Rick Akin: It's all about ideas


The online version of the May 17 commentary about the 1773 Club ("Reliving 1773") drew a lot of comments that deserve to be addressed.

Some folks seem unable to get past the idea that politics is just a team sport of Republicans versus Democrats, just like CU plays CSU in football or the Nuggets play the Lakers. We need to get away from the "team sport" view of politics. Politics should be about ideas, and that is what the 1773 Club is about. This series is not a Republican commentary. Similarly, the 1773 Club is nonpartisan - it includes a lot of Libertarians and nonaffiliated voters - maybe even a few Democrats.

If you have read this series, you have seen us take Republicans to task when they want to expand government or increase taxes, most notably Jack Taylor, Al White and John McCain. We have been vigorous in this regard on some occasions. My view is that the liberals may be well-meaning, though misguided, but errant Republicans know better and deserve little mercy.

A few commentators wondered why we were not protesting a variety of things during the Bush administration. I will let you in on a little secret here. A major reason for Bush's poor popularity ratings is that many conservatives were either not responding to polls or were rating him poorly. The primary reason for this was the level of government spending, and, in the end, expanding government through bailouts such as TARP. Bush got a lot of things right, most notably national security, but he got things wrong, too - especially spending.

I can say similar things about John McCain, whom I have criticized myself in this series. I was asked early on to be the county chair of the McCain presidential campaign, and I politely refused.

The point of this is that conservatives have, indeed, been frustrated with the performance of a variety of Republicans. I think, though, that we may not have been vocal enough about it, at least not publicly. It does us no good to elect a Republican if he does not support our conservative ideals. Labels or "team membership" are not the point. Sound policies - liberty, limited government, low taxes, free enterprise and personal responsibility - are the point.

A number of our members are working hard within the Republican Party to affect change, and bless them. Business as usual is not going to solve the problems. Business as usual is the problem.

The people are tired of demagogues. People are tired of the government intruding where it does not belong. People are tired of the government trying to run industries it does not understand - formerly by regulation and now directly. The government simply cannot effectively run the car industry, the banking industry, the health care industry or any other private industry.

People are tired of government inefficiency, ineptitude and arrogance, as well as its overspending and over-taxing. People are tired of politicians that demand that we sacrifice while the government wages war on productivity. People are tired of officials who say they voted for a bloated state budget because they "are obligated to vote for the bill."

We deserve better, and we are demanding it.

If you don't like our principles, if you oppose limited government, if you oppose personal responsibility, if you oppose free markets, if you support high taxes or if you think you are entitled to have the government financially support you, make your point, and we will discuss it honestly and openly. Do not, for a moment, believe that citing the behavior of any errant Republicans refutes our principles or is worthy of being taken seriously.

Rick Akin is an attorney practicing in Steamboat Springs and Austin, Texas, a former member of the Pilot & Today Editorial Board and a director of The Steamboat Institute. His great-grandparents moved to Steamboat in 1926. He holds a BA from Oklahoma and a doctorate from the University of Texas.


honestabe 7 years, 11 months ago

rick states it well, "business as usual is the problem". then he goes on to state, "The government simply cannot effectively run the car industry, the banking industry, the health care industry." the main reason they have their hands in these industries is because the auto and banking industries have fail miserably, and the health care industry is a short step behind. Im sure people like Rick with two of everything are still doing okay, big cars and big bank accounts, but these industries have hurt us greatly, and lack of regulation has more to do with this than over regulation.


seeuski 7 years, 11 months ago

Great op-ed Rick, the difference between Capitalism and the new Fascism. Once Government owns our lives then they say things like, "every aspect of our lives must be subjected to an inventory" as stated so eloquently by Madam Speaker Pelosi. Hence the mindset of those like honestabe who are after your hard earned personal assets. And the Potus takes his wife out to dinner and a show, in NYC, on our dime. Yea, we need them governing our industries like we need another bailout. What is happening to the Constitution?


seeuski 7 years, 11 months ago

Snowbow, Check it out, the Obama group is going to raise taxes on everybody to help pay for all of the new spending. VAT, Cap and trade, etc. etc. The bailouts that we are saddled with in the form of quadrupling the deficit and the 2 trillion dollar Obama budget will leave the US with rising deficits, interest rates and hyper inflation. The rate of job loss since Obama took office has been over 600k per month. How has bailout money helped? When we were in a recession early in Bush's 1st term lowering taxes did work. One just has to look at California to see where we are headed, the voters there have finally recognized that higher taxes and big spending is a failure. They proved it at the poles last week. It will come to pass Nationally in 2010 hopefully.


seeuski 7 years, 11 months ago

I am. It's called fear. The terrorists will be read their Miranda rights and released, we will lose the protections of our Constitution and we will look like Russia did in the 80's, bread lines. Bush is gone, get over it, and now your leader is shredding the Constitution, we will all have to deal with it eventually.


aichempty 7 years, 11 months ago

Despite my best efforts to get away from it, I have spent major portions of my life collecting a U S Government paycheck or living on the proceeds of government contracts.

