David E. Steiner

Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon

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Devolutionizing Big Government


We don’t usually think much about national politics around here, but maybe it’s time we did. Newt and Bill are apparently in a race to see who can “devolutionize” Big Government fastest. Newt wanted to give 40 million poverty level Americans a laptop computer so they can join Heidi and Alvin Toffler’s Information Age. When someone pointed out that this would cost at least $40 billion, Newt allowed as how that might have been a dumb idea. Nevertheless, both he and Bill (not to mention Ross Perot) are apparently still headed toward the notion of national plebiscites hooked up via modem to every home in America. We should also shut down most of the bureaucracies (excepting Congress itself, of course). William Safire suggests we rid ourselves of the Veterans Administration.

We all profess to hate Big Government; but waste and interference seem to bother us only when it’s about other people. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Welfare, unemployment checks and EPA rules and regulations all seem to us like big wastes, unless, of course, we’re one of those sucking at the government breast, which is most of us, one way or another. In that case, we whine like deprived babies when a Big Government program is threatened.

A majority of the American people voted for change in November, and we’re getting it, in a big way. But we may rethink that when we walk into our post office and instead of friendly Bert find a big unfriendly machine with blinking lights telling us it’s out of the 52¢ stamps we need for First Class postage and a sign telling us to take our packages to Estes Park or Lyons.

We need to think about these things because we have no government of our own in Allenspark. Without a government of our own we’re just a bunch of crackpot individuals writing to our congresspersons. Without a government of our own we’re just, quite literally, voices crying in the wilderness. If government is devolutionized we’re going to be in dire straits. God forbid we should have to pay for a sewage system without a Big Government grant. God forbid we should have to pay for the maintenance of our roads. God forbid we should have to shovel snow from in front of the Fire Station or that we should have to pay the full bill for fire protection or Social Services. If we destroy Big Government, Allenspark is going to be on its own and in big trouble.

Eighty years ago the valley was inhabited by a very few hardy souls who were on their own and liked it that way. The roads took care of themselves and if there was a fire you put it out or let the thing burn; it was just a fact of life in the mountains. Today, however, we’re very dependent on the very thing we claim to despise. If we hear a noise we call the sheriff. We write to the county commissioners and complain about the roads. We depend on the federal government to protect our water and declare us Wild and Scenic. Many of us use Boulder County Aging Services and in the summer we ride the Special Transit Busses to do our shopping. Some of us use Meals on Wheels and go the Nurses’ Clinic. We curse the Public Utilities Commission, but we’re damn glad to have private telephone lines, which would have been pretty difficult to get from the phone company on our own. When we want to improve the place, the first thing we look for is matching or grant money from the county, state, or federal government. A number of us work for these governments, and quite a few more have pensions from them. Still, we revile Big Government, curse all bureaucrats and protest every rise in our property taxes.

It’s too early to tell how far Newt and Bill are willing to go in dismantling the federal bureaucracy in order to please the voters; it’s too soon to know what the effects will be on those of us at the bottom of the food chain, but it may be time to begin thinking about being on our own once again and ways to manage our own money, before the government money well runs dry. Big Government is so big it will be very hard to dismantle, and maybe Newt and Bill and all the others who were given the mandate for change won’t succeed. But maybe they will. We need to remember that before we wish too hard for something, we ought to consider, very closely, what will happen if our wish is fulfilled.




© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner

Allenspark Wind Columns:


Why Allenspark?

Going Riding [August, 1985]


Used Cars

Peace and Quiet [1986]

Liberals & Conservatives

Going to the Movies

The Screened Porch

The Beginning of The Season

The Weather

The Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The End of The Season

The Gift of Time

The Beavers

Addresses [1987]


Watching the Trees Grow

Postal Rates

Changes in Estes Park

Square Dancing at the Pow Wow

Back to the Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The Solstices

Bird Feeders


The Estes Park Hardware Store [1988]


Limousine Service

A Memorial Service

A Hummingbird


A Hiking Trip

The Estes Park Public Library

Wild Life

Riparian Rights [1989]




Mountain Friendliness

A Motorcycle Trip

Satellite Television

“Weaving Mountain Memories”

Hotel Rates in the Old Days

The Price of Propane [1990]

The Front Range Almanac


Modes of Transportation

Miller Moths

My 50th Column

Modern Conveniences

Rock Climbing

On the Death of Otto Walter, Postmaster

Otto’s Memorial Service

A Big Owl Pot-Luck Dinner

A Whine About Telephone Service [1991]

After the Persian Gulf War

Some Changes in the WIND

The Trip to the Mountains

The Mountains in the Summer


Of Dogs, Music, and Children

Muhlenburg County

To My Grandson

The Sale of Longs Peak Inn

World War II  [1992]

Murphy’s Law and the Computer

The South St. Vrain Canyon


The Hazards of Volunteering

Crime in Our Valley


On the Death of Charles Eagle Plume

Can We All Get Along?

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Lost Horizon [1993]


Rumors About a Visit by the Pope


More About Fences


The Visit of Pope John Paul II

Forest Fires

The New Sewage System

The Snow Pool

The Good Old Days [1994]

The WIND’s 20th Anniversary

The Bunce School

The Shooting Gallery

The Estes Park Museum

Our Government

U.S. West Takes a Hit

The Year of the Hummingbirds

A New “Yield” Sign

Growth in Allenspark

Private Telephones?

The Salvation Army

Creation Science [1995]

Devolutionizing Big Government



Fort D.A. Russell

Domestic Terrorism

Old and New

Barney Graves

Life in the Wilderness

What’s In a Name?

Arthur C. Clarke


The Estes Park Trail-Gazette Columns:

July 1983


Estes Cone

Johnny Grant

Observations in Estes Park

The Bath House


The Sutherland’s Ice House

How Old is Charles Eagle Plume?


Christmas Trees

Tree Murder

Mountain Driving


Mail Boxes

More About Mail Boxes

“Are you related to ....?”


An Accident

The Wild Cat

A July Reunion

A Visit to Baldpate Inn

Opening Cabins


The Times, They Have Changed

Death and Transfiguration

The Population Explosion

The March of Time

Faith-Based Social Services

Looking for Pitch

Recent Writings I

Recent Writings II

Recent Writings III

Recent Writings IV

Recent Writings V

Recent Writings VI



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