The man in the mirror
August 6, 2002
It’s fascinating to observe our collective community response to Aspen’s recent economic woes.
Like a spoiled, overindulged child who was raised with the proverbial “silver spoon” in his mouth, we are ill prepared to face our first real test of character. Instead of looking for creative, innovative and hard-fought solutions, it seems easier for us to pin the blame for our troubles on anyone but ourselves.
Subsequently, we tend to strike out at the “avaricious” realtors, the “wealthy” second-home owners, the “flamboyant” tourists, and even the “expensive” pocket-book stores. Similarly, it’s easy for us to point our “fingers of blame” at lousy snow, changing demographics, world-terrorism and the airlines.
However, to borrow a phrase from Michael Jackson, I respectfully suggest that the first place we should look is at “The Man in the Mirror.”
Wait a minute! Could the “locals” really have any culpability in this mess? Impossible! After all, many of us were pretty cool ski bums back when it counted. We made Aspen. Yep. We sure did!
Sadly, real-world economics doesn’t reward us for what we did when Nixon was president. Candor demands we admit, that since then, we made some terrible decisions.
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We became arrogant toward the tourists and the second-home owners. Hmm. Exactly whom did we think was buying the $500 dollar buckles that helped to pay our bills?
We spent city and county money like a college freshman with her daddy’s credit card. Give us the best! We built a $40 million school, clay tennis courts, a beautiful ice rink, and the finest affordable housing.
We elected politicians who are leaning further to the left than Mickey Mantle with a left-handed pull hitter at the plate. Get in line. Handouts for everyone!
Heck, a recent article in the newspaper actually recounted that $800,000 was a reasonable price for “affordable housing.” We criticized our neighbors who build beautiful, spacious homes. We tagged them with the pejorative phrase, monster homes.
At the same time, we used public money to create housing complexes along Highway 82 that make prison architecture, by comparison, look good.
Finally, we crucified our residents in public if they built one square foot into BLM land, and then we decided to civically rape acres of dedicated, pristine, open space with the construction of a superhighway and concrete tunnel.
Are we really surprised that the tourists stopped coming, that businesses can’t survive, and that more of our friends are losing their jobs each day?
Fortunately, the situation we created can be rectified. We can start by working together.
Let’s end the class warfare that tarnishes our town. Let’s all make an effort to be friendly again. It isn’t hard, and it’s fun.
Aspen is a town of amazing natural resources. Moreover, we are blessed with an incredibly vibrant, intelligent group of interesting citizens.
The original miners who settled this valley were a hardy breed. When a mine shaft collapsed, they toiled in harmony to cut new timbers, shore up the roof, and keep moving forward. Let’s try to act like them, instead of like a bunch of whining, inconsiderate teenagers.
Figuratively speaking, there is still plenty of silver in Aspen’s future. With a bit more cooperation and a tad less finger pointing, we should be able to make our town shine for many years to come.
Jerald A. Bovino