Most of the civil servants I've worked around were employees of the Federal Government for one reason, and one reason only. Once you get a job there, it's tough to get rid of you. As long as Congress funds your agency or branch of military service (yes, civilians also work for the armed forces in support positions), you are not very likely to lose your job or your benefits. Changing jobs is mostly done to get a promotion and is a so-called "competitive" process. In reality, Federal benefits (health care, insurance, retirement) are the reason to stay around, because salaries lag way behind the private sector. This should tell you something about the reasons why most people stay in Federal jobs; they don't have the ambition to excell elsewhere in the private sector.

My last contact with the Feds was through a military facility with many civilian employees. It was the most wastefully organized and poorly run place I've ever worked. The entire organization was set up to provide more jobs for high-level civilians and military O-6 (Colonel, or Navy Captain) officers who were never going to be promoted to Flag rank, and needed some place to spend the last 6 to 10 years of their careers being important. There are top-grade civilians working there who don't even have bachelor's degrees, and O-6 types with no experience doing anything productive, purporting to "supervise" engineers and scientists. In reality, the ignorant senior civilians and clueless O-6s get hare-brained ideas which are then tossed over to engineers and scientists who already know that the desired outcomes are impossible because of the laws of physics and mathematics.

So, these are the kinds of people you think are going to be able to run GM and the banks and the health care systems? Not a bloomin' chance in Hell, Matey! Ain't gonna happen.

Our central government has failed to regulate private industry, banking, securities and unions for so many years that the bankruptcies and worthless investments resulting from recent events were inevitable. Mr. Obama is a lawyer with limited experience, and that's his only qualification. He knows nothing about business, finance, science or engineering except what he listens to from people who tell him what he wants to hear.

I have personally observed people looking at an Excel spreadsheet and adding up the numbers in a column using a calculator, ignorant of the fact that Excel will do it for you by clicking on the "Sigma" key. And these are the people who are going to manage your health care account? They're going to save GM? Hell, no, they're not. They're only going to spend YOUR money unwisely, and it's time for it to stop.


Fred Duckels 7 years, 11 months ago

Party affiliataion here is irrelevant, we have estimates from 65 to 100 trillion in unfunded mandates, courtesy of politicians looking to out promise their opponents. We are told to keep spending because somewhere there is an injustice that must be avenged. California finally came between a rock and the hard spot and hopefully big brother will not prevent them from suffering the consequences of their actions. If it is up to the congress, I think that the line will be held, but this state is a deal breaker for any election, so don't bet against a bailout. We must stand up with a grass roots organization to demand responsibility.The huge debts are not attributable to a party but the result of an uninformed electorate, and the article from Pravda hits the nail on the head. We can no longer be fooled by politicos pretending to have all the answers, if only they had another trillion. I think that those trying to inject politics here are either very young, or they flunked math.


JLM 7 years, 11 months ago

Policies created to achieve social objectives --- the most charitable face that can be put on the Obama administration's plan of action --- have consequences that are the same whether there are social objectives or not.

Raising taxes does not create economic prosperity. Witness the states of Michigan, New Jersey and Maryland. Maryland enacted a "millionaires tax" raising its state income tax rate on the 3,000 individuals who reported personal income in excess of $1MM annually.

What happened?

The top 1,000 --- the wealthiest among them BTW --- moved out of Maryland. They moved to surrounding states and some declared their Florida homes (no personal state income tax in Florida) as their primary residences.

Result --- a loss of revenue for Maryland and the loss of the most productive slice of Maryland business vigor.

Obama is making war on the most productive slice of American entrepreneurial expertise and the folks who actually create jobs in America --- BTW April Treasury receipts were down 34%. Hang onto your hats, folks.

Kennedy, Reagan, Bush all lowered taxes and what happened? Federal tax revenue increased in every instance.

The real problem is SPENDING. Sure, spending was out of control in the first 6 years of the Bush Republican Congress. It continued during the next 2 years of the Pelosi Congress.

