My favorite title in 2021 was “A Cat Rescued From Colorado After Days On Top Of A 36-Foot Pole In Aurora”. Honestly, nothing captures 2021 better than that – an unlucky cat stranded atop a crankshaft without having enough to get off.
We’re also stuck where we don’t want to be thanks to poor decision-making. In 2021, crime rates rose. The spread of homeless camps. Denver beat smog champions New Delhi and Shanghai for the worst air quality among major cities this summer. Although life-saving COVID vaccines were available early in the year, some Coloradoans turned them down and hospital intensive care units were filled again. Because of their poor service due to school closures and online education, academic performance has declined. Inflation is rising at the fastest pace in 39 years.
It wasn’t all bad, though; Electoral conspiracy theories are toasted thanks to the folks at Grand Junction, not the interesting chupacabra Illuminati, but it’s definitely worth watching the madness. Also, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone rescued Casa Bonita. Real heroes.
Well, let’s be honest, 2021 didn’t start well. Windows in downtown Denver were still shut from the 2020 riots and the graffiti hadn’t faded yet. This year, crime across the state is up 10% over the previous year. Crime rates are 28% higher than they were a decade ago according to a new study by the Common Sense Institute. The rates of robbery, assault, rape, and murder have increased while the state’s correctional population has actually declined. Less prison, more crime, there has to be a connection somewhere.
Meanwhile, the squalid urban camp scene is no longer just for lucky Denverians; Urban camps dot the suburbs. The Denver metro area spends $481 million annually on services for the homeless, but homeless camps continue to pop up anywhere there is a patch of grass. The city had to close Civic Center Park in the middle of summer because human faeces, litter, needles, discarded food and rats were a health hazard to legal park visitors. The city now sponsors officially approved camping on public property with heated tents, free food, Internet access, restrooms, and other amenities. More free services, more urban camping, there has to be a connection.
Speaking of ambiguous associations, 84% of Coloradans hospitalized due to COVID-19 are not immune. Since the beginning of the epidemic, 10,000 Coloradine residents have died from the disease. The number of hospitalizations is down from the last spike in November, but it’s not over yet. Twenty percent of Coloradans remain unvaccinated. Get the vaccine!
At least there have been no job-killing closures this year. Colorado’s economy is improving compared to last year’s policies that were completely unconvincing and ineffective about the coronavirus. The unemployment rate fell to 5.4%. This is good news for the now empty state unemployment trust fund. It didn’t help that the state paid out $73 million in fraudulent unemployment benefits in 2020. Oops.
Meanwhile, inflation hit a 31-year high last month. Prices keep going up. The price of beef jumped 20% compared to last year. If that continues, Coloradans may be able to swallow the governor’s next MeatOut if he chooses to conduct such an election year PR disaster.
Inflation is cruel to everyone. Blame it on high demand, supply chain problems, labor shortages, and federal fiscal policy. Who knew that throwing trillions of “free” borrowed dollars into the economy could do that? Economists, students of economics, and anyone who reads economics for dummies.
Fortunately, education has been drama-free territory in this controversial year. Perhaps in Albania. In Colorado, academic achievement has declined. Behavioral problems on the rise. Fortunately, masking and critical race theory gave rise to the usually boring school board meetings.
Speaking of getting things wet, 2021 saw an improvement in the plot and character development of the Big Lie election conspiracy theory. Enter Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who appeared at the informal seminar organized by MyPillow gu in August, and copies of the voting machine’s hard drives were leaked. She is under investigation by the FBI. At a December rally at Grand Junction in support of Peters, speakers commented on Marxists in the government, the chemtrails, something about Hunter Biden and batteries, and George Soros. Every time these people take to the podium, it’s like they’re playing a Madlib plot. It makes the Colorado party newspapers worth reading.
This is my year of review. It looks like we put ourselves on a pole without a ladder. In 2022 we might go downhill. Nah. However, Happy New Year!
Krista L. Kafer is a weekly columnist for the Denver Post. Follow her on Twitter: @kristakafer
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