions. The four projects would make the Springs more attractive to families, professionals and businesses.
Other comments repeated a narrative that says public input about City for Champions has been suppressed. “Crony Capitalists” meet in the dark, conspiring to take the public’s money for personal gain. Of course, no one produces a scintilla of evidence to support the conspiracy theory. As usual, charges of quashed dialogue were made at a free public forum designed to facilitate dialogue.
One devoted critic inadvertently revealed the core philosophy of opponents. The activist said all economic theory addresses “scarcity,” a term used in discussions of allocation. She called on city politicians to acknowledge scarcity and protect the public from City for Champions investments that might risk limited resources.
The recapture of $120 million in tax revenue, which would otherwise fund state government, must be seen more rationally as the opposite of scarcity. Construction of an Olympics museum, a world-class sports medicine clinic, an Air Force Academy visitors center and multi-use sports complex epitomizes abundance.
The scarcity plea reveals a zero-sum game, poverty mentality that holds this city back. Well-meaning opponents fear we live with a fixed amount of wealth (visualize a pie) that mysteriously appeared one day. Everyone eats pie; no one bakes it. We’re stuck with what we have, they fear, and must guard it with our lives.
In opposition to City for Champions, they unwittingly advocate scarcity—a poverty that results only from policies that limit goods, services or commodities within a market.
Tourism, a service-industry export, imports revenue from a widely dispersed area, concentrating it in the host community. The currency creates opportunity for countless investments, many of which produce good jobs.
Zero-sum gamers suppress proliferation of goods, commodities and services to protect capital. Claude Frédéric Bastiat, a 19th-century economist and authority on scarcity, explained the poverty mindset while opposing tariffs. French politicians wanted to keep money from fleeing their shores in pursuit of imports, fearing loss of currency.
“Men are not fed on money,” Bastiat wrote. “They do not clothe themselves with gold, or warm themselves with silver. What does it matter whether there is more or less money in the country if there is more bread on our sideboards, more meat in our larders, more linen in our wardrobes, more firewood in our cellars.” Or more families, businesses and tourists creating wealth.
Cities up and down the Front Range enjoy growing abundance. Fort Collins, Denver and Boulder are rich in high-wage jobs. People rush from all parts of the country to establish businesses and families in these nearby towns. This did not result from avoiding investment. Colorado’s most successful communities enjoy abundance because residents and businesses made their downtowns cool, fun and attractive to families, tourists and businesses.
Many activists who oppose reasonable investment in growth oddly support nearly identical tax investments in retail sprawl—think Copper Ridge and University Village shopping centers—that redistribute wealth within a stagnant economy at a cost to city government’s general fund. They support redistribution of pie but oppose acquisition of ingredients and cooks to create more pie. They view scarcity as a natural condition all must endure.
City for Champions defies scarcity and favors abundance. It pursues more high-paying jobs and a better life in Colorado Springs.