President Obama has raised it several quantum orders of magnitude. And, he has attempted to change the laws of business gravity propping up the most unproductive elements of society --- that would be the failing banks and car companies --- in order to pay back the UAW, SEIU and others.

All while making war on the most productive element of society.

The Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey tax increase and loss of tax revenue experiences are the real world. The Obama administration is still in Obamaland but reality has a funny of exerting itself.

The laws of gravity, business, Darwin will not be denied but it will be a very painful tuition to learn that lesson.

Already the Obama administration has lost $20B on GM --- this is just what they have "forgiven" in the GM bankruptcy. More to come.


ybul 7 years, 11 months ago

-- lack of regulation has more to do with this than over regulation.--

In reality it is the regulation of the financial markets, money and credit supplies through monetary policies by the federal reserve and the Chinese that have caused the issues we are seeing today.

That is the fundamental underlying problem. Yes the derivatives markets should have had safeguards, not allowing an individual to insure their neighbors mortgage from failure. But the underlying issue has been the government pumping money into the economy to keep it going and foreign nations, sometimes hostile, manipulating their currencies to ensure they are the lowest cost producers of a product.


aichempty 7 years, 11 months ago


" . . . they are the lowest cost producers of a product," because they don't have our EPA, emissions standards, payroll tax and benefit burden, etc.

Every time Congress adds 1 cent to the cost of doing business in the continental United States, more business and more jobs are driven overseas.

Our economy has been acting like a big Ponzi scheme ever since the federal government got into the business of guaranteeing a minimum standard of living for people who don't produce enough to carry their own weight. The UAW has followed right along, driving the cost of American made automobiles off the charts. The Vietnam War started the big inflationary trend of the 60s through 80s, driving up costs and wages. It had to end somewhere, and here we are.

The railroads, steam engines and industrial expansion of the 1800s and 1900s kept America ahead of the competition. The overreaction of environmental protection and social spending that began in the 60s absorbed all the wealth produced in the previous 150 years. We still have the natural resources to meet most of our own needs (coal, iron, timber, agriculture) but we lack the will to tighten our belts and live within our means. Americans no longer understand the concept of self-reliance, and we're seeing one of the biggest results of it today as GM declares bankruptcy.

The whole country is carrying a huge load of debt that cannot be serviced by our aggregate income. Barring some quick technological development that will reduce the cost of energy (making it possible to take back our industry from overseas and manufacture the same items more cheaply and cleanly than anybody else can do it), we're screwed. Allowing this country to become dependent on foreign oil is the biggest act of treason ever perpetrated against the American people. If the cost of running GM could be reduced by 50% for energy alone (counting all the energy that goes into conversion of raw materials into finished products) we wouldn't be in this mess.

So, what's the bottom line? Lawyers and politicians cannot run an industrial nation efficiently because they don't understand what's involved in the details. The electorate is spoiled by an easy life and reasonable stardard of living far above what people had only 50 years ago.

We've spent our savings, the money has run out, and now we're going to be stuck doing menial jobs that barely provide food and shelter. Big Daddy Federal Government is right behind Bernie Madoff in juggling the books, and the bust is only a matter of time.

The only justice in all of this is that a bunch of people who caused the problem have lost their jobs as their businesses went under, and the people who did without or with less in order to save for a secure future instead of living from payday to payday will be better off. Traditional American values will prevail in the end, but the lesson is going to be a hard one.


Scott Wedel 7 years, 11 months ago

If this is about ideas then how about starting with intellectual integrity and eliminate the false choices?

If people don't believe in your principles then you say they have to admit they oppose free markets, personal responsibility, and support high taxes.

Thus, you say it is about ideas and you are willing to have a discussion as long as everyone agrees that you are right.

And when your definitions put someone like Warren Buffet into a group that you say opposes free markets and personal responsibility then there is probably a flaw in your arguments.


trump_suit 7 years, 11 months ago

I have a question for the 1773 group?

What are your ideas to the escalating costs in:

Actual Healthcare, Heath Insurance, presription drugs, and finally the people that are uninsured?

This question is not meant to be antagonistic, but a real discussion about real problems.


