Roger Burton: The Steamboat Institute’s 5 basic principles
October 31, 2010
Steamboat Springs — Editor's note: This is a response to Steve Lewis' letter to the editor "Steamboat Institute" published in the Oct. 17 Steamboat Pilot & Today
I enjoyed reading your letter and appreciate your concern and questions to Rick Akin and The Steamboat Institute. It is important for all of us to be active and involved in the issues that concern us. We all have issues of local importance far removed from the federal government.
However, the mission and purpose in founding The Steamboat Institute is not to specifically deal with only those local issues. The Steamboat Institute's mission, in part, is to bring nationally recognized speakers, experts, writers, columnists, politicians and prognosticators to Steamboat for the enjoyment of our local citizens who choose to participate. The Institute is a 501(c)(3) educational organization and our interest is in presenting the conservative side of issues. The Institute cannot endorse candidates or ballot measures, but it can take policy positions and try to educate people about them, generally.
This does not mean we are not individually or collectively concerned and interested in local issues, it simply is not our founding purpose.
Without attempting to speak for or on behalf of Akin, I am personally responding to your column from my perspective.
From the statements you made in your letter, it appears you have read Rick's column, or several of his columns, and you understand that the five core principles of the Steamboat Institute are:
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■ Lower taxes
■ Less government (decreased spending)
■ Individual rights and responsibilities
■ Free enterprise
■ A strong national defense
If you now stop and really think about those basic principles, you will have the answer to your question about what Rick, and others involved with the Steamboat Institute, would think about virtually any issue — city, county, special district, state, regional or national, with the possible obvious exception that only the federal government is, or should be, responsible for our national defense.
Define the issue, any issue, about which you have an interest and ask the questions:
■ Will it result in increased taxes?
■ Will it result in increased spending?
■ Does it result in reducing or lowering a persons individual rights or responsibilities?
■ Does it interfere with the free enterprise system?
■ At the national level, does it weaken our national security?
If the answer to any one or more of these questions is yes, then the basic position of The Steamboat Institute would be that support of the issue is questionable.
Each level of government has an inherent level of necessary spending to accomplish the goals of that political entity, as determined by the citizens. The citizens decide this level of spending and then determine how the funds for the expenditures are appropriated. This can be by taxes, fees, donations, gifts, loans or whatever. Once that level of necessary spending is determined and accepted, then the governmental entity should operate within the boundaries or the citizens need to determine what an acceptable additional amount should be.
Every time any issue is raised, it first can be evaluated by the five basic principles. If it satisfies the principles, then it is a reasonable expenditure that needs to be met within the available resources or the citizens need to decide to allocate more resources.
Those of us involved in The Steamboat Institute do so because we believe in the conservative principles upon which the Institute is based and because we are proud defenders of capitalism.
We individually campaign for and vote for the candidates, issues and causes we think will best represent our individual principles at all levels. We then hope that those elected officials will evaluate each and every issue based on their interpretation of the core principles for which we stand.
As further examples of participation in local issues by some of us involved in The Steamboat Institute, my wife was on the newspaper editorial board, as were Rick Akin and Jennifer Schubert-Akin.
Rick Akin was a longtime member of the County Airport Board. Jennifer Schubert-Akin also has volunteered to be a member of the new City Tax Policy Advisory Board. Other members of the Institute are involved in many local boards and agencies for housing, bicycling, the Chamber, etc.
Thank you for your interest in our local government and local issues.
Roger Burton is a member of The Steamboat Institute Advisory Board. He is an architect and has been involved in politics for a long time. He has served on the Board of Zoning Adjustment in Boulder, the Planning and Zoning Commission in Longmont, and the Fire Safety Advisory Board in Phoenix, Ariz.