Three jobs, one small house, thank you.
February 19, 2004
Tony Hershey unfairly maligns hundreds of hard-working county residents, when he claims that residents of affordable housing lack ambition and a work ethic.
He writes about residents in affordable housing:
“What about ambition? What happens to the work ethic?” and, later, “Some in rental housing are refusing to work more or take a raise so they can still qualify for subsidized housing, some chant to win the next lottery, some are attending government meetings demanding more housing. What happened to self-reliance? What happened to hard work and ambition?”
As usual, the facts are considerably different from the picture Mr. Hershey paints. Survey after survey and census data shows the residents in housing average 1.3 jobs. That’s a 52-hour workweek, a six-day workweek and an extra two hours squeezed in somewhere.
This doesn’t include the many hours of volunteer times that many of us give to nonprofit organizations. Two or three jobs is not unusual during the busy tourist seasons for many of us.
Mr. Hershey further belittles those who have tried to balance career and recreations as follows: “… as in if you drop out, ski for 20 years and refuse any attempt at a career …, then you can’t … afford a home on the West End.” With an average West End property valued at $2 million, it would take about six full-time careers at typical Aspen wages to buy the house he describes.
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Mr. Hershey concludes his column by stating that he is paying his own way with rent and snow shoveling, working on acquiring a million-dollar residence, a laudable goal that not everyone can (or should seek to) reach. Though he has much nasty to say about me personally, I wish him luck reaching that goal on his own with a junior executive ski company salary.
A real town needs people who work hard in occupations that don’t enable them to reach the financial stratosphere of Aspen real estate. Or does Mr. Hershey believe that we can do without teachers, nurses, day care providers, journalists, ski instructors, librarians, carpenters, landscapers, artists, ministers and home makers?
In America, as in Aspen, home ownership is not just for those who inherit or marry well. Although Mr. Hershey may call it socialism, America has succeeded to a large extent by fostering affordable home and land ownership starting with Jefferson’s proposal to give every Virginian 50 acres of land as a matter of constitutional right. Since then we have seen the Northwest Ordinance land sales, the Homestead Act, the Oklahoma Land Rush, Veterans Administration mortgages, Fannie Mae financing and Freddie Mac, all government subsidized initiatives aimed at creating the middle class that has given America a prosperity and vitality much envied by the rest of the world.