Fred Duckels 7 years, 11 months ago

Trump, We don't have all the answers, but this is why we are forming to create an awareness, and come from a different mindset. Politicians get into the campaigning mode and start promising the world to get elected. A grass roots initiative, as California displayed is probably our only hope to restore sobriety. On health care, I think that establishing what we can afford, is probably a good first step. Our founders never meant the government to provide all that is being asked. Even with the present proposals it appears that rationing will be necessary. Our politicians have forgotten the word "no"and will not tell the truth for fear of rejection. Legal liability will have to be reduced for any system to have a chance. Scott, We will listen to any idea that will work, but I think that these principals are fundamental to fiscal responsibility. I think that we have enough examples of socialism to appreciate what we have had. Guys like Warren Buffet seldom side heavily with any party but look to reap rewards from those in power. Donald Trump is another example. Come on down, as long as we share the same goal I cannot see the harm.


ybul 7 years, 11 months ago


 I agree with much of what you say.  However, the ability of one country to peg or set its interest rates by printing money, is fundamentally against the principles of free markets.

 This has led to competitive devaluations of currencies so that countries can be the lowest cost producer.  Yes the EPA, has done some harm, however, on the other hand, those industries which harm the environment at the general populations expense should face impact fees for doing so.  Our debt burden has been facilitated by others purchasing dollar based assets in order to devalue their currency coupled with the federal reserve creating money with the stroke of a key.  The creation of money/credit is not a free market principle and the competitive devaluations are others working the system while enslaving their populations.

As far as Warren Buffet not believing in free markets, I would counter that he is actually against Laisez-Faire capitalism, not free markets.

Free markets simply are a mechanism with which one can place a value on a good, service, asset, etc.. They have nothing to do with regulation, as some regulations are needed to ensure that one is not able to take advantage of another's private property (clean air and water).



Scott Wedel 7 years, 10 months ago

I presume you follow your ideas at the local level as well as the national level. And thus you are opposed to the City guaranteeing the bonds for the promenade at the base area. And that is just the start because the URA itself is obviously a bad idea.

And against the City giving money to the Chamber or paying for local marketing or sponsoring concerts and so on.

And if so then I think you all might be onto something that can do some good locally.

BTW, I note no press on the amazing statement made by Town Trustee Wendy Gustafson last Thursday that the Town plans to use the grant money to build a professional police dept and then ask for a tax increase to keep it when the grant expires.

So they are planning on doubling the OC property tax to pay for the police dept. How popular is that gong to be?


Tim Scannell 7 years, 10 months ago

Trump, I don't know what the 1773 group solution is, but check out information on the Patients Free Choice Act of 2009 that was submitted by Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. The focus is on choice and competition vs. rationing services. Check out:



aichempty 7 years, 10 months ago


Japan is an example of what can go right, and then horribly wrong. California is catching up quickly. Adversity leads to innovation, which leads to wealth and economic power, which leads to demands for benefits and services that cannot be sustained without continued growth, which inevitably fails because the system runs out of resources somewhere along the line.

California is a great example of raising taxes to provide services to taxpayers, leading more of the needy to move in, leading those paying higher taxes to get out. Gov. Schwarzenterminator is on TV tonight explaining just how broke they are. I lived there when they signed the crazy agreements to obtain electric power from out of state (to keep their air and water clean) and saw my rates double almost immediately. My CA state income tax was something like 11% on an AGI of less than $60,000. 00. That's just nuts. They've bled everybody dry and driven scores of businesses out of the state.

There have always been people who will spend until they are broke, but the last 16 years or more of easy credit and high fees (because of the risk the lenders take by lending to the non-credit-worthy) have soaked up all the spending power with little to back it up, and here we are. Not enough money to pay the bills, business can't borrow money, people are losing jobs and can't pay their bills, and watch the spiral tighten up.

A lot of this appears to have happened because Alan Greenspan didn't believe banks would act in a way that would put them at risk. Oops. Their mistake was letting bank employees make huge commissions and bonuses for taking risks. Oops.

The answer is that people who can't manage money deserve to stay poor without having to go through the step of spending money they don't have until their creditors lose it in bankruptcy court. We've all just footed the bill for the UAW's artificially high standards of living for hourly wage workers. It was always nuts, and now people are hurt.

Locally, those of us who are not underwater on desirable homes will be okay in a year or two. Folks who paid 1/2 million for a modular in Steamboat II are going to be screwed. We're lucky to be in a desirable market that doesn't depend on the economy unless you happen to work in the resort industry. Second home owners and retirees will still want to move here, no matter what. The question is whether there will be a place to ski closer than Winter Park and Copper Mountain.


ybul 7 years, 10 months ago

Aich, You see, I do not disagree with most/all of what you say.

My only point is that our system is built on a paper monetary supply that can be expanded with the stroke of a key. For a free market system to exist it has to have a free market monetary/capital system. I heard an individual at the same time state that a return to free market principles to occur yet that capital would remain cheap. In order for capital to remain cheap, the market would have to be fixed, or not free, for this to happen. Unfortunately most conservatives drum their free market drums and yet fail to realize that the banking system is an anti-free market system.

Scott's comment about the town of OC looking at using grant money to build a police station and then asking for a tax increase to fund it is what is wrong with government. The feds have us so addicted to there money that they control the decision making process at the local level. New Hampshires attempts to withdraw from no child left behind were met with extortion, in that they would lose highway dollars if they did not comply.


aichempty 7 years, 10 months ago


The other part of economics we're not dealing with very well is the treatment of monopolies and oligarchies.

We allow OPEC and various so-called "royal" families to hold us by the nuts because we want to keep pollution and unsightly industrial and refinery facilities away from the Land of the Free (free to be stupid in this case).

Would GM be bankrupt if the cost of energy to run vehicles was cut by 75%? Nope. Two years ago, every other dude was riding around in a huge pickup truck sporting 8 or even 10 cylinders just to drive back and forth to work alone.

So, then, China starts buying oil and OPEC gives us a squeeze and gas goes to $4.00 a gallon and the stock market crashed and we have foreclosures all over the place.


Because we let other countries control a critical natural resource. Back in 1941, Japan attacked the United States because we shut off their supply of oil and steel, and they decided to go get it from China and Southeast Asia instead.

So, uh, where is Mr. Obama's "Moon shot" style alternative energy program at this point? Heard anything about that lately?

Gosh, wouldn't it be wonderful if we could put a few % of the unemployed population to work extracting coal, oil and natural gas while we're busy converting to improved hybrid vehicles over the next ten years? And after that, being self-sufficient in energy, we could control our own costs of doing business and never get into this jam again.

It's time for somebody to say, "Okay kids. Quiet down and get some sleep. We've got a lot of work to do in the morning exploring for gas and oil and mining coal while Santa is building our hybrid car factories."

I think step one should be to have every whiner who opposes improved internal combustion engine technology and domestic petroleum production come up to Hahn's Peak and pedal back and forth to town for groceries next Winter. Oh, and a trip to the ER with one of the kids at midnight would be a nice touch too. Maybe that would readjust a few attitudes to deal with reality so we can do something smart today while working for something smarter in ten years.


trump_suit 7 years, 10 months ago

Aich, Bottom line is that no one will live in the Clark area without fuel. People say, "I will just heat with wood" Can you imagine laying in 8-10 cords of firewood without fuel?

You are absolutely correct, we need to engage in a decades long process to wean ourselves from foreign oil. That needs to begin with local resources, and automobile conversion to natural gas starting with the big trucks and the highway system.

I do not believe that the technology currently exists to take our transportation needs to total electric yet, but that should be our long term goal.

In John McCain's words: "Sending 700 billion overseas to countries that don't like us very much is just dumb".

Imagine how much better our economy would be if that 700 Billion a year stayed in the US.

PS. I got one response about Healthcare issues on this forum. Is that not a MAJOR economic issue that should be one of the top 5 for this group?


ybul 7 years, 10 months ago

--So, then, China starts buying oil and OPEC gives us a squeeze and gas goes to $4.00 a gallon and the stock market crashed and we have foreclosures all over the place.--

A major component in the run up in oil prices was loose monetary policy to keep the economy running. This cheap/easy money was seeking out the best returns, in the latest bubble.

As people have begun to realize the vast amounts of debt the US has they have realized that inflation this coupled with the prospects of peak oil people figured they could not go wrong investing in oil. Problem is these investments were highly leveraged along with other investments these people had. When the market went south many hedge funds had to sell all assets good and bad this drove oil prices back down, especially when coupled with the decrease in demand as people began to switch to fuel efficient vehicles.

Yes China is part of the problem but the problem is not black and white.

On the hybrids, I have converted a vehicle to E- and it was inexpensive. When my finances get back in line I will be converting a small trucks to a hybrid like the Chevy Volt for around 13000. So Santa is hard at work and unfortunately for GM they missed the ball thinking that the world was going to stay the same forever, they got complacent and did not adapt quickly, in conjunction with their pension liabilities.

On health care, we only have a sick care system and need to focus on treating the root causes of our problems. Those are toxins, stress and very poor nutrition caused by government subsidies of grains. To be corrected by a tax on high fruitcose corn syrup. How about simply eliminating the subsidies for industrial agriculture which consumes about 25% of energy in this country. Impose impact fees on pollution, as opposed to setting arbitrary limits on emissions, which allow a hidden tax on everyone paid to the polluter.


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